Teach people to grow their own healthy food in DC

 
$8,063 $3,437
Raised Remaining
Last class!
Last class!

I’m proud to say that this has been one of our best years at NFI. Most of that success is due to your generous giving, so first of all, thank you! The growing season is slowing down now and our classes are breaking for the winter (this past weekend had the first frost alert of season—yikes!) so it’s a nice time to reflect on the past growing season and look ahead to the coming year.

Thanks to your support, our new three-season garden took off! This was the first year that we were able to provide year-round classes for beginning to intermediate growers. We had 64 students complete one or more of our winter, summer, or fall food-growing classes--more than double the number of students in previous years. We love that we can now offer year-round learning about one of the most important parts of our lives—our food!

One of my favorite parts of our hands-on garden education programs is watching newbie gardeners gain growing knowledge and the confidence to grow on their own. One of our summer participants, Andrew, had this to say:

“I decided to take this class hoping that I would learn a little about starting a vegetable garden and maybe get to eat some fresh veggies. What I found was a community that was very welcoming to new farmers, providing us with the confidence to work a plot of land as well as countless helpful tips and personal advice. It was also amazingly therapeutic to be able to "get out" of the city for a few hours at a time.”

In addition to our three-season growing classes, for the first time ever we were able to offer a medicinal herb class, using plant-based remedies to help our bodies heal and prevent illness. Our instructor showed students not only how to grow their own medicinal herbs, but also how to find common medicinal herbs growing as weeds all around the city. We were pleased to see so many interested and eager students looking for natural ways to keep their bodies healthy and happy.

Next year, we will be taking the show on the road! In addition to our programs we will be partnering with community groups, church groups, housing developments, and any other organizations whose members want to learn more about how to grow food in their own backyards or green space. With this model we hope to touch even more residents who may not have access to fresh food.

In the coming weeks we will begin our annual year-end campaign to help us reach our goal of graduating even more participants and helping more people have access to healthy fresh food. We hope you can help us raise much needed funds so that we can kick off our food access on the road campaign.

Stay warm,

Kristin

P.S. - if you are in the neighborhood, please join us at our fall Harvest Ball on Wednesday, November 12 from 6:00 pm - 10:00 pm. We will have local food, beer, and at the end of the night we will kick up our feet with some contra dancing!

Instructor Joe teaching about season extension
Instructor Joe teaching about season extension
Field trip from a neighboring housing development
Field trip from a neighboring housing development
Medicinal herb class
Medicinal herb class

Links:

Rabiah showing off her first corn harvest
Rabiah showing off her first corn harvest

It feels as though summer has already come and gone by the changes in tempreature around the DC area. This season has been uncharacteristically cool (which is a welcome!), but means that fall is just around the corner. These past three months our participants and volunteers have worked hard to dig, plant, and weed to harvest fresh, local produce! Their labor has finally paid off though! All of our participants are harvesting their summer fresh veggies of beans, tomatoes, corn, eggplants, cucumbers, okra, basil, and much more!

Our summer class ended on August 2, with a total of 27 graduating gardeners! We are even more excited to have 10 of those 27 returning to enroll in our fall class. Due to your support, we were able to extend two of our full-scholarship participants into the fall class as well as one of our work-study participants.

We had a great deal of help this year with our Urban Garden Mentors, two mentors were former NFI volunteers, and two were former participants in either our summer or winter programs from last year. It was wonderful to see them pass on their knowledge and also a learn a new thing or two from the new gardeners.

With the large flow of harvests coming in, we've been able to donate tons of fresh food to Thrive DC, a non-profit that provides a new start for anyone experiencing food insecurity, housing instability and/or economic crisis.  They offer hope and the first steps toward a life of independence and self-sufficiency. NFI's donation of healthy, fresh produce from is used to supplement their Fresh Food Emergency Pantry Program. 

Want to learn more about what we've been up to this summer? Read our blog, written by our summer participant, Ian, who provides tips on gardening, what to do with those pesky pests, and how much weeding there really is to be done!

Thank you again for all of your support. Without your help we couldn't have had such a successful growing year. We are excited to close out the season with our fall class, so stay tuned for pumpkins, turnips, and more!

Best wishes,

From all of us at NFI

Fresh tomato tasting with Edgewood Terrance
Fresh tomato tasting with Edgewood Terrance
Instructor Joe teaching about a cucumber trellis
Instructor Joe teaching about a cucumber trellis
Volunteers learning about composting
Volunteers learning about composting
Free small scale gardening workshop
Free small scale gardening workshop
Intern Katie talks about edible weeds
Intern Katie talks about edible weeds
Summer Garden Education Class
Summer Garden Education Class

Hello!

Many thanks again for your support to help our programs this year. So far this spring has been an amazing start to the year! Check out what we've done since our last report.

Summer Adult Garden Education Program:

We have 30 participants in this summer's program! With your help we were able to give away three full-scholarships, two partial, and provide one work-study opportunity. This class has a lot of enthusiasm and has already finished planting their whole garden. They are now weeding, watering, and watching for their produce to grow!

Meet some of our growers! 

Grace Kelly - one of our scholarship participants, who "wants to learn organic gardening because it is healthy to eat food that is not chemically processed or GMO created.  There are no pesticides or other harmful contaminants in organically grown food.With the knowledge learned from this course, I will be able to properly grow my own organic vegetables and to aid in improving my health. I have presently gone back to a vegetarian diet to hopefully help with my disabilities.  The library has a free yoga class I started last month so I can bend down pretty good and work in a garden."

Christina Fleming: "I want to learn how to garden and grow food! I want that connection with the earth, and the sense of connection and appreciation for the food I eat. I'd love to take what I learn to start to grow more food at my home, and maybe one day help others to do the same. 

Ian Whittmore, is our work-study participant who has been blogging about his experience in our class. Read his blog and more on our website: Neighborhood Farm Initiative.

These participants are working hard to learn how to grow their own food. We have been receiving lots of help from past participants as well! Check out our new Urban Garden Mentors!

NFI Summer Open House

In the area on Saturday, June 14? Please join us for a day at the garden. We will hold volunteer opportunities, workshops, and of course a lot of food! Pies will be donated from Dangerously Delicious Pies using NFI produce.

THANK YOU!

Thank you for all your support so far in helping us to teach people to grow their own food.  Help us secure scholarships for our Fall Adult Garden Education Program coming up this September and donate today! Want to get something in return? Buy a NFI Canvas bag! NFI now has bags to hold all your lovely veggies. Buy one today to support scholarhips for low-income residents in the Metro DC area. 

Planting time!
Planting time!
Participants sowing for a good harvest
Participants sowing for a good harvest
Mulching to keep weeds down
Mulching to keep weeds down

Links:

winter garden class
winter garden class

Many thanks to everyone again for helping to kick start our 2014 year! Without your support we couldn't have provided the following programs!

  • On Wednesday, February 19 we held our first Winter Gardening class! This program will run until the end of March and is designed for the grower who wants to take it to the next step. We provide hands-on classes that teach people how to better design their garden, how to start their own seeds, how to build a cold-frame to jump-start their season, and how to improve their soil. We have fifteen people enrolled in the class andb because of you we were also able to offer three scholarships to low-imcome participants who hope to teach their friends and family their newly acquired knowledge!
  • We've also opened registration on our Seasonal Herb Growing & Remedies class. This class will not only teach people how to grow their own herbs, but how to effectively use them for medicinal purposes.
  • This year we also plan on holding free workshops at DC Public Libraries to give everyone the chance to learn about growing their own food. On Saturday, February 22, we will hold our first one - Seed Starting! Participants will learn about inexpensive ways to start and grow their seeds on the right foot!

We are also excited to be a part of the planning team for Rooting DC, a free all-day gardening forum for its 6th year! This year we will have three workshops lead by NFI staff, volunteers, and board members! If you're in the DC area, please stop by on Saturday, March 1 from 8:30 am - 4:00 pm. 

Thank you again for all your support! We hope to continue to teach others how to grow their own food!

Happy growing,

The NFI team

seed starting
seed starting

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Project Leader

Kristin Brower

Washington, DC United States

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