Friday, July 25, 2014

Interview with ANC Commissioner Kent Slowinski

Kent Slowinski is the Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner for 3D01, representing Wesley Heights in Ward 3 of Northwest, D.C. He is also cofounder of the Environmental Health Group, a nonprofit educational organization to encourage sustainability and a more thorough cleanup of contaminated sites. He recently visited Muirkirk Farm for the summer ANC Open House.
Kent Slowinski (far right) viewing one Muirkirk's vegetable boxes.
Photo by Ed Jones, UDC-TV.

If this was your first trip to the UDC Farm, did you have and preconceived notions about the farm? 

No. I've been to the farm several times. The last time was to help build one of the greenhouses/high tunnels with Will Allen and a group of volunteers. I was looking forward to seeing how the high tunnel was being used and how things have changed. There have been many changes - several new greenhouses and many volunteers. 

What impressed you most? 
There have been many changes at Muirkirk Farm. Several new greenhouses have been built using the latest technology, including solar power, drip irrigation, aquaculture, vermiculture and aquaponics. I'm looking forward to seeing the new composting operation. It was good to see so many volunteers and students learning about urban agriculture. UDC has formed some good partnerships. 

Did anything surprise you? 
I was surprised at how big the composting operation is going to be!

Can you envision a future collaboration between Ward 3 and CAUSES/Muirkirk Farm? 
Yes. I'd like to start an urban agriculture business incubator that meets on a regular basis to advance urban agriculture in the District. I'm looking forward to seeing UDC's rooftop greenhouse on Connecticut Avenue. 

At the March 2014 Rooting DC Conference at Wilson High School, I asked what it would take to establish some good examples of urban agriculture in Tenleytown. Some of the work at the Muirkirk Farm can be replicated throughout the District to promote urban agriculture. For example, rooftop greenhouses/high tunnels can be used on big box stores, grocery stores, large office/commercial buildings and government agencies. I was recently on the rooftop of the Reagan building (EPA Headquarters) where they are growing strawberries vertically.  The District now offers storm water credits that can be used to defray the costs of the greenhouse infrastructure.

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