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Harvesting Hope: Continuing Our Tradition of Helping Others

Harvesting Hope: Continuing Our Tradition of Helping Others

Display of items harvested from the 2018 AOC victory gardens at the Library of Congress.
Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Building on the success of last year's War Garden project, the Architect of the Capitol's (AOC) gardening team who care for the Library of Congress buildings and grounds, identified and, in some cases, created additional beds to grow vegetables on the U.S. Capitol campus. To view the team's handy work, you can visit several gardens that surround the Library buildings.

In the raised bed on the west side of the James Madison Memorial Building, the Library's gardening team planted a "three sisters" grouping. Corn, beans and squash were historically planted together by Native Americans because they thrive together, much like inseparable sisters. Flat-topped mounds are built for each cluster of crops. The corn provides a structure for the beans to climb thus eliminating the need for poles. The beans provide nitrogen for the soil, an essential element for living soil to function well. Meantime, the squash spreads along the ground, blocking sunlight and discouraging weeds. The team also added okra, sunflowers, basil, peppers, parsley and carrots to the back section of this garden for a splash of color and visual interest.

The garden behind the Thomas Jefferson Building located on Second Street, SE, nicknamed the nursery bed, is traditionally used to test flowers and plants under consideration for planting on Capitol Hill by the Library gardeners. This year, a portion of the nursery bed is hosting a variety of herbs, peppers, hops, paprika, asparagus and grapes.

The third garden runs along the entire eastern base of the John Adams Building and sports a robust selection of potatoes, onions, shallots, leeks, tomatillos, lettuce, tomatoes, chard, scallions and parsnips.

Crops harvested from AOC gardens will be donated to local food banks.

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Editor's Note: photo above taken October 2018 shows display of items harvested from the AOC victory gardens at the Library of Congress.