Before we go one word further, I have a request: Prepare to think differently about Washington, DC. Too often our capital city is disparaged for bulky national programs. But this is a story about something that works beautifully: Common Good City Farm located at 3rd and V Streets in the LeDroit Park neighborhood.
Founded four years ago by Liz Falk and other engaged citizens, Common Good recently celebrated the start of the 2010 season. It’s located on the grounds of a former junior high that ended in a sweep of school closings by Mayor Fenty in 2008. Of the twenty-six schools that closed, Common Good is the only active space among the vacancies formed two years ago. The city has plans to create a public park in the area surrounding the farm, so there will be gateway green for people to relax and then discover it.
For many, finding the farm could be the first step in a new life of learning about food. In addition to growing fruits and vegetables, it’s an educational site, including cooking classes, for the local community. Soon they will have an outdoor kitchen/classroom on the grounds. It will be a simple roof structure with cabinets underneath, serving as the anchor in their educational work.
As part of their non-profit, Common Good also runs a program called Green Tomorrows. Participants work the farm and produce good food, and in return, they earn shares of the harvest. “It’s like a CSA, but not for purchase,” explained Falk. Workers can also build hours by attending the culinary and gardening classes.
Falk’s broad vision of the Green Tomorrows program is that the people who receive training will go on to recover other vacant lots in Washington and create their own urban farms. Looking at the strength of the programs and community at Common Good, it’s inspiring to imagine what such an expansion could like. This year alone, the harvest at Common Good will include fruit from thirty trees — pear, cherry, paw paw, and fig trees are included in the mix. According to Falk, “We’re going to grow almost everything you can grow in this region.”