Four innovation grants were awarded to projects that support a more local, affordable and accessible food system in the District.
Aquaponics Farming — IN PROGRESS
The University of the District of Columbia (UDC) was awarded $519,500 to establish and operate four aquaponic demonstration projects in Wards 3, 5, 7 and 8 to breed fish and serve as a base for job-skills and entrepreneurship training for low-skilled and semi-skilled District residents. Aquaponics — a combination of hydroponics (growing plants in nutrient rich water) and aquaculture (fish production) — makes it possible to grow vegetable plants by using fish waste as fertilizer to supply nutrients for the plant water. When combined with a small greenhouse, each facility is expected to generate 500 pounds of fish and 5,000 pounds of produce annually.
Current Status: In May 2016 UDC held a ribbon-cutting for its first aquaponics facility at the East Capitol Urban Farm in Ward 7. The following three projects will be installed at the Van Ness campus (Ward 3), Bertie Backus (Ward 5), and PR Harris (Ward 8).
Cooperative Greenhouses — IN PROGRESS
The Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR) was awarded $200,000 to rebuild two formerly abandoned DPR greenhouses in Wards 4 (Twin Oaks Community Garden) and 7 (Lederer Youth Center). The project will improve access to sustainable and healthy food by increasing the public’s access to greenhouse space and seedling production, establishing cooperative management programming with DC urban agriculture nonprofits working towards improved food access in the city, and organizing training for local residents and youth interested in jobs in greenhouse production. Growing a garden from seedlings, instead of seeds, will greatly increases the garden’s production, extend the harvesting time, increase the success of the garden, and build more investment in locally grown healthy food. In April 2016, DOEE awarded an additional $50,000 to add electricity to an existing greenhouse in Ward 5 (Theodore Hagans Greenhouse).
Current status: The design for both greenhouses is complete, but construction has not yet begun.
Demonstration Kitchen — IN PROGRESS
The University of the District of Columbia (UDC) was awarded $280,000 to establish a business-incubator kitchen in Ward 8 for food and nutrition education and job-skills and entrepreneurship training. The site will feature both a commercial and domestic demonstration site and will host a series of workshops on topics from nutrition to food safety and food processing. This project includes a food truck to ensure healthy food reaches neighborhoods citywide.
Current Status: The UDC CAUSES food truck launched at the May 2016 re-opening of the East Capitol Urban Farm and will begin full operation in August 2016!
Urban Food Network to Minimize Food Deserts — COMPLETE
The Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR) in partnership with the Department of General Services (DGS) constructed 11 new or expanded community gardens in Wards 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, and 8. Each new garden features a garden shed, water access, ADA-accessible raised beds, and ADA-accessible walkways for universal ability to access the site. Additionally, some gardens were installed with demonstration tables, picnic tables, and/or benches to allow for garden educational programming.