In D.C. Dream Day, our favorite people tell us how they would spend a perfect day in the district.
As a kid growing up in D.C., Kathleen O’Keefe didn’t know much about gardening. “My mom grew aloe and that was pretty much it,” she says. But when she saw her first rooftop farm in Brooklyn, during a 2013 trip to New York, something clicked. “I took a picture and put it on Instagram and tagged my friend Kris [Grina] and was like, ‘You want to do this?’” she recalls. Thus was born Up Top Acres, which now has about 2 acres of farmland spread across 10 D.C.-area rooftops. The business’s produce never travels far — most is carried by hand or bike to its final destination: nearby restaurants and regular folks with farm-share subscriptions. It was a great feat of imagination for O’Keefe, 28, to picture having an entire day off from work — but once she got going on her dream day, she came up with plenty of ways to get off the farm.
I used to row for Woodrow Wilson High School, and I miss being on the river. So I would get some of my old high school rowing friends and my mom, who is also a rower, and we’d go to Thompson Boat Center and go for a nice row. It’s so peaceful out on the water at sunrise. I’ve rowed on a lot of rivers, and the Potomac is by far my favorite.
We’d work up an appetite rowing, so we’d go to Ellē in Mount Pleasant. It’s really cute. They have really good breakfast sandwiches. I’d also get whatever the scone of the day is and a black coffee.
Afterwards, I’d grab my 2-year-old nephew and go for a hike in Rock Creek Park on the Boundary Bridge trail. There’s a little beach, and we’d throw rocks in the river. I’m not very good at skipping stones — my record is, like, three skips.
Then I’d go to Chevy Chase Library and check out a new book. It’s a walk down memory lane for me, because that was the library I went to as a kid. Every summer they have a book reading contest, where you make a mobile and get to add to it for every book you read — and of course, you want to have the biggest mobile. I love going and looking at the kids’ mobiles.
For lunch, I’d go to Little Sesame. It’s hummus fast-casual, and so good. They have all these seasonal fresh toppings. Their cauliflower one is my favorite, but I might try whatever they have going for spring, like ramps or spring peas. It’s owned by another Wilson grad, Nick Wiseman, and he was a great mentor to us when we were starting up.
I’d drop by the Farm Friday Happy Hour, which is the third Friday of the month at Up Top Acres Farm at 55 M St. SE, by the Navy Yard Metro. We always have a bluegrass band and it’s a great place to watch the sun set behind the Washington Monument. I love those happy hours. I get to take a step back and say, “Wow, this is cool. This is something we’ve built and people are enjoying it.”
For dinner, I’d meet up with José Andrés, who helped us get our first farm on the rooftop at Oyamel. He’s always full of ideas. Hopefully he wouldn’t mind going to another restaurant, because I’ve been wanting to try Tail Up Goat.
Afterwards, I’d go to The Anthem and see Maggie Rogers, who is actually coming in October. The Anthem is so well-designed. It’s big, but it feels intimate. It’s never crowded, and there’s always a place you can go and dance.