So you don't have a yard or even a sunny patio for a few containers of dinosaur kale. You've requested a plot at a community garden and you're currently in waiting list limbo. How can you get your hands in the dirt right now? Volunteer at a demonstration garden. Demonstration gardens are used to educate the public about gardening best practices, nutrition, and environmental sciences. Many demonstration gardens hold workshops, group tours, and delightful garden parties (Basil Bonanza is tomorrow!). I find these gardens to be wonderfully inspirational. If they can grow it, so can I!
What do you need to volunteer at a garden? First, wear seasonally-appropriate clothing that allows you to move freely and that you don't mind getting dirty. Don't forget comfortable closed-toe shoes and a wide-brimmed hat. You'll also need sunscreen, bug spray, a big bottle of water, and a snack. Bonus points if you bring your own gardening gloves, but the garden manager should have a pair that you may borrow as well as any tools that you may need. Expect to be asked to pull weeds, spread mulch or compost, plant new seeds or seedlings, harvest ripe produce, or build raised beds and other garden structures.
The following demonstration gardens have open volunteer hours during the spring, summer, and fall, no prior gardening experience needed:
A larger list of demonstration gardens can be found on DUG Network. Additionally, many DC schools have gardens and seek volunteers.
July at Washington Youth Garden: tomatoes, okra, peppers, basil, and more