Project EDEN creates appetite for success

A community garden is cropping up in the District, helping struggling families in Southeast D.C. put fresh food on the table.

Sandwiched between apartments in Congress Heights near Anacostia is a community greenhouse in the making.

“I think it’ll help us to start eating healthy,” says Cynthia Tillman. “I think it’ll just make a difference, something that we can call our own.”

Tillman has lived in Washington for 32 years. She says knowing what’s being planted fuels her and her neighbors’ appetites for success.

“We’re looking at about 90,000 pounds of produce per year from this venture,” says Angeloyd Fenrick of Columbia Learning International Ministries.

They’ll get fruits and vegetables, cooking demos, and training in the food handling business without spending a penny.

“It’s exciting. I’m glad to be a part of it,” says Turnese Wilkins.

Wilkins is learning more about urban gardening so she can roll out her own truck one day, dishing out comfort classics.

“Hamburgers, hot dogs, New Orleans food,” she says.

It’s a dream she never thought was possible until she met Pastor Cheryl Mitchell Gaines. The two crossed paths years ago, days after Wilkins was released from a nine-month prison sentence for attempted murder.

“With a felony you can’t really get a job so it’s given me opportunity to open my own business,” says Wilkins.

“We’re saying God can resurrect their dream even through an urban garden,” says Pastor Gaines.

Pastor Gaines of Regeneration House of Praise is the brains behind Project EDEN, or Everyone Deserves to Eat Naturally. She’s teaming up with the University of the District of Columbia’s College of Agriculture, Urban Sustainability and Environmental Sciences. Wells Fargo provided the college with a grant to build the greenhouse.

“It’s about food security,” says Sabine O’Hara, dean of the College of Agriculture, Urban Sustainability and Environmental Sciences.

The garden survives entirely on donations, but more food and volunteers are needed. Those interested in helping with community garden donations should visit or call 202-574-1610.