Amazing things happen when can-do people with a passion for gardening get together. And somewhere in Washington, D.C., six of them have been getting together every Monday at 10. The meeting place is a big, cozy kitchen in a big, ramshackle house in the big city. Refreshments are fresh-baked scones and plenty of good coffee.
Since August these D.C. Master Gardeners have been brainstorming about creating some cool projects - DOING something with all their energy and their love of gardening. Brainstorming about forming some sort of organization, about attracting and putting to good use more and more people like them, with results that can't possibly be known but will probably include school gardens and healing gardens and public events to teach composting and pruning and eco-friendly gardening and who-the-hell-knows what else. And in the process creating comraderie and the fun of team accomplishment for people who've previously gardened by themselves in their own private places.
Their first event in October was a successful plant swap, housed in a historic garage on the grounds of the Georgetown estate called Tudor Place. Next, their Speakers Bureau launched with a PowerPoint talk/demo on composting held at a rec center, also well attended because they were smart in publicizing it. Two passionate composters, including one whose email address is email@example.com, carried the word. And a new school garden has almost emerged from the grueling paperwork-and-fundraising stage to groundbreaking.
As its primary project the team has adopted the Washington Home and Hospice, much in need of help with its six garden areas in varying states of development. There's talk of using plants to elicit memories in the Alzheimers Garden, of growing vegetables in raised beds with the involvement of residents and families, always with the goal of demonstrating environmentally responsible gardening in this very prominent site (the recent home of Art Buchwald).
In February they'll meet the trainees in the Class of 2007, the pool of 35 or so potential activists. They'll cheerlead for the cause and do whatever it takes to turn these volunteers into leaders for years to come.
So who IS the scheming sextet? Three retired government
professionals (all medal-deserving jumpers of bureaucratic hurdles).
aspiring to retirement are a teacher/professional gardener, a
and me. You know how sometimes when you put out a call for people
making something happen, nothing happens? Well, the call I put out
last summer yielded these five. So after convening the first meeting,
my job was to stand back and then discard any delusion I might have had
that I was in charge. They're one of the coolest groups of people I've
Addendum: Here's an update posted in November of 2007. It includes my testimony to the City Council blowing the whistle on DC's Master Gardener program.