Local First Friday: Cultivate the City

Guest Blog by Seema Vithlani

When constructing a 60-tower vertical garden system for J.O. Wilson Elementary School, Niraj Ray, founder of Cultivate the City, noticed a significant interest among homeowners, schools, and organizations in setting up vertical gardens.

He launched his business in April 2015 to meet these interests and to sell gardening supplies and produce from Cultivate the City’s own food system. So far, the group has worked with around 25 businesses and homeowners to design and install gardens. It also provides consultations and education services on planting and maintaining sustainable food systems.

Most notably, Cultivate the City’s latest project is H Street Farms, a nursery and retail garden center with greenhouses, cold storage, and green roof areas. Located in Washington, DC, the farm will offer plants and supplies and sell pesticide-free produce to nearby restaurants and through farmers’ markets. It will also feature the Vertical Edible Garden, set to open this spring.

“We’re really helping create an urban food system that doesn’t require help from outside sources,” said Ray.

He said the most challenging part about Cultivate the City is changing public perception that the gardens can’t produce enough food to make a difference.

In the next few weeks, Ray and his colleagues will begin working with Union Market to set up a rooftop garden and an edible garden at the front of the market. They will also continue to provide services to schools and individuals. 

About the Author 
Seema Vithlani is a junior multi-platform journalism major and French minor at the University of Maryland. This spring she is also an editorial intern for Washington Gardener Magazine.
"Local First Friday" is a weekly blog series profiling independent garden businesses in the greater Washington, DC, and Mid-Atlantic region. Washington Gardener Magazine believes strongly in supporting and sourcing from local businesses first!


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