For the past three years the Alliance’s D.C. staff has presented at Rooting D.C., a free urban gardening forum that educates attendees about urban agriculture and local food issues. In 2019, I had the pleasure of giving a presentation on edible native plants that can be incorporated into rain gardens and BayScape gardens. These practices help to reduce stormwater runoff through the utilization of deep-rooted native plants. Incorporating edible native plants into these practices adds additional value to these installations by serving as a food source for wildlife and humans.

Queen Richardson and Savannah Acosta present at Rooting D.C. Photo credit: Jeremy Limerick

Rooting D.C. touches on a variety of topics and has steadily improved its educational offerings throughout the years. This past Saturday, I had the pleasure of presenting again alongside our partners at the Department of Energy and Environment. We introduced attendees to the RiverSmart Rain Barrel Program, which the Alliance administers along with the RiverSmart Landscaping Program and theRiverSmart Permeable Surface Rebate Program. In 2019, The Alliance coordinated the installation of over 400 rain barrels on residential properties in the District through RiverSmart. During the presentation, we went over installation techniques for two types of commonly installed rain barrels. We took attendees step-by-step through the process for installing their barrel, as well as the administrative requirements of the program. To wrap up the workshop, we discussed some basic rain barrel maintenance practices which include yearly releveling of the barrel, regular cleaning of the barrel’s filter, and techniques to protect rain barrels from complications in the winter.

The presentation was well-received by the attendees, some attendees even went to sign up for the Riversmart Homes program immediately after the presentation! I look forward to coming back next year to Rooting D.C. and encourage anyone with an interest in local food systems to check it next year’s event. Are you a District resident and interested in rain barrels? The RiverSmart Rain Barrel Program can help you get a rain barrel that meets your needs.

Laura Todd talks to a Rooting D.C. attendee. Photo credit: Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay