In 2013, the Neighborhood Farm Initiative (NFI) received a generous grant from the DC Humanities Council to conduct oral histories with community gardeners in Washington, D.C. Founded in 2008, NFI is a community organization dedicated increasing access to healthy produce in the D.C. community, teaching urban residents how to grow their own food.
The DC Gardeners Oral History Project is part of the larger DC Community Heritage Project through the Humanities Council of Washington, D.C. The District has a long history of community gardening in its neighborhoods, and community gardeners possess a wealth of knowledge about community history, urban agriculture, and the pressing environmental and social concerns of the citizens of the city. Within the interviews, longtime community gardeners explore stories of abandoned lots turned into bountiful gardens, new community gardens—and ones that are decades old—and how gardens improve the health of communities through access to fresh food and green space. What can we learn about the past, and the future, from urban gardeners? With the help of volunteers, NFI set out to answer that question and recorded over 35 stories about growing, harvesting, and cooking wisdom from community members active in the gardening scene.
Louise M., a longtime community gardener in D.C., grew up in the area as a child of German immigrants. In these audio clips she shares her childhood memories of growing and cooking fresh food and her experience as a gardener in a rapidly changing urban area.
To hear more, access the full interviews on the DC Digital Museum website, a project of the D.C. Humanities Council, created by the people of Washington, D.C.