26.5 acres of Washington, DC are publicly set aside for food cultivation, and have been mapped in the first Community Garden Census.
Washington, DC’s excellent Neighborhood Farm Initiative led the efforts to investigate and map the boundaries for all of the community gardens within the Nation’s Capital. Volunteers (including myself) visited the 35 community gardens in the city to interview gardeners and garden managers, and map the garden coordinates.
Until now there has been no particular coordination between the community gardens in DC, and many community gardeners aren’t aware how they could fit into a larger network of shared resources.
According to NFI, the purposes of the census are:
- Use GIS data to create a map of polygons depicting accurate square footage/acreage of land currently designated for use by community gardeners within the District of Columbia.
- Use land ownership data to create layers of mapped data to increase transparency of knowledge and accountability by and for community gardens held under city or federal agencies (ie National Park Service, DC Parks & Recreation, etc).
- Publish per-garden plot acquisition procedures broadly and publicly to increase utilization of underused community garden plots.
- Gain insight into community organizing strategies and communication styles that work for managers of widely diverse communities of gardeners.
Taking stock of available land would be a beneficial move for all cities to undertake in order to maximize the space in cities that often goes to waste in the form of vacant lots and parking lots.
Let’s do this in Pittsburgh next! The Mayor would like to convene a Task Force to come up with a plan for dealing with the 20% of vacant land in the city, and I can think of plenty of things I’d like to grow here.