Groundhog Garden: Ready for a kid invasion!

We've spent the whole season fighting a losing battle against the groundhogs at Arcadia Farm. From sweet potato greens to the first leaves of our cucumbers, they've eaten just about everything. As we try to control their seemingly ever-growing population, we were also trying to think of a name for our kids space, but nothing seemed to fit. Growing Together Farm? Meh. Youth Farm? Too plain. Funky Fresh Farm? Too corny.

So what did we come up with? In honor of our enemies, we decided to call the kids farm Groundhog Garden. Recently, they haven't been visiting their namesake - keep your fingers crossed!

Now, the Groundhog Garden is ready for kids. Next week is not only DC Farm to School Week, it'll also be the first week of field trips to Arcadia Farm.

Check out what's been growing on:

  • Sunflowers are blooming! Beans are growing like gangbusters!
  • Beets, radishes, lettuce, swiss chard, mustard greens have recently sprouted and they're growing strong.
  • We lost our pumpkins to squash bugs, but have replaced them with a bed full of cover crops and "rowdy roots."
  • We had to pull most of our tomatoes, but our cover crop - field peas - is germinating as we speak.
  • Eggplants, sweet potatoes, herbs and carrots are still going from the summer season.
  • Super volunteer Cat finished some amazing signs that will make the space even more beautiful and interactive.
For more, check out the photos below. Created with Admarket's flickrSLiDR.


From “Mr. Jefferson’s University” to George Washington’s Estate...

Salutations fellow Arcadians! My name is Adam and I’m the newest farmhand (read: intern) at Arcadia. A little bit about me: I’m a local kid. In fact, I grew up less than 5 miles from the farm. After graduating from nearby Robert E. Lee High School I obtained a B.A. in Politics from the University of Virginia in 2008.

Since then I’ve developed a passion for food working in restaurants throughout Virginia and the Carolinas. The marriage of this passion with my background in political and social philosophy has led me to pursue a career in the sustainable food movement. To me farming is the perfect synthesis of several personal values, namely health, hard work, physical vigor, and self-reliance. It doesn’t hurt that I get to work outside either.

In the next couple months I’ll be contributing to this blog and documenting my work on the farm at Woodlawn, as well as my involvement in Arcadia’s other exciting projects like the Mobile Market and the Farm-to-School network.

I am extremely privileged to work with Arcadia’s staff and be on the frontlines of such an important endeavor. Everyone I’ve met so far has been really cool! If I can glean even a little of the knowledge these folks put to use every day I will be far better for it.



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

All are welcome to the third annual D.C. Farm to School Week kick-off celebration!  It will be an exciting event featuring four local chefs battling to create the tastiest seasonal salad for a panel of esteemed judges. Chefs will use D.C. school garden produce and a pantry of items furnished by Whole Foods to make “top-chef” style salads, engaging an audience of over 200 students and community leaders.  There should be enough for students and attendees to taste, as well!  Student-led tours of the school’s Great Garden of Anacostia will follow.
Chef Lauren hands out samples to students at last year's event -
she'll be back for the competition this year! 
Photo: Christiana Aretta Photography
The kick-off event will take place on Monday October 3, 2011 at 2 p.m. at the Thurgood Marshall Academy Public Charter High School and Savoy Elementary School shared gymnasium, located at 2427 Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue in Southeast Washington, DC.

The event will also commemorate and kick off nationwide celebrations for the first ever National Farm to School Month, designated by a House Resolution passed in November 2010. White House Executive Pastry Chef Bill Yosses will emcee the event and the list of other V.I.P. guests and speakers will be announced as the event nears.

View the kick-off event invitation here, and the press advisory here, with information about how to RSVP.  For more information about D.C. Farm to School Week, please visit www.dcfarmtoschoolweek.org. View pictures and quotes from D.C. Farm to School Week 2010 at www.storiography.com/50voices.


Support Arcadia Farms with the click of a button!

Between now and September 30th, we ask that you vote daily for Arcadia Farms to win a $65,000 grant from Nature's Path Organic. Funding from their "Gardens for Good" grant will enable Arcadia to staff and develop our new lower field (slated to exclusively grow food for our Mobile Market). The grant will also fund the expansion of our interactive farm field trips for D.C. schoolchildren.

Thank you for voting for a more equitable and sustainable food system in our nation’s capital!


Shout out to our City Blossoms consultant-friends!

Like just about everything at Arcadia, the kids farm is a project that's constantly evolving. When I showed up in July, the space included some tomato, cucumber, and eggplant plants, plus some squash vines that were getting eaten alive by squash bugs. And of course, there was lots and lots of crabgrass. The photo here shows what it looked like back in the spring.

Since then, I've gotten to work planting a salad bar bed full of carrots, broccoli and cauliflower, a field of greens, sunflowers and more. And while we're almost ready for DC students to join us for field trips, we're also thinking about what we want our kids farm to look like in the future. (You can find some current photos here).

Since they've been artfully gardening with DC kids for the last ten years, we called up our friends Lola and Rebecca at City Blossoms. Inspired by their gardens on Marion Street and Girard Street, we wanted their help to create a design for a kids space that's interactive, educational, beautiful and fun. We met up and talked basics - goals, measurements, age-levels - and shared ideas. Lola and Rebecca visited Arcadia Farms to see what's already growing and get inspiration.

Not only did they come up with a plan that includes a natural dye bed and lots of easy-to-maintain perennials, they also handed over their super-secret list of kid-friendly plants. We're excited to make it happen.

Thanks to Lola and Rebecca for sharing their expertise and creativity with us - and for being super fun to work with!

Want to help maintain the kids farm? We could always use your help at our Monday and Saturday volunteer days. You can sign up for our email list here.


Arcadia Food Hub Farmer Forum

This past Sunday we held a forum with farmers to get advice and feedback on the Arcadia Food Hub. We had a wonderful group of farmers from Virginia and Maryland that gathered at the Columbia Firehouse in Alexandria, Virginia. Our hats go off to Chef Brian Wilson and his staff for providing us with a delicious assortment of food and beverages. The forum was an excellent opportunity to receive constructive feedback from area farmers that we hope to serve and work with. We will be using this feedback to develop and shape the Food Hub, which we hope to have up and running this spring. Once again, thank you to everyone that took time out of their Sunday to join us.

For more information on the Arcadia Food Hub please contact the Food Hub manager, Matt Tremblay at matt.tremblay@arcadiafood.org.


Weds. Sept. 14th - eat Chipotle from 5:30-7:30, support Arcadia!

Chipotle, the popular burrito restaurant chain is holding a fundraiser for Arcadia on Wednesday, September 14 from 5:30 to 7:30 pm. That evening, 50% of all sales at all metro-Washington, DC Chipotle restaurants, up to $15,000, will be donated to Arcadia for its D.C. Farm to School Network. Funding will primarily support the upcoming D.C. Farm to School Week October 3-7, 2011, when schools across the District will feature seasonal, local food in their school meals and coordinate hands-on farm-to-table experiences for students.

We're excited to work with Chipotle because they are genuinely excited about our programs to connect youth with where food comes from, and they show similar organizational support for growing the local, sustainable food economy.  Chipotle's Food With Integrity philosophy aligns with our own - to improve the link between the farm and the plate to create healthier communities.  And we value Chipotle's commitment to being involved in more ways than just fundraising - our kids love the ‘Chipotle Salsa Garden’ out at the farm and guacamole chef demos at school, and our farm volunteers get to take home ‘burrito bucks’ in return for their hard work! 

So get your Chipotle fix Wednesday September, 14th from 5:30-7:30pm in any DC-area Chipotle store, and know that you're supporting a good cause!


Happy Hour Fundraiser Friday for Arcadia's D.C. Farm to School Network!

What better to do this Friday night than to enjoy drink specials, music, and merriment at the Blue Banana in Petworth?   For no cover, join us for a fun night out, and all tips and donations will go to Arcadia's D.C. Farm to School Network.  Weather permitting, we'll even plant seedlings for D.C. Farm to School Week and D.C. School Garden Week on the back porch!

When: Friday Sept. 9th, starting at 6:30pm
Where: The Blue Banana, 3632 Georgia Ave. NW
What: Drinks and fun - tips and donations go towards D.C. Farm to School Week

More information at http://t.co/IcHiWk9


Welcome, Liz!

I want to offer a hug welcome to our new(ish) Farm to School Education Coordinator! I am thrilled to have my good friend, Liz Whitehurst, working in the fields with me again! Before joining the crew at Arcadia, Liz planted lots of seeds as Volunteer Coordinator at the Neighborhood Farm Initiative and I was lucky enough to meet and work with her at the Fort Totten urban farm. She's also worked with plants and great people at Common Good City Farm, Camp Treetops and Sligo Creek Farm. Liz has an infectious smile, a tireless work ethic and willingly puts up with me :) She's also really into kale. Liz will make a wonderful addition to the team and we are lucky to have her!

-Farmer Mo

Arcadia Farm Field Trip (trial run!)

On Saturday Sept. 3rd, we hosted about 25 kids (and lots of parents) out to Arcadia Farm to test our farm field trip program. We're figuring out our field trip protocol in time for our first school groups in a few weeks. Thanks to a number of gracious parents, we had a fun-filled Saturday field trip trial run!

We started with a 5-senses tour of the farm, then everyone got gloves and hats and became "farmers for the day" - we dug, weeded, and pollinated the flowers!

We learned about soil health and compost, plant parts and how plants grow, and farm wildlife - bees!  

Next, we harvested together for the Arcadia Farm salad bar, donated by Whole Foods.

Finally, we learned how to make fresh salsa with Chef Benjamin (aka Arcadia's Mobile Market Manager).  Everyone went through the salad bar and tasted some of Ben's Fresh Salsa with chips and burritos donated by Chipotle.

We all had Chipotle burritos together and discussed what we could do to make our farm field trips even better.  We learned a lot, and are excited to have our first school group out to the farm soon!