Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

The Rest is Silence

In Uncategorized on May 5, 2014 at 8:34 pm

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.





Community Action Day, Saturday March 8th, 9am to 3pm!

In Events, Improvements, Partners, Uncategorized on February 22, 2014 at 7:34 am

By now you will have heard that the farm has something of a reprieve in that talk about “relocating” has also included an understanding that if any construction and development is indeed going to take place at the farm site (still an ongoing discussion, including the illogicality of moving to a possible adjacent space), it may take 12 to 18 months before anything happens.

What does this mean? It means that we can move ahead and prepare the farm for the upcoming 2014 season and further consolidate the farm’s importance as a community hub and unique opportunity for our students to be empowered by growing and eating their own food!

As many gardeners know, Winter is hardly a time for sitting back and waiting for Spring, but should be the period when much of the needed repairs, renovations, and maintenance are completed prior to the Spring surge. While we have moved the debate from shutdown towards reprieve, much of this needed work was not completed so in order to re-energise our initiative we are asking everybody to recruit, cajole, bully, bribe, or otherwise encourage all your groups and supporters to volunteer for a massive Community Action Day on Saturday, March 8th from 9am to 3pm.

We have a ton of work to do which will primarily involve spreading compost, and weeding and tilling all our fields and peripheral areas. We will arrange for the school building to be open to cater to bathroom needs, and we will provide tools and gloves for all.


Cardinal Climber

In Uncategorized on September 14, 2013 at 3:22 am

cardinal 1

Cardinal Climber (Ipomea x multifida) at the entrance to the herb garden, still summoning the ruby-throated hummingbirds!

Queen Anne’s Lace, another Apiaceae

In Uncategorized on August 26, 2013 at 1:08 pm

Queen Anne 1

In the UK this is Wild Carrot, in the US this is Queen Anne’s Lace, however the USDA lists it as a noxious weed even though it is a beneficial companion plant for tomatoes, so on the Farm at Walker-Jones, we have tons of it!  As a member of the family Apiaceae (or Umbelliferae) it is closely related to several herbs: angelica, anise, caraway, chervil, cicely, coriander (cilantro), cumin, dill, fennel, lovage, and parsley.

Queen Anne 2

In the second photo you can see the unique single red flower in the center of the white-flowered umbel, very likely a beacon for pollinators, but also explained as the droplet of blood when Queen Anne pricked herself with a needle while making the lace.

Allowing Queen Anne’s Lace to self-sow amidst the field in which we intercrop the Allium family (onions, leeks, and garlic) and other Umbelliferae (carrots and parsnips) further attracts both beneficial insect predators as well as helping to confuse the respective onion and carrot flies, a strategy that assists us in our organic crop management.

umbra, Latin “shade” ~ umbella, Latin “sunshade” ~ umbel, English Hort. “an inflorescence consisting of a number of flower-stalks or pedicels, nearly equal in length, spreading from a common center, their summits forming a level, convex, or concave surface”

“Beans, Beans, are Good for your Heart…”

In Uncategorized on June 11, 2013 at 12:29 am

beans 1

“Beans, beans, are good for your heart, the more you eat, the more you… ” wait… with the Mexican herb epazote, we don’t need to finish that rhyme! Planted and then harvested by our Pre-Schoolers and Pre-Kindergartners, these are Asian yard-long beans with ‘Tongue of Fire’, ‘Provider’, and ‘Royal Burgundy’ bush beans, and ‘Fortex’ pole beans

beans 2


‘Fortex’ pole beans spiraling counter-clockwise up the pentapods until… we harvest them, thereby thwarting any Darwinian/Coriolis/circumnutation/twining chirality debate!


In Uncategorized on May 24, 2013 at 12:46 pm

persimmon 1


All the Jiro, Saijo, and Maekawa Jiro oriental persimmons are in flower ~ looks like another batch of persimmon-chili jam this Fall!

5% Day at Whole Foods P Street on Tuesday, 9/18

In Uncategorized on September 14, 2012 at 2:18 pm

September 18th
5% Day for the Junior Bee Club
Whole Foods Market P Street
Washington DC 20005

Four times a year Whole Foods Market holds Community Giving Days (otherwise known as “5% Days”) where five percent of that day’s net sales are donated to a local nonprofit or educational organization. The groups that benefit are as varied as the communities themselves.

This 5% day will help establish seed money for the first Club in DC Schools that focus on bees, beehives, environment, science, gardens and fun! The Junior Bee Club mission: engage students in the magic of beekeeping! The new pilot program will include outfitting each school with new hives, providing field trips to area farms with bees, school visits by local expert beekeepers, life science education and beekeeping.

Walker Jones Education Campus has been the first and only school in the district to incorporate a beehive into their learning environment, but not for long! We are happy to be mentoring Mann, Maury, and Garrison as we all move forward on this journey together. So exciting! We know how valuable the experience has been for our students, and we can’t wait to see the fun and learning spread.

Please stop by Whole Foods P Street on Tuesday for a little (or a lot!) of shopping, and 5% of your purchase will go directly to developing these school programs. Jeff Miller will be in the store at 4:30 to exhibit a demo hive and answer questions, and schools information will be displayed throughout the day. We will also be bringing honey from the Farm at Walker Jones for sampling. And it is YUM!

The Farm at Walker Jones at the Markets

In Uncategorized on July 10, 2012 at 6:23 pm

The Farm at Walker Jones is excited about participating in two farmers markets in the city this summer. The first is right in the neighborhood at the NoMa Farmers Market. “The NoMa Farmers Market is a free neighborhood amenity that connects NoMa residents and workers to top local farmers in the region, while providing a relaxing community gathering place for neighbors to meet. Patrons can pick up dinner or buy groceries after work or on their way home, then head over to NoMa Summer Screen for outdoor films. Vendors provide a variety of fresh and organic produce, orchard fruits, meats, cheeses, prepared foods and baked goods, all from local farms. The market also features monthly cooking demonstrations from popular chefs in the District of Columbia.”

The market has a new location this year at the NoMa Metro Plaza at Second and N Streets, NE, adjacent to Marriott, Au Bon Pain and ATF. The market will be held Wednesdays, from May 30 to October 31, from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m.

We have been having lots of fun there talking to neighbors, and thanking all the DCPS central office folks profusely for all their support (they are our best customers!). Please come by and see us, and pick up some fresh produce from our farm, picked just before market.

If you miss us on Wednesday, please head out to the Glover Park-Burleith Farmers Market in the Hardy Middle School parking lot at Wisconsin Ave & 34th Street NW (across from the Safeway) on Saturdays from 9:00 – 1:00. This market is sponsored by the good people at DC Greens, and there is always a lot of fun going on there – local produce, live music, food trucks, chef demos, bike clinics, hula hoops, face painting and more. Check out there website for calendar updates.

All proceeds from our sales at the markets go directly to getting the farm and food lab inside school ready for our great kids when they return to school in late August. Many thanks for your support!

Sir Francis Bacon, Thomas Jefferson, and Salad Burnet

In Uncategorized on July 10, 2012 at 5:45 pm

Sharing the same properties as the medicinal herb Burnet (Sanguisorba officinalis), Salad Burnet has been used for over 2,000 years. The Latin scientific name, Poterium sanguisorba or Sanguisorba minor, translates as “drink up blood” referring to its astringent qualities and so it has been used to prevent hemorrhages and internal bleeding; in past centuries, soldiers would drink a tea made from the herb before going into battle in the hopes that any wounds they received would be less severe.

Salad Burnet was first introduced to the New World from its native Europe and north-west Africa by the English colonists of the 1600s. The English statesman and scientist, Sir Francis Bacon was fond of this herb when planted on garden pathways “to perfume the air most delightfully, being trodden on and crushed”; even Thomas Jefferson knew the value of Salad Burnet as excellent fodder for livestock, having once ordered 8 bushels of seed , enough for 16 acres of plants!

We don’t quite have 16 acres of this perennial herb planted at the WJ Herb Garden, but its fresh tangy cucumber taste makes it a great ingredient in many French and Italian recipes (all recipes tried, tested, and plates eagerly licked clean by the author!)

Onion, Corn and Potato Soup with Salad Burnet Purée
This is a rich and comforting soup, with the Burnet puree adding a refreshing accent. (Adapted from a recipe by Linda Gilbert, a Bay Area freelance journalist and co-owner of a Sonoma catering company.)
3 tbs. butter
3 large yellow onions, chopped
3 ½ cups vegetable stock
¼ tsp. mace
1 ½ cups milk
3 medium russet potatoes, peeled and diced
½ sp. minced garlic
kernels from 2 ears of yellow corn
salt and pepper
½ cup Salad Burnet leaves
Sprigs of Salad Burnet for garnish
3 pans
Melt 2 tablespoons of the butter in a soup pot. Slowly sauté the onion until golden. Add the vegetable stock, mace, and potatoes. Raise the heat until the mixture simmers, cover and cook until the potatoes are soft. Add the garlic and the purée the soup until smooth. In a separate pan, sauté the corn kernels in the remaining tablespoon of butter. Sprinkle with a pinch of salt. In a separate container combine the Salad Burnet and ½ cup of the pureed soup. Puree this mixture until blended but there are still some flecks of green visible. Add the corn to the pot of soup and heat through. Adjust salt and pepper, and add more milk if the soup is too thick. Ladle the soup into individual bowls, and using a spoon, decorate each portion with the pureed green mixture: swirls, hearts, lettering — whatever is fun. Garnish with sprigs of whole leaf Salad Burnet.

– David Hilmy

Day on the Farm with Fulbright Scholars

In Uncategorized on April 28, 2012 at 9:17 pm

Recently, our students spent an entire morning out on the farm working with a group of Fulbright scholars visiting the city. The kids were very curious about all of the places the volunteers hailed from, and the questions they directed at our new friends from Australia and Germany and many other points were seemingly never-ending. However, the questioning had to continue through an ambitious work schedule for the morning.

The high point of the day for our younger students was the worm farm that the scholars put together for the farm.

They are laughing in this photo because despite the instructions coming in five languages, all of them known by at least one member of the group, it still proved a challenging project. While the kids waited for completion, they made a kale salad for the worms.

And poked around in the bucket of worms to make sure they were ready for their new home.

And then could not get enough of them once moved to their permanent house. Mrs. Felder, second grade teacher, here helps the students understand how worms are beneficial to our farm.

The older kids had plenty to do as well.

And were even joined by Assistant Principal Hill in weeding the butterfly garden.

And how did we keep them all going strong? We encouraged them to eat the blossoms off these kale plants. They LOVED them! Well, most of them did. There were the three children who claimed they tasted like dirt.

Many thanks to the Fulbright scholars who helped make for such a happy and educational morning on the farm!