Category Archives: General Neighborhood Topics

Brookland’s Chocolate City Beer Celebrates 1 Year Anniversary

One of the most exciting recent additions to the Brookland neighborhood has been the arrival of Chocolate City Beer. It’s hard to believe that a year has gone by since they started supplying the city (and us!) with carefully crafted delicious brews. We chatted with Don Parker, one of the owners, and he filled us in on their anniversary happenings. 

This Friday August 17th they will celebrate their 1 Year Anniversary at Penn Social as part of DC Beer Week. Penn Social is located on the corner of 8th and E Street NW. Four of CCB’s beer will be on tap for only $5 each,  including El Segundo Farmhouse Saison, a beer crafted especially for DC Beer Week. With a DJ spinning and no cover charge, it is sure to be good times.

If you can’t make it Friday, be sure to check out their growler hours. Every Saturday they offer for free brewery tours and tastings, and growler and merchandise sales. This Saturday, August 18th, the amazing Red Hook Lobster Pound Food Truck will be there serving up their famous lobster rolls. Growler hours are 12:30 – 4:30 every Saturday.

If you are unfamiliar with Chocolate City Beer, Stephanie Liotta Atkinson did a great and thorough story on the company in December over at the Rhode Island Avenue NE Insider. Chocolate City Beer is located at 2801 8th Street NE.

Brookland Homeowners Can Help Local Rivers And Watersheds With RiverSmart Program

Did you know that stormwater runoff is a huge problem in Washington DC? Billions of gallons of water a year rush into our sewers carrying all manner of trash, motor oil, grease, pet waste, plastics, and other pollutants, much of which ultimately end up untreated in our local rivers, watersheds, and the Chesapeake Bay. Brookland’s hilly streets and sloped lots surely contribute greatly to a problem exacerbated by the fact that much of DC is simply paved over and the water has nowhere to go and no way to soak back to natural aquifers.

river water pollution runoff
This, and worse, is what ends up in our local rivers and the Chesapeake Bay as a result of poor stormwater management. Not good. Photo courtesy of “I For Detail” on Flickr.

While new properties built in DC are required to manage stormwater runoff, the city has a huge number of properties that were built prior to runoff becoming a concern. It’s therefore up to homeowners to help make a difference.

I just had a free audit done by the DC Department of the Environment’s RiverSmart Program, DC’s way of combating the environmental problems caused by runoff. A landscape designer visits your property and evaluates various ways of reducing runoff by keeping the water on your property and putting it to more productive uses. Their major strategies include:

Rain barrels. The amount of water that falls on the average roof in DC in a year could potentially be captured and used to water the average lawn 45 times. That’s how much water is being wasted out of our roof gutters. Riversmart helps you install rain barrels that capture water from your downspouts. When you’re ready to water your lawn or garden, you attach a hose to the rain barrel and use the water you’ve saved up. Not only does this help the watershed, but you also save money on your water bill!

Permeable pavers. A lot of water runs off your property simply because it has nowhere to go. In fact, 65% of the entire District of Columbia is impermeable concrete and asphalt that totally repels water. Permeable pavers allow water to run through them and soak naturally into the ground. They can be used for patios, driveways, or wherever you use hardscaping.

Shade Trees. Large shade trees don’t just provide valuable shade. They also have large root systems that hold soil in place, allow water to permeate, and drink up water quickly. Same goes for large deep-rooted shrubs.

Rain Garden. Our neighbor Casey Trees has a showcase example of a rain garden. It is a part of your land strategically chosen and modified to collect water from other parts of your property, including from gutters. You place plants (preferably native ones) that can tolerate very wet conditions in the garden, and then let them enjoy the extra water whenever you have a rainstorm.

Bayscaping. Used by itself or in conjunction with rain gardens, bayscaping simply means using plants that were abundant here in the Chesapeake Bay watershed prior to intervention by humans. These plants are the best suited for soaking up water and withstanding the extremes of climate we can have here. A side benefit is the restoration of natural habitats for native animal species.

RiverSmart DCRiverSmart partners with local contractors to help you install any or all of these strategies. They provide rebates and assistance of up to $1200.

For me, rain barrels are definitely on the list, and I have always been committed to using native plants whenever possible. My property already captures a lot of water naturally in a part of the garden with several large trees and growing shrubs, making some of the other approaches less practical or needed.

So come on, Brookland! Make your home a RiverSmart home. It’s easy! Just call DDOE at 202-535-2252 or fill out their online application to schedule an audit and get the ball rolling. The program is quite popular, so you can expect some weeks or months of delay before they get someone out to see you, but the environment will thank you!

Who Needs Grass? Brookland Gardener Chose Carefree Variety Instead

Those of us who live in rowhouses with “postage stamp” sized front lawns know that good things come in small packages. My fellow rowhouse owner and neighbor Damali transformed her grass lawn into a lovely bounty of flowers and plants that create a lot of character, texture and flair to the front of her house. She decided to go “grass free” because weeds had overtaken her lawn.  At first, she hoped to preserve the grassy look, but when she read up on everything it would take to get the plush lawn she wanted, she decided to look for alternatives.  She considered rock gardens or something similar, what ever it was, it had to be easy. Happily, she has found that the flowers she planted take almost no time to maintain other than light weekly weeding and watering as necessary. So, she has decided to stick with this option. Her mix of perennials and annuals has filled out nicely over the summer, and next year she plans to add more. Bravo Damali!

Brookland Grows The Best DC Produce- Prove It At The State Fair!

Many people may not be aware of it, but DC does have a state fair. The event has been growing in popularity every year; this year culminating at the Barracks Row Fall Festival on September 22nd. As a novice vegetable gardener, I love the idea. I am spreading the word on this because I am sure Brooklanders with their savvy gardening skills can win in at least a few DC State Fair contests. To check out what contests are open for entries and find the entry forms go here. Be warned, some contests have entry limits or deadlines before the Fair itself in September. For example, the first contest, the Tastiest Tomato Contest, will take place this coming Saturday, August 18, at the Columbia Heights Community Marketplace. Winners get bragging rights for a year, cash, a blue State Fair ribbon, and a 1-year subscription to Washington Gardener magazine. Don’t worry about having any competition from me though, all the  tomatoes I’ve grown so far this year  that weren’t eaten by squirrels were cracked, sunburned messes!

Real Estate Watch – Brookland Home Value Index Up 19% Over Last Year

Lately it seems like Brookland is seeing increasingly expensive houses hit the market, so we decided to look at the numbers. Sure enough, according to Redfin and Zillow real estate sites, the median sold price in Brookland is up 34.7% over this time last year.

I’m no expert, but from what I understand, the more telling figure is the home value index. This figure is calculated by taking the median sold $/sq.ft. – and this is the actual value of homes that are sold. Basically, this number is a better representation of what someone is willing to pay in our area. Check out the home value index for Brookland over the last 10 years, you can see that we are definitely recovering from the downtown in the market; although I would suspect we still need a few more months of data to proclaim a full rebound. In any case, the take away is that the home value index for Brookland is up 19.1% from this time last year, and I’ll take that happily. Any comment from the real estate wonks out there?

Brookland Zillow Home Value Index

Art Enables Annual Inventory Show – Original Artwork At Great Discounts

 Art Enables, a non-profit art gallery on the edge of Brookland kicked off their annual inventory show yesterday. I picked up this beautiful piece, a color pencil on paper drawing entitled Forest Walk by Michael Schaff for a mere $47.50. It came very nicely matted and framed to boot! It instantly found a home on one of our paprika-colored accent walls. I just love how the wall color brings out the depth of layers and colors in this piece. The cashier I spoke with indicated that inventory older than 1 year is 50%, and the sale should extend through the end of August.

 Art Enables represents over thirty artists with developmental disabilities. The organization provides the artists the resources they need to become visual artists and 60% of revenue from sales. Check it out! Art Enables is located at  2204 Rhode Island Avenue, NE 20018 and they are open from 9:00 am – 4:00 pm Monday through Friday.

Takoma Park Farmers Market Offers Tasty Food Just A Short Drive Away

One of the things that’s great about Brookland is it’s central location to just about anywhere in DC. That includes a place I love to get to on a lazy Sunday in late summer and fall: the Takoma Park Farmers Market.

Just a ten minute drive from Brookland up Eastern Avenue, a cornucopia of luscious produce and other farm-made goods await you. Whether it’s heirloom tomatoes, all kinds of fruit, fresh baked bread and churned butter, powerful herbs, or even meats and cheeses, you can find it all at this bustling market.

The Market’s 23 vendors are required to be producers themselves, meaning that they must grow whatever it is they are selling. Therefore most of the food available is locally grown, which is great from a quality and sustainability perspective.

The tomatoes you find here deserve special mention. The incredible flavor and diversity of types (yellow, pink, red, orange) will beat anything you will find in a supermarket, hands down. To me, they make tomatoes bought elsewhere pale by comparison.

I also love the breads sold here, which are equivalent to what you would expect to find in a bakery: very fresh, and made with wholesome ingredients. From stoneground wheat to rosemary bread, you can find it all.

Lunch after today’s visit to the Market was sandwiches made from very tasty whole grain bread, heirloom tomatoes, cheese, and a touch of fresh basil. Delicious!

So if you’re looking for something to do on Sunday, get yourself and your family out to buy some of the best that local producers have to offer. Before you go you can check out their website to see what is currently in season and being sold. But they have a strict no-dog policy, so leave the pooch at home!

Enjoy the pics….

Takoma Park Famers Market 1

Takoma Park Famers Market 2

Takoma Park Famers Market 5

Takoma Park Famers Market 3

Takoma Park Famers Market 4

Menomale Introduces Outdoor Seating!

Many Brooklanders have longed for the day that we could enjoy a dining establishment with outdoor seating. Well, wait no more! As we speculated earlier today, Menomale now has outdoor seating. Just look at these happy Brooklanders enjoying their pizzas, salads, sandwiches and beer! For those of you with little ones, the booster seats they have fit really well on their outdoor chairs, in keeping with Menomale’s kid-friendly reputation. More great news, Leland, one of the owners, tells us that they are exploring ways to keep the outdoor seating going year round, perhaps by adding thick plastic walls to the existing canopy frames. This is seems like pretty realistic plan, as people were seen dining outside nearby establishments like Boundry Stone all through last winter.