Friday, October 29, 2010

Design. Cultivate. Celebrate. THIS WEEKEND!

Join Deepening Roots THIS WEEKEND for a two-day workshop about healthy food and sustainability.

The Deepening Roots ( weekend workshop is a dynamic, hands-on educational program that will get you thinking in new ways about how healthy nutrition, agriculture and meditation work together for sustainable development. People of all backgrounds and experience levels have enjoyed this workshop, and walked away with enthusiasm, new knowledge and the tools to apply it.

High-Energy Foods
Learn to prepare tasty foods that will boost your energy, strengthen your immune system and give you complete nutrition. With handy food preparation tips, simple recipes and informative discussions, we will demystify how to eat well and bust the hype of fad diets.

Grow your own food... even if you don’t have a garden!
There is no better way to access fresh foods than to grow them yourself. From kitchen gardens to herb spirals, from balcony-grown tomatoes to backyard forest gardens, we will teach all the basic principles you need to start growing fresh, high energy foods. No green thumb required!

Building Healthy Communities
Imagine a community where people are happy, connected and supportive of one another. A community with clean air, abundant food and green space to explore. A community that is exciting, dynamic and peaceful. By exploring innovative breathing and meditation practices, you will learn how we can all be the building blocks for such vibrant communities.

Date and Time: October 30th - October 31st, 12PM to 5PM each day
Location: 2401 15th Street NW
To Register: Click here.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Sneaky Success! 932 Florida Avenue

Afternoon, mon amies!

For those who have been all a-twitter waiting for news on our latest sneak attack, the wait is over! I am here to tell you that the October 2nd dig at 932 Florida Avenue NW was, in a word, FAN-FREAKIN'-TASTIC.


This was the most intensive project to date (not counting the one in Summer at which I almost died). Four guerillas hauled buns to the abandoned church/car wash - which I have lovingly dubbed the "House of Wash-ip"... get it?! Car wash + House of worship = WASH-IP! Oh, the humor people, it hurts - and brought with them a friggin' abundance of plants. Grasses, irises, a cana lily, a butterfly bush, lamb's ear, mums, pansies, asters, mint, ornamental cabbage, ornamental kale, and a cactus.

Oh heck yeah, we planted a cactus. Woot!


Anticipating another location with rock-hard dirt, I purchased the nifty Ground Hog, better known as the Garden Weasel (as seen on TV). It was pointy and shiny and wonderful... but unnecessary. Turns out? That was some fabulous dirt. No need for roll-y points of sharpness to break it up. I'll just have to save my Weasel for the next project.

We worked for three hours, planting and planting and planting as nearby Howard University students passed on their way to U Street. We even got a "thanks for doing that!" from one of the passers-by. (The week before a local resident stopped to help me and Guerilla #2 remove bindweed from the fence at the location. He was amped about the project.) In the dark we worked, true guerilla style. No permission, no light, all awesome.

Agent K created a nifty rock garden using broken concrete and rocks from the site:

Newbie guerilla, who we will call Awesome until she chooses her own alias, brought three buckets of irises from her own garden, and jumped into the dig with zeal. (Awesome is wicked cool and will be going to Burma or Bangalore or some other exotic place that begins with a B - or is it a C? - to work on a documentary. I want her to bring me back a zebra. And a meerkat.)

Gandalf, our Secondary Mascot (second only to The Gorilla), kept careful watch on our progress, occasionally beeping like a car alarm and hollering at pedestrians. She also ate our pansies.

And the icing on the cake? Voice of America came to tape the dig for a piece they are doing on guerilla gardening.

Agent K planting and telling the producer lots of super cool stuff about guerilla gardening.

All the hard work paid off. Check out the site after the DCGG got its hands on it!

More than a week later, the site's still looking good, though the grasses are a tad brownish and several of our plants have been stolen. Specifically some of the irises, the ornamental kale, most of the pansies in the concrete wall, and the mum. But I hold out hope that the plant-stealing wasn't an act of vandalism, and instead that of fellow plant lover down on their luck and in desperate need of some ornamental cabbage. I would love to get in a huff about people stealing plants (I'm all about a good huff), but I don't feel that I have the grounds for such a huff considering we guerillas engage in felonious acts all of the time. (Stealing is not one of said felonious acts. Trespassing is.)

And there you have it, mah peeps! Another successful sneak attack on our beloved D.C. Wish you'd been there? Then get your posterior on the
DCGG mailing list so that you can get notice of upcoming events! Do it!

The Fall may be here and Winter may be a-comin', but that doesn't mean the DCGG goes into hibernation. So stay tuned for more guerilla-y fun!

Muchas gracias to Guerilla #2 for taking pictures the night of the event, and then running out to get After pics when it was rainy and icky outside!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Event! Holy Rollin' a Holy Mess

Hear ye! Hear ye! Fall is fast approaching, but the D.C. Guerilla Gardeners aren't done for the season. Oh no indeedio! On October 2nd we're turning an abandoned church into a bloomin' piece of awesomeness.

Check out this holy mess of a wholly abandoned church-like thingamahoo:
Wooo-weee! That baby's less than lovely. But have no fear, good people of Florida Avenue NW, for the DCGG is here! Where others look and see decay, we guerilla gardeners look and see potential. (And maybe a little decay, but that's okay.)

Join me on the evening of Saturday, October 2nd as we stealthily dig around and make this ugly jumble of a spot into a lovely jumble of plants and goodness mcgoodnesson!

What: The FOURTH-EVER D.C. Guerilla Gardeners Event! Woo Woo Woo Woo!
When: Saturday, October 2, 2010
Time: 6:30 PM
Where: About 932 Florida Avenue NW, an easy 1.5 blocks from the U Street/African American Civil War Memorial Metro stop on the Green Line
Bring: Gloves, garden tools (spade, trowel, shovel, etc.), and a plant (preferably one that thrives on neglect). You might also want to bring a mask because, to be honest, the place is a bit stinky. And maybe you should consider wearing your running shoes because our crime fighting heros, the D.C. Metropolitan Police, patrol this area a whole heckuva lot. We'll be digging at night, so we'll be all suspicious-looking. Woo!

This is our first night event (and also our first not-as-hot-as-Hades event), so let's mark the occasion with a whoppin' amazing turnout and no near fatal heat stroke scares! If you would be ever so kind as to RSVP that you're coming, I'd be grateful. It helps me plan. And if I get all Betty Crocker-ish before our dig, I'll need to know how many people to make cookies for. (Or buy cookies for, which is more likely.)

I'll catch your gardenin' butts on October 2nd!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

3-2-1 Contact!

Top o' the mornin', my guerillas! I've gotten a lot of interest in the community garden project, so I thought I'd share with you a little of the behind-the-scenes work.

As I mentioned before, we're undertaking this project in a non-guerilla fashion. I'm doing this for a couple of reasons, one of which is that I hate when plants die. It would break my gardening heart to lovingly put flowers and shrubs into the ground, only to have them ripped up by a disgruntled property owner. But more importantly, I'm seeking permission for the sake of the residents. This particular neighborhood boasts an aging population, so I want to keep the drama to a minimum. Though the property has been a thorn in their side for years and while the DCGG is willing to go to the mattresses for the sake of green space, I don't want to embroil the residents in a messy battle. They've already been battling for 5+ years. We'll save that fighting-the-system card for a frisky neighborhood full of litigious environmentalists.

And now! That peek behind-the-scenes. This is the letter I sent (several times... grr!) to the D.C. Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs and the D.C. Department of Vacant Properties, neither of which have responded to me. Nertz.

Dear D.C. Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs and D.C. Department of Vacant Properties,

I am writing on behalf of the Deanwood residents of NE to request information on and permission to use a privately owned (but unmaintained) lot for a community garden. I have sent this request several times without success. If you are not the appropriate departments to handle my request, please reply with the name of the office that I should contact.

The lot at [ADDRESS] (SSL XXXX XXXX) has been an ongoing problem for the surrounding property owners. Since its sale to the current owner, the lot has fallen into a state of severe disuse that has lowered property values and threatened the safety of the Deanwood residents; debris and overgrowth have made the lot a site for illicit and transient activity, and a breeding ground for vermin.

Deanwood residents have contacted you about the lot 20 times over the past six years. Inspections of the property have been made, and reports of its maculate condition noted.

We have identified the property’s owner via the Property Information Verification System (PIVS) and have tried to contact them about the property. The owner is [OWNER] c/o of [CONTACT] at [CONTACT ADDRESS] NE. However, [CONTACT] has returned our correspondence citing the property on [ADDRESS] does not belong to her and that she has never heard of or been associated with [OWNER]. Attempts to contact [OWNER] at other numbers and addresses have been equally unsuccessful.

To further complicate matters, a search into the tax history of the property shows that an Expired Tax Sale occurred in 2008, at which time the homeowner’s debt was purchased by the District. Please note that this sale occurred AFTER the 2007 purchase of the land, therefore it is assumed that [OWNER] is in debt to D.C. for its back taxes.

2009 and 2010’s taxes are both outstanding.

The neglect of [ADDRESS] represents more than the 2,000+ square feet of the lot itself. The condition of this property is an eyesore and a blight to the neighborhood. It is threatening the safety and security of the surrounding residents, and decreasing the value of their homes. (The value of the property itself has dropped since its sale to [OWNER]. It sold for $140,000.00 in 2007, and has dropped in value to its current price of $134,570.00. The land’s proposed 2011 value is an appalling $11,140.00. )

This is unacceptable.

But the situation can be easily fixed.

The Deanwood residents contacted me, founder of the local non-profit gardening organization D.C. Guerilla Gardeners, and requested the lot be transformed into a community garden where they can meet and play chess. I have met with the residents, taken their requests, and am developing a plan for the lot. However, the intricacy of the garden’s design is dependent upon the owner and their wishes. If we are allowed to garden on the property and do not fear eviction, we can construct a pergola and lay crushed stone in high-traffic areas to eliminate the need for mowing. Further, if we are granted permission to garden the lot, we will plant fruit and flowering trees.

Without permission, we will have to design the lot in such a way that our work can be moved if we are forced to leave. In the latter case, trees are not an option. Neither are the more elaborate design features.

Transforming [ADDRESS] into a garden will decrease transient activity in the area, and will positively impact the Deanwood community by giving them something to enjoy and care for. (Studies have shown that community gardens decrease crime rates and increase property values.) Maintenance of the garden will be undertaken by the residents and neighborhood committee, thereby reducing – if not entirely eliminating – the cost D.C. incurs each time you are called to inspect and care for the lot.

By way of this email, I am requesting the following:

  1. Confirmation of the land’s current ownership, looking closely at D.C.'s 2008 Expired Tax Sale and its significance on ownership;
  2. Your acknowledgement that the lot at [ADDRESS] is problematic; and
  3. Permission to create a community garden on the property.

Thank you for taking this request into consideration, and for looking into the standing of [ADDRESS] NE. I sincerely hope that the D.C. Guerilla Gardeners, the residents of [STREET], and the D.C. government can work together to transform this aging neighborhood and its unsightly lot into something pleasant, productive, and inspiring.

Best regards,

D.C. Guerilla Gardeners

Monday, August 30, 2010

Community Forklift

A little sumthin' sumthin' to wet your whistle on this fiiiiiiiiiiiine Monday morning. Some of the amazingness you can find at Community Forklift. If you're in the market for some home improvement/renovation supplies, check 'em out before you hit one of the big box stores. Not only could you score a great deal, but your reuse will make the planet a happier place.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Working The System

I shall confess something, mon amies: I am new to the whole gardening gig. There. Now you know. But what I lack in know-how, I make up for in enthusiasm and BOY! I am enthused. Want to know why?

Because there are so many projects that the DCGG is looking into that my noggin' is a-swirlin' with the possibilities. For I have a dream, people! I want our fair city to be the greenest in the country, and I want D.C. residents to love what they see when they look out their windows.

It's that last one - the loving what you see when you look out the window - that has my heart so wrapped around one project in particular. A NE neighborhood contacted the D.C. Guerilla Gardeners and asked for help in turning an ugly abandoned lot into a community garden. They want a place where they can sit and play chess. A place where neighbors can meet and talk and pass time in that special way that only happens in a garden.

My fellow guerilla gardeners, we are SO ON IT.

Only this project isn't very guerilla-esque. I'm doing my best to keep the sneakiness and illegality out of this one. "But why, Theresa?" you may ask. "You're a guerilla gardener!" you may exclaim. "GUER-I-LLA," you may emphasize. And you're right. Absolutely positutely correct. I am a guerilla gardener.

But that doesn't mean that I can't garden on the up-and-up from time-to-time, does it?

Because I really hate to see plants die. Really really. And I'd like to make sure that our green, leafy friends at this project location get to live as long as they possibly can. So if I can prevent them from going towards the light by asking permission first, then I'm a-gonna.

But y'all, the asking-of-permission is tedious and pretty much fruitless. Negligent property owners that don't return calls, a local government that doesn't respond to letters... It's all very As The World Turns. When all is said and done, this may end up being a guerilla garden after all, simply because people wouldn't call me back *grumbling*

That being said, the DCGG needs many, many volunteers to help with this community garden project. There will be some clean-up and clear out work before we get to the actual planting. There's even a dead tree that needs to get cut down. Also? This project will span seasons. SEASONS, people. We're starting in the Fall and will finish up next Spring.

Prepare yourself for some hardcore gardening, folks. Start working out those green thumbs! I need y'all in shape for this one.

Interested in helping out? Email me and I'll give you the scoop.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Community Event: Ask The Native Plant Expert

Community Forklift, which is quite possibly the coolest place on the entire earth (think Disneyland for home renovation enthusiasts), offers free workshops. Did I say "free?!" OH YES I DID! This month's topic? "Ask The Native Plant Expert!" Woo! And again I say WOOOO!

What: Ask The Native Plant Expert
When: Saturday, August 28, 2010
Time: 3pm to 4pm
Place: Community Forklift - 4671 Tanglewood Drive, Edmonston, MD
Cost: FREE!
Registration: None required

Steve McKindley-Ward is a resident of Mt. Rainier, Maryland, and the horticulturist for the Anacostia Watershed Society. Come learn how growing native plants will thrill the insects and birds, take less time and hassle, lower your water use, bring beauty to your yard - and support the larger web of life!

Monday, August 16, 2010

The D.C. State Fair

Calling all District gardeners, bakers, and canners!

Got tasty tomatoes growing in your garden? Love making pickles with your produce? Then YOU need to enter the first-ever DC State Fair.

Go to the DC State Fair website for more information and to fill out your entry forms. Contest categories include:

Tastiest Tomato (big tomatoes) –
Tastiest Tomato (small tomatoes) – ENTER HERE
Biggest Vegetable (General) – ENTER HERE
Biggest Vegetable (Container Gardens Only) – ENTER HERE
Most Funky-Looking Vegetable (sponsored by
Soupergirl) – ENTER HERE
Home-Made Jam Contest – ENTER HERE
Home-Made Pickles Contest – ENTER HERE
DC Homebrew Contest – ENTER HERE
Cupcake Contest – ENTER HERE
Best Home-Made Pie – ENTER HERE

And more to come.

The DC State Fair will be held on August 28th, concurrent with Columbia Heights Day, at Tubman Elementary Field (11th and Irving Streets NW).

And many thanks to the fair's amazing sponsors,
A Few Cool Hardware Stores, Kid Power Inc, Casey Trees, Fat Man After Dark, Smorgie, and Girl Meets Food.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Yo, Where My Boy At?

Hallooooooooo! I'm looking for THOMAS! The brilliant Allium commenter and knower-of-all-things-Allium!

Thomas, can you drop me an email? I have something to ask you, yo. Something AWESOME! It's about candy! And puppies!

Monday, August 2, 2010

Old McDonald Had a Farm... In D.C.!

Happy Monday, my lovelies!

To start the week off with a kickin' bang, I'm sharing with you what I learned about urban agriculture in the District. This is what I learned: YOU CAN TOTALLY HAVE A FARM ON YOUR PROPERTY. With a tractor and everything. You can even spray the hell out of your plants with pesticides and all other manner of toxic junk. (So long as you follow the directions and adhere to the precautions on the label.)

ut you can't have chickens.

Or goats.

Or cows.

Especially no cows. Because they're smelly.*

In short, no farm animals of any kind allowed.

But you can grow corn in your front yard! And spray it with pesticide and fertilizer! And you can hoe it down with a John Deere! And that's A-OKAY with the D.C. government. E-I-E-I-O!

With that, I hereby give you permission to start your week. Go get 'em, kiddos!

*That's my rule, not D.C.'s. No offense to the cows, but hel-lo! Stinky!

Ornamental Cow photo taken at Papa John's Nursery (Schillinger's Farm) in Severn, MD.

Friday, July 23, 2010

CANCELED: Seed Bomb-aranza

Oh my intrepid gardeners, it is with great regret (but also a little relief) that I announce first-ever cancellation of our first butcertainlynotthelast Seed Bomb-aranza.

If you haven't heard, tomorrow is going to be hella hot here in the District, and the last time the DCGG had an event on a hella hot day, only three people showed up. (Two of those people being me and Le Boyfriend, and the third being the person that suggested the event in the first place.)

Also, at that hella hot event in which only three people showed up, 1/3 of the volunteers nearly died from heat stroke. (That would be me.)

In addition to the hot-hot-hotness, there are several large, well-known gardening events happening at the exact same time as ours which will likely steal - steal? yes, steal - our DCGG members. And then also I'm sort of having a family emergency so I'm not sure what tomorrow is going to be like.

So? So. We are canceling the Seed Bomb-aranza.

But do not be sad, my little ones. I will for certain make it up to you by presenting you with a super fun option: The First Butcertainlynotthelast Seed Bomb Do-It-Yourself Bomb-aroo Kit! Woo!

If you're wretchedly bummed about not being able to make seed bombs with yours truly, let me know and I will send you your very own DIY seed bomb kit. Just add water! Email me your name and address and I'll send you a kit posthaste.

Sorry 'bout the cancelation, kiddies. But chin up! We'll soon be coming into the Fall and that means "Coat D.C. in Crocus" and "Douse D.C. in Daffodils." Oh yes! Fall plantings for Spring takeovers.

Stay cool, my gardening gang.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Coming Soon: The Virginia Avenue Community Garden

This past weekend, I had the honor of meeting the great folks of the Virginia Avenue Community Garden in SE D.C. I am in the process of writing something a bit more substantial about them, their gorgeous garden, and their campaign to save it from development, but for now you get pictures.

I wish these were scratch-n-sniff photos - and that your monitor was a scratch-n-sniff monitor - because HOT DAMN the garden smelled good. It was like walking into a giant lasagna, only without the pasta and marinara. Basil, thyme, rosemary, dill. I wanted to roll in the dirt like a labrador retriever.

The only thing the garden needs is an ice cream plant. A chocolate one. Or Rocky Road! Yeah, a Rocky Road ice cream plant. But until such a thing as an ice cream plant is invented, I'll settle for some tomatoes. And plums. And raspberries. And apples. And cantalope. And pumpkins. And corn.