I love to eat; it’s my favorite thing to do. What started as a love for food as well as concern for healthy eating
and a healthy planet has actually become an obsession, partly supported by my volunteer work with Common
Good City Farm in Washington, DC. While working at this urban farm and education center, I have become
more passionate about the need for whole, fresh food that is grown and prepared organically and wholesomely.
Pictured: Shireen Karimi working at Common Good City Farm. [Photo by Deedy Ogden]
Food is our source of life and is integrated into all aspects of our being. It deals with agricultural and land
issues, personal health and public epidemics, social justice and security, ethnic identity and culture, family
rituals and national celebrations, global as well as domestic economic policies and politics.
Pictured: Spencer Ellsworth, former farm manager at Common Good City Farm.
[All photos courtesy of Common Good City Farm, unless otherwise noted.]
Common Good is the only urban farm in DC. There are many gardens in DC, but no one
grows food on this much land as a nonprofit with the intention of educating the community and addressing
food security. Common Good’s mission is to distribute fresh, organic produce to DC residents in low-income
areas who don’t have access to or the means for fresh vegetables and fruits. By spending just two hours working
at the farm a week, anyone can take home a bag of fresh produce. Its mission also includes educating all
community members about the environment, agriculture, food security, and personal health.
With backgrounds in agriculture and social issues, DC residents Liz Falk and Susan Ellsworth saw that DC has
many “food deserts”—neighborhoods with no grocery store with fresh produce for miles. All you can find are
convenience stores with nothing but packaged and processed “foods” that cause the health epidemics like heart
disease and type 2 diabetes. So they started the farm in 2007 as a means to help the most underresourced communities
get access to good food.
Pictured: Liz Falk (left) and Susan Ellsworth.
The farm was originally called the 7th Street Garden, an urban garden on a small plot of land in the Shaw neighborhood
of DC. Two seasons later when the nonprofit from which we were leasing their space needed their land
back, we were forced to look for a new space. We ended up on the grounds of the now-closed Gage-Eckington
School in LeDroit Park with a much larger production area, a half-acre, and became Common Good City Farm.
While tremendous work was required to turn the old baseball field into fertile agricultural land, we are happy
to have this larger production area and hopefully provide the neighborhood a welcomed green space. The lease
is only for three years so we hopefully can negotiate a longer term. It would be quite disappointing to leave
this land after so much effort to build it up.
In addition to providing people in DC’s food deserts with access to fresh produce, we have a youth education program to teach children about plants, food, and nutrition. And we host public workshops
a few times a month to teach anyone who’s interested about gardening, cooking, nutrition, preserving
(canning and pickling), culinary and medicinal herbs, and composting.