The Well at Oxon Run is one to watch. And not just for the Washingtonians who live near the forthcoming urban farm and community wellness space coming to 300 Valley Ave. SE in Ward 8. City planners across the country can look to the public-private venture as an example of creating a multifaceted outdoor community space.
Three nonprofit organizations—DC Greens, The Green Scheme, and Friends of Oxon Run—teamed up with the DC Department of Parks and Recreation and the DC Department of Energy and Environment to bring The Well to fruition. The team is targeting Fall 2020 as the first planting season.
Much of the 50,000 square feet of city land will be dedicated to urban agriculture. DC Greens farm director Kate Lee says they hope to grow 150 varieties of produce, herbs, and edible flowers for community members. There will also be pick-your-own flower gardens.
Lee says that as they get closer to the first harvest, The Well will convene a neighborhood steering committee to figure out how the produce will reach people’s dinner tables. There will definitely be a farm stand on site, where Lee says she hopes they can also sell hyper-local products.
“I am mostly excited about this project because it seems to really be growing out of meaningful stakeholder investment,” Lee says. Getting community buy-in is critical, according to Lee, because the area surrounding The Well is expected to develop rapidly over the next few years. The Well can be a place for established residents to gather “in the face of all that change.”
Growing food is only one facet of the project, which looks to serve the surrounding communities of Congress Heights, Bellevue, and Washington Highlands. There will also be a covered classroom, a fruit tree apiary that doubles as a place for chickens to live, a community gathering and performance space called “The Porch,” a small free library, art displays, and a memory forest honoring victims of gun violence.
Big name New York-based firm SHoP Architects designed The Well pro bono. They’re behind mammoth projects such as Barclays Center and Uber Headquarters. See more renderings below.
The project is advantageously positioned within blocks of three schools: Ballou High School, Simon Elementary School, and Hart Middle School. Ronnie Webb, the co-founder of The Green Scheme, has dedicated much of his career to engaging communities, and especially young people, around agriculture, the environment, and healthy living. Webb plans to use the covered classroom for after school programs, summer camps, and field trips.
Ward 8 Councilmember Trayon White says he trusts DC Greens and The Green Scheme to carry out the project based on their past history “combating the food desert inequities in Ward 8.” The Councilmember adds, in a statement, “This is the beginning of a movement we are embarking on and I look forward to this one-of-a-kind holistic approach to life in the great Ward 8.”