When we opened our rooftop garden in April, Bread for the City received lots of media attention — and the most exuberant of all came from Frank Asher, proprietor of OLD CITY green, a gardening supply store and community center just two blocks from our Northwest facility. Frank writes the Garden Fairey column in MidCity Magazine, and here’s what he said (see a PDF of the article here):

It took a village to create this. It will take the village to keep it going. And, the village created by this space is more than eager to have this magical rooftop to tend… OLD CITY green has your back!

Frank is a man of his word. Since our opening, OLD CITY green has provided Bread for the City with plants, soil, equipment, technical assistance and moral support. Even better: their staff has been providing regular workshop facilitation!

During one of our very first garden workshops, Sarah from OLD CITY green led us through a session on pest management. Clients and volunteers created organic, chemical-free pesticides using garden ingredients (garlic, basil and peppers), mixed in to a ‘tea’ that gets sprayed on plants.

We also created cardboard sticky traps using non-contaminant skin lotion. These traps only kill pests as a last resort, without endangering plants, soil, or human health. Lead garden volunteer Leonard Edwards recently blogged about the experience, saying: “Here we are conditioned to think that we have to go buy chemicals from the store and blast them all over the place, and it turns out we can do it easy, cheap, and chemical-free.”

Along with Decoy of the Albus Cavus artist collective, we created bird repelling devices: pie tins painted with angry faces.

In another workshop, Sarah gave a brief demonstration on potting plants, and then walked us through sustainable harvesting practices so that they will grow back throughout the season.

Last month, after a “Pesto Party” in which we made all kinds of lunchables from the plentiful basil in our garden, Jesse from OLD CITY green led a Q-and-A with 15 clients and volunteers. Many of our garden folk have started their own gardens, and they had a lot of questions about what’s in the ground soil and tap water in our urban environment. Jesse provided great tips so that they can ensure that their plants don’t absorb major pollutants from the area.

Jesse is in the Master Gardener program through the University of the District of Columbia, and he’ll be teaching in our youth garden program in the fall. “It’s so satisfying,” he says, “to be able to continue this learning with other people.”

(See the full set of photos from Jesse’s workshop here.)
OLD CITY green has been a key partner in the success of our gardens. And we need your help, too. Generous donations made this garden possible, and will sustain it into the future — you can make a monetary gift here!

Or you can help us get the material we need. We are always in need of the following:

1. Organic potting soil
2. Organic fertilizer
3. Sturdy pots in good condition
4. Seeds and Seedlings

We even have a registry open at OLD CITY green — you can go there to purchase any of this material for our gardens directly. While you’re there, you should pick up stuff for your own garden!

(If you have some already you’d like to share with us, please contact me directly at jwankel@breadforthecity.org.)

Our next workshop with OLD CITY green is on Saturday, September 24th. From 10-12am, we’ll learn about — and plant — our fall crops (including collards, broccoli, garlic, onions, lettuce, arugula, and kale — much of it generously donated by Leon Carrier of Plant Masters — thanks, Leon!). From 12-1pm, volunteer Sophie will provide a healthy Chinese cooking demonstration, and we’ll have lunch. Then from 1-3pm, we’ll take on some projects — like building a wall of giant potted bushes, planting some of our fall crops, constructing pallet planters, and more. Would you like to volunteer? Email me!