September 23, 2010

Growing for the City

This summer, we’ve laughed a lot in the sunshine as we’ve propped up sunflowers, made whole-wheat pasta salad with fresh herbs, seen how mint grows, and pulled carrots from the ground (read more here). It’s all part of our effort to better connect to where and how our food is grown. We’re thankful to the Marion Street Garden and Common Good City Farm for partnering with us on this effort; they’ve opened up their doors to Bread for the City staff and clients and shared their bounty.

And we’re starting our own little corner of fruits and vegetables right here, as well. Both the NW and SE sites are currently developing rooftop gardens. Our vision is for them to serve as hubs for cooking and nutrition workshops, opportunities to connect with nature, venues for interested clients to volunteer for Bread for the City (doing watering and plant maintenance work), and just inspiring places to have meetings and lunch.

Check out some of the first pictures of our Southeast garden under construction here, and pictures of our upcoming NW green roof here.

By providing opportunities to sow seeds, maintain plants, harvest produce, cook food, and then, of course, enjoy each bite, we aim to create an experience through which clients feel invested in choosing fruits and vegetables at the market, And recent research supports this approach:

In this month’s Journal of Nutrition & Dietetics, lead researcher Chutima Sirikulchayanonta,of Mahidol University in Bangkok, described a program through which children planted vegetable seeds, had tasting parties, watched Popeye cartoons, sent parents letters with tips on healthful eating, and also had teachers sit with children during lunchtime. This combination of adult involvement and hands-on experience translated to significant results. Vegetable consumption doubled, as did the types of vegetables the children ater.

Perhaps I can best summarize our intentions with a summary of an interaction I had with a regular cooking workshop participant at a recent visit to Common Good City farm.

Client, turning around to me with a fistful of mint: “Is this mint?”

Me: “Yes.”

Client, smelling the mint: “I never tasted mint before the fish stew we made at the cooking workshop last month. I loved that stew and have been intending to make it. And now I get to pick the mint myself. I’m going to make it tonight! Just beautiful.”
The seeds are newly planted, but we imagine a bright harvest as we deepen our involvement with local gardens -- including our own.

If you are interested in helping with these new endeavors, we are looking to take on a new (unpaid) intern to assist with the Southeast Herb Garden. This Rooftop Garden Intern will help grow and maintain the garden, reach out to donors and organizations for continued support through in-kind donations, water and care for the plants currently growing on the roof, and work with our Nutrition Consultant to plan for programming events to take place in the garden.

The intern will need to work on the garden daily or at least every other day, excluding weekends, in order to keep the plants healthy, for a total of 10-15 hours per week. If you have a passion for broadening access to healthy foods in the District, have a knack for or interest in gardening and growing potted vegetables, and are responsible, dependable and consistent, please send a cover letter and resume to Erin Garnaas-Holmes at

No comments: