Yes, we've ranted about the image in the media of "gardener" as someone who's frankly, old, with all the cultural baggage we associate with age, so I won't go there. But the demographics ARE changing, and one DC Master Gardener/Urban Gardener/community garden organizer brought that point home to me recently.
She's Mandie Yanasak, the brunette in the center of the team photo above. I've posted
about Mandie before, after she was profiled in the Washington Post, and she might just epitomize the kind of passionate new gardeners we're seeing lately. I knew that by day she's a union organizer and this weekend I found out she has an alternative identify on the weekends – as roller derby player "Lucy Arson", number 51 on the DC DemonCats. What else was new to me? That there even ARE DC Roller Girls – in real life, not just movies, or in other parts of the country.
And outing Mandie as a DemonCat gives me the opportunity to shower a bit of praise of a bunch of other DC gardeners, young people who are having a big impact here without the kind of media attention being lavished on the White House Garden. Here are just a few of them and what they're up to.
- The Common Good City Farm is headed by Liz Falk (also with Fresh Farm Markets. Actually, she's everywhere.)
- The Neighborhood Farm Initiative, headed by Bea Trickett and Joshua Wenz (who also coaches veg-growing at My Organic Garden DC.
- The America the Beautiful Fund is in the middle of everything and has been the prime organizer of two very successful Rooting DC events. The prime mover there is Katie Rehwaldt.
- The Washington Youth Garden at the National Arboretum publicizes their
terrific program on their
blog. Kaifa Anderson-Hall and Chris Turse are doing a great job.
- Vinnie Bevivino, who I last caught up with at the Master Peace Farm he oversees.
- As of this week we also have our own Guerrilla Gardeners! Talk about a great blogging opportunity – I will SO be there for their first "revolutionary act".
- The Capital Area Food Bank has delivered good food to the needy for 30 years now, so a long-overdue shout-out to those folks. What's new is a Grow a Row program that connects with home gardeners.
- And our pal Ed Bruske's been making headway in his campaign to improve school food. He says "There is a food revolution underway in D.C. schools and it's called Parents for Better D.C. School Food." They have a Google group, a Facebook page, a blog, and of course a Twitter account (@dcschoolfood).
- City Blossoms, Lola Bloom and Rebecca Lemos we've posted about before.
- The Natural Capital is a blog about getting outside, inside the beltway.
And they all seem to be partners in Field to
Fork Network, "dozens of organizations working
in Washington, DC to foster regional change in how we approach our food." That's great – really! – but I detect a possible gap in what's happening in urban gardening – attention to growing ornamentals. There are all sorts of environmental groups advocating wildlife gardening – and wildlife gardening only – but not much push to educate the public about pesticides, or about how lawn fertilizers are killing the Chesapeake Bay. Or on a more upbeat note, directing wannabe-gardeners to gorgeous plants that are pretty near sustainable.
Actually, those subversive guerrillas might be my soulmates. "As a group, we operate purely for the love of
nature and a desire to beautify our beloved city." They're about converting land to gardens of all types.