This will unfortunately be the final entry on this blog as it is clear that promises made were hollow and apparently just political rhetoric designed to put off answering difficult questions in the build-up to the City’s mayoral primary last month. Since the very successful Community Action Day on March 8th which demonstrated the groundswell of community support for the Farm and more importantly for our students and their families, there has been zero communication from the office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development, zero communication from the Chief of Staff for DC Public Schools, zero communication from the Instructional Superintendent for the cluster of schools overseeing the Walker Jones Education Campus, and zero communication or action by the Principal of the school, despite repeated requests for information, decisions, and action.
All the seed for the some 100 different crops that are normally grown on the Farm needed to be purchased in March; the early Spring direct seeded crops such as peas and beans planted, and the mid-season seedling crops such as tomatoes peppers, eggplants started by April; and the deadline for other major crops such as collards and kale (that needed to be planted in time for harvest prior to the end of the school year so students could take their produce home) was past due last week. None has been purchased, let alone planted; no students for the school have had a chance to work on the farm.
Unfortunately too, several important tasks needed to be done in order to preserve our organic designation (composting, hand weeding in accordance with the minimal-till regime, beneficial organism breeding and release, non-chemical pre-season maintenance of fruit trees and soft fruit gardens, etc.) but have not been and so even if work was started tomorrow, we will no longer be permitted to hold the organic-squared designation we earned last season.
As with the South Central Farm of Los Angeles which was in operation between 1994 and 2006 when urban farmers were evicted but with promises of “relocation” that have yet to be honored, so seems to be the fate of the Farm at Walker Jones. As of April 2014, the site of the South Central Farm is still a derelict lot. The only real difference with the Farm at Walker Jones is that this 1-acre site will soon hold the retail/residential space that has now become the symbol of gentrification in DC where the concepts of affordable housing and food justice are ignored in the face of the tax revenue that will swell the City’s coffers.