Our introduction to the young people of the Sasha Bruce Barracks Row Drop-in Center initiated a relationship that has dramatically expanded our mission to include changing lives. In 2022, we began a collaboration with Sasha Bruce Youthwork to transform and activate the underused asset of the outdoor space of Sasha Bruce House at 1022 Maryland Avenue NE and establish a program to support its vital work.
The goals we hoped to achieve were help this underserved and at-risk population recognize and identify new opportunities and options, develop vocational and entrepreneurial skills, learn about food and nutrition and reduce food insecurity for them and their families.
Interns of a pilot program funded by a grant from the Capitol Hill Community Foundation for Sasha Bruce clients and various volunteer groups under the direction of Guerrilla Gardeners of Washington DC cleared extensive shrubbery overgrowth and invasive plants species from the grounds and flower beds. Fruit trees were pruned and raised vegetable beds rejuvenated to prepare for the next growing season.
In April of 2023, the Sasha Bruce Landscape and Urban Agriculture Program, funded by a True Inspiration Grant from Chick-fil-A kicked off with the first project: emptying an outbuilding of accumulated debris to serve as program headquarters and a base of operations. Onelife Fitness of Capitol Hill donated lockers for use by the interns - most of whom faced housing instability - for their work clothes, tools and personal belongings.
The Garden Shed was then filled with new and donated tools and supplies along with battery-powered EGO equipment, including a mower, edger and leaf blower. For the next seven months, interns learned basic flower and vegetable gardening techniques and landscaping skills. Flower beds were weeded and replanted with pollinator species and flowering shrubs. New trees were planted to improve the canopy. A garden accent wall was completed and ornamental shade gardens were established as part of the landscape design component of the program. Raised vegetable beds in the Bruce Farm Urban Agriculture Campus were planted with tomatoes, peppers, eggplant and squash, resulting in an abundant harvest. Flower propagation beds were created to supply Asian lilies and gladiolus for sale at street markets.
The inaugural program year concluded on Saturday, October 21, 2023 with volunteers from Comcast and others joining the interns for Tulipalooza!, planting 4,500 bulbs that will bloom in the spring of 2024.
The property surrounding the Sasha Bruce House serves as the training ground for interns.
Interns learn landscaping and gardening techniques while improving the grounds of Sasha Bruce House.
Interns plant vegetables Bruce Farm to reduce their food insecurity and flowers to sell at street markets to increase self-sufficiency.
We asked children of a local elementary school to paint rocks with messages of encouragement for the young people who come to Sasha Bruce House to find refuge. These rocks have been placed in the gardens alongside the steps leading to the front door.
We hope to add many more rocks in the coming year.
Volunteers from the Travis Manion Foundation came to work on Bruce Farm on Veterans' Day 2023, doubling the number of vegetable beds (now 8)
Volunteers from Pew Charitable Trusts weeded and mulched in October 2023
During a joint event with the Potomac School, employees of Goldman Sachs installed landscape fabric and planted pollinators in September 2023.
During a joint event with employees of Goldman Sachs, students from the Potomac School installed landscape fabric and planted pollinators in September 2023.
Members of the Sasha Bruce Youthwork Leadership Council weeded and edged the sidewalk areas surrounding Bruce House in July 2023.
More spirited weeding and deforestation in June 2023.
Volunteers at the Spring Service and Social in May 2023.
More spirited weeding and deforestation in May 2023.
More spirited weeding and deforestation in September 2022.
Vigorous weeding followed by a cookout in August 2022.
Lee asked his friends and family to volunteer for his birthday in June 2022.
A team from the Booz Allen Law firm volunteered in May 2022.
Care First sent a weeding and planting crew for Earth Day in April 2022.
White Dawes, program manager of the the Sasha Bruce Landscape and Urban Agriculture Internship Program received the Youth Choice Award at the 2023 Sasha Bruce Gala.
Disclaimer: Facilitating this contact is in no way an endorsement or guarantee from Guerrilla Gardeners of Washington DC or Sasha Bruce Youthwork. Any agreement for work and payment for services is between the persons engaged to perform such services and those who promise payment for same.