Addressing Concerns @ the Kingman Park/Rosedale Community Garden

Below is an email response from Bob Coomber, one of two coordinators for the King Park/Rosedale Community Garden (KPRCG), to a recent email from SMD7D01 Commissioner Veronica Raglin. Her email was sent to various DC Government and DC Elected officials concerning "mosquito hazard" she purportedly witnessed within the KPRCG. The Commissioner's email is below and has been reproduced in its entirety.

Kingman Park/Rosedale Community Garden Sign

From: bob.coomber@gmail.com
Subject: Kingman Park-Rosedale Community Garden Concerns
Date: Fri, 30 Jul 2010 09:21:05 -0400

Dear Ms. Raglin and Others:

Let me first apologize to the many individuals copied on this email who are receiving it unnecessarily. Ms. Raglin chose not to address members of the Kingman Park-Rosedale Community Garden ("KPR Garden") directly regarding the concerns in her emails, which are attached below.

Ms. Raglin, for future reference, my name is Bob Coomber. I am the Coordinator for the KPR Garden, along with Rebekah Wilhelm, who is copied on this email. I live across the street from you at (address removed for privacy). My number is (phone number removed for privacy). Feel free to stop by, call me, or email me any time.

As Coordinator for the KPR Garden, I would like to provide some background, and address the issues Ms. Raglin raised with individuals and entities in the District Government. The KPR Garden is an entity fiscally sponsored by the Rosedale Citizens Alliance ("RCA"). The KPR Garden is comprised of over thirty individuals who live in the Kingman Park and Rosedale neighborhoods, and several individuals who liver farther West towards Capitol Hill. Five of the KPR Garden members live in houses whose property is across an alley from the Garden property, and four of those people live just a few doors down from Ms. Raglin. The KPR Garden is located in an interior block among 20th, 21st, D, and E Streets NE.

Kingman Park/Rosedale Community Garden Location Map

Garden members are responsible for their own 4' by 16' or 4' by 8' plots, and the areas surrounding those plots. Please see the attached pictures for reference, two of which were taken yesterday (labeled "KPR Garden Summer" and "KPR Garden Detail"). Garden members raise a variety of fruits, vegetables, and flowers, including tomatoes, squash, corn, cucumbers, watermelon, strawberries, raspberries, peppers, herbs, and lettuce. The Garden also maintains over a dozen small plots just outside its fence, in which we grow a variety of produce. Any member of the community may enjoy this produce free of charge. In addition, we have had several garden members with economic hardships who garden their plots free of charge. According to long-time residents, the area that contains the Garden had been a Victory Garden in the 1940s, but in the 1990s and early 2000s had become a parking lot, and then an overgrown dumping ground. The Garden in its current incarnation was started in 2005.

2005 Photo of the Garden Site

2005 Photo of the Garden Site

From my reading of Ms. Raglin's emails, she raises three issues, two of which she raised for the first time last summer.

The first issue Ms. Raglin raised last summer, and again this summer, is a concern regarding the rain barrels in the Garden. The rain barrels were purchased by Garden members through an organization working with a grant from the District, similar to the program that currently exists between the District Department of the Environment and DC Greenworks. The rain barrels in use have screens on the top of them, and those not in use are turned over. There is no screen on the bottom openings because there are valves on these openings that allow water to flow out, and allow gardeners to use the water.

KPR Garden Spring (2010)

The second issue that Ms. Raglin raised last summer, and raises again this summer, involves the fence that has, for many years, surrounded part of the area that currently contains the Garden. The fence existed long before the Garden was created in 2005. The fence was repaired last year by Garden members after a stolen van knocked it down. The Garden repaired the fence using its own funds and used like materials to do so. The Garden did not seek reimbursement for these repairs. According to the DCRA website, "the following work does not require a building permit: . . . Repair of existing fences with like materials.". The Garden repaired the existing fence with like materials. Therefore, no permit was necessary according to DCRA.

KPR Garden Summer (2010)

KPR Garden Detail (2010)

The final issue, and the only new issue Ms. Raglin raised, was a concern that the soil that the Garden had delivered from a soil company, not from the District as Ms. Raglin stated, was "contaminated." We had the soil tested by the University of Massachusetts, and the University found it to be perfect for raising vegetables. It is not clear from where Ms. Raglin's definition of "contaminated" stems, or what Ms. Raglin means by "exceeds EPA standards." Ms. Raglin, please expand on this issue so that I can allay any further concerns. Garden members would not each fruit and vegetables raised in soil we believed to be contaminated.

Ms. Raglin, I hope that this addresses all of your concerns.

Anyone can feel free to contact me if they would like to speak on these issues further. Again, my number is (number removed for privacy) and I am responsive to email.


Bob Coomber

Subject: mosquito hazard
Sent: Wednesday, July 28, 2010 8:15 AM

Good Morning,

Last year you observed that the rain barrels on the rear lot of the 400 block of 21st St NE were harboring live mosquito larvae. Yesterday, I observed 4 rain barrels that are a breeding ground for mosquitos: 2 barrels with 6-8inch top holes and no screens, 2 barrels with side openings with no screens.

This "garden", sponsored by the Rosedale Citizen's Alliance had the DC Government to dump contaminated soil that exceeds EPA standards onto this lot. I informed Councilmember Alexander by email of this situation on June 8, 2010 with no action taken yet.

This "garden" continues to be a health hazard to the community with the threat of West Nile virus, airborne health related issues and now rotting vegetables that attract rodents and insects.

Please respond.

Veronica Raglin
ANC 7D01

1 comment:

Kweyol Observer said...

Sounds like another ANC member with nothing better to do than trying to be a crab and stifle positive things in our neighborhoods...