This past Saturday, February 27, I attended Rooting DC for the first time although it has been in existence for 9 years. It was so fun and informative that I should have started attending 9 years ago. Rooting DC is a free, day-long gardening forum to provide education about gardening, especially edible gardening, and to provide education and resources about local, urban food production and consumption. It is a wonderful opportunity to meet and network with people involved in the Washington DC area gardening/food production landscape. This annual event is a collaborative, volunteer effort planned by members from the Arcadia Center for Sustainable Food and Agriculture, City Blossoms, Common Good City Farm, FRESHFARM Market, Love & Carrots, and Three Part Harmony Farm. Hosted by DC Greens, a non-profit dedicated to connecting communities to healthy food in the Nation’s capital; Rooting DC took place at the Woodrow Wilson High School, 3950 Chesapeake Street, NW; next to the Tenleytown-AU metro station.
The presentations were organized into four modules, each an hour long, starting at 10:00 am and ending at 4:00 with a break for lunch. Each module was either a one-hour presentation, i.e., one topic, or a “7 x 7,”seven presentations, each lasting 7 minutes. The Rooting DC website listed the schedule, which I printed to plan my visit in advance, but I also received a booklet when I arrived with the schedule, descriptions of the presentations, and all the organizations attending that day. I spent the day attending presentations on:
- using compost
- growing mighty microgreens
- gardening with raised beds
- planning and planting for a continuous harvest
- farming using the veganic method
- learning simple building skills
- employing companion planting in the garden
In addition to the lectures, over 60 non-profit and for profit green businesses, local government agencies, and educational institutions provided information and samples at tables strategically placed in the school’s atrium. This was the opportunity to meet Sandy Farber Bandier, DC Master Gardener Coordinator, to learn about the Master Gardener program; meet with Meredith Sheperd, owner of Love & Carrots, to learn how her business creates edible gardens; view the gardening tools and books Purple Mountain Organics had for sale; obtain a compost sample from Veteran Compost; pick up the Franciscan Monastery Garden Guild’s postcard to remind me of their April plant/herb sale; and obtain Southern Exposure Seed Exchange’s seed catalog. I was sorely tempted to purchase the 2016 calendar of edible flowers from Marcella Kriebel Art + Illustration – it was a beautifully illustrated poster — and I would have loved to come home with one of those brown T-shirts from Urban Farm Plans.
This year, the Chas C. Hart seed company donated boxes of vegetable and herb seeds to the event. Each table received a box so while I talked with representatives, I flipped through the packets of seeds, looking for the more unusual ones. I found a few gems I had never heard of before such as cicoria (Italian dandelion), pepperoncini (hot pepper), ‘Riesentraube’ grape tomato, and purple-podded snow peas!
Rooting DC took place in an excellent forum: the Woodrow Wilson High School was spacious and within walking distance of metro, which was next to a Panera Bread and Whole Foods Market. Coffee was available in the school cafeteria and food trucks were parked outside during lunch.
One can register to attend Rooting DC in advance or just walk in. I registered in advance and printed the ticket, which I presented at the door. I was there early enough to visit the tables before the presentations began, which turned out to be a good thing because the seed packets were gone by lunch time. Although the event is free, the Rooting DC website, http://www.rootingdc.org, asks for a $10 donation when registering. The website itself has plenty of information on local gardening and food production. As of this posting, the booklet with the schedule and presenters is still online and several presenters have posted their presentations, which serve as resources themselves to people who could not attend but are interested in gardening. Check out the visitors’ tweets to see photos and comments at #rootingdc and #RDC16. Be sure you put this event on your calendar for next year — Rooting DC will be celebrating its 10th year!