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Project Aims To Record Wisdom Of D.C. Gardeners

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David Quick of the Neighborhood Farm Initiative at Mamie D. Lee Community Garden.
Jonathan Wilson
David Quick of the Neighborhood Farm Initiative at Mamie D. Lee Community Garden.

Let's talk about that trendiest of hipster fads: urban gardening.

But is it really just a fad? An oral history project put together by the non-profit Neighborhood Farm Initiative aims, in part, to dispel that myth, through recorded interviews with dozens of gardeners, young and old, from around the city.

Recently I met the man at the helm of the project, David Quick, at Mamie D. Lee community garden in Fort Totten, to talk about what he hoped to accomplish by gathering the wisdom of D.C. gardeners.

"My professional training is as a librarian and an archivist. I worked at an oral history project at the Library of Congress and just became a big fan of it," he says. "I think it's a really powerful way to preserve knowledge and stories, but also to empower people — empower people making relationships with each other."

The Neighborhood Farm Initiative received a Heritage grant from the D.C. Humanities Council to complete the project.

Quick says he was interested in finding out more about what urban agriculture was like before it became hip again in the 2000s.

"If there's one theme that came out, that shouldn't have been surprising to me, it's that gardening takes a lot of work," he says. "If you're gonna have a successful garden, it's hard work. And that is the constant and it's never going to ever change. I think some of the people who've been [gardening] for a long time, they know that and they can kind of pick out very quickly whether a new gardener is going to succeed or not."

[Music: "In the Garden of Earthly Delights" by Combustible Edison from The Impossible World]

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