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Volunteer Photographers

Are you really into photography?  Maybe you're a hobbyist, or even a pro? Well, we need your help at the Garden Party!

On March 29th, we'd like to capture all the great costumes and memorable moments.  Please contact us if you think you can volunteer, even for just an hour or two!


Top Ten Reasons to come to our Garden Party
Staff Spotlight: Aderyn Benvenga
Taking Out the Trash: Forklift Joins Earth Day River Cleanup
Upcycling In Your Garden
Marvelous March Sales

Dear Forklift Fans,

These are exciting times for us here at the `Lift. There is a whirlwind of activity as we make final preparations for our annual garden party, and we're continuing to cultivate incredible partnerships with local community groups (more about that below).

But what has really put a spring in our step lately has been the announcement by Green America that Community Forklift won a winter 2014 People & Planet Award. 
This officially makes us a nationally acclaimed organization, and we couldn't be more grateful for the outpouring of support from you - our Forklift friends and family - thrifty and environmentally sensible citizens who care about local communities.

To see our press release about winning the People & Planet Award, check out our Forklift blog.
We can add the People & Planet Award to the list of other prominent awards and recognition we've received, including:
  • 2013 Green Business Award from the Prince George's Chamber of Commerce   
  • 2011 Image Award from the local chapter of the National Association of Remodeling Industries   
  • 2011 Potomac Champion Award from the Alice Ferguson Foundation.   
  • Washington Post Express Reader's Choice Award for Best Vintage Store of 2013, Best Home Store of 2012, and Best DIY Store of 2011 & 2010.    
  • The City Paper's "Best Hardware Store" in 2013 & 2012, and "Best Home Goods Store" in 2011 & 2010.  
We wouldn't be here without all of our Forklift Fans.  Thanks so much for your votes, your generosity, and your enthusiasm over the years!

Top Ten Reasons to Come to our Garden Party

1. The Goods

After stashing away garden supplies over the winter, and partnering with the good people at American Plant, we've collected a huge assortment of gently-used tools and gardening supplies to offer for sale.

You'll find a wonderful array of gardening pots, gently used rakes, hoes, and decorative items for the garden. We'll also be giving away FREE vinyl window sashes to build your cold frames.

(Note to early birds:  recent donations of lawn & garden supplies have not been put out yet.  We will NOT have any garden party items available before 9 am on March 29th)

2. The People
Last year, we had over 1,200 Forklift Fans show up, and this year might be even bigger.  Invite your friends and neighbors, and come hang out with all the crazy characters who put the "community" in Community Forklift!

3. The Music
Irish Tunes with Steve Wilson & Friends

Gabe Popkin
plays old-time Appalachian Tunes

Wild Anacostias play Zydeco,New Orleans Jazz, and other Fun Stuff

Michael Sevener
plays Folk Music

Mary Gordon Hall plays the Blues

Vernon Archer (Riverdale Park's Mayor!) plays Folk Music 

4. The Workshops


Chris Gummo Presents "Cold Frame Building 101" 
Learn how to turn old window sashes into miniature greenhouses, so you can start seeds earlier and continue growing when the weather gets colder.  Community Forklift is offering FREE vinyl window sashes so you can start building!

ECO City Farms Presents "Starting Seeds and Raising Seedlings"

At ECO City Farms, we grow vegetables using intensive agricultural methods. Because we're urban, we grow in a small space and use a variety of methods of amending and seeding. In this workshop, we'll discuss our different seeding methods and how you can adopt some of these methods for your own personal use.

UMD Extension Master Gardeners Presents "Container Vegetable Gardening"

Explore vegetables that you can grow in containers of various sizes and small yards.  Enjoy fresh vegetables no matter the side of your garden and eat healthier.



Veteran Compost Presents "Compost Tea"

We'll share the history of compost tea, from the Middle Ages to today. We'll examine the benifits of compost teas, the biology behind teas and the different brewing and application modes. You'll walk away with the knowledge and enthusiasm to brew up compost tea at home for free. Also, bring your home composting problems, we promise to troubleshoot any and all composting issues people may have (Veteran Compost will also be giving away FREE tea bags, while supplies last!) 



5. The Costume Contest for People & Pets

Get out your seersucker suits, madras blazers, frilly dresses, jaunty caps, and dramatic hats! Or, of course, you can put on gardening boots and overalls, or dress as your favorite flower or veggie.  
Adults, children, and (leashed) pets will earn discounts for sporting their most creative and stylish garden party attire.   


Costume Contest Winners Announced
Photo courtesy Deirdre McQuade



Our neighbors at ECO City Farms planted veggies to sell at our party.  

Vegetable seedlings for sale include kale, chard, lettuce, and spinach. 

There are even options for folks who live in dim basement apartments!  Radiant Blooms by Ellie will be offering beautiful flower arrangements crafted from clay.

7. Our Activity Zone 


We've teamed up with the District Department of the Environment (DDOE)'s  Hickey Run Watershed Program, donating a pallet of paint to help with a community art project that promotes watershed stewardship practices. At the Activity Zone, Forklift Fans of all ages can help us paint some rain barrels for the cause!

You can also help the 
Anacostia Watershed Society plant seedlings for restoring wetlands. This cool activity gives you the opportunity to come back at a later date to plant your seedling on the Anacostia River. 



8. Exhibitors & Demonstrations

Our information tables will be chock-full of information on how to get rebates for your rainbarrels, how to do bayscape landscaping, where to take your unwanted or unused compost to a place that matters, and a hands-on demonstration that traces pollutants from land to river.   


Exhibitors include:  


9. Our Lemonade Lunch


Last year, local realtor Kurt Becker provided some yummy food for the grill!


We'll have pastries and coffee for you at 9 am, and grilled goodies for sale starting at 11 am (burgers, hot dogs, and baked beans along with some vegetarian options). 


Doggie treats will be provided by Big Bad Woofa local shop specializing in eco-friendly and organic pet supplies.  

10. It's tradition.
There are lots of silly ways to celebrate spring.  In Annapolis, they burn their winter socks. In Arkansas, they race toads. Here in the DC area, we wake up early, put frilly hats on our dogs, and head to a funky warehouse on the edge of town!  

Staff Spotlight:
Aderyn Benvenga
In the winter of 2012, Community Forklift had the good luck to find Aderyn Benvenga, who has worn many hats since her arrival a year and a half ago.

As an enthusiastic reuse associate, social media extraordinaire, and now, our esteemed event coordinator, Aderyn has played a critical role in making the `Lift a positive and fun place to be. 

Although she has provided event support in the past, the 2014 Spring Garden Party will be the first major event in which she's taken the lead. She admits the task has been intimidating - it's our largest party of the year and the longest running. However, she sees the day as the Forklift's best day of the year - where it is at its "full quirky finest."

Her hopes for party attendees: "Have a great time, welcome in the spring, and have fun connecting with the community!"
Taking Out the Trash:
Forklift Joins Earth Day River Cleanup

By Elizabeth McGowan


What weighs 97,367 pounds and smells?


No, not the nose of David's outsize nemesis, Goliath. It's the amount of trash 2,305 volunteers hoisted out of the Anacostia River and its feeder creeks during the Anacostia Watershed Society's Earth Day Cleanup in 2013.


This year's cleanup is scheduled for Saturday, April 5. And because coordinators expect to match or exceed last year's litter haul, it's fortunate Community Forklift has recruited a new team of participants.


Meg Kiernan, the Forklift's outreach and education program manager, is collaborating with neighboring nonprofits ECO City Farms and AWS to lead a first-time trash pickup along a stretch of the Anacostia River's Northeast Branch between the Forklift and Decatur Street in Edmonston. The 20 volunteers who signed up to participate at the Forklift's site will be ridding that section of trash between 9 am and noon. (Note: Registration at that site is full but volunteers can find others at


"This is about partnerships," Kiernan says about the Forklift's initial involvement with this cleanup. "We see ourselves as a place where people convene. Well, we're also a force of people who believe in a stronger community."


Connecting to the cleanup is inherent for a hands-on nonprofit with a mission of lifting up communities, she says.


"Picking up trash is something everybody can do that can make a difference in where we live," Kiernan says, adding that people often feel excluded when discussions about the environment and sustainability become too expert-centric. "We think this is a way to remove that barrier because this is an accessible and inclusive activity."


The Forklift and its around-the-corner ally, ECO City Farms, have overlapping green-centered outreach and education philosophies. Both intentionally selected Edmonston as their home base because of the town's burgeoning environmental ethic and the belief that they could help to plug a gap in a working-class community notably short on such services. ECO City Farms is a bold experiment in community-based, urban agriculture.


Litter is an eyesore and a health hazard, says ECO City's farm manager Deborah Wren, adding that those who take the time to pick up the rubbish left behind by others tend to have respect for their surroundings.


"Communities basically function like ecosytems," she says about the interwoven layers of life that rely on one another for sustenance.  


"When you strengthen your ecosystems, you strengthen your community and all of those ties and bonds that make your community healthy."


James Foster, AWS president since 2009, is grateful to all newcomers and veterans who are willing to bend at the waist to help stem this seemingly endless tide of waste that clogs the 8.5-mile river and its 13 major tributaries, which include Northeast Branch, Northwest Branch, Sligo Creek, Paint Branch and Indian Branch.


"Twenty of us here at the Anacostia Watershed Society are never going to clean up the river by ourselves," Foster notes. "That's why we need thousands of people. Our strategy is engagement, education and showing people that they can make a difference. One of the problems people can do something about is the trash."


The Anacostia River begins in Bladensburg at the confluence of the Northeast and Northwest branches and meets the Potomac River at Hains Point in the District of Columbia. Its remarkably vast watershed encompasses 176 square miles in Prince George's County, Montgomery County and D.C.Anacostia is derived from the Nacotchtank Indian word anaquash, which translates to village trading center.


AWS "adopted" its namesake river in 1989 with the goal of restoring it to a fishable and swimmable state. That was quite an undertaking for a waterway that had been treated as an open sewer for a couple of centuries. But Foster says it's a realistic goal for 2025 because this region has the resources, the leadership, the technology and the wherewithal to achieve such loftiness.


"It's an urban river so it's never going to be Perrier," says Foster, adding that at least a million residents call the watershed home. "We need to be aware that we all live downstream and that everything that happens on land, whether it involves trash dog poop, pesticides or lead paint, ends up in the river." 


Volunteers heeding AWS's annual Earth Day call have yanked more than 2 million pounds of trash from the Anacostia in the last 25 years. And that revolting litany of plastic bottles, soda cans, beer bottles, drinking straws, potato chip bags, candy and fast food wrappers, cigarette butts and other detritus that is unceremoniously dumped into the Anacostia-keep in mind that volunteers lugged 395 tires from the river during the 2013 cleanup-isn't the only type of pollutant choking the river. 


Less visible but equally threatening to the river is the untreated sewage that spews bacteria and other pathogens into the Anacostia when big rainstorms overwhelm old pipes ill-equipped to handle huge volumes of sewage and stormwater. Other nasties from development and industrial, commercial and residential sources include nitrogen, phosphorus, sediments, polychlorinated biphenyl (PCBs) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs).


"Over the years, lots of people have been told not to go down to the river because it's dirty," Foster says. "We want to change that dynamic and show them that their well-being is intertwined with the river's health. Our aim is to make the Anacostia a destination."


In addition to cleanups, AWS also invites volunteers to plant trees, remove invasive vegetation, restore wetlands and stabilize streambanks. The nonprofit also organizes nature walks, bike rides, paddling events and pontoon boat rides to help local people discover and treasure the gems in their own back yard. Many are shocked to find they share the neighborhood with bald eagles, ospreys, cormorants, great blue herons and egrets, as well as turtles, beavers, otters and red foxes.


Repairing a damaged waterway isn't an overnight venture. Nor is it an undertaking for a single steward.


A shift must occur, Foster says, so that conservation advances such as green roofs, a tax on plastic bags, permeable surfaces, rain gardens, and trash traps positioned strategically in streams and outfalls are considered the "new normal" instead of environmentally exotic. Local businesses, nonprofits, governments, and faith-based organizations are uniting to push for such changes, he adds.


  "If everybody does a little bit," Foster concludes, "we can get a lot done."

Upcycling In Your Garden
Forklift Fans Rachel and Derek Liu built this backyard studio from salvaged windows.  It was featured in the Washington Post! 
We believe that given a little inspiration and creativity, you could turn any of the long-forgotten objects in our warehouse into things of beauty, especially when placed in the garden.  
So where do we turn for that inspiration? Pinterest of course!!

We've collected some of our favorite pictures of reclaimed materials that have found a home in the hedges, and we'd like to share them with you!


and send us pics of your upcycling projects!


Managers Special: 50% Off  

Select Tubs and Sinks in the Yard


Take 50% off sinks and tubs in our outdoor yard that are specially marked with pink tags. Sale does not include select vintage or specialty items, sinks and tubs that are displayed inside our warehouse, items from our consignment partners, or items with missing or damaged price tags.  Great for creative planters and outdoor potting tables!


30% Off Windows, Sashes and Shutters


All month take 30% off all windows, window sashes and shutters that are regularly priced $300 or less. Sale includes both surplus and salvaged items with orange tags, but does not include items with blue tags, vintage windows and sashes with wavy glass, stained glass, leaded glass, items from our consignment partners, or items with missing or damaged tags.  Old sashes are great for building cold frames for starting seeds! 


30% Off Doors


Take 30% off the orange sticker on doors that are regularly priced $300 or less. Sale includes interior and exterior doors. Sale does not include vintage and specialty items, items from our consignment partners, or items with missing or damaged tags.



20 Cent Bricks


Standard Rectangular Bricks, Solid and Cored are just .20 cents each all month long. Sorry, we are unable to place holds or allow storage on bricks! We have thousands in stock, so come ready to haul your purchase away! Sale does not include pavers, coping bricks, stone, slate, concrete blocks, or specialty items.


20% off Tile


20% off all ceramic, glass, porcelain, and quarry tile. Sale does not include roofing tiles, items with missing or damaged price tags, select specialty tile, or items from our consignment partners.



Free Orphan Tile Pieces


We have a big stack of free tile in our yard. These items are damaged, but are useful for mosaics. Hurry in while supplies last. Free to take away, but donations are always appreciated!



Half Price Cabinet Drawers


Take 50% off orphan cabinet drawers. Sale does not include cabinets or drawer hardware, items with missing or damaged price tags, specialty items, or items from our consignment partners.  Send us pictures of your creative ideas for 'em! 




Hope to see you at the Garden Party!

Your friends at the Forklift