11/25/13

Fabulous Kale Salad with Garlicky Dressing

JuJu and Morgan Maloney serve up some greens
This past Saturday, I made what's become my signature dish, Kale Salad with Garlicky Dressing.  To promote the produce that was available at the Columbia Heights Farmers' Market, I did a cooking demo and I added roasted butternut squash for a sweet twist.  This is wonderful, quick to make salad, that can be served as a side dish, or as the main course with the addition of beans, cheese and toasted nuts.  Everyone who has tried it, loves it.  It was freezing cold, but the smiles of the markets' customers warmed me up.  Now, if only I had a dollar for every time someone said, "Oh, this tastes so good"....

Kale and Roasted Butternut Squash Salad with Garlicky Dressing

1 medium butternut squash, peeled and cut into dice
1 Tablespoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 ground cinnamon
1/4 olive oil

Dressing:
3 cloves garlic, peeled
Juice of two lemons
 1/4 cup soy sauce
3 inches fresh ginger, peeled
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 cup olive oil
1 bunch fresh kale, washed, leaves removed from stems, and cut into small pieces

Optional:
1 grated carrot
1 cup grated or shredded red cabbage
1/2 cup dried cranberries (craisins)
1 cup cooked garbanzo or red beans

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Mix the oregano, salt, cinnamon, and olive oil together and spread it over the squash.  On an oiled cookie sheet, spread the squash and cover tightly with foil. Bake until tender, 30 minutes.  Uncover and bake for 15 minutes more, until squash is brown. 

Put all dressing ingredients, except oil, into blender and puree.  Slowly add oil with blender running on low.  Pour dressing over kale (and other optional ingredients if using) and mix thoroughly, adding optional ingredients if desired.  Let sit for 10 minutes.  Serve topped with several pieces of roasted squash on top.


11/16/13

Mac and Cheese--comfort food at its best!

The weather has turned cold, so it's time to break out the woolly sweaters, light a fire and eat something that makes you feel like you've been hugged.  For many of us, mac and cheese is THE dish that we turn to when we need a little food love. I made this dish for my family last night to highlight the gorgeous Cheese pumpkins that are available in markets now.  So called because they resemble a wheel of cheese, these squash have orange, sweet flesh. In this recipe, it's simmered in milk and vegetable stock until tender, then baked with pasta and cheddar cheese. Paired with spicy sausage and a kale salad, it's a hearty winter meal.

Macaroni and (Long Island) Cheese (Squash)s

Ingredients
1 lb long island cheese squash, peeled and cut into chunks
1 cup 
vegetable stock
2 cups skim milk
1 lb macaroni, or other pasta
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 1/2 cup shredded cheddar, (I used Cabot reduced fat cheddar)
3/4 cup low-fat ricotta
3 Tablespoons breadcrumbs

Instructions
1. Preheat Oven to 375
2. Heat squash cubes, milk and stock in a medium pan. Bring to a Boil, and reduce head to simmer.
3. Meanwhile, cook pasta according to package directions. I like to cook my pasta a bit al dente, as it will be baked in the oven as well.
4. When squash is tender, remove from heat and mash squash.
5. Mix spices into mashed squash.
6. After pasta is done cooking, transfer it to a large bowl. Stir in squash mixture as well as cheddar and ricotta.
7. Transfer to a 9×13 baking dish and sprinkle breadcrumbs over top of dish.
8. Cover with foil & bake for 25 minutes.  Remove Foil and bake for 45 minutes. Dish is finished when the top is browned and crispy, heated well throughout.  Let cool slightly before serving.


11/2/13

Sausage for Dinner or Breakfast

Now that cooler weather has arrived, I want something hearty and spicy for my meals.  I developed these recipes to use the ground pork, from pasture raised pigs, that we carried on Arcadia's Mobile Market this year.  The Pork and Lemongrass Sausage would pair well with a ginger and shitake mushroom based broth, with bokchoy or spinach thrown in.  The second recipe, Breakfast Sausage, is a take on the more traditional herbed English style meat.  This is delicious with buttered grits, fried green tomatoes and biscuits.  Make a pot of tea, cozy up to the fire and feast on goodness.

Pork and Lemongrass Sausage
JuJu Harris

2 pounds ground pork
5 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
1 Tablespoon fresh lemongrass, chopped*
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 cup cilantro, finely chopped
2 Tablespoons fresh ginger, minced
2 Tablespoons fish sauce
1/2 to 1 teaspoons salt
1/2 to 1 teaspoon black pepper


Combine all the ingredients in a medium bowl and knead it together with your hands.  Form into patties and fry over medium heat until done.  Unused sausage can be refrigerated up to one day.  
*To prepare lemongrass, cut off the root end, discard the stiff, outer leaves, and use the tender core. 

Breakfast Sausage
JuJu Harris

2 pounds ground pork
5 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
2 Tablespoon fennel seeds
6 teaspoons fresh oregano
4 teaspoons fresh thyme
2 teaspoon fresh sage, finely chopped
1 to 2 teaspoons salt
1 to 2 teaspoons black pepper

Combine all the ingredients in a medium bowl and knead it together with your hands.  Form into patties and fry over medium heat until done.  Unused sausage can be refrigerated up to one day.  

9/26/13

Lessons from the Mobile Market, by Gene Buonaccorsi

In my opinion, one of the most frustrating tendencies of the human mind is to dilute long engagements to a single distinct memory, rather than maintaining a log of different occurrences. Luckily pen and paper allowed me to keep track of some of the more fleeting, but noteworthy experiences that I had working on the Mobile Market this summer. As a farewell, I’d like to share three lessons that I only fully realized upon reading back over my book of notes. 

1. You can always find more space.

For those who have been inside the Mobile Market bus during the day, the chaotic facade is familiar. However, what initially looks like a mess of crates, coolers and tents is in fact the organized contents that become a functioning farm stand. Operations are highlighted by a constant desire to carry more products, provide better service and streamline efficiency. If our customers want more plums, we will find a place to store them. If we need a second table for display, we will figure out a way to bring it along. One of the most satisfying challenges of the summer was loading the bus at the end of each market -- finding just the perfect spot to store a crate, or seeking out the last nook of space for a folded sign. No matter how much the market grew, we always managed to pack it in.

This attitude is key in any progressive organization. At Arcadia, new opportunities to help fix the D.C. food system appear almost daily. I learned very quickly that satisfaction was trumped by ambition. Whether finding space for more local children at farm camp, or seeking new spots to grow on the Woodlawn Estate, Arcadia is constantly moving forward into new avenues. Much like the inside of the bus, the capacity of the organization seemed to grow over the course of the summer. There is always more room to work with for those who are willing to look for it.


2. No problem or opportunity is too small to address.

Working with Mobile Market Director Benjamin Bartley was an exercise in attention to detail. Even after weeks of helping to operate markets, Benjamin was always one step ahead of me, making plans and tweaking things in order to bring optimal service to our customers. I’m reminded of one instance when a customer returned a watermelon, claiming it was sold unripe. Taking the care to listen to the concern, refund the customer, and prepare for the possibility that others might have the same complaint seemed to be second nature for Benjamin. He described to me how customers taught him what to look for in a ripe watermelon, and how he addresses potential issues with quality. A problem others may have brushed off, or solved hastily turned into a thoroughly addressed improvement to operations in this case. The attention that each small piece of the Mobile Market gets was eye-opening for me.

Of course, this translates to a larger scale. Arcadia’s work is holistic as well as thorough. For example, the times that I got to work with Farm Education Director Morgan Maloney, she stressed how important it is to connect each individual child with the origins of healthy food. This is indicative of Arcadia’s overall mentality, and is why the nonprofit produces such successful results. Thorough, attentive work is paramount when making change. No problem can be ignored, because Arcadia’s work affects people on an individual level.


3. People love good food.

For all the attention, money and time that is spent on advertising and marketing practices, nothing I have seen compares to the success rate of someone sampling a slice of a peach at the Mobile Market. The looks on people’s faces were revelatory when they realized that they were spending their money on fresh, delicious locally grown food. While we faced obstacles like exposure, permits and space, there was no question about Arcadia and our partner farms’ quality once the food was in the customers hands. In speaking with customers throughout the summer I found that the Mobile Market is not only an option, it is a solution. One conversation in particular stands out. A customer at our Kenilworth-Parkside stop told me “Good food is enemy number one. You guys are the saviors.”

There were times this summer when I wondered at the number of programs that Arcadia is able to sustain, and the number of people that they are able to touch. Eventually, though, I realized that a small nonprofit can have long arms if the work is as powerful as sustainable food. Having faith in the work you are doing is contagious, and those who have strong connections to their cause accrue help and support from those they encounter. When the work produces something as necessary as healthy food, the converted public can communicate the success of your work. My summer with Arcadia taught me that people know good food when they taste it, and once they have tasted it, they will demand it. The vision of honest work reaching out from dedicated people is a lesson that I will take with me into my future.


An Arcadian Fellowship, by Mae Humiston

Mae doing a dramatic reading of her favorite
kids farm book: Wiggling Worms at Work
Internships have become known for their low pay, long hours, menial tasks, and general exploitation. “They’re great stepping stones!” people tell interns, but when you’re smack in the middle of a four-hour pencil sharpening campaign, it’s hard to believe you’re gaining any significant life experience or making any meaningful connections.

I never thought that during my time at Arcadia. As internships go, working as Arcadia’s Farm-to-School Fellow was different.

9/20/13

The Dynamic Duo -- Mobile Market Volunteer Spotlight

Ky overseeing the enchilada sauce at JuJu's cooking class.
As a small but growing nonprofit, the staff at Arcadia are extremely grateful for all the work that our many volunteers perform to make our organization run smoothly.  Whether it's helping to serve meals at our Farm Dinners, build our website, pull weeds, staff tables at community events, or assist with our Mobile Market, volunteers can be counted on to make our goals realities.

I manage Arcadia's Mobile Market stop at the Congress Heights National Children's Center, and am ably aided at this stop by two wonderful volunteers, Pafilvie Amisial and Ky Vaugh-Cooke.  Pafilvie, a social worker at a nearby dialysis clinic, found Arcadia when she looked for more nutritional food resources for her clients.  Ky, a home renovation contractor, wanted to further his knowledge of healthy eating.  Both Pafilvie and Ky help with the set up and breakdown of the market shelves and bins, aid the customers with choosing produce, and process transactions.  Recently, they also assisted me at the Get Growing! cooking class I taught at Arcadia Farm.  Besides being my favorite volunteers, they've become friends with whom I look forward to sharing social time.

When asked if working on the Mobile Market has influenced the way they eat, they both replied "Yes."  I thank them each week with produce and bread, or with containers of whatever I've made that day for food demonstrations.  The other week Pafiulvie said that she is learning more cooking techniques and recipes, and that I've showed her how many vegetables that are in season at the same time can be combined in recipes.  They are both now aspiring to have their own garden soon, too.  It's rewarding to know that the help and support is a two-way street.  We're so thankful to all of our volunteers like Pafilvie and Ky who help make our work possible!

8/27/13

Become a Farm Education Intern or Volunteer this Fall!

Our interns and volunteers are an essential part of the Arcadia family. We love the energy and talents they bring to the farm, and they're involved in all aspects of our small operation. 

We have two positions within the Farm Education Programs that are open for the fall. The Farm Education Interns and Farm Education Volunteers are vital to the continued success of the Field Trip program. 

The Arcadia Farm Field Trip program helps students make the connection that healthy, fresh food comes from the earth. It also familiarizes students with new fruits and vegetables that grow near Washington, DC, so that they will be more likely to eat those healthy foods when they see them in the cafeteria or at home.

Our fall Farm Education Interns play an integral role in our Farm Field Trip program and Farm to School initiatives. Interns gain important skills and knowledge that help prepare them for careers in sustainable agriculture, outdoor education, nutrition, nonprofit management, and more. Interns commit to two days from 9:00am to 2:30pm each week from Sept 9 to Nov 15. Deadline to apply has been extended to August 31.

We also have openings for Farm Education Volunteers. As a part of the Educators team, they provide instruction during Field Trips. We provide Field Trip specific training as well as work days on the Farm to learn more about sustainable agriculture. Volunteers commit to one Wednesday, Thursday or Friday from 9:00am to 2:30pm each week from Sept 16 to Nov 8. Deadline to apply is September 4.

 

Helping kids discover where their food comes from is quite magical. Experience that splendor for yourself and become a Farm Education Intern or Volunteer this fall. Follow the links to see full job descriptions and how to apply.


8/8/13

Partner Spotlight - Common Good City Farm



Nestled into the Western side of LeDroit Park near Howard University is Common Good City Farm, a half-acre garden that couples education outreach with food production. A non-profit, their mission is to increase food access for low-income DC residents and to provide training in production, sustainability, and nutrition. With rows of vegetable beds alongside fruit trees and herb plants, the farm is visibly and tangibly achieving these goals.

Common Good is the epitome of an urban garden

Much like Arcadia, Common Good is committed to providing an affordable and sustainable alternative to the conventional food system. Many of their efforts are focused on encouraging active citizenship across all age groups. One of their ongoing programs is the Summer Youth Program -- a six-week session that employs high school age students, teaching them about farming, the environment, and life skills.

The number of beds contained in the small space is impressive

We are thrilled to bring our Mobile Market to LeDroit Park every week in partnership with Common Good, where their food can be sold on a hyper-local level to our customers.  Red Russian Kale and Swiss Chard are some of our customers' favorites out of Common Good's garden.

Ben harvests some of Common Good's herbs

From the first time I set foot inside Common Good's gates, I knew that it was a special place. With vibrant and disparate communities surrounding the park, a garden is the perfect place for people of all walks of life to congregate and work side by side. As the plants grow, so do the connections to the area's residents. The result is a beautiful garden that always has an array of smiling faces amongst the beds. 


The business from both our Wednesday 4-7pm Mobile Market stop at LeDroit park and our two earlier market stops that day often leaves us sold out of some products, so we are always thankful that Common Good is there to help replenish our stock.

The beloved leafy greens

We are proud to be associated with the great work that Common Good does, and thankful that we get to visit their site on a weekly basis!  Be sure to stop by the garden the next time you're filling your market basket at our LeDroit Park Mobile Market stop. 

7/31/13

Partner Spotlight - Helen's Hens


Between little comments and questions directed at a chicken mottled with black and white stripes, Laura Cotterman tells me that this particular bird has been around for almost four years ("She's a pet by now"). As she returns the chicken to the ground it scampers over to nibble at the watermelon that Laura has smashed as a treat.  I decide that watermelon and good company sounds like a pretty nice way to spend four years, before realizing that I'm envying a chicken's life.

Laura introduces a new friend
It's a Monday morning and the Mobile Market is making its biweekly visit to Helen's Hens, a pastured livestock operation located in The Plains, Virginia, about 50 miles west of Washington, D.C.
The bus cools off in some shade while eggs are loaded
While the vast blue sky and fluffy white clouds give the rolling green hills the background that one expects of farmland, down on the ground the watermelon is causing an excitement that breaks the tranquility.  Masses of different colored chickens hurtle around my feet as I try to get just one to stand still for a picture.  Needless to say, I am the least of their concerns.

The open sky surrounds the hen pasture

The Mobile Market picks up about 80 dozen eggs every two weeks from Helen's Hens (Helen is Laura's daughter and business partner), offering them at all nine of its market stops.  The partnership with Helen's Hens has existed since the Mobile Market's pilot season last year.

New this season is our ability to extend our matching incentive program to eggs and meats for our customers who use food assistance (thanks to a generous donation by Power Supply).  This is especially important since the eggs sold at the Mobile Market are pasture-raised, and thus, nutrient dense. Compared to commercial eggs, pasture-raised eggs are less concentrated in saturated fat and cholesterol, while providing higher levels of Vitamins E and D.

Birds of all colors flock together at Helen's Hens
The chickens are not given antibiotics or hormones, and are fed outside in an open pasture with a combination of forage, seeds, and grains -- and the periodic watermelon.  It was easy to tell from spending time with Laura and the chickens that the main ingredient in the production of the eggs is care. Laura's knowledge of her animals and their behavior was a clear sign of dedication. And having tasted eggs from Helen's Hens, I can vouch that they blow the commercially raised competition out of the water. 

A reluctant photo-op with the egg producers

7/30/13

Buzzing Bees Blog: The New Queen; A Reign or a Coup?

By Ian Northrop, Arcadia Bee Keeper and Volunteer
Edited by Marsha Johnston, Arcadia Farm Education Volunteer 


Several days after putting the queen cage in the hive, I returned to Arcadia to check in on the new queen bee.  She had not made it out of her cage, so I removed the sugar plug and laid the cage on its side so she could walk into the hive. 

This really was a moment of truth. I wasn’t sure whether the bees would accept and begin to take care of her, or whether they would attack and kill her.

Amazingly, they quickly surrounded her and began to clean and feed her.  Success!  The adjacent picture shows the moment she entered the hive (she is marked with a white dot on her back) and you can see how the other bees are already beginning to line up to take care of her.

I watched this for about 15 minutes – it really was fascinating.  I closed the hive and decided to come back in a few days to on everyone’s progress.

Over the next two weeks I checked on the hive twice. On the second visit, I was excited to see great evidence the new queen was reigning supremely.  The “brood frame” at left is a collection of larvae and baby bee cells – the vaguely oval-shaped capped cell area in the center of the frame.  This hive had not had brood like this since I originally inspected it.

Sometimes introducing a new queen can be tricky.  Since this was my first time attempting it, I asked several folks for advice on the process.  Karl from Hunter Apiaries, who doesn’t know me at all, spent about 30 minutes walking me through the process while I took notes over the phone.  I believe several of his tips made this a success.  His company also has one of the nicest beekeeping websites I’ve seen: http://hunterapiaries.com/.  Thanks to Karl for the help!







7/26/13

Buzzing Bees Blog: A New Arcadian Queen!

By Ian Northrop, Arcadia Bee Keeper and Volunteer
Edited by Marsha Johnston, Arcadia Farm Education Volunteer 


After more than a month of waiting for the weak hive to improve, I decided to replace the exisiting queen.  Each hive has only one queen.  The queen lays eggs non-stop for the first three to four years of her life.  The colony of bees will take on her genetic traits, such as aggressive behavior and disease resistance.  Because this queen wasn’t laying eggs fast enough to grow the hive, I decided I needed to replace her, and I was running out of time to do it.  It’s important to give the hive enough time to grow with a new queen and prepare the hive to survive the winter.  From a bee’s perspective, some of the best months for storing food for the winter have already passed.  Summer months are often not as good for finding pollen and nectar. 

I found a replacement queen bee online from another beekeeper that has queens that are a mix of the three most popular breeds: Italian (heavy honey producers), Carniolan (gentle and better winter survival rate), and Russian (strong pest/parasite resistance).  The beekeeper mailed the queen bee overnight to me in a small plastic vial that was sealed on one end with sugar.

Back at Arcadia with my new girl, I put her in the hive after finding and removing the old queen. Introducing a new queen can be tricky, as the bees will sometimes kill a new queen (most likely old queen loyalists).  In the photo above, you can see how I placed the new queen cage in between two frames using a paperclip. Leaving her like this for a week will allow the bees to get used to her without being able to attack her.  They should eat through the sealed sugar end, at which point they will accept her (or not) as their new queen.  I’ll give an update on the queen after my next visit!

During this visit, I also inspected the stronger hive.  The top hive body is living up handsomely to its role as the “honey super,” with some frames already more than half full with honey.  In the photo at left, you can see the white waxy area on the frame in the photo – that’s the sealed honey!  This hive is doing really well.

7/23/13

Cookbook Photo Shoot

"I'm too happy to sing the blues!" JuJu claimed today as we bustled around her home. The succulent aromas of her many dishes battled for our attention while photographer extraordinaire Molly Peterson snapped shot after shot of the beautiful food. Those present got to view (and sample) a number of the recipes that will be included in JuJu's forthcoming cookbook. The focus of the cookbook will be on healthy, nutritious eating using WIC staples as well as produce that can be found seasonally in the D.C. area (often on our Mobile Market).

JuJu shows off her homemade vanilla and her winning smile

All hands were on deck this afternoon, as our 8 person team arranged dishes, manipulated lighting, and snuck tastes from the serving bowls. We were lucky enough to shoot in the beautiful natural aura of JuJu's living room, giving the work a very colorful home-grown feeling.

Food arranging pro Kristen preps the next dish



The cookbook, which is going through a rigorous naming process, will be an important step in JuJu's work with nutrition outreach. As a complement to her Mobile Market cooking demos and her incredible person-to-person advice, the book will be a take home guide to whipping up delicious dishes. Speaking from experience, it will be hard to top the flavorful expertise that JuJu put on display this afternoon, but rest assured the cookbook will have every step for success.

Pam and Molly review the shots



While we can't reveal too much information about the dishes included or the inspired work that Molly did today, we look forward to sharing the finished product with the community in the near future. If today was any indication of the joy and fun that these recipes will bring, there are many tasty and enjoyable times to be had by those who welcome JuJu's ideas into their kitchen.

7/19/13

A Big Thank-You to Farm Camp Scholarship Program Donors and Community Partners!

Farm Camp is now in it's second week! Children from across the metro area are coming to Arcadia to learn about farming, food, and fun. From growing to cooking, campers get to explore the many exciting aspects of fresh, local food. Our campers become little farmers and cooks right here on the farm.

Where else can kids spend a whole week learning to care for chickens, working beside a farmer, and eating veggies straight off a farm? The unique experiences children have at Arcadia Farm Camp help lay the foundation for an interest in food, nutrition, and farming. Who knows, maybe our campers are our future farmers and chefs! 

This amazing camp experience wouldn’t be possible without the help of some generous donors and partners who contributed to our Farm Camp Scholarship Program. We would like to extend our deepest gratitude to the following people who helped make Farm Camp a possibility for many of our young farmers, chefs, and locavores:
 

Donors

Tiff MacIsaac
Pastry Chef at Buzz Bakery, Birch &Barley, and GBD
She and her husband, Kyle Bailey, without even being asked hosted a Go Fund Me campaign to fund Farm Camp Scholarships. Tiff will be teaching her donors to make her incredible apple pie in exchange for their support.
 
Washington's Green Grocer
Green Grocer pledged to match the first $1,000 in donations from their customers through a “Farm Camp Seed” campaign in which customers could “buy” a “farm camp seed” for $1. All the proceeds were donated to fund Farm Camp Scholarships.
 
Cowgirl Creamery
The staff at D.C.'s Cowgirl Creamery East funded scholarships by donating their tips and the contents of a charity jar they have on their counter. We were totally surprised and delighted when this unannounced check arrived in the mail. 

Grassfed Media
Sacha Cohen of Grassfed Media discovered us just before Farm Camp season and generously sponsored a child. She’ll be working to spread the word about camp and all of our farm education programs, and we’re delighted to have made such a great new friend.


Our neighbor Christiane “Gigi” Hyland
As a longtime friend of Arcadia, she galloped to the rescue in June when we had more scholarship applications than we did money.  She and her husband closed the gap, and allowed us to open camp to all our applicants.

Our first scholarship donor, Anna Hoffius
We received out first donation via paypal shortly after the announcement of the scholarship fund in our monthly newsletter. Anna really got the ball rolling for our 2013 scholarships. 

These contributions allowed us to provide 25 scholarships this summer, and we plan to increase that number to 30 in 2014. To contribute to the scholarship fund for 2014, please visit the Scholarship Fund Page.


Community Partners

These Community Partners are all active organizations in the immediate area surrounding Arcadia. They worked to connect us with families who qualified for scholarships, provided translation assistance in communications with families, and spread the good word of Arcadia! 

SCAN of Northern Virginia
StopChild Abuse Now of Northern Virginia is a community based organization that aims to promote the well-being of children, improve parent-child relations and prevent child abuse and neglect by educating the community, providing direct parent education, and advocating for children in the community. 

United Christian Ministries
UCM is a nonprofit, community based organization that serving Fairfax County.They provide services including emergency assistance, employment placement and training; developmental childcare, youth services, supportive housing services, homelessness prevention and child abuse and neglect prevention.

Good Shepherd Catholic Church  
Good Shepherd is located on Mount Vernon Highway in Alexandria. All of their offerings are in both english and spanish. They are an active advocate for faith and building community in this area


Fairfax County Neighborhood and Community Services 
FairfaxCounty NCS  works with everyone from youth to seniors. They engage, connect and collaborate with individuals, organizations, neighborhoods, and communities to strategically plan and provide responsive services, and build capacity to support community and neighborhood solutions. 

Thanks to the support of these organizations and businesses, 25 children, for whom camp would not be possible, have the opportunity to enjoy a truly amazing week of farm and food experiences.

For more information about Farm Camp, check out: http://arcadiafood.org/arcadia-farm-camp

7/10/13

Partner Spotlight -- Mount Vernon Estate

This week we'd like to highlight one of our neighbors and Mobile Market partners, the Mount Vernon Estate.  



Mount Vernon is a 500 acre historical site that is dedicated to preserving and sharing the life that its one-time resident -- George Washington -- lived and breathed.  With nearly a million visitors each year, the Estate provides a number of exciting areas for tourists to explore, including the mansion where he lived, his distillery and gristmill facilities, and the extensive Mount Vernon garden and grounds. In fact, Woodlawn -- Arcadia's home -- was once a part of Washington's Mount Vernon estate. 

The Mount Vernon staff maintain four separate gardens containing fruits, vegetables, flowers, grains and more, all of which bring crops that George Washington would have raised in the 18th century.  Upon harvesting, the Mount Vernon Estate distributes food to a number of local food banks, as well as to the Arcadia Mobile Market. This is an especially important step to recognize, as the estate's dedication to outreach allows the community at large to benefit from the fertile site.


Last week Gardens and Greenhouse Manager Peggy Bowers had a number of freshly harvested vegetables for us.  One of the heirloom vegetables Peggy grows at Mount Vernon is red, yellow and orange tinted carrots, which made a wonderful, colorful addition to our market offerings. We also gladly accepted two large boxes of green and purple cabbage, helping to flesh out our green offerings of kale, collards and spicy salad mix that come straight from the Arcadia Farm.  Potatoes were also plentiful in a couple of different varieties including purple and the more commonly found Yukon Gold -- we hope people will enjoy adding this traditional root vegetable to their meals.



Although we didn't take any on the bus, we took a peek at the flowers growing in the Mount Vernon nursery, and were they a sight to behold! The abundance of blossoming life on the Estate makes it an exciting place to be, and we hope to continue visiting them as much as possible throughout the summer.





6/26/13

A Note from the Field at Arcadia Farm

Arcadia Zucchini,
photo by Molly M. Peterson
In farming, there’s a point of frustration that settles in every spring. So much time and energy go into prepping fields, planting, and tending veggies, and there is very little immediate payoff. I operate solely on faith and the memory of seasons past to keep me motivated during these lean times. And then seemingly overnight, everything changes…


Summer hits, and it’s all I can do to stay on top of harvesting all of our delicious crops from the fields. It’s incredibly rewarding to see that produce making its way onto the Mobile Market and to know that it’s going out to people who will enjoy cooking it and sharing it with their friends and families. Fortunately in a good year, we have a surplus of crops that need to find a good home, and luckily we've been able to build a network of chefs and restaurants that have been clamoring for this food. By selling this surplus food, we are able to bring in revenue to help support our programs and to gain greater exposure as chefs highlight our produce on their menus. Some of the restaurants that we’ve worked with this season include Columbia Firehouse, Evening Star CafĂ©, Tallula, Rustico in Ballston, Birch and Barley, and Red Apron Butchery, and they have all created delectable dishes to highlight our seasonal produce.

As the season winds along, there are always new crops coming on and many more on deck. We've all spent a great deal of time completely covered in mud as our first new potatoes are coming out of the ground, and these little guys are perfect and delicious for a summery potato salad. Our first tomatoes are getting just a kiss of ripening. It takes all of my willpower every year to wait until the first tomato is fully ripe before eating it, but if you've ever jumped the gun for a lackluster tomato, you know that the patience of letting it ripen on the vine is definitely rewarded handsomely.

Just a quick reminder that our next volunteer day is coming up this Saturday from 9am to noon. We’ve got some fun tasks lined up, and slots are filling up fast, so register today!

6/23/13

Mid-week Additions to the Mobile Market Spread

Last week, after we wrapped up our market at the Circle 7 Express in Kenilworth-Parkside, our Mobile Market bus headed over to the Brookland Farmers' Market to meet some fellow farmers. Michael from Licking Creek Bend Farm (based in Needmore, PA) had a bunch of delicious vegetables waiting for us to add to our plethora of offerings.


The most exciting addition -- one that was a favorite at our markets for the rest of the week -- was a big box of heirloom tomatoes. These were the first tomatoes we had this season, and many of our customers had been eagerly awaiting their arrival. We also received our first zucchini, and look forward to having different varietals of squash at the Mobile Market as the summer goes on.


Along with the new offerings, Licking Creek Bend Farm had plenty of radishes, scallions and garlic scapes.  The scallions will hopefully tide our customers over until full size onions are in season. Radishes are an unfamiliar root vegetable to some, but they work great as both a baked or mashed dish, or as a lighter addition to a salsa or salad.


As the season goes on and more produce comes into season, we will be carrying an increasingly varied and voluminous supply of farm-fresh foods. Come find us at any of our stops across the city to see what we have! The schedule can be found on here.



6/21/13

Buzzing Bees Blog: Inspecting Hives with Evan, the Bee-Smoker

By Ian Northrop, Arcadia Bee Keeper and Volunteer
Edited by Marsha Johnston, Arcadia Farm Education Volunteer 

Both of the hives in the Arcadia Apiary are quite young and somewhat vulnerable, so Evan and I opened and inspected them on our second visit to the farm. 

When I inspect the hives, Evan – outfittd in his junior beekeeper suit -- helps by using the smoker. He is becoming quite skilled at directing smoke into the hives, which calms the bees  and makes them less inclined to sting. Evan told me that the bees like him more than they like me, because he has the smoker! 

We start our inspection by taking off the top of the hive box, known as the “hive body.” Once open, we take each frame out of the hive to get clues about the health of the bees.  A normal hive body has 10 frames where the bees build their comb. The bees grow young bees and store honey on these frames.  We look for the presence of a queen bee.  She is the largest and most important bee in the hive, as she lays all of the eggs that create new bees.  We also look to see how heavy the frames are with bees and honey—the heavier the better.  As the colony grows, they will begin to make more honey to eat during the winter. If we’re lucky, the bees may make enough honey so that we can harvest and eat it too!

Of the two Arcadia hives, one is strong, so we add another empty body to it so the bees can make more comb and honey. 

The other hive still looks pretty weak. Evan, my expert bee-smoker, and I will pay special attention to this hive over the next several weeks to make sure it strengthens.