A hidden gem!
Farming and city living don’t usually go hand in hand, but just off the beaten path of Connecticut Avenue you’ll find a flourishing garden full of beautiful colors and fresh fruits and veggies. The Melvin Hazen Community Garden, located on Sedgewick St in Northwest DC, is a great option for urbanites interested in getting their hands dirty and putting their gardening skills to the test.
Where it all began…
During World War II, the government asked citizens to pitch in and start growing their own food in private gardens and public parks to help ease the pressure on the already strained domestic food supply. These gardens came to be known as “victory gardens” and were treasured not only for the food they produce but for the morale boost they provided for those “serving” on the home front.
To help establish a dedicated space, the National Park Service designated part of Rock Creek Park for this purpose. The garden is named after former D.C. commissioner Melvin Hazen (fun fact: Melvin Hazen also chose the design for the D.C. flag).
Little has changed since then and a host of enthusiastic gardeners continue to tend their plots. Much of the garden is still reserved strictly for growing fruits and vegetables and, adhering to its original mission, at least 90 percent of the garden space must be used for vegetables though flowers are permitted on the remaining 10 percent of the land. The garden is separated into more than 100 individual 8’x15’ plots, though sizes do vary, allowing gardeners the freedom to grow fruits and vegetables of all shapes and sizes. The garden is strictly organic and the use of many common herbicides, pesticides and fertilizer is prohibited.
How can I get involved?
Plots in the Melvin Hazen Community Garden are available to anyone for just $25 per year. In addition to overseeing and allocating plots, the Melvin Hazen Community Garden Association also provides tools, wheelbarrows, sheds, and water for those without the requisite equipment as well as helpful advice for those that may not have the greenest thumb. The association also has a dedicated group of garden patrons, aka the “weed police,” who inspect plots monthly to make sure gardeners are doing their part to maintain their space.
Though the current wait time for a plot is four years, there may be other ways to get involved. To place your name on the wait list, send an e-mail to Melvin.Hazen.Garden@verizon.net with the following information:
If you’re anxious to get started, add your name to the volunteer list on the garden’s Google site. If a gardener needs assistance, or wants to share their plot, that’s your shot to get in!
Still serving a true community purpose…
The garden is again participating in the “Grow-a-Row” program through the Capital Area Food Bank to donate excess produce. Gardeners can leave extra garden goodies weekly to be delivered to So Others May Eat (better known as SOME).
Additionally, the University of the District of Columbia CAUSES (College of Agriculture, Urban Sustainability & Environmental Sciences) has extended their service to Melvin Hazen gardeners.
So, slip away from city life for just a moment and visit us!