Check Out Those Seedlings!

people kneel with plants
Swappers make their selections. Photo by Emily Citkowski.

The third annual DC State Fair Seedling Swap on May 5 at the Center for Green Urbanism was a great success. While we plan to rock the District with our fourth DC State Fair on September 28 at the Barracks Row Fall Festival, we aren’t content to sit around until then. This event was the first of several leading up to the big event.

Read on to relive the fun (and get tips for your seedlings) if you were there, and to catch up if you missed it.


  • Dozens of seedlings and cuttings of many varieties, including eggplant, basil, zinnias, peppers, edamame, cantaloupe, lilac, and bee balm.
  • The largest selection of tomato plants this side of a heritage seed convention including Big Boy, Dr. Carolyn, and Grandfather Ashlock.
  • Mint growing outside and leftover plants from the Center’s backyard garden up for “harvest.”
  • DC-grown, chemical-free seedlings on sale from Three Part Harmony Farm with a DC State Fair special on watermelon and __ seedlings, as well hard-to-find ginger and peanut starts. Some of us impatient gardeners picked up ready-to-eat spring greens and garlic scallions. (Seedlings are still available for order).
  • A bittersweet celebration marking the close of the original Center for Green Urbanism. A new location is TBA, say co-owners Zandra and Dennis Chestnut.
  • Storytelling about our seedlings and why we grow, led by Healthy & Affordable Food for All’s Zachari Curtis.
  • The orderly chaos that is the swap itself, with two lottery-style rounds and then a free-for-all (but polite) grab for the remaining plants.


Following the mayhem, swap-goers attended demonstrations geared toward the urban gardener.

For anyone who missed Dennis Chestnut’s raised bed-building demo, he has shared a PowerPoint on the process. Be sure to check out the slide on container gardening in buckets or even canvas bags, too.

Download the PowerPoint (~11 MB): How to build raised garden beds for small space gardening

And here is Rhea Kennedy’s handout on setting up a composting worm bin in your kitchen.

Download the PDF (~2 MB): Worm Composting Guide

Thank you to everyone who packed the Center for Green Urbanism on Benning Road NE to swap and share. The day would not have been possible without our partner, Healthy & Affordable Food for All, and our sponsor, Whole Foods Market P Street. We are also so grateful to volunteers Claudia, Kristina, and Alex for all their hard work. Zandra and Dennis Chestnut, co-owners of the Center for Green Urbanism, were the hosts with the most who donated the space where the magic happened.

Thanks again to all who came and contributed. Keep an eye out for our next events, including the Tastiest Tomato Contest and ward-level contests to see who will make it to the District level at the 2013 Fair.

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