By Shelby Smith
On an unseasonably warm winter morning, follow the people carrying empty tote bags streaming out of the Tenleytown metro station (or those lucky enough to be able to find a nearby parking spot) to a big brick building to find the entrance to the Rooting DC forum.
Last Saturday, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., the cavernous glass-ceiling atrium inside the Woodrow Wilson High School was filled with dozens of display tables from different local urban farmers, nonprofits with information on composting and agriculture, and vendors selling garden supplies and books on everything from school gardens to herbal recipes.
Rooting DC is an annual free forum where people can share their skills, promote businesses and provide workshops from local gardeners, agricultural businesses, and food productions in the D.C. area.
Free samples can always draw a crowd. In the center circle of tables, there sat a single tiered table selling several products using microgreens, including salads and arugula lemon pesto.
“This event was totally instrumental in the success of our business,” Mary Ackley, the founder of Little Wild Things City Farm, said.
Little Wild Things started selling its products at Rooting DC in 2015. They met one of its best clients, a Georgetown vegetarian taco shop, at the event and the business has grown ever since, Ackley said.
The free sample of the day was its arugula lemon pesto, which was fresh and packed with lemon and peppery flavor. Ackley was also promoting small clay pots lush with different varieties of microgreens, which they sell, as centerpieces for weddings.
One of Little Wild Things advantages is it’s located in D.C. versus outside of D.C. Microgreens are very perishable, but they grow very quickly and in a small space, so it’s a perfect fit for the farm to be located in downtown D.C., Ackley said.
Once visitors are inside, they can fill their empty tote bags with a fresh microgreen salad, fresh produce, potted plants. or information pamphlets from the different tables.
Each table had free packages of seeds, like radishes and peas, ready for anyone to take. They went fast.
Rooting DC is a place where people can learn and share, Ackley said. From 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. there is 16 lectures and demos happening every hour in the classrooms on the second and third floors of the school. During these talks and demos, visitors can learn how to grow cannabis, save seeds for the next season, and glean cooking recipes for specific plants.
“You get a chance to connect with a lot of different potential customers and people that might be interested in either your business or your organization, whether it’s a small profit business or a nonprofit,” Ackley said. “There’s people from all different parts of the urban garden scene there.”
I would recommend this event to anyone. Beginners and professional gardens can share and learn new gardening tips and tricks for their next or existing garden. For more information, check out http://rootingdc.org/.
About the Author:
Shelby Smith is a senior double major in multi-platform journalism and film studies at the University of Maryland College Park. She was a sports copy-editor for a campus publication called Unwind Magazine and a writer at The Campus Current newspaper at Anne Arundel Community College. She was a Fall 2016 intern with Washington Gardener.