Discovering the Kitchen Garden at Bartholdi Park
Every time I go downtown to Washington, DC, I discover something new. While strolling along Capitol Hill I stopped at Bartholdi Park, a quiet, two-acre, triangular-shaped garden located on Independence Avenue across from the U.S. Botanic Garden. Bartholdi Park is part of the Garden's campus. Its core feature is the ornate, cast-iron Bartholdi Fountain created by its namesake sculptor, Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi. He also designed the Statue of Liberty.
My plan was to cut through the park and head towards the Capitol, but it didn't quite work out that way. The fun thing about walking through gardens is that they're always changing. No matter how many times you visit, you'll see different foliage or blooms pop out at any given time of year. This time, broad, blue-green cabbage leaves caught my attention. At first I thought it was a random vegetable sown into the planter bed for visual interest. But as I kept walking I noticed one fruit, vegetable, and herb plant after the other. I had stumbled onto a kitchen garden!
A Splendid Variety
Cauliflower, cabbage, lettuce, kale, kohlrabi, Swiss chard, celery, carrots, peppers, okra, corn, potatoes, wheat, garlic, fennel, thyme, oregano, peanuts, grapes, strawberries, and more were all nestled into beds and planters, placed in striking color and texture combinations. Pale yellows against deep purples, rich blues against bright greens, wispy stalks against ruffled leaves, hearty spikes against delicate stems. As I watched the wheat stalks gently sway in the breeze, it was only the sounds of city traffic that reminded me I was in congested, urban power center, and not an idyllic, rural farm.
It was still early in the growing season, but it would only be a few weeks before some fruits and veggies were ready for harvesting. I didn’t have to wonder very long to find out what becomes of the harvest. The friendly groundskeeper explained that the food is used for cooking demonstrations and educational programs. You can find out about these programs and events here.
If the goal of Bartholdi Park's kitchen garden is to inspire visitors to plant their own, then they have succeeded. A few days after my visit, I added some vegetable plants to my garden. I'll be posting updates on their progress.