Everybody Grows 2017 End of Year Report

Everybody Grows 2017 End of Year Report

2017 was a year of significant progress for Everybody Grows. We expanded our reach by helping a group of neighbors living on 31st Street NE to start and maintain their own personal vegetable gardens. We significantly increased the learning opportunities for the children in the Scotland community through our Scotland Recreation Center garden program. We established new gardens at both the Fort Stanton Recreation Center and Dorothy Day Place.  Through our successful partnership with DC Fire and EMS, we taught gardening skills to numerous volunteers, and demonstrated how to grow and eat a variety of fresh produce throughout the spring, summer and fall.

With your assistance, we hope to continue our success in 2018.  If you feel inspired to donate to support our work, please click here.

We invite you to read this brief report on each of our activities in 2017 below.

1. Individual Gardens

It has long been our goal to connect our knowledge of gardening with individuals interested in growing something to eat for themselves. Through our friendship with Janie Boyd, a long term food advocate in DC, we were able to help individuals living on 31st Street NE, to plant and maintain their own personal gardens. These individuals grew tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers and herbs for their own personal consumption, and ornamental flowers that beautified their yards. There is a high demand for gardens. We are raising funds and hope to expand our presence in this neighborhood in 2018.

Community organizers Janie Boyd and Brad Ogilvie have been instrumental in developing the backyard garden program with us

2. Scotland Recreation Center

2017 marked our second year of programming at the Scotland Recreation Center, located in the Scotland subsidized housing community in Montgomery County, Maryland. Our first year was supported by a grant from the Whole Foods’ Whole Kids Foundation. Our activities complement a dynamic after school program at the center that takes place mostly indoors.

Cooking the produce we grew was an important part of the Scotland Program

Steve shares his 30 years of gardening experience with children at Scotland

This fall, we continued gardening with the children and also added the new elements of nature awareness and woods exploration, with great success. We had a long growing season due to a warm early fall, and were able to continue harvesting peppers, tomatoes, marigolds, and squash into November. The children especially loved finding the giant squash hidden among its leaves, tasting the hot peppers, watering the garden, and picking flowers to decorate the community center. We also taught some awareness games to play by the garden, and brought the “nature museum” – a box with bones, antlers, feathers, and other cool nature objects – which was a huge hit. Once the plants began to die back for the winter, we pulled everything out together and planted garlic in one bed and cover crops in the other. The children were able to see and experience a full cycle of the garden.

Everybody Grows works with naturalists Andrew Shofer and Tori Heller on the nature program for Scotland. They are constantly finding new wonders and projects that amaze and inspire the children.

We also created a space in the woods behind the community center for nature programs. Over the course of several weeks, Everybody Grows staff cleared a circle in the forest. We cut down trees, built a rock fire pit, and raked a path with the kids. Every time we showed up at Scotland, they were so excited to go into the woods. Once gardening was done for the season, we journeyed back to our circle and began building a shelter, climbed trees, and wove a grass mat together to go inside of a shelter. We also demonstrated fire-by-friction, and let the children have a try on a bow drill kit. It was amazing to see them so excited to get their hands dirty and engage with the natural world.

Our first group trip down to Cabin John stream at Scotland. Many of the children had never made the short walk down to this beautiful area, which made this even more special.

With the help of a generous donation from Christopher and Lauren Mead, who introduced Everybody Grows to Scotland, we will continue growing edibles and exploring nature with our Scotland gardeners in 2018.

3. Fort Stanton Recreation Center

We began our work in the Fort Stanton community by gardening with the Ladies Auxiliary at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church. Unable to sustain that garden in 2017, we ventured down the street to the Fort Stanton Recreation Center, where Mr. Louis Jones, who runs a variety of programs for the DC Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR), was interested in reviving a defunct garden. Everybody Grows, with the help of volunteers, cleared the site that was overgrown with weeds, and enriched the soil with Bloom, a soil amendment produced, and offered free-of-charge, by the Blue Plains wastewater treatment plant. The garden was a tremendous success. It provided hundreds of pounds of produce for use by community members attending learning and health-related programs at the recreation center. We hope not only to repeat our success in 2018, but to involve many more people who use the services provided by the center.

The garden at Fort Stanton was highly productive this year thanks to the efforts of the recreation center director and the local senior community.

4. Dorothy Day Place

Dorothy Day Place is a single adult transitional shelter that functions as a crucial bridge between homelessness and permanent housing for both men and women. In 2017, Everybody Grows planted a vegetable garden in eight large garden pouches located just outside the front door of the Dorothy Day Place building on Marinelli Road in Rockville, Md. We were not sure who would actually benefit from the lettuce, tomatoes, peppers, and variety of herbs that we planted – the geese nesting nearby, the pedestrians walking up the street, or the residents (or all of the above). As it turns out, with the help of several residents including one experienced gardener, the garden thrived and the residents were able to supplement their diet with food they grew for themselves. Everybody Grows plans to double the size of the garden and to expand the variety of produce grown in 2018.

Staff and residents helped tend the new garden with us at Dorothy Day Place

5. The DC Fire and EMS partnership

We had our biggest harvest ever this year at E26

We continued our fruitful partnership with DC Fire and Emergency Services (DCFEMS) by focusing on our largest fire station inspiration garden at Engine House 26 (E26). In 2017 at E26, we expanded food production, worked with a diverse set of volunteer groups, and started an onsite compost cooperative in partnership with DC Parks and Recreation. We began the year by constructing, filling, and planting three new raised beds with volunteer groups from Howard University and Sidwell Friends Middle School. Everybody Grows staff installed a new irrigation system that watered all eight beds automatically. The garden was highly productive, yielding an abundance of sweet potatoes, okra, tomatoes, greens, cucumbers, strawberries, culinary herbs, and other crops that we harvested with the firefighters, children from the neighborhood, and volunteer groups including the DCJCC. The produce was consumed primarily by the firefighters at E26 as part of our efforts to improve firefighter health, with portions of the yield also returned to volunteers and community groups. Our new compost system and cooperative began operation, with firefighters and a handful of engaged community members adding food and garden waste to the bin in order to grow soil for next year’s garden.

 

Fire Station First Aid Garden Workshop

Using Herbs for First Aid
Cuts? Scrapes? Colds? Fevers? Upset stomach? Discover the ways that medicinal herbs can be your garden first-aid kit. What better place to learn these skills than at the Everybody Grows fire station farm surrounded by EMTs and firefighters? Participants will become familiar with several easy-to-grow herbs and how to use them as teas, compresses, poultices, and salves. You’ll bring home recipes for medicine-making, and a healing salve.
What to bring?
– a notebook and pen or pencil if you’d like to take notes
– a sturdy cup or mug for sipping herbal tea
– comfortable shoes, and clothes that you don’t mind getting a bit dirty or oily
– bug spray, sunscreen, and water

Cost for the workshop is 30 dollars, and includes a jar of a healing salve that we will prepare together. No one will be turned away based on a lack of funds, but space is limited, so reserve a spot by donating at  http://everybodygrows.org/donate-today/.

Email Jake@everybodygrows.org with any questions about the workshop.


1:30 “pre-game” – outside in the garden
Come early to join Everybody Grows and Leafyhead staff as we plant the Firehouse medicinal herb garden.

2:00-3:10 – outside in the garden; shade structure provided
Meet the medicinal herbs, discover how and why herbs work to support the body, and learn techniques to harvest and dry your herbs for future use.

3:30-5:00 – come inside the Firehouse kitchen for hands-on demos of herbal infusions, compresses, poultices, infused oils, and salves.

BIO:

Tricia McCauley is an herbalist, nutritionist, and yoga teacher. She holds a master’s degree in herbal medicine from the Tai Sophia Institute (now the Maryland University of Integrative Health), where she taught herbal preparations for two years and is currently a supervisor in the integrative nutrition masters’ program student clinic. She also attended the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, and is a certified health coach, Certified Nutrition Specialist, a Licensed Nutritionist, and a yoga teacher at the E-RYT-200 level. Based in Washington, DC, she’s been the resident herbalist at Common Good City Farm for 7 seasons, and is the owner of two herbal product lines: Leafyhead Lotions & Potions and District Devil.

She specializes in food sensitivities, stress management, to connecting people to the cycles of the earth and the cycles of their bodies, and to empowering her students to find creative solutions to improving health and happiness. Tricia is also passionate about growing things, making things, dancing, biking around the city, being near water, curry, sunshine, bare feet, red wine, laughing too loudly, and smiling at strangers.

Garden Therapy

During our recent planting day at Stoddard Nursing Home, I had a moving conversation with a resident who told me how she had recently undergone surgery, and how the garden gave her an extra reason to recover the ability to walk.  She wanted to be able to help out as much as possible.  She also told me how great the sun felt, and how she was so happy to be outside in the garden.  Her words reminded me of the optimism that gardening can instill.Gardens-Everybody-Grows-Stoddard-Baptist-Home-02

 

Gardening certainly has therapeutic power.  The physical therapist at Stoddard, Michael Kramer, was highly supportive and interested in the garden.  On our planting day, he was the first staff member to plant in the garden, along with his patient Ms. Farley, who was the first resident to work with us in the garden.  I had an interesting conversation with Michael about the ways gardening can help in rehabilitation.  Gardening involves a variety of physical activities, ranging from the fine motor skills used to harvest herbs, to the gross motor skills of digging and watering.  I look forward to continuing a dialogue with Michael about how the garden, and by extension Everybody Grows, can be of assistance in his work with his patients.IMG_0090

 

I had another interesting conversation about the therapeutic power of gardening with deputy fire chief David Foust.  We talked about how firefighters work long shifts, and how their vital work can often be stressful and intense.  We discussed the potential of the garden to help enhance mindfulness and offer a temporary relief.  I know that in my work as a teacher the garden serves this role.  Leaving the classroom behind and leading a small group to work in the garden can be be a welcome change for me and for my students.  When we return to the classroom, we are refreshed and ready to learn and play.

 

I also want to share a recommendation for a book, called Accessible Gardening: Tips and Techniques for Seniors and the Disabled by Joann Woy that a staff member at Stoddard, Linda Ripley, shared with us.  Thanks to all of our gardening partners for generously teaching us about their fields!