Meredith Sheperd stretches her tan, sinewy arm toward a vine clinging to a brick wall. She snaps off a purple bean.
“Here, try it. Eat the whole thing,” she says. Then she grabs a sprig of lemon balm from a nearby container. “This wards off mosquitos,” she says.
Sheperd is standing on an upstairs terrace in Georgetown, surrounded by the fruits, vegetables and herbs of her labor. Rosemary, thyme, basil, squash, cucumbers, kale. Even a kumquat tree.
With a weathered wicker sofa shaded by an over-sized yellow umbrella, and surrounded by pots of nasturtium, the setting looks like a country house in the south of France, not the west side of Georgetown. But it’s the home of National Geographic CEO John Fahey and his wife Heidi Fahey. Heidi, a gourmet cook, can often be found gathering items from their rooftop garden to cook for dinner. That’s why they hired Sheperd, the founder of an organic gardening service called Love and Carrots, to install and maintain their vegetable and herb oasis in Georgetown.
The Faheys once had a farm in Purcellville, Va., that Sheperd managed. “Even though we no longer had the farm, I still wanted a vegetable garden in the city, “ Fahey says. With Sheperd’s help, the Faheys now have access to run-of-the-mill vegetables, like carrots, squash and peppers, to more exotic ones, like Scarlett Runner beans and Kohlrabi. “I always considered myself a foodie,” Fahey says. “But now I’ve become more of a foodie when it comes to vegetables.”
Sheperd started Love and Carrots three years ago with only a handful of clients. Now she has seven full-time employees and has installed 140 gardens in and around the city, including several restaurants and the French Embassy. The 29-year-old grew up on a sheep farm in Woodstock, Vermont, so farming is in her blood. “My mother was visiting a few weeks ago and came to work with me every day.”
In June, Sheperd’s company won Green America’s People and Planet award for “socially and environmentally responsible businesses.” Sheperd says she’ll use the $5,000 prize money to set up a new composting site.
Another area Sheperd is exploring is beekeeping. She’s installed hives for several clients, noting that city bees produce more honey than country bees. “It’s because the flowers and vegetation are more accessible and closer together for the bees.” According to Sheperd, one hive can yield 100 lbs of honey.
Turns out, a trip to the city is bountiful for both Sheperd and the bees.
Whether they’re a Matisse in the making or simply want to scribble, there’s a new art studio in Georgetown where children can wield their paint brushes and pastels. Anna Banana Arts and Crafts is now open for business on S Street.
Anna Banana is the brainchild of Anne Freeman, a mother, teacher and insider in the Washington arts scene. Freeman has been teaching art to children for years, but this is her first brick and mortar venture.
“I love my new location in Georgetown,” Freeman says of her studio, located near the corner of S Street and Wisconsin Avenue. “Georgetown is such a lovely, close-knit community and it gives me great pleasure to offer a creative space for children that is within walking distance.”
Anna Banana offers classes to budding artists from ages two to eight.
Nothing like a manicure to cheer you up after a break-up. “Okay, go pick out a color,” the diminutive Vietnamese manicurist with the chic and sleek brown bob tells me. “Oh, I actually know the color I want. Do you have 'Mademoiselle'? I ask her. It’s my favorite--a soft, almost transparent, pink. She points to the colors lined up on the white formica table. “I think that one’s it,” she says. I pick up the pale pink bottle, squinting to read the label on the bottom. “Blushing Bride.”
“Nope, not the one I’m looking for,” I say. Jeez, of all the flipp’n colors. With a divorce and three broken engagements in my wake, “Blushing Bride” is definitely not my go-to shade.
She directs me toward a lucite rack where I expand my search of natural colors. Who knew natural came in so many shades? Here’s what I find: “Sheer Bliss,” “No Prenup,” “Pinking of you,” “Sugar Daddy,” “Show Me the Ring,” “Cloud Nine.”
Seriously?Is every nail polish associated with marriage, sex, or a happy relationship? Don’t they know I came to the salon to find solace in my new-found single status? Cloud Nine? Hardly.
I decide to come up with polish names more suitable for this post-break-up period. “Shoot Me Now,” “Stop Ur Crying,” “Move On,” “Fly, Be Free,” “Down in the Dumps,” “Dumped,” “So Lonely,” “Heartbroken,” “Outta Here,” “Dodged a Bullet,” “Chipped,” “Ugh,” “Pass the Prozac.”
Now those are some appealing names for the broken-hearted. Of course, they’d have to be in shades resembling a bruise. That would be a problem for someone preferring pale pinks, but darker colors are de rigueur for fall and winter. Seriously, I think I’m on to something. And the name for the polish company? Broken Nails. Or what about Shattered?
As I daydream about this budding business idea, the well-coiffed manicurist informs me she can’t locate “Mademoiselle,” but she can put two coats from different bottles that would perfectly match what I want.
“How ‘bout we do “Starter Wife” with a coat of “Happily Ever After” on top?”
“Sounds great,” l tell her, blinking back tears.
Happily ever after would have been nice. But where is the coat I really need? “Move on.” And where is the color I really want? “Come Back,” with a topcoat of “I’m Sorry.”