Friends of Wangari Gardens
Wangari Gardens is a new 2.7 acre garden park being created by its surrounding neighborhood in the heart of Washington, DC. As a very diverse, friendly, and community oriented neighborhood, this area of the city suffers from high obesity, diabetes, heart disease rates, and malnutrition, especially among children. There are few grocery options available, and many residents rely on corner stores, which sell little amounts of fresh produce or healthy food.
Neighbors have come together to turn a largely unused green space into a garden and park that will help connect the community through growing healthy food, and making a beautiful gathering space for children and their families.
The name Wangari Gardens was given in honor of the late Professor Wangari Maathai, an activist that fought for peace, environmental and social justice, and for women's equality in East Africa. A Nobel Peace Prize winner, Professor Maathai founded the Greenbelt Movement, a movement which is responsible for planting 40 million trees in Kenya. We wish to honor her life and continue her message of using unused green space for the non-profit benefit of the surrounding community. Her legacy of bringing community together to protect the environment while bettering their lives is what inspired us to name the park Wangari Gardens.
Wangari Gardens is a unique garden in the sense that it serves more than just its plot holders. The focal point of the garden is a 60 plot community garden, including accessible plots for people with disabilities, rented out to local community members. Almost a dozen are given away for free to low income families. In addition to their plots, each plot holder signs an agreement to spend at least 2 hours a month watering and maintaining numerous public gardens. We have a 45 fruit tree orchard, a huge vegetable garden, a berry garden, an outdoor classroom, and other small gardens that are all open to the public. Anyone is allowed to come pick fresh fruit and vegetables. We didn't want to make our garden exclusive to only people who get plots. We call this model a "garden park". Our mission is for Wangari Gardens to be a garden park, cared for by community members, as a gathering space for education, food production, and recreation. It can truly be an oasis in a busy and very active part of the city.