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How to Hand Tie Your Flower Bouquet

If you’re entering the Flower Arranging contest at the DC State Fair this Saturday, you’ve been asked to deliver the bouquet in a hand tied bunch.

Not sure how to do that? Check out this video from the authors of Simple Flower Arranging, Mark Welford and Stephen Wicks, to learn how to make a simple hand tied flower arrangement.

Preregistration for the Flower Arranging contest is due September 10th. We will be accepting onsite registration on the day of the Fair up to 50 entries. Register today!

Adopt Force 1 to the Rescue!

adopt force one DC State Fair is excited to announce that the Washington Humane Society will be at the event from 12 to 4pm.  They will also be marching in the Pet Parade with some of the furry friends that are up for adoption.

Both dogs and cats will be available for adoption at their mobile adoption vehicle Adopt Force 1, which is a one stop shop for adoptions. Visitors are invited on board to view cats while volunteers walk dogs in the vicinity.

All adoptions are same day, meaning adopters can take home their newest family member straight from the event!

Find out more at http://www.washhumane.org.

 

Interview with Let’sGrowDC’s Chris Washburn

Chris Washburn, owner and founder of Let’sGrowDC—and sponsor of the DC State Fair Best Bud Contest—recently caught up with DC State Fair board members to talk about his background, business, and the organic urban gardening revolution taking place in DC today.

Q: In a few words, what is Let’sGrowDC and how can it help District residents?
A: Let’sGrowDC provides affordable gardening resources and supplies—and also offers gardening classes. The classes offered are for everyone, including first time gardeners and advanced hydroponic gardeners. We also provide individual consulting and design to help bring our clients gardening ideas to life. Whether they are growing in or around their own home, or building out a large commercial garden, we have the tools and knowledge to design and construct the garden while ensuring that the garden environment is as efficient and cost effective as possible.

Q: Specifically, what kind of services and products does Let’sGrowDC provide to District residents?
A: Let’sGrowDC provides gardening classes; design services for indoor, outdoor, rooftop, residential, commercial, and industrial spaces; conducts feasibility studies; offers wholesale fulfillment; sale of retail supplies; and installation services at home or for commercial spaces.

Q: How is Let’sGrowDC different from other urban gardening consultants in DC?
Let’sGrowDC combines both retail indoor and outdoor garden supply with education, design, and consultation. The shop primarily focuses on supporting local indoor gardeners, while outside the shop we have a more familiar landscaping model tweaked to fit our urban environment. We also provide feasibility, consultation, design, and fulfillment for large commercial installations by providing support from staffing and operating commercial gardens.

Q: What’s your background and experience with gardening?
A: I grew up on a farm in Great Falls Virginia, where I was first introduced to organic gardening. In 1999, in Eugene, Oregon, I first began hydroponics and indoor gardening. I spent a decade working at various medicinal marijuana grow operations throughout the state, including my own personal indoor garden, which produced everything from cannabis to tomatoes.

Q: What’s your most notable experience as one of DC’s urban gardening consultants?
A: What I love the most about working in the District is the sense of community and camaraderie among experienced gardeners and I enjoy meeting first time gardeners. The city is prime for urban gardening and as it continues gain popularity so does the need for education about growing techniques, which should come from local experienced gardeners sharing their knowledge throughout the community.

Q: What’s your inspiration for starting Let’sGrowDC?
A: People have been farming for more than100,000 years, yet in only the past 50 years we have given up the practice of self-reliant farming in favor of more specialized lifestyles, thus requiring our food and produce to be purchased from stores. Specifically in urban settings, there is a general lack of active farms and home gardens, as well as gardening knowledge. It is Let’sGrowDC’s goal to help spread gardening knowledge throughout the city, and to help potential gardeners reach their goals. I personally began gardening indoors with hydroponics in the late 1990s, and from day one it changed my life. I think we all have a gene inside of us, which encourages us to cultivate. Once you do begin to cultivate your garden, it feels great. It feels like you’re living a happier, healthier life.

Visit Let’sGrowDC at 1111 10th st SE, near the navy yard metro station, and see for yourself what makes Let’sGrowDC stand out from other DC-based indoor urban gardening centers.

2015 DC State Fair Schedule

Throughout the day on the main stage, you’ll be able to see contests being judged by our expert judges (see schedule below). 

In addition to watching the contests, you’ll be able to enjoy performances by musicians Lennon English and the New Soul Republic and Near Northeast, and demonstrations from the National Hand Dance Association and the YMCADJ Fusion will be the DC State Fair’s official DJ, delivering an eclectic range of tunes. 

You’ll be able to purchase food, drinks and crafts from our vendors around the fair grounds. There will also be a Beer Garden from 12-8pm, hosted by Whole Foods Market.

Boneyard Studios, DC’s tiny house community, will host tours of one of its tiny houses at the top of each hour. We will also have an tent with educational workshops running  from 12-6:30pm (click here for the schedule).

12 – 12:30pm Lennon English and the New Soul Republic
12:30 – 1pm Welcome!

Announce photography, kids art & poetry, poster contest winners.

1 – 1:30pm YMCA Workout Demo
1:30 – 2pm Judge and announce winners for ice cream contest.
2 – 2:15pm Announce cut flower, flower arrangement contests.
2:15 – 3pm Judge and announce winners of funkiest, longest, heaviest veggie and heaviest fruit contest.

Announce tastiest tomato and compost contest winners.

3 – 3:15pm Announce pie contest finalists.
3:15 – 3:45pm National Hand Dance Association
3:45 – 4pm Announce jam and jelly contest winners.
4 – 4:15pm Announce pickled foods winners.
4:15 – 4:45pm Final judging and announce winners of best bud contest.
4:45 – 5pm Knit/crochet contest winners announced.
5 – 5:30pm Final pie contest judging. Winners announced.
5:30-5:45pm Honey contest winners announced.
5:30 – 6pm Final homebrew contest judging. Winners announced.
6:30 – 8pm DJ Fusion
Near Northeast

For a schedule of contest drop-off, judging and announcements, click here.

New this year – Agriculture, Food, and Craft Demos!

For the first year ever, we will have a tent solely devoted to educational demos. Check out our lineup of workshops and click on the links below for more info on the workshops and instructors.

12:00- 12:30pm: Rose Care by Byron Gwinn,  Frager’s Hardware

12:45 – 1:15pm: Growing Traditional Ethnic Crops and Why This is Important by Yao  Afantchao, University of DC

1:30-2:00pm: Terrarium Craft by Byron Gwinn, Frager’s Hardware

2:15-2:45pm: Healthy Cooking, YMCA

3:00-3:30pm: Yoga for Beginners by Ben Sislen, Shaw Yoga

3:45-4:15pm: Fall Gardening/Winterizing Your Garden by Caroline Selle, Neighborhood Farm Initiative

4:30-5:00pm: How to Cook Delectable Risotto, Chef Matt Finarelli

5:15-5:45pm: Container Gardening by Caroline Selle, Neighborhood Farm Initiative

6:00-6:30pm: Tiny Houses, Jay Austin

Workshop Descriptions


12:00 – 12:30pm: Rose Care by Byron Gwinn,  Frager’s Hardware

The Rose Care workshop will cover the following topics: selecting a rose for the area, proper dead heading, and after winter pruning.

Byron Gwinn is the Assistant Manager at Frager’s Garden center and garden design consultant. As well as owning and operating Gwinn Landscape Design LLC native/organic driven  garden design.  Masters of Landscape Design candidate at  GWU. All around plant geek.

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12:45 – 1:15pm: Growing Traditional Ethnic Crops and Why This is Important, Yao Afantchao at UDC

This workshop will cover the creation of an ethnic food system in Washington DC, through making ethnic crops available, accessible and affordable.

Yao Afantchao is the leading specialist in the ethnic and specialty crops program, at the College of Agriculture, Urban Sustainability and Environmental Sciences (CAUSES) University of the District of Columbia. As an MCE program specialist, Mr. Afantchao contributed to the ethnic vegetables program with the following outcomes (1) ethnic and specialty program recognition at the University of Maryland research and education center; (2) dissemination of ethnic vegetables production guide to farmers; (3) adoption of ethnic and specialty vegetables by Maryland farmers including Amish and Mennonite farmers; (4) expansion of specialty produce acreage bringing additional profit to farmers; and (5) ethnic vegetable markets expansion including Mid-Atlantic and Mid-West States. Mr. Afantchao has received several recognitions and awards including smoke house grant, (Maryland Industrial Partnerships) the Mid-Atlantic Food and Farm Summit’s Farming Leadership award and the most prestigious Honorary County Agent and Service to Agriculture award.

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1:30 – 2:00pm: Terrarium Craft, Byron Gwinn from Frager’s Hardware

The Terrarium Craft workshop will cover the following topics: the importance of the layers, choosing a container, and long term care.

Byron Gwinn is the Assistant Manager at Frager’s Garden center and garden design consultant. As well as owning and operating Gwinn Landscape Design LLC native/organic driven  garden design.  Masters of Landscape Design candidate at  GWU. All around plant geek.

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2:15 – 2:45pm: Healthy Cooking, YMCA

Description coming soon…

3:00 – 3:30pm: Yoga by Ben Sislen, Shaw Yoga

Namaste Shaw! We are thrilled to open the doors of our light-filled studio to the Shaw and greater DC Community. Yoga means union: of body and mind, of individuals, of intention and action. Shaw Yoga sits at a crossroads in DC. Walk out of the studio and look left, and you see the houses and smaller businesses of Uptown. Look right, and the bustle of Downtown greets you. Across the street sits the Convention Center. To this urban union point, we bring the uniting opportunity of yoga. Come relax, breathe, stretch, sweat, strengthen, and grow with us.

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3:45 – 4:15pm: Fall Gardening/Winterizing Your Garden by Caroline Selle, Neighborhood Farm Initiative

Winter doesn’t have to mean an end to the garden. Join us as we discuss the optimal fall crops for climate and some simple ways to extend the growing season.

Caroline Selle grew up gardening and is passionate about food and climate justice and about bringing diverse groups together around food growing. She holds a self-designed degree in Environmental Outreach and Communications from St. Mary’s College of Maryland and a Permaculture Design Certificate from Oregon State University, and is pursuing her interests in botany and soil science. Caroline has grown food on a historic plantation and on the St. Mary’s campus farm, which she helped to found. She is working on turning her yard into an edible landscape

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4:30 – 5:00pm: Cooking Risotto, Chef Matt Finarelli

In this workshop, he’ll be demonstrating one of his favorite dishes – risotto. This rice dish, popular in Northern Italy is one that people seem to have trouble mastering, but it all comes down to a few simple tricks that Chef Matt will demonstrate. And of course, at the end, there’ll be plenty for everyone to sample!

Chef Matt Finarelli is a DC-area native having grown up just across the river in Arlington, VA. In his many years as a chef and culinary instructor, he’s taught thousands of people in the area to love not just the eating of food, but the cooking as well! Featured in cooking schools around the area like the Hill Center in DC, he also gives lessons right in student’s homes, so you can enjoy great food, great times and learn a little something along the way.

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5:15 – 5:45pm: Container Gardening by Caroline Selle, National Farm Initiative

Container gardening can be simple and productive. Learn how to grow fresh herbs and vegetables on your balcony, windowsill, or patio.

Caroline grew up gardening and is passionate about food and climate justice and about bringing diverse groups together around food growing. She holds a self-designed degree in Environmental Outreach and Communications from St. Mary’s College of Maryland and a Permaculture Design Certificate from Oregon State University, and is pursuing her interests in botany and soil science. Caroline has grown food on a historic plantation and on the St. Mary’s campus farm, which she helped to found. She is working on turning her yard into an edible landscape.

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6:00 – 6:30: Tiny House, Jay Austin

Jay Austin is the  is currently living in the Matchbox,  which is a Tiny House stationed at  Old City Farm and Guild. He will be giving tours at the top of every hour and will be in the education tent at 6pm to tell you about the Tiny House concept, where it originated and why people are choosing a different lifestyle.  Find out more at the Tiny House.

Boneyard Studios is DC’s only tiny house community—a not-for-profit showcasing sustainable and space-efficient construction and community in the District and beyond—and this fall one of its tiny houses, the Matchbox, is at Old City Farm & Guild. Tiny house tours will be held at the top of every hour, and at 6PM Boneyard Studios co-founders Lee Pera and Jay Austin will be in the education tent to chat about the tiny house concept, why folks are choosing to right-size, life in a tiny house, and more about tiny houses in DC.

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Questions? Contact the us at board@thedcstatefair.org.

A Word from our Best Bud Sponsor

Let’sGrowDC is the sponsor of the 2015 Best Bud competition. 

image1At Let’sGrowDC, we are committed to building a vibrant urban gardening culture in the District through education, supply, and custom design.

At our core, we are an indoor garden supply, though our scope is much wider. What sets us apart from other gardening supply shops is our consultative approach. We cater to new growers and want them to build confidence and feel they can rely on us as a trusted advisor from seed to harvest. To accomplish this, we are proud to offer advice, educational blogs, and gardening classes free-of-charge.

image3We also specialize in creating customized indoor, outdoor, and rooftop gardens. No project is too big or small for our design studio, which works with clients to make sure their individual vision and needs will be met. We then work with independent contracts who are fully licensed and bonded in the District of Columbia to fulfill the design. Finally, we can provide ongoing maintenance and advice to keep the garden operating smoothly.

Whatever your vision may be, we at Let’sGrowDC will work with you every step of the way to make it a reality.

Let's grow DC logoFor individual consultations or to RSVP for our free classes, contact us at 202-525-4409 or
 info@letsgrowdc.com.

Check out or weekly educational blog at letsgrowdc.tumblr.com

Follow us on Facebook at facebook.com/letsgrowdc

 

New to the Fair: Cut Flower Contest

Bring your cut flower to the DC State Fair on Sept. 12.

You wake up early on Saturday, September 12, the sun is shining through your window, and you can tell it’s going to be a beautiful day: dew drops still coating blades of grass, not a cloud in the sky, and birds singing in the air.

You’re competing in the DC State Fair Flower Arrangement Contest; so you walk out to your garden to make a bouquet, but there, in the center of your garden, you spot one flower more stunning than the others. It stands taller than any other flowers in your garden — it has a deeper, brighter color, the stem is sturdy and strong, and the petals are fuller than any you’ve seen before.

“Ah ha!” you exclaim. “There is a Cut Flower competition at the Fair this year. And this beaut will be the star of the show!” So you carefully kneel down and snip it with sharp scissors so you don’t bruise the stem, put it in a vase, and bring it to the Fair where master gardeners assess its color, stem and foliage, form, and size or variety.

If you have a garden, gaze around it and see if there is one that stands out from the rest.There’s nothing like bringing your homegrown best of the best to the Fair.

Learn more about the first DC State Fair Cut Flower Contest and register to compete by September 5. You can drop off your entry at Old City Farm and Guild on September 12 between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. Bottles will be provided at the fair to protect the flowers before judging; all flowers will be judged in bottles that are the same size and type.

Enter Your Garden’s Gold for the Blue

Photo by Nicholas Saumweber, courtesy USDA.
Photo by Nicholas Saumweber, courtesy USDA.

Compost. To an unknown observer it’s dirt—steamy dirt with worms and bugs crawling through it, and yes, it smells kind of like feet. But to gardeners, it’s gold.

Compost is created from food scraps (veggies, fruits, grains), leaves, sticks and other garden debris. It then is left to rot (hence the smell of feet), sitting for about 3 months and occasionally turned by the gardener, so it can break down into a nutrient-rich, soil-like material.

Gardeners need a healthy balance of nutrients for their plants, and compost definitely delivers; it helps strengthen the soil so that plants can easily root and grow. Compost also keeps water in the soil for those hot, dry summer days when plants need moisture the most.

But not all compost is created equal, which is why we are having the first-ever compost competition this year at the DC State Fair. Judges will be able to tell which gardener’s compost has the most nutrients by assessing composition (are there living things in the compost?), consistency (will it retain moisture?), bouquet (how does it smell?), garden-appeal (will it work in your garden?), and the story behind the compost.

Learn more about the first DC State Fair Compost Contest, and register to compete by September 5. You can drop off your container of compost at Old City Farm and Guild on September 12 between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m.

Interested in making your own garden gold? Click here to learn about the basics of composting.