Farm to School Person of the Year 2011: Whitney Bateson

Since she was hired almost four years ago as the Resident Dietician for D.C. Public Schools at Chartwells-Thompsons, there has never been a doubt that Whitney Bateson wasn’t in the business to serve the children of the District of Columbia. Whitney has been a driving force in making DCPS school meals healthier, more sustainable, and more locally-sourced. At Chartwells she was tasked with creating menus and assuring compliance for approximately 125 school DCPS sites serving breakfast, lunch and in some cases dinner each day. Planning approximately 70,000 meals each day is no small task, but Whitney Bateson took the challenge head-on.

Here ia Whitney with Jeff Mills, Director of Food & Nutrition Services for DCPS,
learning from a vendor at a healthy food showcase.  Look at the concentration!!!
When I first met Whitney, we were both new to Washington, DC. I called her up to talk about farm to school programs, and she patiently walked me through the process of how food travels from farm to tray in the D.C. school meal system. I immediately sensed that she shared my enthusiasm, and she took on the challenge of sourcing more local produce for DCPS school meals.

Whitney fast went from farm to school novice to expert at Chartwells. She scheduled meetings with produce distributors, researched local farms, worked out the logistics of local purchasing for special events (like Strawberries & Salad Greens), and enthusiastically participated in many of the farm to school workshops, events, field trips and meetings hosted by the D.C. Farm to School Network. It’s truly been a pleasure watching her knowledge and passion for farm to school grow over the years.

Whitney was our most enthusiastic Farm to School Field Trip participant! 
Here she is holding sweetcorn on our trip to Delaware (third from right).

Not only do I respect Whitney’s work, I admire her incredible dedication to child nutrition; her willingness to push for change against great odds; her consistently positive and outgoing attitude; her natural curiosity (including a willingness to ask difficult questions); and her unwavering work ethic. These traits will take Whitney far as she moves on from her position at DCPS to become Director of Wellness Initiatives at Chartwells, where she will take on the role of coordinating sustainability and wellness programs for Chartwells across the country.

As someone who’s seen what DCPS school meals menus looked like four years ago, I commend Chartwells for now serving minimally-processed, healthy meals featuring a local food almost every day in the spring and fall (and a few days per week in the winter). I want to acknowledge Whitney Bateson for playing a lead role in this transformation to more fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean meats, and local produce. Granted school meal reform in Washington, DC has been a result of local and national partnerships, government agencies, and policies, but Whitney Bateson is one of the true unsung heroes of the movement. We are sad to see her move on to the national arena, but glad she still calls Washington, DC home!


Farm to School Field Trip - Blue Ridge Produce!

I can't think of a better way to spend a weekday morning than travelling to the beautiful Shenandoah Valley to connect local growers with D.C. schools.  Earlier this week, eight of my favorite school food service providers and farm-to-school stakeholders from Washington, DC took a field trip out to Elkwood, VA to visit Blue Ridge Produce.  We got a first class tour of their new facility, which serves as a local food distribution "hub" for Northern Virginia and Washington, DC markets.

Jim and Mark, the co-founders of Blue Ridge, brought us up to speed with a history of the new organization and how it got started.  We began our tour in the huge warehouse and freezer space, which will be brimming with produce come spring for wholesale buyers around the region. 

We moved our way in to the (thankfully warmer) greenhouses, with thousands of square feet of space ready to grow hydroponic vegetables, herbs and greens.  The potential for the space is huge - Jim and Mark described plans for a commercial kitchen, demonstration compost operation, and sustainable farm in the works.

Many thanks to Jim, Mark, Craig and the Blue Ridge team for a wonderful and informative visit.  And thank you to Beatriz, Sofia, Lisa, Jaime, Benjamin, Jeff, and Whitney for coming on the trip.  I look forward to working with all of you to make more healthy, local food available to Washington, DC schoolkids!


Support our friends @ 'An Evening of Carnivory'

Looking to celebrate the New Year with meat? Our friend, Andrew, at Farmrun, is screening his new documentary, 'On the Anatomy of Thrift' at Big Bear Cafe on January 1. Movie to be followed by a delicious meal by Clementina Russo, (chef extraordinaire and supporter of Arcadia!!)
Check out the Big Bear website for more information and hope to meat you there.


The struggle to access healthy food meets the Mobile Market

Just received a new report from the Food Research and Action Center (FRAC), which highlights the difficulty in accessing health food, particularly for low-income people. In Washington, DC, more than 12 percent of residents reported an inability to access and afford fresh fruits and vegetables in the communities where they live.

D.C. Hunger Solutions, a local initiative founded by FRAC, has been actively working to reverse this trend for nearly a decade. According to Alex Ashbrook, director of D.C. Hunger Solutions, "it is essential to support families’ ability to purchase healthier food items. That includes efforts at the federal level to improve SNAP benefits [formerly known as "food stamps'] so they go further ..."

To that effect, Arcadia's Mobile Market will bring affordable, healthy food to these D.C. communities, as well as accept SNAP and other forms of food assistance. Moreover, we're working to offer a "matching dollar" program to further incentivize the use of these benefits, similar to the initiative we last blogged about.

It's been a lot of work getting our bus up-and-running, but I'm excited to be hitting the road in the spring of 2012. Please stay tuned for information on market stops!


Top 5 Awesomest Things in the Groundhog Garden

Things at Arcadia Farm's Groundhog Garden were pretty awesome this fall, but here are some of the awesomest things of all:

1) Farmer for a day! All of the kids who go on a field trip to Arcadia Farm get to try their hands at farming, and in doing so, learn what it takes to grow food sustainably. From planting seeds to tending to bees, they get hands-on experience in the day-to-day life of a farmer. And they get to wear great hats!

2) Salad Bar: Our friends at Whole Foods donated a salad bar to the farm, which was both a great teaching tool and a fun way to eat healthy food straight from the ground.

If nothing else, we hope that field trips to the farm will make students more likely to eat fruits and vegetables when they see them on their cafeteria trays. Since more and more DC schools have salad bars, they are one way we connect the farm to the cafeteria.
3) Chef demonstrations: Chefs from all over DC and Virginia came to the farm to teach our students simple, healthy recipes using fresh food. Special thanks go out to the chefs themselves: Alison Reed, Robert Weidmaier, Michael Bonk, Tianna Feaster, Chef Indigo (at right), Chef Jamie and our very own Benjamin Bartley.

4) New shed: With the help of builder Jesse Cooper and some generous volunteers, we designed and built a new shed especially for our Farm to School programming. It will serve not only as an education station and storage space, but also a place for kids to explore and play. Plus, it's pretty darn cute.

5) Arcadia staff in vegetable costumes: It's no surprise: (DC Farm to School Network Director) Andrea makes a great carrot. The awesomest moment of the whole season might have been when a kindergartener grabbed her and yelled: "I'm gonna eat you!"

Ready to sign your class up for a spring field trip? Email katherine@dcfarmtoschool.org and ask her to add you to our list!


Help Support our Friends on December 14!

Save the date: on Wednesday December 14 -- Whole Foods will donate 5% of all sales for Bloomingdale, 14&U, Mt Pleasant and NoMafarmers' markets to grow Food Stamp/WIC programs

Need to stock up on staples for the winter? Olive oil? Maple syrup? Wine? Bulk nuts for baking cookies, perhaps? Chicken stock for savory soups to get you through the cold months? Amaryllis plants? Start your list, but come in on Dec 14th that's when Whole Foods P Street and Gtown are having a "5% Day" to create double dollar food stamp and WiC/Senior programs for the markets.

How it works: You shop like any other day, EXCEPT that 5% of ALL sales at Whole Foods P St and Gtown on Wednesday December 14th will go towards doubling the WIC and SNAP (food stamp) programs at BFM, 14&U, Mount Pleasant, and NoMa farmers' markets during their 2012 season.

And if you stock up, we can match more Food Stamp/WIC dollars!


Intern at Arcadia!

Do you know someone who is energetic, passionate about sustainable agriculture and looking for an internship? We're a small staff at Arcadia, so we truly rely on great interns and volunteers to make our programs run and our farm grow. We're looking for a few good interns for the spring season now - help us spread the word!

Also, we know what's like to be an unpaid intern, so we want to make the experience as valuable as possible. For example, Mo has cooked up a mini farm school for her intern. Plus, we definitely have the best snack breaks around.

Check out the position descriptions for the following gigs - Farm Educator Internship and Sustainable Farm Internship - and pass them along to interested folks. Thanks in advance!

DCPS Wellness Policy includes Farm to School

D.C. youth have among the highest child obesity, hunger, and poverty rates in the nation.  Since these kids spend a lot of time each day at school, we have a great opportunity to influence their health and wellness by making positive changes to the school environment.

D.C. Public Schools worked with community partners to design a Local Wellness Policy.  This document lays out a road map to make DCPS schools healthy, safe, and green.  Over the past few months, Arcadia's D.C. Farm to School Network was a part of this coalition that updated the Local Wellness Policy for its launch this week.  The policy sets ambitious targets for physical activity, nutrition, and environmental sustainability for DCPS. It also outlines a community engagement and implementation plan.  Download a copy of the wellness policy HERE.

We're excited to see Farm to School in the Wellness Policy!
  • School meals will include fresh, locally-grown foods from farms engaged in sustainable practices whenever possible.
  • Schools should encourage more student interaction with the food preparation process, including farm visits, cooking demonstrations and taste tests.
  • DCPS will incorporate farm to school/food origin education into its standard curriculum.

We look forward to working together with DCPS to make the vision articulated in the Local Wellness Policy a reality.


What makes a great farm summer camp?

The first farm I ever worked on was part of a summer camp in the northern Adirondacks. I have fond memories of waking early to harvest kale with bleary-eyed 7-year-olds, who brought the fruits of our labor into the cafeteris for their lunch.

So when I heard that Arcadia was thinking about starting a summer day camp at our farm, I was on board right away. Teaching young people where their food comes from is clearly one of my favorite things, so combining farm education with fun and adventure sounded pretty darn perfect for me.

After doing some reading, I started to get a sense of what I had gotten myself into. So many camps to choose from! So many details to consider!

So I decided to ask you, blog readers, for help. What makes a great farm camp? What are your best summer camp memories? (Personally, I love this episode of This American Life). Parents, what are you looking for in summer camps for your kids this year?

Leave a comment or shoot me an email at liz@arcadiafood.org.


The Neverending Season

Like a lot of farmers, I see December 1 as a time I can take a deep breath, stretch my back and eat potato chips for the winter. It's the time when the cold wind blows and the snows start to threaten. Mother Nature this year does not seem to be on the same clock...

With the last few weeks of warm weather, my lettuces, spinach and hearty greens are growing in earnest and are delicious! I have rogue radishes sprouting up everywhere (I think leftover from some kindergardeners eager hands), and I even saw a tomato seedling emerge! A tomato plant in December?!

Many farmers look forward to winter because it is not only a time to rest our bodies, but a time to let the ground relax for awhile and take a break too. Snow is great for the ground and kills off cover crop to prepare the soil for the spring. The Farmer's Almanac is predicting a snowy winter for the midwest and the east coast, but so far, I'm not buying it.

So, I'll be back on the farm tomorrow, harvesting mache and spinach and radishes, enjoying the sun and waiting for the snows.

-Farmer Mo

Farmer Liz is BACK!

Liz Whitehurst was Arcadia's fabulous part-time Farm Educator this past fall.  She spearheaded the design of Groundhog Garden (the space at Arcadia Farm that kids explore during field trips) and the development and implementation of our fall field trip program.

We're happy to say that Liz is back, this time in full force!  She'll be with us full time as Arcadia's Farm Education Coordinator.  Her main projects will be leading spring and fall field trips, developing summer camp program, and starting up a series of Family Fun Days on the farm.  Welcome back Liz!


Screening of 'American Meat' and panel discussion with Farmer Mo

What: The new documentary American Meat chronicles America’s grassroots revolution in sustainable meat production. The film, an official selection of Food Day 2011, explains our current industrial meat system, and shows the feedlots and confinement operations, not through hidden cameras but through the eyes of the farmers who live and work there. The film then shifts to the burgeoning sustainable, local-food movement made up farmers, food advocates, chefs and everyday folks who could change everything about the way meat reaches the American table.

Who: After the film, at 8:30 p.m., a panel discussion will be held with New York City filmmaker Graham Meriwether and Susan Prolman, executive director of the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC), and an advocate for sustainable agriculture for more than a decade; Phil Petrilli, Regional Manager, Chipotle Mexican Grill Restaurants, who helped set up the company’s purchase and distribution of grass-fed pork for its restaurants; Maureen Moodie, farm director of the Arcadia Center for Sustainable Food & Agriculture, Fairfax County, Va.

Where: E Street Theater, 555 11th St. NW, Washington, D.C. (E Street entrance between 10th and 11th Streets NW)

When: 7 p.m., Thurs., Dec. 1. 8:30 p.m. panel discussion.

Cost: Free seating and free coupons for burritos, sponsored by the Chipotle Company.

Why: Sustainable farming is expanding exponentially as Americans learn more and more about their food and how they can connect with local farmers who raise their animals outdoors. Here is a film that celebrates these farmers, and all farmers, in an unbiased way that allows all farmers and food advocates to sit down and discuss solutions to their common challenges. Perhaps most importantly, the film provokes a spirited but constructive conversation about one of the most important subjects in our lives -- our food.

For further information on community screenings, please visit AmericanMeatFilm.com.


Groundhog Garden Shed

Groundhog Garden has a new exciting development-- we've (almost) finished our shed! The whole Farm to School and Arcadia Farm team are thrilled about out new projects!

The kids shed will serve as an outdoor educational classroom as well as provide a safe and dry space to store all of our equipment and supplies for farm field trips. With the amazing design provided by Jesse, a group of volunteers dedicated their Sunday to its construction. A huge thanks to Emily Roberts, Jim Villars, Katie from Beet Street, Jeff Wilkes, and Luis from jWest Solutions (and of course, Adam and Ben) for your building expertise!

We've also sheet mulched more space in Groundhog Garden to make room for spring's new gardens-- more herbs, natural dye beds and fruit trees are on the way! We're already excited to use and explore our expanded Groundhog Garden with school groups in the spring!


Visit to Stone Barns

Mo in the foreground, and 2nd graders on a field trip to Stone Barns behind her!
Turkeys, cows, chickens, sheep, pigs. These are only a handful of the many wonderful farm animals we got to see during our trip to visit Stone Barns Center for Food & Agriculture last week. The Stone Barns staff were kind enough to let us, Arcadia’s Farm to School Director and Farm Director, observe a field trip and discuss the in’s and out’s of their established educational programs. 

The chickens were just moved inside for the cold weather, so kids got to harvest eggs!
Stone Barns is a non-profit farm and education center located just 25 miles north of Manhattan in Pocantico Hills, New York. Stone Barns operates an 80-acre four-season farm and incorporates broader initiatives to create a healthy and sustainable food system. Their Growing Farmers Initiative, children’s education programs, and diverse public awareness programs aim to improve the way America eats and farms. The famous restaurant Blue Hill at Stone Barns is on the property as well, engaging visitors in an incredible farm-to-table dining experience.

Stone Barns' half-acre greenhouse is always in-season!
We arrived on a crisp, clear morning last week in time to meet a group of 30 second graders for their field trip. We shadowed the group as they were led on an interactive two-hour tour that included visiting animals, harvesting eggs, and tasting produce in the greenhouse. Year round programming works when exciting animals and their huge greenhouse are always "in-season." The Stone Barns staff were incredibly helpful at sharing tips and hints for us, as we develop and grow Arcadia’s own educational programs. Thank you Stone Barns for the incredible opportunity. Now we just can’t wait to get our chickens this spring, and a summer camp up and running!


One Amazing Evening - the Vices that Made Virginia

On Saturday November 5, a crowd of nearly 700 guests gathered on the grounds of the Historic Woodlawn estate in Alexandria, VA, home of Arcadia's two acre sustainable farm and educational hub.  The occasion?  The Vices That Made Virginia, our biggest fundraiser of the year to benefit Arcadia and Woodlawn, a National Historic Trust Site.  The monies raised on this unforgettable night will fund the continued growth of our farm, educational programming, and the launch of our Mobile Market.  We sincerely thank the guests and generous local sponsors who came to support us!

Woodlawn looked magical as the sun set over the crisp, fall evening, and spotlights lit up the estate and grounds.  Local chefs and artisans prepared a spread of the season's finest meats, cheeses, oysters, vegetables and other prepared dishes.  After the guests sampled the evening's finest foods and featured wines, whiskeys and beers, they could listen to the bluegrass music, take a snapshot the photo-booth, or watch a cigar-rolling demonstration.  The air was full of laughter, great tunes, and merriment.

Arcadia's Mobile Market made its debut at Vices.  The awesome, bright green school bus attracted guests who stopped by to pay a visit with the team and learn more about the program - even take a tour.  Fully stocked with fresh produce from local farms, it was a sight to see.  We can't wait to get it on the road!

Many thanks to all of the volunteers, staff, partners, sponsors and attendees who made the event a huge success.  Be sure to sign up for our mailing list to be the first to hear about upcoming events and other Arcadia news!
Photo credits: Samer Farha


Chipotle's going local with Arcadia!

We love good burritos here at Arcadia.  But that's not the only reason why we love the popular restaurant Chipotle Mexican Grill.  We've established a wonderful relationship with Chipotle, an organization with a dedication to "Food With Integrity" similar to our own.  Yes, it does includes free burritos (for our volunteers and special events).  But it goes so much farther than that!

Earlier this fall, Chipotle sponsored a DC-area wide fundraiser for Arcadia.  They donated half of all proceeds from burritos sold the evening of September 14th to Arcadia's farm to school programs - a whopping $15,000!  With these funds, we'll be able to expand Arcadia's farm field trips in the spring, and get our Mobile Market out to schools (complete with chef demonstrations and mock-farmers' market activities).

Chipotle also coordinated guacamole demos and film screenings "What's On Your Plate" in four schools during D.C. Farm to School Week in October.  They reached over 400 DC students and families with hand-on food education and community engagement around the issues of nutrition and sustainability. 

I already mentioned the awesome food - our volunteers on the farm take home "burrito bucks" after a hard day's work.  And for our events and activities, you can count on some delicious carnitas tacos or our favorite - the veggie burrito.  And while you're at the farm, check out the Chipotle Salsa Garden - complete with tomatoes, peppers, cilantro, garlic and onions.

Most recently, Chipotle was a top sponsor at the Vices that Made Virginia event, our rollicking fundraiser on the farm on November 6th (recap to come).  They hit the Estate sponsorship level of $5,000, again showing their strong support for Arcadia's mission and programs.

Chipotle, we can't thank you enough.  Your staff are incredible, your hearts are generous, and your values align so closely with Arcadia's own.  We're so excited to continue working with you as our programs grow and flourish! 


Arcadia's hiring a Mobile Market School Educator!

Do you like youth engagement, local food, child nutrition, and food justice?  If so, we've got the job for you!

Arcadia is looking for a part-time Mobile Market School Educator to lead educational programming on Arcadia's Mobile Market, and coordinate local food taste tests in DC school cafeterias.  The Mobile Market School Educator should be someone who has extensive experience working with kids, exhibits a strong passion for Arcadia's mission, and demonstrates the capacity to deveop and lead educational outreach programs.  This is a part-time (20 hrs/week on averaage) paid position.

For details about the position and how to apply, visit http://bit.ly/ArcadiaMMJob


Big Bad Green

The Mobile Market has undergone a lot of work recently, but nothing’s been quite as eye-catching as the bus’ recent paint job.

According to Fred, General Manager and heavy truck specialist at Maaco of College Park, nothing “pops” like “Big Bad Green,” so we worked out a deal to get the Mobile Market looking like a million bucks (for a tiny, tiny fraction thereof). Thanks to his skilled and able team, Maaco was able to get the bus done in time for our annual fundraiser, The Vices that Made Virginia, during which guests were informed of the Mobile Market's food distribution and educational activities. They were also treated to an array of fruits and vegetables provided by our farmer friends, Derek Kilmer and David Marvel.

Next steps for the Mobile Market will be installation of a donated generator (thanks, Cummins!) and chest refrigerators. Otherwise, I recently passed my Commercial Driver's License test and have acquired all the permits for operating the bus, so much of the back-end work is complete.

Unfortunately, all of this is coming together just as market season is wrapping up, but the bus will be hitting the road soon enough when we begin making school visits early next year. Stay tuned for more information regarding our Mobile Market School Educator job listing.


Fall field trips in full swing

Arcadia Farm has been abuzz with activity over the past few weeks. As about 200 energetic, enthusiastic DC students have visited the farm, we've been busy talking and learning about where our food comes from.

We've been harvesting (beans, greens, carrots, lettuce, broccoli, spinach, beets and more), digging (so many worms!), tending our bees (did you know that workers in a hive fly 55,000 miles and tap two million flowers to make one pound of honey?), of course, eating good food from the farm. The photos below can tell you more.

Created with Admarket's flickrSLiDR.

Extra special thanks go out to Chef Robert Weidmaier and Chef Michael Bonk for teaching us their tricks, plus all the teachers, chaperones, and volunteers who've made it all work.

We're heading into the home stretch! After our field trips next week, we'll close down the Groundhog Garden and start planning for spring.

This weekend, we're building a brand-new shed that will help make field trips even better. Want to help? We can certainly use it! More info is here.


Farming Fun(ctionality)

Over the last few weeks of my internship I've had the opportunity to do a little bit of everything, from weeding to fundraising. I've even gotten to take part in the D.C. Farm-to-School Week festivities and do some teaching with students during our ongoing field trips at the farm.

All of which has been fairly new to me. But nothing more so than what I got to do on Friday. Behold, the hand tractor.

Complete with pull-start, clutch, gear shift, and kill-switch. (No cup-holder though.) I'm told these run in the thousands of dollars. If you're like me you're thinking, "I can do triple-digit speeds on a motorcycle for that price. What can this thing do?"

Here's what it can do.

It tilled those rows in a fraction of the time it would have taken us without it. We rarely use machines at the farm, but some larger tasks require it. With that task complete, we were able to plant some oats to occupy that space for the winter.

We also used it to clear a patch of grass in the Groundhog Garden. This gives an even better idea of its usefulness.

Believe it or not this simple task was actually much harder, for the hand tractor and its operators alike. Soil under grass is denser and more compact without the aeration that tilling affords it. It is easy to think of a healthy lawn as a blank slate for agriculture. Actually, it can be a hindrance, albeit a remediable one.

What you see in this picture is also a microcosm of what we are doing at Arcadia. That is, turning unused spaces into productive ones. With conscientious soil improvement efforts, a few common tools and a little elbow grease, these neglected spaces can help create a more sustainable local food system.


D.C. Farm to School Week Recap!

The students at Cleveland Elementary with Chef Lauren say it loud and clear - third annual D.C. Farm to School Week was a huge success!  About 5,000 students engaged in farm-to-table activities and over 200 school cafeterias featured seasonal, local food. Farmers, chefs, food service staff, parents, teachers, and volunteers came together to connect students with where food comes from. October 3-7, 2011 was a week full of excitement, fun, and discovery!

The week began with a kick-off event, which also marked the start of National Farm to School Month in October. Four local chefs and their student assistants competed to make the tastiest seasonal salads for a panel of judges. Using only school garden produce and healthy ingredients from Whole Foods, chef Lauren Von Der Pool won the judges over with her tangy kale salad. White House Pastry Chef Bill Yosses, D.C. Councilmember Mary Cheh, State Superintendent of Education Hosanna Mahaley, and other V.I.P.’s and community members joined in the celebration at Thurgood Marshall Academy.

During the week, schools in all 8 wards of the District featured seasonal, local produce in their school meals. Just a few examples - Chartwells served roasted local butternut squash and local bok choi in a vegetable stir fry. D.C. Central Kitchen’s Fresh Start Catering cooked up roasted local broccoli and baked local sweet potato fries. Revolution Foods served fresh local pears and braised local collard greens with their BBQ chicken. My mouth is watering just thinking about it!

45 schools engaged approximately 5,000 children in hands-on food, farm and nutrition education during the week. 41 schools were visited by local chefs from around the area for interactive cooking demonstrations. For example, Thomas Marr from Pete’s New Haven Style Apizza made roasted squash and grilled apple salad with 5th graders at Janney Elementary. 19 schools were visited by local farmers, who taught students about what it’s like to work on a farm. Polly from the Acokeek Foundation even brought chickens in to visit Garfield Elementary students! 10 schools went on field trips to nearby farms. For example, Cleveland Elementary’s 3rd graders planted garlic, weeded the herbs, and made morning glory crowns at Common Good City Farm. A handful of other schools coordinated activities such as farmers’ market visits, film screenings with families of “What’s On Your Plate” for parents and families, and veggie taste tests. We even sent volunteers into school cafeterias dressed as giant carrots and peapods to encourage kids to eat their veggies.

The D.C. Farm to School Network at Arcadia and the Office of the State Superintendent of Education coordinated D.C. Farm to School Week, in conjunction with the Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington, Chipotle, Whole Foods, USDA Forest Service, Lululemon, the Capital Area Food Bank, school partners, farmers, chefs, school food service professionals and tons of dedicated volunteers. We send a HUGE thank you to all who were so critical at making D.C. Farm to School Week a success! We also thank our sponsors DC Hunger Solutions, Dan Schiff, and WGirls DC for their contributions.

This quote from a DCPS teacher sums up how the week's activities complemented her classroom instruction:

 "I really appreciate...the experience! It's so great when I am in the middle of a lesson and my scholars make a connection from their experience with D.C. Farm to School Week ('like when Chef Jerry did...' or 'when Farmer Mary Ellen did...') with a new lesson that I am teaching them. What a great feeling for a teacher; not only does it show that the students were well engaged in the previous lesson activity but it shows they are engaged in the new lesson when they make that connection... a priceless moment in teaching!"


Heritage Garden Project

The formal gardens at Arcadia have always gotten my brain wheeling with ideas and with the help of an amazing landscape architect (a HUGE thanks to Ann!), we are finally going to make the Heritage Gardens a reality! The goal is to trace the history of Woodlawn through edible gardens--highlight the rich agricultural history of the place and show how generations of people cared for themselves, their families and their communities through this land. If you want more information or wish to sponsor a plot, please contact Farmer Mo at maureen@arcadiafood.org. Read more about the plan below:


The idea. Let the garden’s geometry tell the story.

Within the triangular planting beds along a

clockwise path, discover 17th century plants

foraged and cultivated by the Dogue Indians. The

herbs Nelly Custis Lewis used to flavor stews,

pickle vegetables and treat a feverish child. Plants

that enslaved Africans grew to recall their native

lands. Vegetables raised by the Quakers before the

Civil War. Crops and gardens kept by the Masons,

the family who lived together longest at

Woodlawn. Plants that reveal the 20th-century

transition from food crops to flower gardens.

Heritage you can see, touch, smell and taste.

We invite you to support Arcadia Heritage

Gardens. Each triangle can be sponsored for $250.

We also welcome volunteers to help build this

piece of living history!

I am really excited about the project and can't wait for next spring to get started! Hope to see you in the garden!

-Farmer Mo


Help us build a shed!

Arcadia Farm needs your help! To make our youth education space at Arcadia Farm more fun and inviting, we are building a shed! The shed will be used for storage, and will serve as an outdoor classroom for our farm field trips. We are looking for a few volunteers with some building experience to help in the construction process. We plan to have a big building day on Sunday, October 30 any time between  and we'll schedule a few more times through the first week of November.  The farm is at 9000 Richmond Hwy (Route 1) in Alexandria, VA.

If you are willing to come out and help, please contact Maureen Moodie, Arcadia Farm Manager, at maureen[at]arcadoafood[dot]org.  Please tell anyone else who may be interested!

Chipotle burritos and adult beverages will be provided and, of course, a HUGE thank you from the Arcadia team.
8' by 8' shed design

Arcadia Farm in summer


Arcadia Farm hosts first field trips of the fall season

Created with Admarket's flickrSLiDR.

"Look!" she yelled. "It's a worm!" Before I knew it, ten other kindergarteners gathered, squealing and shrieking, as they passed the small, slimy creature around. One pulled the worm around her finger and held her hand out to me: "It's a wedding ring!" she said.

Put DC kids and a patch of soil together and what do you get? Curiosity, creativity, disgust, and lots of excitement. At our first field trips of the season, students from Washington Middle School for Girls and Ross Elementary School got the full farm experience, complete with compost, bees, and planting seeds.

Ross Elementary School students were even treated to a special chef demonstration by Chef Alison Reed of Cafe St Ex. The apple carrot salad was a hit! Our very own Chef Benjamin showed Washington Middle School for Girls how to make green bean salad. DC Farm to School's Andrea also made a guest appearance in a carrot costume and was bombarded by kids within seconds - "I'm going to eat you!" they screamed.

What a way to celebrate DC Farm to School week! We're definitely looking forward to hosting more and more school visits in the coming weeks. A big thank you goes out to our volunteer field trip assistants Laurel, Sheri, Lara, and Cat for all their help.


D.C. Farm to School Week Kick-off Event!

Beets, carrots, kale and apples - those were the seasonal ingredients used by the four competing chefs to make salads at the D.C. Farm to School Week Kick-off Event on Monday October 4th!  Over 150 students, community members, local and national leaders joined us for a fun and delicious afternoon.  White House Executive Pastry Chef Bill Yosses emcee'd the chef demonstration, while Pat Dombroski, Administrator of the USDA Food & Nutrition Service Mid Atlantic Regional Office, State Superintendent of Education Hosana Mahaley and National Farm to School Network Director Anupama Joshi also spoke to the importance of healthy eating, supporting local farmers, and engaging students in the farm-to-table process.

The event took place at Thurgood Marshall Academy Public Charter High School, a high-performing law themed high school in Southeast Washington, DC.  Special guest, White House Executive Pastry Chef Bill Yosses, emcee'd the chef competition!  Once Chef Bill started the timer, chefs and their student assistants whipped up salads for the judges using school garden produce, a "pantry" of items from Whole Foods, and their special seasonal ingredients.

Chef Lauren Von Der Pool, the "Queen of Green" and her student assistant won over the judges' taste buds with their tangy kale dish.  Chef Kyle Bailey from Birch & Barley mixed up a kickin' beet salad (using beets from Arcadia Farms!); Chef Will Artley from the Evening Star Cafe put together a colorful carrot salad; and Chef Todd Wiss from Radius Pizza whipped up a great apple dish.  The event concluded with student-led tours of Thurgood Marshall Academy and neighboring Savoy Elementary's shared school garden.  

The kick-off event marked the start of D.C. Farm to School Week October 3-7, 2011 - a celebration of seasonal, local food in Washington, DC schools.  October is also National Farm to School Month!  Many thanks to all of the wonderful staff and volunteers who helped make the event a success, and to the D.C. Farm to School Network at Arcadia, the Office of the State Superintendent of Education and Whole Foods Markets for coordinating the kick-off.

Photos by Sarah Bernardi


Outstanding in the Field

What an amazing (and busy) week at Arcadia Farm! We were so lucky to host Outstanding in the Field last week for two dinners reconnecting eaters with the land, the farmers that grow their food, and the amazing chefs who cook it. With the cold fall winds blowing and the threat of rain ever constant, I wasn't sure we would pull it off, but I have to say, the crew with OITF were unbelievable (a huge thanks to Elaine and Leah, as well as the whole OITF crew!) and both events went off without a hitch!

The first night me and 150 others were graced with the culinary mastery of Scott Drewno, Executive Chef at the Source. The meal had an Asian flair and featured local Virginia wines as well as Port City Beer and Creekstone beef. The wontons were delectable!

The next night showcased Kyle Bailey, chef extraordinaire at Birch and Barley. Dessert was provided by the amazing Tiffany MacIsaac. Beer pairings were provided by Greg, the Man. Seriously. He finds the best beer around. The fresh lima bean hand-made caviteli pasta was delicious and nothing can beat Tiff's apple pie for dessert. I felt especially lucky to have the BBCK crew out at the farm seeing the spoils of their hard work helping me dig out the grass this spring. I was also especially lucky to have my sister, Shannon, and my mentor farmer, Kristen from Radix Farm at the table.

I got to serve up my eggplants, peppers, kale, mizuna, arugula, beets, herbs, and was once again humbled by how great chefs can transform my vegetables. I am already looking forward for the old Outstanding in the Field bus to come rumbling back to town and Arcadia Farm will be honored to have them!

More than thanks to everyone who helped with this event and really made it happen. (Benjamin, Liz, Adam, and all my volunteers, you are the real muscle. I just grew some plants.)

Check out some photos, courtesy of Jim Darling (more to follow):

Photo Credit: Jim Darling
Photo Credit: Jim Darling

Photo Credit: Jim Darling

-Farmer Mo