DCspy discovers community gardening

And apparently I was the last person to do so, which is not a surprise. For, despite being a SPY, I am not the most observant person, nor the most innately curious. Though I do love flowers.

SPY taking a garden stroll

Community gardens take many forms, but after researching, basically the model is as follows: You take a large plot of land, you divvy it into sections, then people (usually backyard-less apartment residents) sign up to get their own section. That way, they can have a little garden to tend for vegetables, herbs or fresh flowers despite living in an apartment. The gardens are also ALL over DC (interactive map, Dupont is ward 2!).

The Temple Garden (15th & S St NW)

Neat no? I obviously wanted one despite the fact I neither garden nor cook, so decided to the check out the Temple Garden at 15th and S Streets NW. Yeah. Turns out, community gardens are SERIOUS. Like super serious.  First off, the wait time for a plot at Temple Garden is a minimum of 3 YEARS. 3 effing years! And secondly, well, from the Field to Fork website:

The Temple Garden is organized by having a president, a listkeeper, quadrant leaders, a treasurer and a Temple “liaison” who communicates with our landowners, the Masonic Temple…. The garden has 4 pages of rules outlining expectations of all gardeners, and enforcement is done by Quadrant Leaders throughout the growing season

Hmmm, a strictly enforced collective garden with a set hierarchy. What does that remind me of…

Come comrade, to our collective farm!

In Russia, garden tends you. Get in line comrades!

So yes, community gardens are for the dedicated, which makes sense given the waitlist. Your beloved SPY falls more into the “flakey” category. However, if you are an apartment dweller, gardener, and can make the time, go for it!

(Oh and the website, DC’s from field to fork network, has tons of tips about community gardens, farmers markets and local produce in general. Just in time for Top Chef!)

Small National Zoo mammals gear up for the World Cup!!!

Too…much…adorableness. The small mammal house at the National Zoo celebrated the start of the World Cup with some props, peanut butter, and photos. Courtesy of DCist via the National Zoo:

Tamarin free kick....

prehensile-tailed porcupine free kick

...saved by the porcupine keeper!

... while the tenrec has a wardrobe malfunction!

... and mongoose loves cone!

I could go on for hours. The rest of the pictures, which include meerkats, naked mole rats and friends, can be found here. Happy Weekend!!!

Happy World Oceans Day!!!!!!

The best of sea creatures ready for the party

Happy World Oceans Day DC!!!! Yes, there is a World Oceans Day, and it was established in 1992 by the UN to honor all the fish, crustaceans and mammals of the sea as well as bringing attention to all the terrible things we do to the sea (cough, BP oil spill).

HOWEVER, in honor of World Oceans Day the Baltimore Aquarium is having events all month to feature sustainable fisheries and things (as an aside, my go-to guide has always been this. USE it). The final Baltimore event is a “Beyond the Boardwalk: On Tap,” which is $55 and has samples of local, sustainable seafood as well as microbrews from the area. DC’s own National Aquarium also has an America’s Aquatic Treasures exhibit:

Entrance to the sad little DC aquarium

The DC aquarium was always the saddest of aquariums. Located in the Commerce Department basement, the coral in exhibits was just plaster painted as coral and water was often on the floor. In the small cramped setting there was this bizarrely brightly painted mural, which reminded me of being in a Wes Anderson movie or something. However, per their website, they have RENOVATED! Huzzah. I have always liked this underdog of aquariums, so VISIT.

OR just go to a Jaleo location for their annual DC Paella Festival, and eat cute little sea creatures with rice. Not sure if the dishes are sustainable (they should be, giving the timing), but paella is delicious and sea-related so I threw it into the post.

DCist paella picture

OH. But one thing you shouldn’t do? Boycott BP gas stations. Yes, the spill is a DISASTER and although BP should pay 1000 times over for it, it’s looking like it won’t cost them much.  And no, big oil, the ocean will not “just take care of itself,” (Exhibit A) no, it doesn’t “naturally leak oil so it’s okay” (I’m serious, that was a defense). HOWEVER. Boycotting is a bad plan. Most gas stations are independently owned and operated, which means you are just shooting the messenger.

Look. If you don’t want oil spills in the gulf, don’t use oil from the gulf. And if you must use oil from the gulf, don’t let oil companies self regulate. And that’s that.

Good morning from WASA! NW residents told to not drink tap water until further notice

Man. Such a crappy news morning for the District. The DC voting rights bill is basically dead in the water over gun rights, it’s 4/20 so all these stupid stoner jokes are floating around, AND now apparently DC water isn’t safe to drink because of chlorine levels. This is the quarantined NW area:

View Chlorine Spike 4/20/10 in a larger map

So, it does not include my region of U Street/North Dupont. However, I DID comment to IronCitySpy a couple days ago that my apartment tap water tasted like a swimming pool, which basically means I discovered this problem and that I should become a scientist. Oh, and for those in the blast zone, just remember, at least you’re not in Cleveland. Their river caught on fire….TWICE. (Warning: the Cleveland link is a video)

God hiking equipment is awesome, why not use it (Part II)

Afternoon reader(s). What a day! Look outside! Doesn’t it make you want to go CAMPING??? … Maybe? … please … for Earth Day?

Okay. For those of you that thought “yes!! what an idea! Wait. I have no tent, no idea where to go, god, SO tired, do I really want to spend time organizing this?? I mean I could just go sit in an outdoor patio with a beer then read in a park, a park is nature-y right? RIGHT???” then I sympathize. Because although I love hiking, camping just stresses me out. Like the planning and the renting and the driving and the possibility (especially around the District) that although I imagine this:

I could easily end up with this:

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Earth Day and other events in the District

Now I know I normally do not comment on events. It’s because I am NEVER aware of anything in time for people to actually plan for things. However, since it’s Earth Day on Thursday (go planet!) and the DC international film festival and I am sort of “between” jobs (cough), I figured I would help you plan your week. You know, list 4 things to check out and 4 things to miss….

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God hiking equipment is awesome, why not use it? (Part I)

Views from Old Rag in Autumn (from http://dardenblogs.com)

One of my pastimes is buying hiking gear and never using it. I can’t help it. It’s just so attractive in the store. Boots that water just glides off of, a fancy pack that melds to your back, a camelbak water pouch that attaches to your backpack so you don’t need to even open a water bottle but can just drink through a little tube without breaking stride like this:

Oh. You think it’s nerdy? Just you wait, dear reader. Wait until you are out hiking and thirsty and tiredly drop your nalgene and get dirt all in your water rendering it undrinkable while I have a camelbak so that can’t happen. And I just laugh. ANWAYS, like so many people, I own the stuff but never actually go. I just put it off. That is, until my fitness brother made me actually go. We hiked Old Rag Mountain. Arguably the most famous DC hike. It looks like this…..

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Stop judging me for forgetting my reusable bag Whole Foods

Whole Foods at 14th St. and P St. NW

Dear Whole Foods,

I am an environmentalist. I am. I have actually dedicated my career to saving trees and birds and things and I make semi-decent income doing it. But for the life of me, the LIFE of me, I can never remember to bring my reusable bag to the grocery store. I can’t help it. It’s like I’m programmed to forget. And whenever I go up there, I always end up behind one of your pretty young minions with a bedazzled eco tote that looks like this:  

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