Mobile Market to be Featured in Upcoming Conference

We’re excited to be presenting at the “Farming for Profit and Stewardship” Conference this January 18th and 19th in Lansdowne, Virginia, hosted by one of Arcadia’s partners, Future Harvest CASA.
Our workshop will discuss “Evolution and Innovation” in farmers’ markets, and will be co-presented by one of the Mobile Market’s funders, Wholesome Wave.  Arcadia’s Mobile Market will be on-site at the conference as an innovative example of how to establish a farmers’ market in a low income, low food access neighborhood.
Arcadia's Mobile Market at LeDroit Park, D.C.

The two-day conference will have six tracks for a variety of audiences, including “Beginning Farmers,” farmers wanting to “Scale Up,” “Grass-Based Systems” of livestock husbandry, members of “Local Food Communities,” “Fruit & Vegetable Production,” and “The Business of Farming.”  A full list of the workshops can be found here.
The Early Bird registration rate ends December 31st – get your discount while you still can, and we hope to see you there!


Welcome Stephen, new Arcadia Farm Director

Stephen Corrigan is Arcadia's new Farm Director! We're really glad to welcome him to the team. While there will surely be plenty of opportunities to meet him in person, read on to meet him virtually.

What experiences have prepared you for this position?
I’ve been growing and raising food for the better part of a decade now, working in a commercial setting for about 6 years, and as an educator for the last 4 years. Throughout that time, I’ve learned that in order to connect people with their food, we have to get them out there doing the work, seeing where their food is grown, and meeting the people who raise it. Once that curtain is lifted, it’s very difficult to see food as something that doesn’t matter. I’ve had the great fortune to have had thousands of these interactions with CSA members, chefs, students, fellow farmers, and random passers-by, and the experience of sharing what I’m doing and why I’m doing it, as well as delicious recipes, gardening advice, and, of course, beautiful, tasty food, has been an incredibly rewarding experience.

What is most exciting to you about your new job as Farm Director at Arcadia?
I feel fortunate to be joining a relatively new organization filled with bright, passionate, and motivated individuals and an inspiring line-up of programs. I’m also looking forward to being part of the future growth of this farm, which I hope can develop into a showpiece for the region.

I’m incredibly excited to be jumping into a new region, where the local food scene seems to have so much interest and steam building behind it. Having spent most of my time growing in New England, I’ve seen the passion that many have for local and sustainable food begin to taper off, which has made it difficult to be innovative or creative. While these are just first impressions, the market here seems to be clamoring for new products, ideas, and, overall, simply more farms and farmers to supply it.

I’m also eager to be a part of this historic piece of property and its rich agricultural and culinary traditions. I’m looking forward to scouring through the historical documents that are available to find out more about with kind of things have been raised here over time.

What challenges do you anticipate you'll face as the Farm Director?
Moving to a new piece of land is never an easy task, and I anticipate that it will take me a little while to figure out exactly what this piece of land can do and how best to improve it for the future. I’m fortunate to have Mo’s guiding hand a bit to hear more about what’s been done and what is possible for the future.

Getting to know the rhythms of a new region is also going to be a bit difficult and yet present me with a wealth of new opportunities. Farmers can easily fall into a rut of the same schedules (planting, harvesting, pests, etc.), but being here will allow me to work with crops and varieties that I’ve never had a chance to grow and a longer overall season, which will be a welcome challenge as I’m doing my planning and continue into next season.

What are some of your goals for the 2013 growing season?
I’m still working out which of these goals are feasible and which are harebrained, so perhaps I’ll keep my goals here on the modest side. I’d like to keep up the aggressive improvement of the soil quality through active management, cover cropping, and amending. As part of that, I’d like to really nail down a good larger scale composting system. We’ve got an excellent supply of raw materials (manure, food scraps, etc.) around, and I’d like to be making use of that much better. I’d also like to begin growing more beneficial plants on the farm not only for soil and plant nutrition, such as nettles, equisetum, and comfrey, but also for beneficial insects and bee forage.

As a model of what I want this farm to become, I want to be meticulous in the farm’s succession planting to ensure a consistent supply of what we grow and always having top-quality produce.

If you were a vegetable, what would you be?
No question, garlic. It’s humble, definitely not the flashiest vegetable out there, but it’s indispensible to almost any method of cooking , incredibly versatile and got a spice that you won’t soon forget. I also like how it can provide a crop in several different ways, from scapes to green garlic to full-sized mature heads, providing different flavors for you throughout the season.


Field trip registration opens Monday!

We're opening registration for 2013 field trips to Arcadia Farm on Monday, December 3.

Here are some reasons our field trip program is awesome:
  • We encourage kids to try new healthy fruits and vegetables by showing them where food comes from.
  • The Groundhog Garden, our kid's educational space, is a fantastic classroom where kids can interact with each other and with nature in a positive way.
  • We help reinforce classroom learning by providing hands-on lessons where students can experience the concepts they've learned in school. For example, check out the photo above: instead of just learning about decomposition in a book, kids can dig in the compost and even touch worms!
We've gotten some great feedback from teachers, like the comment below.
I thought the trip was very well organized and the volunteers were really great with the students. All the topics were interesting, age-appropriate and relevant to what we were studying at the time. I loved that the students got the opportunity to get hands on with their learning and their favorite part was tasting all the different things from the garden. - DCPS third grade teacher, fall 2012
Our program is designed for pre-K through 5th grade groups of up to 60 students. In 2013, Arcadia Farm field trips will take place on Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays starting March 20. Learn more by visiting the field trip page on our website or you can download an overview of the program here for Virginia schools and here for DC schools.

We hope to see you out at the farm soon!


We're growing! Preparing new fields for 2013

The growing season is winding down and the Mobile Market is in the shop for repairs, so Mobile Market Director Ben has a new project: procuring leaves. LOTS and LOTS of leaves.

Why all the leaves? We're expanding Arcadia Farm! In 2010, we cultivated our first 1.5 acres. In 2013, we're hoping to put about two more acres under cultivation to grow more healthy local food for the community. We're using the leaves as a mulch, which will decompose over the winter and improve the health of our soil. We're also adding horse manure from a local stable as an organic fertilizer.

Those two acres (also known as the lower field) are visible as you drive south on Route 1 from Alexandria. With help from our friends at Mt. Vernon, we tilled the land for the first time in the spring of this year. Then, we planted oats as a cover crop to suppress weeds and we grew a few vegetable crops, including potatoes, kale and radishes.

We're also winterizing our original 1.5 acres using cover crops like winter wheat and red clover, and lots of leaf mulch. Plus, we're still harvesting carrots, spinach, kale and more from those fields.

With the help of those leaves, some decomposers and a new Farm Director (stay tuned for a post about Stephen next week), we're looking forward to making the lower field a beautiful, productive space in 2013.


Wrapping up our fall field trip season

After a bustling, exciting fall season, Arcadia Farm is quiet this week after our final field trip of 2012 last Thursday.

We started the program last fall with the belief that experiential learning can play a key role in helping kids form healthy and sustainable eating habits. In other words, we think that when kids have the opportunity to learn about where good food comes from, they're more likely to eat it and they're more likely to become healthy adults. We also think the farm is a great place to explore and reinforce the concepts kids learn in their classrooms, like plant life cycles, decomposition, and pollination. Plus, the farm is FUN, for kids and adults alike.

We welcomed about 350 kids to the farm this fall and just under 1000 kids in 2012. Here are some highlights from this fall's trips:
  • We got lucky: we had NO cancellations due to weather this season! In fact, we hosted most of the trips to the farm under sunny fall skies.
  • Inspired by our trip to the Washington Youth Garden, we added farm-fresh honey tasting to our Pests and Pollination station. Not surprisingly, it was a huge hit.
  • Education Coordinator Brandi strengthened our Taste Sensation station by incorporating healthy recipes like a honey mustard dressing and a beet salad. (Check out the kid on the right: he can't get enough of that beet salad!) She also made some awesome additions to the salad bar, including roasted eggplant and hard boiled eggs from the farm. Yum!
  • Awesome intern Lacey filmed one of our trips, and is in the process of creating some videos of our lessons that we can share with future farm educators (and you!).
What really stood out this season is our fantastic field trip crew: Kasey, Eli, Adriana, Brandi, Teiji, Marta, Lammot, Morgan, Lacey, Amanda and Mallory. It was a joy to watch this awesome group of farm educators grow and learn over the course of the season and it's because of their skills and passion that we have a successful field trip program. Kudos to the field trip team!

See you in the spring! (Email liz@arcadiafood.org for more information about spring field trips).


5 Middle Schools and 1 Big Green Bus

 Arcadia's Mobile Market has visited with Middle Schoolers this season to talk about local sustainable food, how food systems work, how to tell the difference between real food and junk food, and to teach them how to shop the farmer's market to create a balanced meal with a budget of $15.

Farmer Ben demonstrating food processing via the food web

At Kelly Miller Middle School this past Tuesday, Kids were encouraged to try something new and use their sophisticated vocabularies to describe what they tasted. We made a honey mustard dressing and presented a salad bar that included field greens, radishes, orange sweet peppers, roasted eggplant and basil from their own garden. The young adults had many opinions and, for the most part, kept their comments very positive. I was surprised to hear "I really love eggplant" and "I've never had an orange pepper, they're pretty sweet."

Chef Brandi serving up roasted eggplant

As the one of the groups were leaving the market, one young man began to chant, "We eat to live!" It was very inspiring and has become the foundation for every lesson I teach on the farm and on the Mobile Market.

Kelly Miller's Garden is Still growing strong!

They even have Strawberries!


Photobooth Fun at Snallygaster

Zombie Farmer Liz 
Last weekend the crew at Arcadia headed over to Yard's Park to celebrate Snallygaster with the Neighborhood Restaurant Group. In addition to being a huge beer event and a raging good time it was also an opportunity for Arcadia to fundraise for the future and share our message with both the children and the adults who attended the event.

The staff and volunteers at Arcadia set up a whole "Little Monsters Zone" for the children to enjoy while their parents sipped their craft brews. I was in charge of setting up a photo booth and encouraging our little monsters to dress up as farmers, vegetables and snallygasters to get their pictures taken.

I have to say it was quite a success and I wanted to share some of my favorites from the day. Thanks to all the little Snallies for coming out and having fun with us!

This family had so much fun dressing up together!

Education Coordinator Brandi's sons went full on monster.
I could see this same girl striking this same serene pose as an old woman - holding her prized potato. 

Even a few adults indulged. I loved this pea-pod's poses. 

Such a great smile!

Their parents were so thrilled that big sister posed with her little brother. I like his far-off farmer look.

A shy butterfly.

Teiji and I being serious farmers and Marta being a sunshine flower


Arcadia Interns Visit the Washington Youth Garden

Washing fresh picked produce and touching Malabar Spinach

The Arcadia Team went to the Washington Youth Garden last week to observe their field trip program and ogle at their lovely sensory garden. The Washington Youth Garden has been around since 1971 and is located within the equally lovely grounds of the National Arboretum. Our group was really blown away with the diversity that this garden packs into such a modestly sized space. From the "Pop-tart Garden" to the Corn Maze, the garden is so well planned out and spaced to accommodate the inquisitive minds of the children that visit, as well as taking into account their need to run and work off energy. 

The Pop-tart garden was composed of strawberries, corn, can sugar and wheat and students were asked to consider what percentage of each crop is in a Pop-tart. Anyone want to guess the percentage of strawberries that make it into a Pop-tart?

Eucalyptus and Okra

Bees and a Swallow Tail Butterfly Caterpillar 
I think what we all appreciated most was the chance to watch a field trip up close and personal and really experience the process of communicative learning. The educational experience during the field trip is interactive and encourages exploration. When a question is asked by the students the answers are open-ended and when a question is asked by the educators the question is open to interpretation from the students.  The goal of this style of learning is to empower the students themselves to be responsible for their own growing process and to contribute to the group experience, rather than passively absorbing information from an educator. The team at WTG was amazing to watch as they struck the balance between educator and an active explorer with the students.

Lammot and Amanda check out the creative bottle planters
We really loved these bottle planters - what a great project this could be to do with Farm Camp kids in the summer, right?

Chinese Noodle Beans and Baby Beets

Tomatoes and Raspberries

Morgan testing out the natural play area
Until coming to Arcadia the idea of a natural play area was not something I was very familiar with. The concept is to provide a space where students can take risks and use their imagination to create scenes and a context of their own. The Washington Youth Garden has a great play station with lots of risky logs to jump, instruments made of wood, a stage for performances and a digging box.

One of my favorite parts of the visit was learning about okra seeds. The ladies at WYG not only know how to delight and educate children but they also had a wealth of information to teach our team. We learned that plant seeds, like this okra, have parts of the plants that are called ovaries that produce the seed and that the fertilized okra seed is called an embryo - just like in human anatomy!

Nadia - one of the WYG Educators

Bee dance!

Explaining the bee colony 

We all agreed that they have great signs to explain and reinforce their program - which is something that we can add and enhance in our own garden.

Playing with sensitive plant

Finding worms in the compost
Saving cotton seeds
After showing the kids the cotton seeds they made the experience interactive by asking the kids to separate the seeds and save them for the next planting season. This was a great example of bringing things full cycle and reinforcing the cyclical and seasonal nature of farming.

In all, the Arcadia Team left WYG feeling inspired, excited and more prepared to teach our own groups of bubbling school children.  The WYG is open every day that the National Arboretum is open so stop by to see what's going on or sign up to volunteer!


Arcadia's Mobile Market: more than just a Vegetable Stand

With the end of market season in sight, I can now say with certainty that we've accomplished a lot this first year, and that our mobile farmers' market bus is more than just a vehicle schlepping local, sustainably grown foods. 

After months of reliable, high-quality service, Arcadia's Mobile Market has become a place where strangers living on the same street have become neighbors; where new and expecting mothers receive brief lessons on nutrition and learn the merits of breastfeeding; where food assistance recipients can stretch their benefits twice as far, thanks to our "Bonus Bucks" program.  Recipes are exchanged by both staff and customers.  Questions about sustainable farming practices and the impact these have on the local food system are frequently asked and honestly answered.  Health concerns are shared, and personal progresses on these issues are regularly reported.

Benjamin and I have celebrated the acquisition of a job for one customer, witnessed the growth of another's newborn, and eagerly anticipated the weekly updates of one regular's kindergartner's first year of schooling. 

In my own life, working on the Mobile Market has made me physically stronger, broadened my awareness of the financial struggles still facing many of our market participants, and made me more committed than ever to using my knowledge of and passion for food education to positively impact the lives of our clients and their families.

Most importantly, the Mobile Market has made access to healthy, affordable food a little bit easier for the residents of the "food desert" neighborhoods we serve.  I'm already looking forward to next season, as we build off of the successes from our first year!  


Interns visit Common Good City Farm

Now a thriving farm nestled in LeDroit Park, it is hard to believe that this space was once an unused baseball field connected to an abandoned school. Common Good City Farm is unlike anything I have ever seen. With its fruit trees, ample rows of vegetables, native plant rain garden, and Community Garden Plots, it is impressive how so much variety can fit into a seemingly small space. 

The lovely ladies of Common Good, Anita, Elizabeth, and Beza, hosted the interns for a visit in September. We began our day under the cover of a beautifully constructed shade pavilion: an area which provides space for cooking demonstrations, produce refrigeration, and entertaining during programs. I was so excited by the gas stove top they use for cooking demonstrations during Growing Gardens Workshops and Youth Programs, that I immediately began scheming about my future outdoor kitchen. A rain water cistern living the corner of the pavilion collects rain from the roof, filters it to the rain garden, and provides water for the farm in emergency situations.

As we moved into the farm, Anita Adalja, Common Good’s Urban Grower, spoke about her adventures of growing in this space. Various things like pests and rats have presented challenges, but the farm’s successes are enormous. They grow enough produce to provide their program participants with veggies (which they helped to grow), sustain a small CSA, and sell to Arcadia’s Mobile Market and other locations. One of the most productive plants they had this season was okra; there was a long and tall row of this special fruit that was still yielding crop. Next to the okra were a few very healthy compost piles. Members of the LeDroit Park community deposit their compost in a bin near the farm’s fence, helping to keep these piles alive and their community sustainable! The next stop on our tour was the small orchard space. Along with delicious fruit, this area provides an interesting natural place space for youth that mimics a forest floor. After preparing two rows of rich soil and transplanting some baby kale, we enjoyed a scrumptious lunch while sharing our passions for good food and healthy people. Liz and interns, Marta and Morgan, thank the Common Good City Farm staff for an enlightening day.

Common Good’s programs include the Green Tomorrows program for low-income individuals to participate in sustainable growing, Growing Gardens Workshops to inspire the community with garden knowledge, and Youth Programs to engage youth of all ages in farm fun. Check them out at www.commongoodcityfarm.org. In fact, they have a fundraiser on October 11th called “Taste of Common Good,” a simple way to get involved right away! 


Arcadia Fall Interns Visit Radix Farm!

“When I started this farm three years ago, I didn’t know much about greens,” said Radix Farmowner and grower, Kristin Carbone. This seemed highly unlikely to those of us from Arcadia who were visiting Radix for the day – especially as we looked out on beautiful, long rows of senposai, broccoli rabe and mustards. But Kristin did start Radix from scratch in 2009, and we had come for the day to learn about the ins and outs of farming her land in Upper Marlboro, Maryland. Oh, and to put in a little farmhand work, too!

As Kristin talked with us that morning, we learned that Radix is a two-acre farm which was part of a larger surrounding area cropped intensively with soy and corn. Since acquiring the land, Kristin has focused on organic farming practices at Radix including crop diversity, covercropping, farmscaping to restore the health of the soil and the surrounding environment. In 2010, Radix offered its first CSA. Kristin sells some of her produce directly to chefs and restaurant owners and has also teamed up with Arcadia for past Mobile Market sales!

After lots of questions, armyworm squashing and in-field greens tasting, we got down to work! Arcadia interns Morgan, Lacey and Amanda along with Education Manager Liz harvested parsley and basil and then moved on to digging up the sweet potatoes! At Radix, we learned that Kristin transplants her sweet potatoes into rows covered with reusable black landscape fabric instead of the black plastic liners used at many farms. Before harvesting the sweet potatoes, we trimmed back the sweet potato greens and then rolled up ground cover and loosened the surrounding soil. Our final reward was digging up sweet potatoes which were bright orange, beautiful and a perfect food to pull from the earth on a crisp September morning.

Our hard morning’s work concluded with a well-earned lunch amongst crates of sweet potatoes. Thanks so much for hosting us for the day Kristin! As an intern, it was great to learn about new practices in sustainable agriculture—especially from a farm with a CSA model. If you’re interested in learning more about Kristin, Radix or their CSA, visit the farm’s blog at http://radixfarm.wordpress.com/.


Help us out at Snallygaster!

Arcadia is looking for help at Snallygaster, an enormous celebration of craft beer! The event is on Saturday, October 13 from 1-5pm at The Yards Park (located at 3rd and Water St. SE) and feature the finest beer and food from the Neighborhood Restaurant Group. All the proceeds will benefit Arcadia.

We need your help! We're looking for volunteers to help out at the kid's tent and the admission tent. BONUS! All volunteers receive an awesome Snallygaster t-shirt. Plus, it will be Farmer Mo's last day with Arcadia, so help send her out!

If you are interested, email volunteer@arcadiafood.org and let us know:
  • TIME you would like to volunteer (9-1, 1-6 or ALL DAY) and
  • which station you are interested in (Tickets or Kids Area).
It's going to be awesome! Hope to see you there. Can't make it to the event, but want to support Arcadia? Head to our website for more information.


The Last Tomato Hurrah

As a gardener and foodie, I anxiously await the first ripe tomato of the season.  Months later, I then wistfully and reverently consume that last, luscious orb which my vines produce.  A ripe tomato is incomparable in its perfect balance of sweetness, acidity and juiciness.  A sprinkle of salt or not?  Your choice -- either way, it's ambrosia.

My love affair with tomatoes continues this week in the guise of fried green tomatoes.  They've been available at the Mobile Market of recent since tomatoes are nearing the end of their season -- we'll be taking out our tomato plants soon to plant more fall crops, so it's time to salvage whatever tomatoes are still on the vine.

Dipped in buttermilk, covered with a mix of cornmeal and flour, and paired with grits, sausage and toast, these crunchy discs make a most excellent breakfast-dinner.  Last night I put on a Patsy Cline CD, and channeled my inner Southern Cook.  The only thing missing is a beehive hairdo; I've already got a frilly apron.

Fried Green Tomatoes

4 green tomatoes
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup each corn meal and flour mixed with
salt, pepper and cayenne to taste

Slice and salt the tomatoes, and lay them on a paper towel to drain for 20 minutes.  Pat dry.  Heat oil in a frying pan.  Dip the tomatoes in the buttermilk and dredge in the cornmeal/flour mixture.  Fry until crispy golden on each side.  Order up!


A new crop of farm education interns!

We're welcoming a new crop of fall interns to the farm - and what inspiring bunch they are! Over the next couple of months, Teiji, Amanda, Morgan, Marta and Lacey will spend one day per week on the farm doing field work and one day per week working with young folks who come to the farm for our field trip program.

Read on to virtually meet each of them! Interestingly, if our interns were vegetables, we'd have two carrots and two potatoes, plus a pumpkin - all fall veggies!

Meet Teiji Epling...

What experiences have prepared you for this position?
I am currently working at a small library, so I have the opportunity to interact with children from the area and understand what they are thinking. Probably because of my involvement with the library, I do a lot of reading, lately mostly focused toward issues in local/sustainable food systems. I also volunteer at my local food bank in the community garden, where we grow produce to help out those who are hungry around the area. Since learning more about food issues, I've started my own garden and even have my own small chicken flock!

What are you hoping to learn as a Farm Education Intern at Arcadia?
As a farm education intern, one of my main goals is to learn effective ways in which to get youngsters interested in where their food comes from. I'd also like to continue my own learning about food issues and continue to gather resources on ways to get involved with local and sustainable food efforts. As an organic gardener, I'm excited about learning hands-on techniques for keeping plants healthy and productive.

If you were a vegetable, what would you be?
If I were a vegetable, I would be a potato. They're not particularly flashy, but pack a calorically efficient punch while always finding ways to grow regardless of the soil.

Meet Amanda Green....

What experiences have prepared you for this position?
The majority of my farming experiences until this year have been in international agriculture, so I have a lot to learn about sustainable farming in Virginia! Since
this spring I've been working as a volunteer both at Arcadia and at the Washington Youth Garden at the National Arboretum in DC, and I also have an educational background in sustainable ag.

What are you hoping to learn as a Farm Education Intern at Arcadia?
I am hoping to learn the ins and outs of small-scale, organic farming in Virginia and also the organizational and project design behind Arcadia. I'm also excited about guiding field trips at Arcadia and learning what makes children enthusiastic about eating fresh vegetables. And I'd like to get to know the chickens a little better!

If you were a vegetable, what would you be? Definitely a carrot. I would be sweet enough for desserts, good for juicing, and I'd have a good chance of being present at Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner. Plus I'd have a totally wild head of hair!

Meet Morgan Maloney...

What experiences have prepared you for this position?
My experience with teaching youth volunteers construction techniques and low income housing issues has prepared me for the Elementary school Field Trip aspect of this position. I loved empowering high school students to use their hands, and a few power tools, to transform their communities. Hands-on education skills and a passion for healthy foods will allow me to teach these budding minds about the wonders of vegetables!

What are you hoping to learn as a Farm Education Intern at Arcadia?
I hope to gain a better understanding of the farm system and the role that it currently (and could later) play in the food system. Taking part in the care of the produce and learning from farmers like Mo and Liz can only lead to amazing things.

If you were a vegetable, what would you be? A carrot. I love the way carrots are dirty and strange on the outside but exquisitely crisp just beyond that outer layer. Plus, I’m a red head; obvious correlation there.

Meet Marta Spangler...

What experiences have prepared you for this position?
In addition to keeping my own community garden plot for a couple years in Pittsburgh, I have worked for several years for my neighbor’s fruit farm, located in Ortanna, PA.

What are you hoping to learn as a Farm Education Intern at Arcadia?
I’m interested in learning more about the interpretive and educational piece. I’m especially interested in seeing an example of how can we make growing more accessible to the larger community and to see how to empower people with knowledge about their food and food sources.

If you were a vegetable, what would you be?
I’m pretty sure I’d be a potato! So versatile, and so tasty, or perhaps I’d be a carrot, also delicious. I think I must be craving root veggies as it gets closer to fall, but I just love the simplicity and heartiness of good potatoes and carrots, and they can be fun to harvest, because it feels like you are digging for buried treasure.

Meet Lacey Walker...

What experiences have prepared you for this position?
I've never worked on a farm before so I'm coming at this position with an eagerly open mind. I grew up around dairy farms, small flower gardens and more recently I have gotten involved in work with animal sanctuaries.This environment, digging in the dirt and really transforming seeds into edible produce, is rather new to me. So let me speak to what sparked my interest in this position. I spent a year teaching English in France. It's impossible not to fall absolutely in love with produce in France. The open air markets, the stacks of carrots, the fresh soups, salads and quiches packed with vegetables - it's heaven! Food in France is not just an obsession for the tourists though, the children in France seemed to be much more in touch with their food systems and food options than I had been during my childhood in the US. My time there was really spent in an equal exchange of knowledge and when I got back I was eager to continue my love affair with fresh, local produce but I also wanted to find a way to include the youth in my area. Enter Arcadia.

What are you hoping to learn as a Farm Education Intern at Arcadia?
I want to learn what it means, first hand, to have a healthy farm. I am hoping to experience and really appreciate the work that goes into producing our food and understand the special thought that goes into a sustainable, organic farm. And hopefully I'll pick up some edible weed identification skills while I'm at it!

If you were a vegetable, what would you be?
If I were a vegetable I would be a pumpkin. As a kid my aunt called me Pumpkin Head and it is something that has stuck with me. I love fall weather, pumpkin pie for breakfast and toasted seeds as a snack. I like how pumpkin picking brings friends and families together. In fact, my father met my step-mother when we were at the pumpkin patch for a field trip when I was a kid!


Arcadia Launches New Website!

We are excited to announce the launch of our newly designed website, which goes live today, August 29, 2012 and is located at the same address: www.arcadiafood.org.  The new and improved site will provide a one-stop location to learn about Arcadia's programs, upcoming events, and latest news.  Through the new site, visitors will be able to register for field trips and other programs, sign up to volunteer, sign up for our newsletter and other mailing lists, and donate to support Arcadia's mission.  As Arcadia gradually evolves, we will update the site with more media content and interactive learning experiences.      

The website was designed and developed by Blueprint Interactive, a full-service marketing firm specializing in strategy, creative, and campaign execution for nonprofits, advocacy groups, commercial groups, and more.  According to Blueprint Interactive's Cameron Cook, "Access to healthy, affordable food is an issue that Blueprint feels passionate about and was honored and excited to work with Arcadia on an updated web presence."  Arcadia would like to extend its deepest appreciation to Blueprint Interactive for their work on the new website and other publications.       

If you experience any problems using the new website or if you have any suggestions, please contact us at info@arcadiafood.org.


“I learned that it's important to grow food” and other lessons from farm field trips

As we develop our farm education programs at Arcadia, we keep asking ourselves: What's the impact we're having? What are students actually learning at the farm? How are the lessons we teach relevant to their lives?

Luckily, we've had some awesome help in figuring all this out. We teamed up with Amy Best, a sociology professor at George Mason University, and Allison Helmuth, a graduate student from George Washington University, to evaluate our spring program. Allison helped us analyze the results of our pre-test, which students take before they arrive at the farm, and the post-test, which they take when they return to school. Amy observed seven of our trips and took extensive field notes on the lessons we teach and kids' reactions.

Here's what we found out:
  • Students showed improvement on almost every question from the pre-test to the post-test. They're learning something!
  • In particular, there was a 15% jump in the number of students who reported they'd tried all six of the veggies we named: lettuce, broccoli, radish, spinach, carrot, kale. Also, 8% more students said they had not only tried, but LIKED all six veggies after attending the field trip to Arcadia Farm.
  • After the field trip, 15% more students identified which vegetables were local and seasonal compared to before the trip.
  • We found strong evidence of peer-to-peer learning. In other words, students were actually reinforcing the lessons with their classmates by discussing what they'd learned.
  • While few students understood growing cycles or the difference between conventional and sustainable agriculture when they arrived, many students demonstrated knowledge & appreciation of food origins, seasonality, locally-grown food, and environmentally sustainable growing practices during the trip. Hurray!
On the post-test, we asked the students what they'd learned on their field trip to Arcadia Farm. The word cloud at right summarizes what they said. Plus, here are some of our favorite answers:
  • “What I learned on my field trip is that compost makes plants grow better.”
  • “I learned that healthy soil is a living thing.”
  • “I learned that it's important to grow food”
  • “That you have to eat healthy and eat veggies so you can be strong. Also you have to eat a lot of fruits.”
  • “Spinach, that I really liked it, I tried it for my first time at the farm”
  • “That radishes are spicy.”
  • “That the farmer doesn't spray chemicals to kill insects because they might harm the vegetable or kill the good harmful bugs”
  • “That using natural things are better for the environment and the plant”
  • “That carrots grow under the ground.”
  • “I learned that fruits come in different seasons.”
Lots and lots of thanks go out to Amy and Allison, as well as our spring field trip team for making it all happen. Want to register for a fall field trip? You can get more information here.


Local Partner Feature: Ward 8 Farmers' Market

Ward 8 of Washington, DC is considered a food desert for its dearth of grocery stores.  For this reason, we operate four Mobile Market stops in Ward 8 on Mondays and Wednesdays.  Fortunately, residents of this community have a great resource for locally grown foods on Saturdays, by way of the Ward 8 Farmers' Market.
Their Mississippi Avenue location at TheArc has ten vendors, including one who sells vegetables grown at the garden on-site.  The St. Elizabeth's site has another four vendors, one of whom was selling heirloom tomatoes the day I visited.  

Like Arcadia's "Bonus Bucks" program, the Ward 8 Farmers' Market doubles the value of SNAP/EBT, WIC and Senior food vouchers for fresh fruits and vegetables.  

There is also fresh artisan bread, pasture raised meat, home-baked goods and handmade soap available for purchase. 

The farmers at these markets are pleased to be able to provide their products to Ward 8 residents, and the smiles of both new and repeat customers are testaments to the appreciation with which their service is received.

The Ward 8 Farmers' Market has two locations:  

1901 Mississippi Ave SE
Every Saturday 9 am - 2 pm, through Thanksgiving

St. Elizabeth's Chapel Gate
2700 Market Luther King, Jr. Ave
Every Saturday 10 am - 2 pm, through October 27


Sign up for a field trip to Arcadia Farm this fall

We're excited to announce that registration for our fall field trips to Arcadia Farm is NOW OPEN! We'll take 2nd, 3rd & 4th graders and other interested groups of up to 50 students for interactive visits to our sustainable farm.

Arcadia Farm field trips will take place on Wednesdays and Thursdays from 10:30am to 1:30pm from September 5th to November 1st, 2012.

The field trips are aligned with age-appropriate curriculum standards, and teach students 1) how to grow food sustainably with the natural cycles of the earth; 2) which fruits and vegetables are available in our region during different times of the year; and 3) that fruits and vegetables can be healthy and delicious!

Click here to register for your Arcadia Farm field trip. Space is limited, reserve your date today! For more information about our field trip program, please contact brandi@arcadiafood.org. You can also visit our Flickr page to see some photos from previous field trips to Arcadia Farm.

We hope to see your group out at the farm soon!


Hi Farm friends,

It is with much sadness and a whole lot of pride for what we have accomplished that I announce I am leaving Arcadia at the end of the 2012 season. I have loved my time with Arcadia and can't believe how much we have done in two years! Where there was once grass, we now have a beautiful, productive space-- a space that preserves the historical integrity of Woodlawn and welcomes the community to embrace and support small-scale sustainable agriculture. I could never have done any of this without the help of countless people and a simple 'thank you' will never be enough. To my interns and volunteers, your help and input is immeasurable. To the staff at NRG, we can't thank you enough for all of your support.

Some of my favorite highlights over the last two years include:
  • The official launch of the Arcadia Mobile Market (great work, Ben!!)
  • Seeing elementary school kids at the farm twice weekly (Andrea and Liz, you are amazing!)
  • The pilot of Arcadia Farm Camp this summer
  • The Farm Dinners and all the help from NRG chefs and staff
  • The first tomato we grew in 2010
  • Walking the field on an early fall morning with coffee in hand
I am going to miss my co-workers insanely, but I will still be involved with Arcadia and not too far
away! I am excited to be moving on to Moutoux Orchards in Loudoun County to manage the veggie farm there. I am excited to continue selling fresh, local produce to the mobile market and host kids for Farm to School week.

I will miss Arcadia and have loved my time here. With an aching back, dirty fingernails and a huge smile, I can't wait to see what Arcadia's future holds and the impact this organization will have on the Chesapeake region.

Thank you to everyone!

-Farmer Mo


Final Thoughts from our Mobile Market Fellow

The Arcadia Team wishes Alex Freedman the best of luck as he begins his yearlong placement with CitySprouts as a FoodCorps service member.  I was very fortunate to have Alex's help this summer, and will miss his invaluable assistance operating the market and engaging with our clients.  Below are Alex's final notes from his Tufts Active Citizen Fellowship:

As with most things that are great, they pass too quickly.  Summer is coming to an end, which for me means that my time with the Mobile Market is ending, too.  

The richness of my experiences defies all expectations -- I began my fellowship at Arcadia with specific objectives, and while I accomplished my goals of learning the inner workings of a nonprofit, running a small business, and the production and distribution of sustainable food, the greatest lessons from this summer were the daily interactions with our market-goers.              

Sustainable food issues have been my primary interest for many years, but they were largely discussed in an academic setting.  This fellowship brought these issues to life through my conversations with real people, and by serving real communities like Anacostia in D.C. and the Route 1 Corridor of Alexandria, Virginia. 

Alex overseeing a busy Mobile Market stop

I love working a farmers’ market because it brings you so close to the diversity of human experience.  I got to talk with a woman from Cameroon about a seed-sharing business she has with family who visit her in America, so that she can grow African varieties of bitter greens and beans.  I learned about one man’s experience living with diabetes and his new-found appreciation for vegetables.  I bonded with another woman over our mutual hope for Michelle Obama to visit the Mobile Market (Madame President: if you are reading this, please take note!).  On a number of occasions, I chatted at length in Spanish with a pair of Peruvian women who were seeking beef lung (unfortunately, we can't sell this variety of offal).  One regular told me about his trials growing tomatoes in his backyard, while another shared about his life living in Fort Belvoir.  On top of all this, there’s the countless family recipes I’ve been entrusted with!   

JuJu and Alex with Mr. Avalos, Undersecretary of the USDA

The most rewarding lesson, however, was the frequent debunking that low-income residents in “food deserts” don’t care about where or how their food is grown – to buy into this prevailing assumption totally ignores the vast range of experiences, interests and motivations represented by our market-goers.  These are the faces of the food movement, and they were the ones who taught me the most.   

I am now headed back to Boston, where I’ve been accepted into a one-year placement through FoodCorps.  Now in it’s second year, this branch of AmeriCorps works in partnership with local organizations and elementary schools around the country doing food education, school garden coordination, and school lunch improvement.  My placement is with a nonprofit called CitySprouts, where I worked last summer.  I am really excited to focus my energies more specifically on elementary and middle school education, although that presents a whole new range of challenges!    

Alex helping a group of summer campers pick out some healthy snacks

This summer was incredible, and I will miss my incredible colleagues – Benjamin and JuJu, first and foremost, and the host of helpers who regularly assist with the bus and farm.  They made my job so positive and welcoming every day.  I wish the best of luck to my replacement (who I am sure will be introduced on this blog shortly,) and will be sure to visit again soon!