From 2008-12, the Old City Green garden center at Ninth and N Streets NW, with its wild vines and copious foliage, looked like a magical oasis amid boarded up buildings and construction zones. At the end of last year, the center’s lease on that lot ended, but rather than close shop, founder Frank Asher changed the nursery’s name and resumed business in front of the shuttered Shaw Junior High School.
Old City is the neighborhood’s go-to spot for those with green thumbs (and those who aspire to), but amid the perennials and planters, the garden center also sells pumpkins and decorative gourds, and plays host to all sorts of community events. It’s a destination for CSA pick-ups and a host of the DC Food Swap. The first Homegrown DC Fair, a festival and hyperlocal farmers market, also took place at Old City.
But despite its plant-based mission, the garden center has managed to find a purpose in the off-season. There are plans to open an ice skating rink there in December.
— Stephanie Merry