Sunday, May 01, 2016

Jenks & Cultivate the City Plan to Make a Rooftop Bloom

Cultivate the City herbs for sale at Jenks

W.S. Jenks Hardware (910 Bladensburg Road) is partnering with Cultivate the City for an intriguing project at the Bladensburg Road store. It’s a multi-phase project that will see Cultivate the City run rooftop greenhouses at the site. Inside the greenhouses they will raise a variety of plants, which will be for sale at Jenks.

Seeds from Cultivate the City

Cultivate the City Founder and CEO Niraj Ray laid out plans calling for a 20’ x 16’ greenhouse initially, with three smaller 8’ x 12’ greenhouses to follow, as well as benches with 5 gallon planters. They also intend to install a 20’ x 30’ greenwall on the wall boarding the 7-Eleven, but plan to create a mural for the space until that time. Though most plant sales will take place downstairs, customers will be able to visit the rooftop gardens on weekends (when someone can show them around), and for events and workshops.

A preliminary rendering of the rooftop 

The long-term plan is to create a space where members of the community can come to relax and socialize during a shopping trip.

The rooftop of Jenks as it appeared several weeks ago (prior to the recent paint job) 

There will be tables with seating, and Jenks owner Jerry Siegel told me the store is looking into the possibility of inviting a pop-up restaurant or other food vendor (probably something along the lines of American bar-b-q) to come in and help round out the experience with food and drink service during daylight hours certain days.

Yoga on the rooftop post paint job. Photo courtesy of Jenks Hardware

To help draw people up to the rooftop Jenks is working with 405 Yoga (1000 Bladensburg Road), which is now offering rooftop yoga classes for its members Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays.

Oompah loompah coleus is among the ornamental plants Cultivate has for sale at Jenks

Among the plants Cultivate the City will grow at Jenks will be varieties you won’t find at Home Depot. Things like fiery Scorpion Peppers and Holy Basil (perfect for Thai recipes), but also ornamentals like the Under the Sea Coleus they had for sale when I visited recently. They are also raising vegetables with a selection of tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, and more. Cultivate the City offers a seedling CSA that is ideal for those who want to raise interesting varieties, but aren’t keen on starting plants from seeds. The first CSA batch (for cold weather plants), was April 15th, but the warmer weather selections will be ready May 15th.

Microgreens kits from Underground Greens

To round out the new gardening offerings Jenks is also offering products from some other local producers and organizations. You’ll find microgreen kits from Underground Greens that are perfect for windowsill gardening, as well as live microgreens from Little Wild Things City Farm that make great host gifts for dinner parties. They’ll have special soil blends produced by a farm based in Virginia, and you can even buy indoor growing tents from Let’s Grow DC that allow you to start seeds indoors anytime, or even raise entire plants inside.

An indoor grow tent from Let's Grow DC

Ray showed me some 5 gallon pots from Root Pouch made from recycled plastic bottles that he says plants love because the pots continuously air prune the roots fostering new and healthy root growth, as opposed to the constricted web of roots you find in other pots. Air pruned roots can draw in water and nutrients more efficiently, leading to healthier and more vigorous plants. The pouches last 5-6 years, and you can choose to dump the soil out of them at the end of the growing season and fold them up for easy storage.

These 5 gallon pots from Root Pouch are made of recycled bottles and fold up for easy storage when not in use 

Those aren’t the only changes you’ll find at Jenks. They’ve got a new kitchen and bathroom designer showroom going in on the first floor, which should go live in July.


Look for Jenks to launch a new tool and equipment rental center soon, which will nicely supplement the power tool repair service they already offer. You might not know that they also sharpen some tool blades, such as for circular saws. They don’t sharpen knives, scissors, or manual push mower blades, but might consider adding clipper sharpening in the future if there is a demand for it. Jenks also does window screen repair and custom fabrication if you provide the dimensions. You can purchase and exchange CO2 cartridges for keggerators, and they hope to add propane tank exchange for gas grills in the near future.

Some of the craft offerings at Jenks

Jenks also carries a modest selection of craft supplies for those days you might be feeling creative, or looking for a way to keep the kids occupied. In addition, they are a UPS Access Point, meaning you can drop off packages ready for shipping via UPS, or pick up packages delivered by UPS.

1 comment:

poo de poo said...

i think the way the title is phrased is far too witty for me. lol

the idea is solid. i've often wondered why this doesn't happen with more businesses in this corner of the city. in addition to becoming a dining/night life destination in DC, this NE nook could also win a lot of folks over by adding a "green" element to existing/upcoming businesses. bardo, LMW, etc could all probably add this same sort of element to their existing models. it would be yet another reason for an even greater variety of folks to "come and take a look" and spend some dollars. how cool would it be to have someone win a plant grown on the rooftop of LMW? or have a cocktail garnished with roof grown District herbs? methinks it's an idea well worth exploring... of course, it's always easier to see and say from an armchair.