Marines vs. Capitol Hill Gardeners - NBC4 Washington

Marines vs. Capitol Hill Gardeners

New Marine barracks could uproot a community garden



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    A turf battle may be looming on Capitol Hill.

    On one side there are the U.S. Marines, polishing their weapons. (In this case, it's a bulldozer.) On the other side, a group of South Capitol Hill residents are getting down and dirty. Their weapons: a hose, a shovel and their voices.

    The U.S. Marines are looking into the area that houses the Virginia Avenue Community Garden as a location for their new barracks, according to Fromartz ChewsWise. This, however, has become a problem. For the past several years, community residents, along with their children, created and maintained the organic garden. The lot where the garden is now located was, previously, in vastly poor conditions and even dangerous, according to the website.

    "Six years ago, the Virginia Avenue Community Garden, just a mile or so away from the U.S. Capitol, was a deserted lot, with a broken playground, a ramshackle building, thriving drug activity, and not much else. But it was decent land, with full sun and lot of potential. So a few hardy gardeners on Capitol Hill took on the task of creating a community garden, working with the parks department, getting initial grants, trucking in compost and soil and slowly turning the park into an urban oasis that now is home to 60 gardening families, a fruit orchard, a fig tree and blackberry brambles -- all of it organic."

    The garden, however, could be in imminent danger. The Marines are eyeing a four-acre site at Ninth and L streets SE, according to the Washington Post. Their current living quarters near at Eighth and I streets SE are reportedly getting too cramped and they need more space.

    Residents have already started a facebook page called "Save Virginia Ave Park." Messages of support have come in as far away as Denmark.

    In another strategic move, a budgeter from the International Monetary Fund who is leading the outreach wrote to the first lady, who has emerged as a figurehead for healthy eating. "Given your own policy interests, it would be sadly ironic to lose to federal development one of the community gardens nearest to the White House," Michael Filippello wrote according to the paper. City officials are also joining the charge.

    The Washington Post reports:

    D.C. Council member Tommy Wells (D-Ward 6) ,  whose district includes the Navy Yard, said he's fighting to keep the garden alive by urging the Marines to tear down the parking lot next to the annex and rebuild it underground, freeing space for a new barracks. "We don't have a strong negotiating position," Wells said. "Who wants to take on the U.S. Marines?" 

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