Category Archives: Gardening

Publication: The DC garden boom in Civil Eats

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I have a piece in the fine publication Civil Eats! I’m proud to bring news of DC’s urban agriculture boom to a national audience.

Check it out: An Urban Farming Renaissance in Our Nation’s Capital

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Filed under Blog, DC, Gardening

Celebrating Earth Day where I want to be

plants and planters by a rainy window

With my office smelling like wet soil and a motley crew of plants and planters straggling across my desk, I’m in a good place to celebrate Earth Day.  It doesn’t hurt that the plants came from a campus clean-up project that one of my classes planned last week, and the egg carton planters came into being thanks to another class activity yesterday. I’ll spend another few minutes with these signs of spring, then head to a board meeting for the Crossroads Community Food Network. We’ll be talking about that organization’s fragrant, colorful farmers market, which opens in just six weeks.

I hope you’re celebrating where you want to be this Earth Day, or that you’re on the way.

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Filed under Gardening, Sustainability, Teaching

Analyze that Dirt

bags of soil

Soil samples from my plot and my garden neighbors’ are mixed, dried, and ready to ship to U Mass.

Colleges just had that special break where students drink on the beach and faculty stay home to watch 90s movies, and I have potatoes sprouting on my kitchen table. So even if forecasters predict snow tomorrow, spring is officially here! For gardeners, that means it’s time to send in soil samples for testing, if you haven’t already.

Wondering what the deal is with soil testing? Here’s my basic guide to getting your dirt analyzed:

  • It’s a good idea to test levels of various materials in your garden soil every year or two. It’s like getting a physical and doing blood work. Then you can add whatever nutrients you need to grow the most abundant and nutritious plants or, in some cases, remediate or move on to avoid harmful contaminants like lead. Find out more on this and the movement for better soil from the Bionutrient Food Association.
  • A good time to do this in the D.C. area is usually late February. But if the ground is frozen solid during that time like it was this year, late March works.

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Cyberspace and the community

What a week.

Thanks to cyberspace, my dear DC State Fair just garnered overwhelming community support on our Kickstarter campaign.

I also have the Internet to thank for both the topic and mode of publication for my latest story on Elevation DC, “Cyberspace connects DC with the businesses next door.

The 50th anniversary March on Washington that I plan to join on Saturday came together largely online. As I write this, buses and vans of participants are no doubt coming together all over the country through a frenzy of emails. Continue reading

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Filed under DC, Events, Gardening, On media, Writing and technology

Concert herb


Live concerts and herb go together like Woodstock and Yasgur’s Farm. Now, the band Guster is giving that idea a new meaning with a quirky concert giveaway–basil seeds. As I write this, the band is probably sitting at a solar-powered tent in its Eco-Village, aglow from its set before Ben Folds Five and Barenaked Ladies at the Merriweather Post Pavillion.

I just had to share this tidbit about the band’s tour.

It gets better, though. This is part of an overall greening effort complete with a commitment to feed the band local food as they travel. Not only that, but I can see myself grooving to the band’s recent acoustic album in my garden. “Strings and string beans” has a nice ring to it, too.

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Not coming to a trash can near you

Compost 06/08/2007

Photo by Flickr user Diana House

What happens to the scraps from 25,000 pounds of meat at Katz’s Deli each week? Here’s a hint: It’s the same thing that’s about to happen to all New Yorkers’ vegetable peels and egg shells. Another hint: They don’t go into the trash.

Find out more in “When Composting Comes To NYC’s Jewish Community,” my latest story on The Jewish Daily Forward’s Jew and the Carrot blog.

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Filed under Gardening, Jewish community, New York

Pollan’s epiphany, community, and seedling swaps

Last month, Michael Pollan released his seventh food book, Cooked, and I wrote about it for The Jewish Daily Forward. The book is based on the epiphany that many of his tortured foodie questions had the same answer: Cook. This simple, inherantly communal idea embodies a theme that has been in my life a lot lately.

Pollan’s book is an homage and philosophical journey to home cooking. Much of Pollan’s research, however, did not take place in his house in the Bay Area. Instead, he entered the far-flung realms of barbecue pit men, artisanal  bakers, and fermentos  — communities that run thick with tradition and passion.

That theme of deep community continued as I attended the Do Good Summit on May 3 to see the likes of Our Black Year author Maggie Anderson, local B Corp founder Raj Aggarwal, and DC Brau‘s Jeff Hancock. As I wandered the brand new, sunny corridors of the Anacostia Arts Center, I received a tweet:

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Of course. Soupergirl, one of my favorite local businesses, had saved a loaf of challah and was going to make sure I got it. I’d come in a couple of days before to request it, without even giving my name. That request went onto a sticky note, which turned into a Twitter ping, which found me as I went about my day.  I’d like to see Safeway do that!

At that time, I was gearing up for the DC State Fair Seedling Swap. It took place two days later. While the Do Good Summit was the inaugural conference of the new art gallery and community space,  the crowd at the swap packed northeast DC’s Center for Green Urbanism for its last event before it moved out. The rush of community concern over the closing touched my heart just as much as the love of green things percolating through the rooms. The Center is currently searching for a new home.

Right now, those tomato and marigold and peanut seedlings are growing on front stoops and window sills and raised beds around the District. But the frost is coming tonight. I hope we can keep this all going.

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Filed under DC, Events, Gardening, Jewish community