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City life can be tough for green-thinking, hands-on foodies who’d like to grow their own meals. Lack of space, resources, and aptitude leaves little in the way of personal farming for D.C. residents.
Urban Sustainable hopes to change that. Occupying a small white storefront on 18th Street and Columbia Road NW, the agricultural supply store boasting several shelves full of seeds, organic nutrients, and other products for home-growing opened its doors last Wednesday.
Manager and cofounder Matt Doherty said he wants his store to not only provide the materials needed to grow healthier food than what’s available at Safeway a few doors down, but also to engage the city and spread knowledge about how individuals can lead more sustainable lifestyles.
“There is such a disconnection right now regarding our food supply,” he said, “from the grocery store to the fast-food restaurant.”
Doherty said that his business has dedicated resources to several community gardens in the neighborhood. He also said he’s been in touch with a professor at American University who teaches a class on “food deserts”—residential areas, usually poor, without access to a nearby grocery store. Together they plan on installing a self-sufficient community garden somewhere east of the Anacostia river.
Urban Sustainable’s inventory ranges from run-of-the-mill gardening tools to more advanced doohickeys, like compact fluorescent grow lights. At the D.C. Green Festival last month, employees handed out 400 free samples of organic formula used to help plants grow cleanly and safely.
“That was kind of our debutante ball,” said Doherty. Eventually, he said, he wants to offer classes educating customers about home farming techniques and the importance of remaining connected to one’s food source. Until then, he said, “it’s pretty much one-on-one.”
Urban Sustainable will host a grand opening ceremony toward the end of this month.