On Saturday, Oct. 1 the Neighborhood Farm Initiative (NFI), a nonprofit project of America the Beautiful Fund, held a pot luck and open house at the Ft. Totten Demonstration Garden, located Northwest of the Ft. Totten Metro station behind the Mamie D. Lee School, to celebrate their gardening accomplishments.
The Neighborhood Farm Initiative’s mission is to “cultivate a resourceful community of adults and teenagers who work together to engage in small-scale food production in the Washington, D.C. area.”
The NFI was happy to celebrate the end of their third growing season at the Ft. Totten Demonstration Garden, which has had more than 360 different volunteers who have worked over 1,500 volunteer hours. The celebration included a “Garden Workday,” from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m. and ended with a “Potluck Lunch,” from 12 p.m. to 1 p.m.
Kristin Georger, NFI’s volunteer coordinator, explained who should attend the event.
“Anyone could have attended the event and we would hope people in the Fort Totten community would attend,” said Georger.
Georger clarified the goal of the NFI event.
“The reason for the event was to invite new volunteers to see the garden, congratulate our current volunteers, and invite anyone who was interested in learning about what we do to see and take a tour of the garden.”
The NFI has been assisting with the success of the Ft. Totten gardens by providing educational gardening programs for the people of the Washington D.C. area. The focus of these programs reaches teenagers and adults in the district who are interested in improving underutilized public green spaces by creating demonstration gardens.
The hands on community wide gardening educational programs presented by NFI helps to increase the access of fresh vegetables for all of the members in Ft. Totten community.
According to Bea Trickett, NFI Co-Founder and Program Director, in 2010 more than 280 NFI volunteers helped support the successful half acre demonstration garden near Fort Totten. Through outreach, education, and partnerships, 17 adults and 20 local youth learned the trade and value of sustainable gardening at Ft. Totten.
NFI volunteer work is general organic farm maintenance. This includes gardening work such as digging, weeding, sifting compost, planting and much more. Volunteers also help maintain the NFI farm, which helps volunteers learn the basics of organic gardening.
The six main goals of the NFI are to serve as an educational resource on small scale organic food production for DC area residents; increase access to nutritious fresh vegetables for under-served neighborhoods and communities; increase the number of organic gardeners in Washington D.C., leading to more outdoor activities and healthier lifestyles; build capacity and skills of youth and adults seeking work in urban food production; promote connections and foster relationships between and among individuals, garden communities, and land-use agencies; and improve unused or under-utilized public green space in Washington, D.C., persevering and protecting undeveloped land.
In 2010, NFI accomplished their goal to “increase the access of nutritious fresh vegetables for under-served neighborhoods and communities” by donating 215 pounds of fresh organically grown vegetables to Food & Friends, a non-profit serving thousands of meals to people living with life-challenging illnesses across the DC-area, and over 80 pounds of fresh vegetables to DC Central Kitchen.
The open house, pot luck, and garden day event helped NFI achieve the goal of not only increasing access to nutritious fresh vegetables for under-served neighborhoods and communities, but also in increasing the number of organic gardeners in Washington D.C.
NFI used social media, like Twitter and Facebook, to help broadcast the event.
Before the celebration of NFI’s third growing season, NFI tweeted, “Bundle up and join us for our volunteer workday this morning! We’ll be ending at noon to enjoy a potluck. Hope to see you at the garden.”
Ath the end of the event, NFI showed their appreciation for their volunteers by tweeting, “Thanks to everyone who battled the weather today! We had a great turnout and some delicious food. Photos to follow.”