Drumrolll please… it’s official! We now live in a city with a comprehensive and progressive farm bill. That means no less than 25 city owned lots will become farms, private land owners can apply for a 90% property tax abatement when they lease their vacant lot to farmers, and those of us who already generously donate healthy, fresh produce to district food pantries and soup kitchens can now apply for a tax credit. We went from following in the footsteps to paving a new path- kudos and gratitude to everyone on the city council!
In DC and around the world, seeds are being planted for a new kind of economy — one that is rooted in the values of democracy, justice, cooperation, self-determination, and sustainability. At its core, this movement is about democratizing the ownership of the means of production, so more people have control over their lives and communities. In December 2014, members of the Community Farming Alliance (CFA); vegetable farmer Gail Taylor of Three Part Harmony Farm, Zachari Curtis of Good Sense Farm & Apiary, and herbalist Holly Poole-Kavana of Little Red Bird Botanicals, joined the DC Solidarity Economy Summit at the Impact Hub DC, to learn about solidarity economy models from around the world, the role of emergence and power in our movements, and to explore what we can do together to transform our economy in DC.
Three Part Harmony Farm participated in the DC Solidarity Economy Summit. For more photos, visit Flickr.com/photos/threepartharmonyfarm/
To view a video of the Community Farming Alliance introduction at the summit, visit Vimeo.com/114382486
Photo by Practice Of Creation Studios
What an incredible season!
I know life is really cyclical and not linear. But it still surprises me to realize that while this month marks the end of the farm season, this moment is very much the beginning.
It was really the blessing at our Farm Fall Festival that got me thinking about this moment as the beginning instead of the end. We broke ground in Brookland in 2012, but last month was the first time we had ever done a ritual ceremony grounding us in place.
It makes sense: it took this long to nurture the soil back to a healthy condition so that it is ALIVE. Next season will be the first really productive one we’ll have. With the imminent passage of the Urban Farm and Food Security Act, we are also at the edge of a new era in terms of our lease agreement. Just like the Washington Post article said, we have a “Plot to Plant”!
Another beginning is just around the corner, and it gets birthed from the rich, composted remains of last year’s growth.
The 2nd annual garlic planting and Fall Farm Festival was way beyond what I thought could be possible. The food lovingly prepared by Tambra Raye Stevenson of NativSol Kitchen was out of this world! She nourished our bodies and souls. It was an honor to have music by Violet Marley. And the blessing led by Dele and Shango set the tone.
We finished a 27-week harvest season just in time for the below freezing temps! I’m overjoyed at how great the season was and I give many many thanks to all of the Friends of the Farm for your financial contributions. It was a great partnership! Thanks for sharing the journey. Many thanks to FICA DC for being such gracious hosts. Special thanks to Jake, Nico, Emil and Fabio! [you know what you did]
Our Food Day collaboration with Pansaari was a huge success! Owner Rano Singh adjusted her Indian recipes and substituted in-season, local vegetables. The flexibility to use what’s fresh and best instead of what the recipe calls for makes her a true locavore! Thank you for supporting local farmers Rano!
Join us in September to push for the passage of this historic piece of legislation
When DC City Council Member David Grosso introduced the DC Food Security Act of 2014, it built upon the legacy of the urban farming act of 1986 and the DC Healthy Schools Act of 2010.This bill takes it a step further by opening up more public and private land to grow healthy food. Its passage is extremely significant to the future success of Three Part Harmony Farm. We’ve been building the soil and productivity on our city plots for the last 3 years but we need these policy changes to take the next step to really grow (in so many different ways!)
Please get involved in this brief grassroots effort to make sure the City Council knows how important this issue is to us.
Contact the Chairman and folks on the Finance and Revenue Committee. They are currently in the mark up phase of the bill.
Please feel free to use these points as a guide:
“Hi, My Name is:
I live in Ward:
I’m calling/ emailing to let you know that the D.C. Urban Agriculture and Food Security Act of 2014 is an important piece of legislation for our city and that I hope it will get passed soon.
• The Act encourages private, District landowners to lease their land for agricultural purposes and encourages urban farming on unused city owned land in response to problems of blighted property.
• The Act responds to the District’s continued struggle to address chronic hunger amongst residents with a local solution: encouraging urban farmers to donate a portion of their produce to District-based food banks and shelters.
• The Act enables urban farmers to sell their produce both on and off the leased land, bringing easy, fresh food access to neighborhoods across the city, including those currently identified as food deserts.
Thank Grosso and Cheh for their leadership, and the other supporters of the bill as well:
Join Three Part Harmony farm and Zenful Bites Thursday, May 15 from 6-9pm at Impact Hub DC (419 7th St NW) as we celebrate Ahri Burton, as he prepares to attend a plant-based culinary school in order to gather the tools and resources necessary to bring healing and justice to his community’s food system.
ACCESS 23 is named in recognition of the 23.5 million people in the US living in food deserts, lacking access to healthy foods within their community.
Food will be provided by several local eco-companies including Zenful Bites and Livity Drink Co. Produce for the event has been generously donated by Three Part Harmony Farm.
To purchase tickets, please visit here.
To read Ahri’s story and see his fundraising page, see here: http://www.gofundme.com/A-Healthy-Investment
From our backyard to yours: the tomato, basil, and every kind of herb and vegetable seedlings are now ready to plant. Please fill out this application to receive a weekly email about what’s available. Don’t wait: our limited supply of heirloom tomatoes will only be available through the first week of June, or until supplies last.
The most well-known of the migratory butterflies, the Monarch, makes an epic journey each year between Mexico and the United States, on the North American continent. The butterflies, and then their children, follow a route that is linked to the basic needs of every live being: food, shelter, and warmth.
Favianna Rodriguez, artist and co-founder of the migrationisbeautiful project explains their use of the Monarch Butterfly to support justice for migrants: “To me, the monarch butterfly represents the dignity and resilience of migrants, and the right that all living beings have to move freely.”
Migration is part of 3PH founder Gail Taylor’s agricultural history. “I didn’t grow up with family members who farmed. My grandfather was part of the Great Migration, a time in which more than 6 million Blacks left the rural south in search of a better life and a more dignified source of employment in the industrial north. He left the cotton fields of Mississippi for the railroad yards of Illinois, and he discouraged his children from toiling in the fields for the benefit of others as he had. Young Black farmers of my generation who don’t grow up in farming families must make an intentional decision to come back to the land. We are the Return Generation, smaller in number but equally determined to find dignity in our search for nourishing food while at the same time being able to pay for the roof over our heads.”
The Monarch Butterfly is not only a symbol of migration. People play a role in the species’ survival by helping to feed, nurture, and offer respite along their journey. We extend hospitality at our farm by choosing plants that attract butterflies, pollinators, and a wide variety of beings that make up a healthy ecosystem. We also facilitate a place where human beings are nurtured. Garden tasks are a vehicle to still your mind and eventually be at peace. We, the people of the Three Part Harmony Farm community, are like the Monarch Butterfly and the farm itself is like a field of milkweed. As travelers on a journey, we are drawn to the farm’s food, shelter, and warmth and renewed by the companionship of the other butterflies who are on the same path. Here there are no borders, no nations, just flowers.
The days are getting longer and spring is just around the corner! You wouldn’t believe that by looking at the snow on the ground, but we do have some incredibly beautiful, sunny days that offer blue sky longer into the evening. Last week we began the process of cleaning out the greenhouse, sanitizing the trays, and testing the new germination shed so that we can begin seeding the earliest of the 2014 crops. It’s easier and cheaper to “recycle” the plastic trays from one year to the next, but we don’t take lightly our commitment to use as little oil as possible and that includes re-using anything plastic. We sanitize them in vinegar to take out any soil borne diseases they may have picked up last year. It’s tedious but it’s also one of the important small things we can do to demonstrate our commitment to environmental sustainability.
We’re happy to offer healthy seedlings to the local gardening community again. Collaborating for the second year with Good Sense Farm & Apiary, we’ll produce several thousand seedlings from our tiny little greenhouse and offer them at two special sales. As we get closer to March, we’ll post information about how and where to purchase from us. We know how hard it can be to source good transplants that thrive when you get them home, which is why we started growing our own. Now we plant extra for those who want the same quality and who want to purchase special varieties that are not found at big box stores. That’s the local touch!
On Capitol Hill, elected officials have long supported big agricultural and industrial-scale farming that requires massive inputs of chemicals and fossil fuels. But can this system continue to feed the population of a warming planet?
Just a few miles up the road from where lawmakers set far-reaching policy, some DC residents are organizing to create something different. FSRN’s Alice Ollstein takes us to a farm called Three Part Harmony, where we explore what urban, organic agriculture could do both for a community and the environment they live in, and how US policy could better support it.
This documentary was produced by Alice Ollstein and edited by Shannon Young. Our technical producer at KPFA is Jeannine Etter. The original music in this documentary was performed by Owen Grooms, a young farmer in North Carolina. Special thanks to everyone who supported this project on Indiegogo.
I now supply fresh, healthy produce from the 20011 zip code to Buxton Glory International Market at 4013 Georgia Ave NW.
They’re open until 9 pm Mon – Sat and from 12 – 7 on Sundays. This week I’ll be harvesting the last of the spring/ summer arugula, as well as the last of the lettuce. Radishes, beets, carrots, and turnips are in their last few weeks. Kale and collards are still plentiful, and I do have a limited supply of fresh garlic that will be there until it sells out. Coming soon: summer squash, cucumbers, tomatoes, green beans, and eventually tomatillos, eggplant, peppers, and chiles. oh yeah: and calaloo!
This small, family-owned grocery store is very close to the Yes! organic market in Petworth, and just half a block from the Petworth farmers’ market which is set up on Fridays. Please get in the habit of stopping by on your way to/ from locations nearby, which may even include the laundrymat next door. In addition to buying produce from DC’s only black, female-owned farm, you’re supporting one of the few neighborhood-based, international-minded black, female-owned and operated small (not chain!) grocery stores in the District. Make sure you meet Tia, the owner.
Harmonies with a descant
3PH has more than tripled it’s growing space this year. In addition to adding 2 new backyard plots, we’ve also doubled the growing space at our site that grows produce for donation only. Yes, there are more than three plots, located in Petworth, Brookland and Ft. Totten. In addition to the sites in DC, Zachari and I were invited to be part of a collective of young, black farmers growing sweet potatoes and winter squash in Preston, MD along with Blain Snipstal, currently at 5 Seeds & Apiary. This sacred, historical site was an extremely important place for Harriet Tubman and the underground railroad. I’m very proud and humbled to be part of this project. There are photos of us planting the sweet potatoes in early June at facebook.com/threepartharmonyfarm
Beyond growing vegetables: growing co-ops and community
The “off-season” was actually a very busy time for me. My business partner, Zachari J. Curtis, and I spent over a hundred hours writing out the foundation for a new mid-atlantic based People of Color/ Women farmer co-op. We immediately launched into carrying out several of the programs we drafted, and are seeking funds to be able to incorporate the entity and purchase shared equipment and build infrastructure. When winter comes again, the Black Belt Justice Center will work with us to file paperwork and get set up.
This spring, we teamed up to successfully grow and market seedlings for home and community gardeners. Thanks to the enthusiasm and support, we sold out! We also held workshops throughout the spring. Grower/ educator/ chef extraordinaire JuJu hosted a collective seed purchasing party in the winter.
Our network of local producers also continues to build each unique venture: Good Sense Farm & Apiary officially launched this past weekend although the reputation of producing extremely tasty honey and mushrooms already precedes the name and web presence. Little Red Bird Botanicals continues to grow it’s herbal CSA, and herbalist Holly Poole-Kavana gets invited constantly to do herb walks, consultations, and give workshops.
Over the winter we also traveled twice to the south to deepen our connections to southern, rural Black farmers. In mid-March Zachari and I were part of a delegation of Sisters of the Soil. Our on the ground hosts where the Southern Rural Black Women’s Initiative based out of the Southwest Georgia Project which evolved out of the Albany, GA SNCC chapter. Every moment brought us face to face with the intersections of racism, classism, sexism and farming (especially the links between wealth and landownership, and the role of intentional discrimination both historically and currently to keep certain populations from accessing that wealth.) It’s difficult to muster faith in a system that has historically neglected farmers who look like me, and I find myself looking to model the community supported, cooperatively run projects that has made the Southwest Georgia Project the successful rural development organization that it is today. It’s not a coincidence that the organization is one of the few remaining active organizations formed during the civil rights movement, the legacy continues. And it’s not a coincidence that the organization is currently staffed entirely by women.
How to Support Us!
Only in our second year, we’re doing a lot! Each day is full of different aspects of maintaining a multi-dimensional, multi-plot farm in the city. Please encourage people to buy from us! Go to Buxton Market if you missed the chance to join the CSA.
We also accept donations, both monetary (though not tax deductible) and in-kind. It helps us to grow, and allows the farm to donate produce to a food pantry, participate in seed keeping and other projects, and demonstrates your support for a farm right in your own community.
We also need volunteers! Come out and work with us on Tuesday, Friday and Saturday mornings, or Wednesday and Friday evenings.
Checks can be made payable to Three Part Harmony farm and sent to PO Box 53059, Washington DC 20009. See the list below for things we need donated:
- garden tools in good working order: hoes, bow rakes, shovels, wheelbarrow, hand tools, lead-free garden hose
- did you buy seedlings from us? recycle your pots!
- a trailer for a bike
- clean plastic bags
- scissors, or small sharp knives
Finally- forward this to someone who you think might be interested in hearing about the farm. I wasn’t thorough in preparing the list, and I feel bad that some dear friends, customers and volunteers are left out just because I ran out of time.
But it’s time to go back outside. The weeds are calling
Stay cool this week!