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D.C. documentary film maker Cintia Cabib has captured some diverse slices of local life in her time. She’s revealed the unexpected role the Glen Echo carousel played in the civil rights movement, the struggles of El Salvadoran immigrants, and the joys of a marathoner who juggles as he runs. Now she’s making her first hour-long film: on D.C.’s urban community gardens.
Urban gardening began in the United States in Detroit during hard economic times in the 1890s, she says. The mayor gave a few plots of land to unemployed locals so they could grow some fruit and vegetables. Since then, the idea has spread.
In A Community of Gardeners, Cabib is determined to show gardening is a whole lot more than planting a few seeds.”People have to have a real desire to garden,” she says. “They have to make a real effort and I wanted to look at why.”
She’s been filming seven District gardens for the last two years, trying to “bring out the personal stories” of those involved. People start digging and planting for different reasons, she says. For one woman with cancer, community gardens are a place of healing, while for others they are a link to their native countries – they farm the same veg and fruit that they would there.
Cabib is still in the editing stage, but here’s a taste of the featured garden plots:
1) Common Good City Farm, 3rd and V street, is run by a group of volunteers. Among them: low-income residents, who get their hands dirty in exchange for some of the harvest.
2) The C. Melvin Sharpe Health School, 4300 13th St NW, offers children with special needs the chance to get back to nature. Teachers use the sensory garden as a stimulating outdoor classroom.
3) The Fort Stevens Community Garden, 13th Street and Fort Stevens Dr NW, has a mixture of Caribbean, Latin American, and African gardeners. For them, it’s a little piece of home, says Cabib. “A lot of the gardeners at Fort Stevens had a farm in their native countries. This is a continuation of that.”