We know D.C. Get our free newsletter to stay in the know.

“I might find a home for my asparagus yet,” says Pleasant Plains resident Kelvin Esters, wistfully. The unofficial steward and avid gardener learned today that his community garden at 514-516 Hobart Pl. NW will be closing for public use tomorrow. The patch actually belongs to Howard University, which is selling off the land to raise a bit of cash.

Esters is philosophical, if surprised, about what has been achieved through a couple of plots of tomatoes and squash. He describes its history: The garden was originally built as a community vitalizer, in part to combat high rates of drug usage in Hobart Place. Back in 2002, derelict buildings on the site had become a favorite hangout for users. So residents campaigned for them to be torn down and replaced with this patch of green. And now, drug use has gone down.

“It wasn’t the only thing, but it was a contributing factor,” says Esters. “Drug activities are definitely less prevalent…and [the garden] brought residents together. They all came out onto the street to build the garden.”

Growers have been told that all crops must be harvested immediately. Maybelle Bennett, assistant for community relations at Howard University, says the university is “waiting for constituents to take whatever they have in the garden.” After that, the garden will be for sale.

One slight problem – not much in the garden is ready yet. Esters says people are welcome to come and grab some tomatoes, greens, squash, and asparagus, but they’ll need a bit more TLC before they’re ready for the summer salad.

Photo by ndrwfgg, Flickr Creative Commons