9.22.2011

City Blossoms Helps DC Kids Bloom


Children work on a recipe during a City Blossoms event.
Photo courtesy City Blossoms.


Growing up in an urban environment, plenty of kids never have a chance to dig in the dirt or learn about growing food. But with their nonprofit City Blossoms, founders Lola Bloom and Rebecca Lemos are working with DC children to create and sustain community green spaces.

What started in 2002 as a project-based hobby for the two DC natives eventually grew into a youth-oriented, nonprofit organization dedicated to hands-on community building.

Bloom and Lemos, whose genuine enthusiasm and effervescence seems tailor-made for their jobs working with kids, aim to provide environmental education, artistic expression, healthy living skills and community development through gardening.

The women did not start out as horticultural pros, though.

“The most experience I had had gardening was watching my mom throw some marigolds in the yard,” Bloom says. So there were a few mistakes at the beginning, but the trial and error period was worth it.

“We saw the impact it had on the kids’ self-esteem and the way that they saw their role in this community,” Bloom says of their initial projects. “And it was powerful for us.”

The organization now maintains two gardens — the Marion Intergenerational Garden (1517 Marion St. NW) and the Girard Childrens’ Community Garden (Girard Street Playground near 1480 Girard St.) — and they allow anyone in the community to participate as little or as much they want in the upkeep and maintenance of the spaces.

“The whole point of the philosophy is that it’s a garden in your community,” says Lemos. “And you’re not just a visitor. You are somehow taking ownership or a part in it.”

In addition to the two green spaces, which are open Tuesday through Saturday, Bloom and Lemos, along with their two part-time staff members and a handful of interns, also lead workshops and events (like the upcoming Bulb Bash on Oct. 29) in four other community green spaces and at nine different schools in the District.

Workshops vary depending on the target audience, which can be a group of kids anywhere from the age of 2 to 18, and occasionally their families, but cooking often figures into the lessons.

“Cooking is one of the best classroom management skills ever,” says Bloom. “Because every kid has a job, each kid has something to be proud of.”

And it’s a way to ingrain healthy living skills by showing kids and their families alternatives to unhealthy staples like potato chips and soda.

“Alternatives that don't seem elitist or weird,” Bloom says. “It's really about being creative about it, and not proselytizing. For us it's about providing good examples of the food but also getting enjoyment out of food.”

For information on how to get involved in City Blossoms, visit their volunteer page.

Also check out:

Video: Great DC Farmers Markets
Tips for Urban Gardening
Composting in the City? Yes, You Can!









Katie Bascuas has lived in D.C. for the past year and a half, and when she isn’t working or traveling, she loves exploring new restaurants, farmers markets and bars in the city. A graduate of the University of Missouri’s School of Journalism, Katie also enjoys writing about food and is excited to be contributing to Metrocurean.



Also check out:

• • Tips for Urban Gardening
Composting in the City? Yes, You Can!









Katie Bascuas has lived in D.C. for the past year and a half, and when she isn’t working or traveling, she loves exploring new restaurants, farmers markets and bars in the city. A graduate of the University of Missouri’s School of Journalism, Katie also enjoys writing about food and is excited to be contributing to Metrocurean.



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