Josephine Butler Parks Center
Overlooking Meridian Hill Park, the Josephine Butler Parks Center is an 18,000 sq ft, 40-room Renaissance-revival style mansion. Washington Parks & People operates the Parks Center as a “greenhouse” for advancing Washington’s parks and public spaces. The Center houses 12 community-based non-profit culture and service organizations.
Once the home of the Hungarian Embassy to the United States, the Josephine Butler Parks Center has been transformed into an Embassy of the Earth, with a global mission that radiates out from our home here in Washington, DC. As home to a growing coalition of partner organizations, the Parks Center is a beacon of green urban revitalization and cooperation.
North Columbia Heights Green
Since we first broke ground in 2010, the North Columbia Heights Green has been an exciting effort to create a model community garden transformation out of a long-blighted vacant lot. Gardens at the site now include vegetables, herbs, berries, grapes, healing plants, and native trees.
Through our Community Harvest program, Parks & People now has 50 gardens and greening sites across the city that we are supporting with grants, plants, seeds, tools, technical assistance, training, volunteers, promotion, and advocacy. There are dozens, and potentially hundreds, of more sites that we would like to assist.
Riverside Healthy Living Center
Since opening in 2004, the Riverside Center is DC’s first comprehensive community food hub. Together with our partners at DC Parks and Recreation, DC Department of the Environment, DC Urban Greens, and the UDC College of Agriculture, Urban Sustainability, and Environmental Sciences (CAUSES), we operate a model urban farm and native reforestation nursery around the corner at the Marvin Gaye Community Greening Center.
The historic site of Marvin Gaye’s professional singing debut in the old Crystal Room nightclub, Riverside features a 2,000-square-foot assembly space, a brand new 1500-square-foot commercial kitchen and cafe, a bike repair station, and an indoor growing place now home to 560 organic produce seedlings. A community-wide public arts project called Art on the Block decorates the walls and curbs surrounding our center with mosaics to honor the history and heroes of this stream valley.
Marvin Gaye Greening Center
Long believed to be a private lot, the Marvin Gaye Greening Center sat empty and abandoned for years. But where others saw an overgrown field, Washington Parks & People saw opportunity. We discovered that the lot was in fact public property, an organic part of the Marvin Gaye Park corridor! Together with our partners in DC government, we were able to reclaim this long-forgotten plot of earth.
Parks & People commits itself to a vision of a park whose beauty is equaled by its food production value. By placing urban agriculture in the midst of our public land, we are demonstrating that our parks and greens can be both sources of inspiration and nutrition! In just a few years, Parks & People, our partners, and thousands of volunteers have come a long way in advancing this vision of park-based urban agriculture. We invite you to come see the impact we’ve already made, and take part in the work that remains to be accomplished!