A greenway is a trail or strip of land set aside as a green space for environmental protection or recreation. This may be a series of small urban parks or gardens, a lengthier walking trail, or some combination of green spaces. Neighborhood greenways offer significant community public health benefits, counter urban heat sinks, and support birds, butterflies, and vital insect pollinators. Alethia Tanner Park and the Metropolitan Branch Trail are the eastern green anchors for Eckington, which extends west to North Capitol Street. Our Greenways Committee is made up of dedicated neighbors committed to a cleaner and greener community through the development and connectedness of residential and public green spaces within Eckington. Contact us to get involved!
Eckington Parks & Arts Greenways Committee and the Eckington Civic Association invite you to join us for bimonthly neighborhood cleanups on the 1st and 3rd Saturdays of every month, from 9 am to 12 pm. Celebrate our community and join us in keeping Eckington clean. If you cannot join, we encourage you to find other times that work for you. Please observe social distancing and/or wear a mask or face covering. Protective gloves are also suggested to stay safe.
A clean neighborhood is the first step to a green neighborhood, offering proven health and safety benefits for children and adults, pets, wildlife, and the environment. Litter has been shown to impact or correlate to housing values, crime, and psychological well-being. In Eckington, some of the most common litter discarded is fast food packaging, drink containers, cigarette butts, broken glass, and plastic waste. Community action at sustained litter prevention and cleanup is a vital step to supporting neighborhood greenways.
Tree boxes offer green space opportunities throughout the neighborhood. These small plots of public land may be adopted by the owner or occupant of the adjacent property (or with their permission). D.C. legislation includes instructions on what is permitted for tree boxes, including information on substrates, planting, fencing, and maintenance.
The Greenways Committee encourages neighbors to adopt their nearby tree box and plant native plant species, such as low-growing wildflowers. If you want to keep things simple, try a mix of eco-friendly grasses and flowering clover; avoid mowing the clover flowers to give insect pollinators an additional source of food. Please keep in mind that the priority occupant of tree boxes is the tree, and other plantings should not cause harm or offer undue competition. If your tree box is empty, request a tree planting through 311.dc.gov.
Green Spaces At Home
Green Spaces At Home
Our neighborhood is a patchwork of potential greenspaces that can be nurtured to create greenways through Eckington. Property owners and renters can replace grass and non-native plant species with gardens of native plants supporting birds, butterflies, and vital insect pollinators.
Native plant gardens tend to be more self-sufficient and lower maintenance, tolerating D.C. temperature extremes and city conditions with less watering and care. Pollinator gardens and trees create valuable habitats for birds and insects vital to a healthy urban ecosystem.
Besides the benefits to the natural world, these greenspaces help reduce rainwater runoff, improve air quality, support psychological health, and increase property values. Many residents also enjoy urban agriculture and vegetable gardening at home. Extensive informational resources exist to help property owners and renters create important greenspaces. Business and multi-unit dwelling owners and managers can also participate in these efforts. Subsidized and free planting opportunities for gardens and trees are available through D.C.’s RiverSmart Programs.
Composting is the process by which microbial organisms and fungi break down organic scraps and yard waste into nutrient-rich material. Worm composting (or vermicomposting) is an alternative process whereby worms consume food scraps and produce castings (i.e., feces). Both the nutrient rich compost product and worm castings are highly beneficial for soil amendment in gardens, acting as a form of fertilizer. Avoiding landfills, and instead composting food scraps and garden waste, reduces methane emissions and the carbon footprint.
Eckington neighbors have several options for composting. The Department of Public Works’ Home Composting Program offers composting workshops on both composting methods, along with online resources. Workshop participation permits eligibility for their composter rebate program, which helps cover the cost of a home composting system. D.C. also offers food waste drop off at designated farmers’ market locations to be composted at local sites in the city and Prince George’s County.
As an alternative, Harry Thomas Recreation Center is home to the neighborhood-run Compost Cooperative. New members must go through a brief training on proper use of the composting system. Participation is free, but coop members are required to lend a hand with compost maintenance periodically (which counts toward EP&A volunteer hours!). Please contact [email protected] for additional information and to become involved.
Finally, there are a number of private companies offering food waste pick-up at your doorstep (even for multi-unit residential buildings). Fees vary with the number of neighbors participating, but are typically around $32/month for weekly pickup. The most well-known services in the area include Compost Crew*, Compost Cab, and Veteran Compost, all of which provide compost for your garden in return.
*If you sign up for Compost Crew using our referral code, you'll get $10 off and they'll donate $10 to Eckington Parks & Arts. The monthly price goes down as more people sign up from our community area, which includes several neighborhoods (map) - to as low as $16/month with 75 sign-ups!
Eckington Food Forest
Eckington Food Forest
As our city grows, it often feels like we're moving further away from the natural world that sustains us. In a remarkable community effort in 2020, Eckington neighbors joined forces with the Urban Forestry Division of DDOT, Forested, the Fruit Tree Planting Foundation, Freshfarms Foodprints, and the Langley PTO to create the Langley Community Food Forest. Pomegranate, fig, apple, paw paw, and pear trees now grow alongside strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, mint, and other edible plants on the west-facing hillside of the Harry Thomas Recreation Center, backing up to Langley Elementary. As the bushes and trees become established, our community will be able to share in their amazing bounty.
The neighbors behind the Langley Community Food Forest are looking for help keeping the trees and plants happy, healthy, and weed-free - no gardening skills required! Regular volunteer gatherings are a wonderful opportunity to meet neighbors and contribute to the community. Sign up for more information and to get involved. Gardening hours also count toward Eckington Parks & Arts' volunteer path to membership!
D.C. Government and Community Resources
D.C. Government and Community Resources
A variety of local resources are already available for homeowners, tenants, schools, and businesses to support the environment and increase greenspaces in our neighborhood. Although not affiliated with the entities and organizations, Eckington Parks and Arts is happy to assist community members interested in these opportunities.
Clean City D.C.’s Adopt a Block program is a city government initiative supporting neighbors in collaborative and regular cleanup efforts for a defined area. We encourage Eckington residents to consider participating in this program - a clean neighborhood is achieved block by block!
Department of Energy & Environment's RiverSmart Programs provide financial incentives for projects reducing harmful rainwater runoff into the District’s waterways and the Chesapeake Bay. This work offers additional benefits by supporting pollinators and wildlife, increasing greenspace in the neighborhood, and bolstering home values. RiverSmart Programs offer opportunities for homeowners, businesses, schools, and others to install green infrastructure at reduced cost, including rain barrels, rain gardens, green roofs, permeable paver patios and walkways, and shade trees.
District Department of Transportation (DDOT) Trees, or the Urban Forestry Division, is the D.C. government entity charged with maintaining our city trees. Their website offers information and links to various resources on tree adoption, street tree planting, and regulations for existing trees. In collaboration with the D.C. nonprofit Casey Trees, DDOT Trees is entrusted with planting Eckington’s street trees (i.e., those living in tree boxes); they rely on neighbors to keep those trees watered until they develop strong roots. If a tree box is empty, anyone can request a tree be planted through 311.dc.gov.
Casey Trees is a D.C. nonprofit dedicated to restoring and protecting our city’s urban forest in cooperation with DDOT Trees. Besides the obvious benefits for wildlife, city trees are vital to reducing rainwater runoff and flooding. They also assist in temperature moderation, especially in the heat of summer. Casey Trees additionally collaborates with the RiverSmart program to offer free residential tree planting and rebates on trees already purchased.
D.C. Urban Gardeners (DUG) Network is a community and online hub supporting urban gardening, environmental sustainability, and food access and nutrition. DUG connects users to everything from city gardening resources (e.g., finding a community garden and compost) to educational classes on urban agriculture (e.g., pollinators and beekeeping). They even include a chronological list of relevant annual events in and around D.C. For the casual through serious urban gardener, this website is a vast network of information and useful resources.