Hello, my name is Lina and I am a junior studying international studies. I have been volunteering for Common Good City Farm (CGCF) during my time with CSLP and have connected this service learning to a course in SIS called Geographies of Uneven Development. Common Good City Farm is an urban farm and garden located in Le Droit Park. I have done a few different things with Common Good, including volunteering at the garden, working in the office, and volunteering at their most important fundraiser, A Night on the Farm. I didn’t have many expectations to begin with; I was just excited to have hands-on experience at an urban farm in DC and learn more about the work that goes into non-profit management. I have been surprised by all the work that goes into managing a small urban garden. CGCF is such a small non-profit, but there are so many different things that go into the running of a non-profit and farm. All the people who work at CGCF are so committed to what they do despite the heavy workload.
I have definitely found relevant connections to my critical geographies class. CGCF is located nearby a dog park and green space, and this space separates historic, wealthy Le Droit Park from a set of public housing units, which are seemingly underfunded. Some say that funding toward the green space CGCF lies on has detracted from funding that could have gone to public housing. Grappling with this contention has been hard for me, as I see the beneficial effects CGCF has had and can continue to have in the Le Droit Park community, while I also understand that public housing infrastructure is simultaneously deteriorating, gentrification is increasing, and inequality is increasing. I think my biggest learning takeaways have been that 1- running a non-profit is difficult, 2- urban planning is difficult and that the placement of institutions like urban gardens matter, and 3- that urban farms and gardens must prioritize low-income community engagement, offering plenty of programs that allow people to take home food at the end of the day.