More than 1,000 volunteers shoveled, planted and hammered on Sept. 26 to turn a vacant, three-acre, DCHA site into the East Capitol Urban Farm.

The District of Columbia Housing Authority partnered with the University of District of Columbia’s College of Agriculture, Urban Sustainability and Environmental Sciences (UDC CAUSES) to transform the site at the corner of East Capitol Street and Southern Avenue into a farm providing the Ward 7 community access to sustainable produce in for the next three years.

“We are introducing sustainability, volunteerism and also the opportunity for fresh produce for the community who lives here, particularly our youth and our seniors across the street,” said DCHA Executive Director Adrianne Todman.  “Thank you so much UDC for coming up with this vision after we put out solicitations for innovative ways to repurpose this land – land in which we will bring back thriving, affordable, market rate, homeownership and rental housing on this site in the years to come.”

The farm will include community garden space, exercise trails, a nature discovery area, public art, rain and pollinator gardens, a market place and an aquaponics facility.

The District of Columbia Business Industry Association’s 23rd Annual Community Improvement Day brought out the volunteers to begin building the farm, which is scheduled for completion on Oct. 17.

“This is probably the biggest that we’ve ever undertaken,” said DCBIA President Sean Cahill.  :’We’re building something that is very different and extraordinary.  It’s the city’s biggest large scale urban farm and it’s happening right here in Ward 7.”

UDC will handle the farm’s programming by adapting best practices from its Muirkirk Research Farm in Beltsville. Both are part of a network of urban farms UDC will develop in collaboration with the Urban Waters Federal Partnership, a coalition of 14 federal agencies addressing environmental and economic challenges in underserved urban communities nationwide.

UDC’s plan is to grow produce onsite and make it available to the community through local food trucks. The university will sell the produce commercially to sustain the farm. There also will be a demonstration area where local chefs can teach people how to cook produce they aren’t familiar with or just to give residents a few new recipe ideas. UDC plans to improve urban farming techniques through development and research at this facility.

"The East Capitol Urban Farm is one of the Urban Food Hubs pioneered by UDC to improve food security and sustainability in D.C. neighborhoods through food production, food preparation, food distribution, and waste and water management,” said Sabine O’Hara, dean of UDC CAUSES. “We are thrilled to see this project become a reality.”

The farm becomes the largest of its kind in the District of Columbia.

“It’s so important to bring these amenities to our community, where so many people do not have the opportunity to have fresh fruits and vegetables in what we call a food desert area,” said Ward 7 Councilmember Yvette Alexander.  “This is major. This sends a big message to our residents.”


Officials cut the ribbon to the new East Capitol Urban Farm.
Executive Director Adrianne Todman speaks during the East Capitol Urban Farm ribbon cutting.
Last modified: 9/28/2015 6:04:57 PM