7/3/15

Introducing our Farm Camp Counselors!

Hello, campers and families, we would like you to meet the Farm Camp Counselors and Interns who are making Arcadia Farm Camp 2015 possible. They’re quite a talented and enthusiastic group!


Starting with our passionate Farm Education Director, Morgan Maloney. She leads the farm education programs throughout the year and puts on her “Camp Director” farmer cap for the summer!  Morgan is looking forward to seeing the many returning budding farmers and garden-based chefs faces this summer, as well as those young farm-lovers who are new to the wonders of Farm Camp.

For the past week, our electric team of Counselors (Farmers Leah, Luis, Maggie, Paul, and Stefanie) has spent their days preparing to create a positive and interactive Farm Camp experience for our campers. Our Interns, Ina and Maggie, are delighted to support the work of the Counselors to help make this environment of farming food and fun even more spectacular. 

We’re excited for Farm Campers to explore, play, and discover the farm with our dynamic staff!


Leah Hindel is thrilled to be joining the Arcadia Team as a Farm Camp Counselor this summer! Her passion for the environment formed when she was a camper and her previous experience as a camp counselor has prepared her to teach Farm Campers about food, nature, and sustainability. Originally from Charlotte, NC, Leah just graduated from Kenyon College with a bachelor’s in International Studies and Environmental Studies. Leah devoted her undergraduate studies to learning about issues of food and sustainability on a global level while her free time was spent volunteering on local farms and advocating for local food systems as the leader of a sustainable agriculture-focused student organization. If she were a vegetable, she would be a sweet potato! Leah thinks environmental education plays a huge role in strengthening local food systems and cannot wait to farm, cook, and play with Farm Campers!

Luis Francia grew up in the South Island of New Zealand where he was surrounded by sustainability. This fostered his love of the environment, which has stuck with him to this day. He spent a short time living in Peru and Costa Rica where he was able to learn to confidently speak Spanish through emersion. He is excited to see smiling faces that are eager to learn and have fun at the farm. If he could be any fruit, he would be a kiwifruit, for obvious reasons.


Maggie Bowman-Jones is a recent graduate of University of Virginia. Her minor in Environmental Science, as well as her goal to become the world’s best babysitter, led her to Arcadia Farm, where she plans to help kids understand vegetables and farming! She hopes to come away from the summer having guided campers’ interest in farming, cooking, sustainability, and friendship. If she were a vegetable, she would most certainly be a beet. Not only do they boast epic nutritional value, but their fabulous pigmentation is enough to turn anyone’s head!


Paul Burgess developed an interest in food and food culture while attending VCU for anthropology.   Having witnessed different approaches to food access and cultivation at home, and while doing limited field work abroad, he decided to expand his interests by becoming chef.   Paul would like to learn how to better understand and explain sustainable food and its great potential and also how to effectively cultivate it.   His spirit veggie is an eggplant who wishes he was a tomato.
Stefanie Rhodes is a Mississippi Native with a master’s degree in public health from Drexel University. As a graduate student at the Drexel University School of Public Health, she helped develop and implement a food access program in North Philadelphia and conducted qualitative research on community violence and mental health systems.  Stefanie has a passion for health education and is looking forward to utilizing her public health background to educate the Arcadia campers about healthy eating and food exploration. If Stefanie were a vegetable, she would be asparagus.

Ina Enatsu is very excited to contribute to the Farm Camp as an Evaluation Intern! She is passionate about evaluations, and believes that evaluations will help to make the Farm Camp better each year. Originally from Japan, she just graduated from Tufts University with a bachelor’s degree in International Relations, with a focus in Nutrition, Global Health and the Environment. Ina has extensive knowledge on Evaluation and Sustainable Agriculture, and has volunteered at Soup kitchens and other nutritional programs. Ina thinks the camp will be a great way for campers to learn from counselors, other campers and the nature! Welcome all!


Maggie Johnston is an Arcadia Farm Camp Intern. On the farm, she will be helping out the counselors as well as the campers. Behind the scenes she will be posting updates on camp activities on social media sites. She is an environmental science student in her senior year at the University of Mary Washington, and is passionate about sustainable agriculture and working with children! In her spare time she enjoys reading, swing dancing, and Irish music.



5/20/15

Summer Solstice Farm Dinner June 21 -- Buy tickets here!

We are so excited for our big annual celebration of the growing season! This year we are featuring the incredible Chef Rob Rubba and food from Arcadia (along with other great local farmers!). Here are scenes from farm dinners past...

 Buy your tickets HERE (and tell your friends!)








2/19/15

Beer and Chocolate

I love my job. I LOVE my job. Yes, it's fabulous bringing fresh, healthy vegetables to the community, teaching folks how to cook a delicious, simple meal, and participating on panels around town. But, the BEST jobs mix business with pleasure, and recently I got to do both in the name of Arcadia.

Now, I love beer. And I love chocolate. But, mix beer AND chocolate?! It never crossed my mind before! However, on January 21st, folks in the know showed me that combining artisan beer and fine chocolate is an overlooked taste treat! As part of Arcadia's series of Master Courses, chocolatier Jane Morris of  J Chocolatier and beer expert Greg Engert of Bluejacket teamed up to provide a guided tasting of 6 chocolates and 6 beers.

Greg introduced each beer, listing its ingredients and the particular way that it had been brewed. We all sniffed our taste glasses appreciatively. Mexican Radio, a sweet stout, was flavored with ancho chili and cinnamon. Aged Burning Bush, brewed with a whole bush of lemon bergamot was delicious with "cedar, herbaceous notes, and less residual sugar." My favorite  Aged Parish Fair, made with fresh tangerines and aged in Sauternes barrels – brought a high note to an otherwise freezing, winter night.

Jane's Guide to Chocolate Tasting showed me that there is another way to eat chocolate besides mindlessly devouring it during a Game of Thrones marathon. Good chocolate – obviously not the stuff I've been eating  should be savored. She instructed us to breathe in the chocolate's aroma, break the piece in two, listen to its "snap", chew it slowly, let the chocolate melt in our mouth, and then taste it again. Wow. Yes, Jane, I see what you mean. Taking my time did make a difference in my enjoyment of each sample. But then again, Jane's chocolates are DIVINE so you want to make each piece last. Valrhona Dulcey White Chocolate was slightly caramel colored due to the cooked milk (ooh, creamy). Dark chocolate was perfect with the little sliver of candied orange peel that it graced. And I have a date with myself to run down to J Chocolatier and purchase a dozen Lavender and Vanilla Bean Truffles. Hmmm, maybe I'll have to stop in at Blue Jacket for a Parish Fair on my way home.

2/13/15

Making groceries by JuJu Harris


Every region has its vernacular. In Jackson, MS, “making groceries” means going grocery shopping.  “Ice potatoes” are white potatoes, “light” bread is white bread. As in the DC area, Jackson residents with lower income have a hard time accessing affordable nutritious food. In these communities, sweet rolls, jugs of corn syrup sweetened “drink” and chips greet customers as they enter the store.  Vegetables, while decently priced, are often over- or under-ripe.  Conversely, the same chain store in the more affluent part of town is more brightly lit, and a fresher, more varied selection of vegetable and fruits are placed prominently at the store’s entrance.  Those with access to transportation shop at Walmart, the nation’s largest acceptor of SNAP benefits.  State and public school employees are paid once a month, so title loans are a common way for people to make ends meet.

About $120 million worth of produce is grown in Mississippi, half of that in sweet potatoes. Yet $8.5 billion is spent on imported food, much of it low quality, processed food. However, 1.3 million acres of fertile farmland lie fallow, while the demand for fresh food far outstrips the supply. Mississippi ranks number one in the nation in hunger and obesity. 1 in 3 Mississippi women will die of heart disease.  While unemployment is approximately 6 percent, the medical field is one of the largest employers in the area, focused mainly on addressing diet-related disease.  

Fortunately, a collaborative of agencies and individuals has formed to address these issues.  LIFT (Locally Invested Food Trade) is committed to providing Jackson residents a true opportunity to earn a living while living a healthy life.  Farmers, landowners, social service agents, restauranteurs, culinary and health educators share ideas that will encompass youth involvement, soil conservation and mentorship.  In the works are a food hub which will coordinate supply to make it economically viable for farmers.  A “food innovation center” will house a grocery store front and food incubator kitchen, and act as a workforce training center in culinary education and hospitality. An onsite clinic, staffed by students in a Culinary Medicine program, will provide nutritional counseling to store customers and real life experience to the students. 

“I have the audacity to believe that peoples everywhere can have three meals a day for their bodies, education and culture of their minds, and dignity, equality, and freedom for their spirits. “  This quote, from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speak, is the final slide of my Kale Salad Show Tour Power Point.  Those of us who work towards providing our neighbors with improved food access and affordability, gainful employment, and a sustainable, viable economy and environment embody this. That way, folks can be guaranteed that they’ll find fresh, beautiful food when they stop off on their way home from work to “make groceries.”  


2/10/15

How to Buy A Cow -- by JuJu Harris

"If she's big and pretty, ain't nothing sucking on her.  She ain't working.  Folks who don't know cattle come to auction, and they want the biggest, fattest cow they see.  But if she doesn't have a big bag, she hasn't had a baby recently."  So said Will Welles, manager of a 100-acre farm near Jackson, MS.  Raised on a farm where his Daddy still has 80 head of Angus, Will cares for hogs, goats, sheep and cattle.  He also passes his knowledge on to his own sons, ages 6 and 8.  "Every year I give them a pig to raise.  Then they can sell it or slaughter it.  You've got to start them working young to teach them responsibility."  As a 9-year old, Will was injured while roping a bull.  "My gramma told me to leave it be, but I thought I could handle it by myself."  The bull charged the horse, which staggered and fell, entangling Will's arm in the rope.  He extends a strong, brown arm to show me the scar on his wrist.  "I broke all these bones in my hand."
Will also drives to a Louisiana slaughterhouse every other week with a load of animals, a 7-hour trip.  He tunes up the rig every three trips.  "A man needs to be a Renaissance man.  He needs to know carpentry, be a mechanic, dose the animals, and manage everything."  The passion that he feels for his work is evident, as he tenderly lifts a sickly lamb or explains the savings he's made by buying feed directly from corn growers."I've been a firefighter and a paramedic.  I've been to college.  But I always come back to farming."

2/9/15

Praising and Braising by JuJu Harris

I am staying with my friend Monique while I am down here in Jackson.  Sunday morning in this household means worship at the local Catholic church.  Now, as a heathen, I usually ask my Christian friends to send me a list of what they are giving up for Lent, and I will be sure and indulge in that particular form of debauchery during the 40 days of sacrifice.  But, I am down here on my Southern Kale Salad Show Tour, and I am trying to immerse myself in the culture as much as possible. So, there I was today, sitting in the third row listening to the homily, and I started feeling Spirit stirring within me.  I'm not going to call it God, but it was something. In my heathen mind, I interpreted today's message from the perspective of my commitment to social justice and service.  From Corinthians:  "An obligation has been imposed on me, and woe to me if I do not preach it."  Pastor, wearing jeans and sandals beneath his celebratory garb, said "everyone has a vocation called by God.  Proclaim your faith and bring the good news."  He invoked the common people and heroes of the Civil Rights Movement, "People were compelled to do what they did by inner forces;  They must do what the Creator tells them to do."  I thought, "Yes.  That's why I do what I do."  Years ago I had Cook Days at my home to teach my girlfriends new recipes.  I'd send out an email with the recipe and the ingredient list and my friends would bring their children over and we'd cook all day.  The kids would play outside, the mamas would cook and take home a dish for dinner.  That way, the husbands couldn't say "you spent all day with your girlfriends, and there's nothing to eat."  I introduced them to cilantro as flavoring, to breakfast for supper, to how to tweak meals using different spices. One day I said "I wish I knew something about politics or education.  Then, I could do something positive in the community."  They said "JuJu, you know food!  You know how to teach people to make a feast using simple ingredients."  So I started doing cooking demonstrations around DC, spreading what I call my "gospel of eating well." My philosophy, my "good news,"is that healthy eating needn't be expensive, difficult or time consuming. At one point, we had 9 people in our household.  I spent $400 a month to feed us well.  "Well" meant pots of soup, huge loaves of homemade bread, and dishes of braised cheap cuts of meat and vegetables.  I've had great success teaching in DC, and now I am down here, headed for Alabama and Georgia.  As I head to Mobile tomorrow, the words of the gospel of Mark go with me: "let us go to the nearby village that I may preach there also."  Stay tuned for more from the Southern Kale Salad Show Tour.

Gratitude by JuJu Harris

Flying in over Jackson, MS, I expected to see green fields stretching in all directions, waterways dissecting them.  Mississippi wouldn't have been on my list of places in the first place to visit if my friend from DC didn't live here.  The South was one of those "never go there" places. Sure, I wanted to hear real Delta blues, but the legacy of Jim Crow clouded its allure.  But there I was in the Jackson Municipal Airport in the Medgar Evers Pavilion, reading about his work in the civil rights movement.  Due to his work and that of others like him, I can sit where I want to in a public restaurant, vote, and attend the university of my choice.  Last night I watched the movie Selma, and parts of it were so violent that I had to look away.  Then, I shook myself and reminded myself, "I am where I am because people didn't look away. Even when they were literally beaten down, they still looked forward because they believed in what they were doing." The public knows the names of the heroes of the Civil Rights Movement, but it's the regular folks who kept going, one step at a time, supporting those who marched and attended sit-ins.  I go forward, blessing their name and their actions, grateful.