Marymount Students Help Create Urban Farm

Students and faculty members from Marymount University’s Interior Design program spent a recent Saturday with their sleeves rolled up, working with hundreds of other volunteers to turn an underused plot of inner city land into what’s now being called the largest urban farm in Washington, D.C.
Students from the main and Reston campuses worked with designers, contractors, community members and other volunteers Sept. 26 during the DC Building Industry Association’s 23rd Annual Community Improvement Day. It was the third year a group from Marymount participated.
“It’s always good fun and a great way for students to meet design professionals in a different environment than in their office,” said Moira Denson, assistant professor of interior design.
Each year the association works on a park, Denson said. This year it took on a very rocky, three- acre parcel in the southeastern part of the city to create the urban farm. In addition to farming, the spot will feature a farmers market, public art, a community garden, interpretive trails and space for kids.
Jean Freeman, a professor of interior design, said students also saw a different side of her.
“They seemed to particularly enjoy seeing their professor in her overalls because I’m very professionally dressed while teaching,” Freeman said.
In an area nicknamed the “pizza garden,” students raked rocks from the soil, added topsoil and mulch, and planted flowering bushes, trees and all the herbs used to make pizza.
Freeman noted that every resource used in the project was donated, from services to material to the water for the workers and plants. She said the variety of participants made a strong statement about community building.
“This enormous effort and our small-but-significant participation is rewarding to observe,” she added.
She said the design faculty and students bonded during the work.
“This is an experience that is part of the overall college environment for Marymount University,” she said. “We chose this project in part because this is from the design and building industry, but mostly because it shows a concern for people living near the site and concern for the environment. The site has places for people to plant their own gardens, play in a well-designed area, enjoy the outdoors. It was a demonstration in biophilia, the love for the outdoors.”
Robin Wagner, associate professor of interior design and program director at Marymount’s Reston Center, said it was a great time to relax around the students and give to the community. It also showed how the commitment to community service is a lasting part of a Marymount education.
“Another wonderful thing about it is that I reconnected with four past students who were there for their companies,” she added.
Photo captions:
Photo 1
Students and faculty members from Marymount University’s Interior Design program were among hundreds of volunteers at the DC Building Industry Association’s 23rd Annual Community Improvement Day. This year’s project was the East Capitol Urban Farm. Some of the Marymount crew included, front row, from left, Kristen Eyler and Kathleen Scheer; back row, from left, Jenny Espinoza, Camila Molina, Philippe Molina, Karen Bastidas, Jean Freeman, Joanna Chenaille, Robin Wagner, Lauren Funk, Moira Denson and Renee Harrison.
Photo 2
The afternoon crew from Marymount included, from left, Jasmine Comedy, Shadad Almanea, Stephen Brown, Jennifer Boulin, and Yara Tawfik.