BUGs Take Over D.C.

By Christen Hill

If you want to try your hand at growing your own food, there are multiple organizations in D.C. that encourage it.  Xavier Brown is a native Washingtonian and DC Urban Farmer who runs Soulful City, a community gardening organization that works heavily in Ward 8. 

Project Eden (pictured above) in Congress Heights, DC was started by Pastor Cheryl Gains of ReGeneration Church a few years ago.  It has about 12 raised beds and offers gardening and nutrition classes for youth and their families at the Halley House apartments. Brown spearheads the gardening efforts there along with community members.

Brown took an interest in urban agriculture when his father encouraged him to take the D.C. master gardening class. That’s when he said farming got into him. He is a part of a community call Black Urban Growers (BUGs) who love to get their hands dirty. They are comprised of growers such as DC Greens, Dreaming Out Loud, and THEARC Farm.

Brown has been diligent about working in underprivileged communities to teach them how to grow nutritious food. He and two of his colleagues were awarded a three-year, $20,000 fellowship from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to create a new culture of health in D.C. This helps their team continue gardens like Project Eden. So far, this garden has been very successful. They gave away loads of produce last summer and even though winter is settling in now, Brown hopes to mobilize more people so that the garden can continue to thrive.

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