First Farm Dinner!

I've had a little time to recover and reflect on our very first farm dinner hosted at Arcadia Farms! I want to send a sincere thanks to all who attended and helped support our organization. I am humbled by your generosity and kind words.

Last Sunday, we hosted 90 amazing Arcadia supporters for an evening celebrating local food and Virginia wine. With the culinary genius of Tony Chittum from Vermillion and the decadent desserts of Tiffany Macisaac (who won a RAMMY this past weekend-- congrats, Tiff!), guests were treated to pork-stuffed squash blossoms, sesame-crusted green tomatoes, cucumber fennel salad, chamomile whipped cream over blueberries, and a host of other local fares.

The event went off without a hitch thanks to an amazing group of volunteers! (A HUGE thanks to the NRG staff-- and, of course, to Bev and Anna!)

There is something really rewarding watching people enjoy food that I have grown from tiny seed. It reminds me that food and food sharing is essential to us as social beings and it is such a luxury to have a glass of wine on my farm. While I spent most of the time looking at all the weeding that needs to be done, I think guests enjoyed being on a tiny rural oasis amidst the urban sprawl of Rt 1 and contributing to a great cause.

There will be more dinners to come and I hope to see you all there!


The National Trust for Historic Preservation visits Woodlawn

Among her many other skills, Farmer Mo is a great tour guide. According to one blogger, "I have never wanted to be a farmer before today, but I’m reconsidering – Maureen’s passion for community farming was that contagious."


Can Virginia-grown, pasture-raised, hormone and antibiotic free beef be found in a Washington, DC public school?

The answer is yes, and the school is the Elsie Whitlow Stokes Community Freedom Public Charter School in Northeast Washington, DC.

By: Andrea Northup, D.C. Farm to School Network Manager, and Anna Chute, D.C. Farm to School Network Intern

Lisa Dobbs, Chef and Nutrition director at E.W. Stokes, will stop at nothing to make sure that the 350 students she serves each day have healthy, delicious meals. Cooking from-scratch and using no processed foods, she and her staff prepare breakfast, lunch and supper in their antiquated kitchen for the school’s population of mostly low-income students. Lisa incorporates fresh, locally-grown foods whenever possible, especially on the school’s salad bar. And she works with the rest of the school staff to ensure that the school’s garden, nutrition and wellness programs are coordinated with her healthy menus.

As the Director of the D.C. Farm to School Network, I heard about Joy Evans from a friend who works in a local farm-to-table restaurant. Joy and her husband operate a business called Shenandoah Foods, which delivers meat, cheese and eggs from Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley to Washington, DC-area restaurants. Joy takes a delivery fee from her clients to run her business, and then farmers deal directly with customers to handle food costs. I reached out to see if she might be interested to work with Washington, DC schools.

Getting local meats into school meals is difficult. Most schools buy pre-cooked commodity meat from large distributors. It’s cheap (less than $1 per lb) and can be ordered in the evening and delivered the next morning – a system that’s hard to beat. But we’re not quite sure where it comes from, and it’s not always the highest quality product. But with about $1 per meal to spend on food, school food service directors have to make difficult choices about what they can afford.

I invited Joy and her husband to Washington, DC to meet with a few schools interested in buying local meat. We had a lively discussion about what products schools want, how much they need, what prices they can afford, and how to handle invoicing and delivery. We tried some delicious cheeses, Virginia-grown ground beef hamburgers, and fresh yogurt with local berries. If your mouth isn’t watering, it should be - the school food service providers could taste difference!

Joy and Lisa connected, and decided on a trial-run of 200 pounds of lean ground beef for $2.60 per pound. Joy picked up the meat from D&M Meats in Harrisonburg, VA in her refrigerated van, and delivered it to E.W. Stokes in conjunction with her regular restaurant deliveries. Lisa and her team expertly sautéed and seasoned the ground beef, and served it with pico-de-gallo, tortilla chips, and fresh guacamole. The result? A delicious and healthy meal for hungry students, which put money into our local economy, supported a sustainable small producer and made clean-beef fans out of Stokes’ young scholars!

Lisa Dobbs, Food Service Director at E.W. Stokes says the quality of the Virginia-grown beef is unparalleled. There isn’t murky liquid left over after cooking – something she’s used to with the lower-quality products. “We would never go back to the beef we were cooking before! We would drop beef from our menu entirely if we had to go back,” says Lisa.

Lisa can’t serve local meat every day, but it’s on the menu about once or twice a week, and they are looking to incorporate other items like chicken and eggs. We’re working to get more schools on board, and we’re excited for the potential to grow this partnership!


Arcadia produce featured at the new SW Waterfront Market

The fruit and labor (and vegetables) of Arcadia can now be found at The Wharf, DC's newest farmers' market, every Thursday this summer from 5-8PM. The market is located at the corner of Water and 7th Street SW, just a short walk from the SW Waterfront Metro and the Maine Avenue Fish Market.

In addition to Mo's produce from the Woodlawn farm, we've been harvesting and sourcing from Radix Farm in Upper Marlboro and two urban farms in DC, Common Good City Farm and Neighborhood Farm Initiative, all sustainable operations.

Artisan cheese and bread have made appearances at our stand, nestled between the delicious greens, beans, carrots and cabbage (expect the pepperjack and baguettes to soon be regular offerings, as well as the produce to include more summer vegetables like tomatoes and squash). We will also be welcoming berries and cherries from Kilmer's Farm and Orchards this week!

Besides being DC's only farmers' market to sell beer, The Wharf also hosts stands with prepared foods, baked goods and charcuterie. Throw in some ping pong, corn hole, lounge chairs and live jazz and you've got the perfect way to spend a Thursday evening.

Also, check out the piece WAMU's "Metro Connections" aired last week about Arcadia's presence at The Wharf and our Mobile Market (updates to come).


Rainbow Salad Event at Ross Elementary School!

The corn is mushy! The cucumbers are crunchy! The whole salad is awesome! These were some of the describing words used by 20 second graders as they tasted the colorful salads they made in Ross Elementary School’s cafeteria.

Yesterday the D.C. Farm to School Network and Sweetgreen teamed up to lead a salad-making workshop for students with Cafe Saint-Ex’s Pastry Chef Allison Reed, Ross Elementary’s Chefs Move to Schools adopted chef. The students were asked to be important “Taste Testers” of a new Rainbow Salad that sweetgreen chefs are working to perfect. Their challenge was to identify fruits and vegetables of each color of the rainbow, build a colorful salad, and use describing words to say what they thought of the salad. In the process, we learned that the same chemicals that give fruits and veggies their color have different health-promoting functions in our body. For example:

Red strawberries keep us healthy by staving off illness
Orange carrots help keep our eyesight sharp
Yellow corn helps with digestion because it has a lot of fiber
Green cucumbers and spinach, keeps our skin healthy
Blue blueberries help keep our memory sharp
Purple beets keep us awake and alert

Each student made a salad with all the different colors and choose a dressing - vinaigrette or cucumber and basil, yogurt-based dressing. Everyone tried the salads and then came up with a list of adjectives to describe the different ingredients. Soft, hard, mushy, tender, crunchy, awesome, sweet, sour... almost all the kids came up and asked for seconds!

A big thank you to Sweetgreen for providing all of the salad materials; to chef Allison Reed, to the Ross Elemetary School teachers, principal and cafeteria staff; and to the second graders for being well-behaved, adorable, and enthusiastic about trying new fruits and veggies! Ross Elementary School had the demo because they were the lucky winners of a drawing from schools that participated in the Strawberries & Salad Greens event (more about that event here).


D.C. Farm to School Network and Whole Foods teach kids about herbs!

On Sunday, the D.C. Farm to School Network and the P Street and Georgetown Whole Foods Market joined forces to host an interactive tent at the Jazz on the National Mall event to engage children and adults about garden herbs! Kids had the opportunity to touch, smell, and see herb plants that were on display. We talked to kids about different herbs and how they can be used in healthy recipes. They got to draw pictures of their favorite herbs on a chalkboard. We also sent them home with bags of seeds already in soil to grow their own herbs at home!

A special thanks to Whole Foods for making the beautiful herbs and foods poster and for helping to make the event possible. Thanks to Stan and Nicole Schermerhorn of A Thyme to Plant for their generous donation of beautiful herbs plants. And thanks to America the Beautiful Fund for their donation of herb seeds that we gave away to interested kids and adults!


D.C. Farm to School Network Joins Arcadia Center for Sustainable Food & Agriculture

Download a copy of the press release here.

Arcadia Center for Sustainable Food & Agriculture is pleased to announce that they are the new home of the D.C. Farm to School Network, formerly a program of the Capital Area Food Bank. The transition to Arcadia was a natural fit for the D.C. Farm to School Network as the two organizations share in their commitment to improving the sustainability of Washinton area's food systems. The D.C. Farm to School Network at Arcadia will be fueled by a grant from the Kaiser Permanente Foundation.

At its new organizational home, the Network will continue to grow and expand its programming to get more healthy, locally-grown foods in to Washington, DC school meals. The Network will focus on three main program areas - hands-on farm to school education; tools and resources for school food programs; and community engagement.

Andrea Northup will continue to operate as the Network’s Manager. “Housing the D.C. Farm to School Network at Arcadia affords so much potential for growth and development of the local farm to school movement, within an organization that is poised to lead the broader local food movement,” says Northup.

Arcadia Center for Sustainable Food & Agriculture aims to improve the health of area residents by providing a direct link to area farms. The organization does this by way of a farm for both sustainable production and consumer education; a mobile market that brings local fresh food into low-income neighborhoods and a center that operates as a local food distribution “hub”.

“When Arcadia was founded, an integral part of our mission was to create a collaborative space that would act as a rallying point for those working to better our food systems and we could not ask for a better organization than the D.C. Farm to School Network to take the lead,” says Michael Babin, Founder of Arcadia & Owner of Neighborhood Restaurant Group.

The D.C. Farm to School Network began as a program of the Capital Area Food Bank, the largest non-profit anti-hunger resource in the D.C. metropolitan area, in the Harvest for Health department. The food bank fostered the Network’s early stages of growth and program development. Since its inception in 2008, the Network has grown to over 1,000 stakeholders and has accomplished a number of program objectives including web presence, regular events, workshops, tools & resources, and advocacy wins.


Media contact:
Andrea Northup
D.C. Farm to School Network Manager
Arcadia Center for Sustainable Food & Agriculture
(203) 558-8549


The D.C. Farm to School Network welcomes a new summer intern, Anna Chute!

Hi everyone, my name is Anna Chute and I’ll be interning with the D.C. Farm to School Network at Arcadia for the months of June, July and August. Washington, DC is a brand new city for me and I’m very excited to be here working with such a wonderful organization. You can reach me at anna@dcfarmtoschool.org.

My interest in fresh, local food dates back to growing up in Vermont with a big garden, and has continued through my studies about food insecurity, food deserts, the rise of local food/farmers’ markets, health inequities, and more. I just graduated from Tufts University in Boston, MA with degrees in Community Health and International Relations. I love cooking (especially baking), eating, going to farmer’s markets, and am hoping to develop a greater appreciation for and knowledge of gardening. I also play ultimate frisbee, love doing artsy/crafty things, and have a soft spot for popsicles and smoothies in the summer.

Here are some of the projects I will be involved with this summer:
  • Developing a Harvest of the Month program, complete with posters and materials to be displayed in DC schools, featuring a different local food item each month. We will feature fun facts about each food, provide recipes, and work with school food service operations highlight each seasonal food in school meals. The eventual goal is to develop complimentary lesson materials and activities to help increase kids’ exposure to each food in the classroom, in the cafeteria, and in the home!
  • Becoming a media guru-- organizing the Farm to School newsletters, writing weekly blogs profiling farm to school initiatives from around the country and local programs, keeping the website updated with happenings, and manning the Farm to School twitter!
  • Helping with and attending Farm to School events such as the delicious and beautiful upcoming farm dinner that will be served at Arcadia’s farm (invite available here), the fabulous Bitches who Brunch brunch fundraising event to benefit the D.C. Farm to School Network on July 9th (invite available here), and more.
We’re looking forward to a great summer full of Farm to School fun!


Strawberries & Salad Greens 2011!

“We all loved the event… Most students were surprised to see the strawberry plant and lettuce that was ready to eat, even while it was planted. Overall, it was a fabulous experience and has given us the confidence and excitement to try highlighting produce often served at lunch to increase student interest in their food.” – Ashley, teacher at Marie Reed Elementary School

Want to guess what was served on school cafeteria trays in Washington, DC on Wednesday, May 25th?  Dark green leafy lettuces and juicy red strawberries - all from local farms, fresh and unprocessed – were happily gobbled up by D.C. students.  This was a part of the second annual Strawberries & Salad Greens Day hosted by the D.C. Farm to School Network - which is now an initiative of the Arcadia Center for Sustainable Food & Agriculture!

"The strawberries are so tasty, are we going to have them again tomorrow?" – Student, Oyster-Adams Upper School

Approximately 150 schools in Washington, DC served local berries and greens on their menus, in dishes like spinach and feta salad with a strawberry vinaigrette, and lettuce salad with radishes and carrots with strawberries on the side.  In 32 schools spanning all 8 wards of the city, D.C. Farm to School Network volunteers engaged students at educational “Where Food Comes From” tables in the cafeterias, just after they got their meals.  Students were able to make the connection that the fresh food on their trays grew on nearby farms, by checking out strawberry and lettuce plants, seeds, farm pictures, maps, and seasonality charts.  A few schools blogged about their experiences - at Stoddert Elementary, H.D. Cooke Elementary, Bancroft Elementary and Thomas Elementary.  Farmer Mo and Intern Beverly had a table at D.C. Bilingual Public Charter School.
“I think my favorite moment was when we were showing around strawberry seeds and explaining how just one seed grows up into a plant that produces many strawberries.  A little girl looked at my handful of seeds and then up at my face with her eyes wide, shaking her head in disbelief, and said, ‘I did not know that!’” – Sam, Volunteer at Ludlow-Taylor Elementary

The event was made possible by a number of partnerships, collaborations and volunteers.  The adorable stickers were donated by Sweetgreen; the beautiful banners by Whole Foods; and the plants by Kilmer’s Farm, the Arcadia Center for Sustainable Food & Agriculture, and the Farm at Walker Jones, and we owe heartfelt thanks to the many other volunteers contributed.  Learn more about the D.C. Farm to School Network here.


Tomato Time!

It's Tomato time!!! We are starting to see little baby tomatoes popping up on our tomato plants, we could not be more excited! Did you know that since tomatoes are a part of the nightshade family, people once thought that they were poisonous and only used them for decorative purposes. It was not until the 16th century that tomatos became an actual food source in Europe. Thank goodness tomatoes aren't actually poisonous!! They are way to delicious to live without!