Tucked behind Kelly Miller Middle School in Northeast D.C., the farm is one of several projects under the wing of Bradshaw’s nonprofit organization Dreaming Out Loud, which aims to combat food insecurity and provide job opportunities for marginalized communities in the District. That includes Wards 7 and 8, which have fewer than four major grocery stores total for more than 140,000 residents, most of whom are African American and have the lowest income levels in the city. DOL’s farm serves as a youth program, incubator for local food entrepreneurs and resource for those who don’t have close access to healthy foods.
“We want to help and provide more community-based solutions where residents play a role,” says Bradshaw, 38. “We tend to shy away from these big-box options that people think are going to solve all the problems, because they’re not.”
Before starting DOL in 2008, Bradshaw was a teacher at the now-shuttered Nia Community Public Charter School in Ward 7. That’s where he noticed the types of foods kids were consuming: sugary drinks, pastries, chips loaded with sodium. Inspired by his own experiences growing up around agriculture in Tennessee, Bradshaw wanted to bring those healthy, sustainable food practices to Washington and help those in need.
One of his methods is through DOL’s community farmers markets, where residents can purchase produce from local farmers using the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (or SNAP). DOL also created a 16-week start-up program for local food entrepreneurs to get hands-on job experience and coaching from industry experts — and that’s only a fraction of the initiatives DOL has.
On his D.C. Dream Day, Bradshaw imagines a pre-pandemic world where he can sit back and consume all the food to his heart’s desire.
I would first wake up and go to brunch at Matchbox on 14th and U streets [NW]. I really like their brunch and bottomless mimosas — because it’s not brunch without bottomless.
I love to take walks and enjoy the parks. I love Malcolm X Park [also known as Meridian Hill Park], which is right near where I live. If I’m doing a boozy brunch, I’d take a walk to Malcolm X Park. But if I just woke up and wanted to go somewhere, then I’d go to Rock Creek Park instead.
One of my favorite places to go on a lazy Saturday afternoon is to go have margaritas, and maybe a burrito and pork chops, at Judy Restaurant at 14th and W streets [NW]. It is a neighborhood classic and a restaurant-industry favorite.
I would then just roam around 14th Street, my backyard. During normal times, on a Friday night, I would go to Sotto [which permanently closed in June] and catch DJ Jahsonic. The vibe is grown and sexy. It feels elegant, but inviting at the same time. Then, I would go to Apple Lounge.
I love going down to the Tidal Basin. I would take a scooter and ride around the monuments, then I would go to the National Museum of African American History and Culture. I would love to spend time there, just soaking up the history and thinking about how many different layers and stories there are.
For dinner, I would go to Cane on H Street [NE], which is a Trinidadian restaurant. Their rice and peas, and the really fresh vegetables — you get all the aromatics to the Trinidadian food experience. Their curries and cabbage are so flavorful. Then, I would go Insomnia Cookies down the street and try to tell myself that I don’t need more than two cookies.
Smith Commons [which is now Milk & Honey in Smith Commons] also has a nice ambiance for a drink. They have a great upstairs with a big window overlooking H Street[NE], which is good for people watching.
I would then go to Broccoli City’s drive-in movie theater at RFK Stadium [Park Up DC]. I had the chance to go recently. You can see the screen really well. The audio was broadcast over a radio station so the audio is high quality in your car. It was a really chill vibe. It was just good to be out of the house and enjoy some of the classics, like “Friday.”