Meet Matt: Arcadia's Director of Development & Communications

Wow, we've got a lot of new staff coming on board to launch us into the spring season!  Meet Matt Mulder, Arcadia's new Director of Development and Communications.  Matt's job is to generate a sustainable fundraising strategy for Arcadia, and make sure our communications with all stakeholders are clear, consistent, and connected to our mission.  We're so excited to have him on board!

Matt, what past experiences prepared you for this position?
Almost every job I’ve ever had has involved children, education, history, the environment, or agriculture. Most recently, I directed the Accokeek Foundation's Center for Agricultural and Environmental Stewardship.  I’ve spent the last year working on issues of agriculture and food justice, and I look forward to continuing that work by supporting and enhancing Arcadia’s excellent programs.

What’s your favorite healthy recipe?
I’m really into Crispy Kale right now. Toss a big bowl of organic kale greens with 1 TBSP olive oil. Sprinkle lightly with salt or other favorite spices. Crisp on a backing rack set on a sheet pan in an oven at 250 degrees for 20-25 minutes. For more fun, use Lanceolate (or Dinosaur) Kale.

If you were a vegetable, what would you be?
Trombocino Squash. I played the trombone throughout much of my life. Its also a very versatile squash - its a great summer squash and can be hardened and used as a winter squash that can store well.

What about this position are you most excited for?
I’m excited about the opportunity to work with an energetic, enthusiastic, knowledgeable staff that can accomplish great things if they have adequate resources and enough support.

What do you see as your next steps - what do you plan to tackle first?

I am spending my time developing a comprehensive fundraising plan for Arcadia. I also want to make sure we are spreading the word about all of the exciting initiatives that are starting this spring – full operation of the Mobile Market, the Arcadia Farm stand at Woodlawn, Arcadia Farm Camp, and the all of the other exciting upcoming programs and events.

What’s your favorite season for growing produce and why?
I love late spring/early summer in this area. The weather is nice, the days are long, and with some of the early season fruits and veggies starting to ripen, you begin to see that the bounty of summer harvests is not too far away.

Thanks Matt, we're excited to have you on board!


Meet Cat: Arcadia's Illustrator!

Cat Robinson is our new part-time Artist in Residence!  She won us over with her amazing farm signs last fall, and her talents working with kids.  Cat will be in charge of painting our Mobile Market, farm beautification projects, arts & crafts with kids, etc.  She'll also help with our spring field trips once they get started in April.  We're so glad to have her on board!  Let's get to know Cat better -

Cat, as a giant peapod, doing art projects at a recent Farm to Table family event
What are you most excited about for this position?
I could go on for days about why this position is so exciting for me, but don’t worry, I won’t. I am most eager not only to be a part of this lovely and passionate group of Arcadia staff, but more broadly, the movement that is changing the way we think about food. I can’t wait to challenge, engage, and excite future generations about making healthy and informed decisions about what they eat. I am also quite excited to reach kids in a way that engaged me during my childhood - through art.

What is the coolest project you'll be working on?
Most definitely Arcadia’s Mobile Market, a full sized school bus that will hit DC’s streets this spring. I will be hand painting various vegetables and Arcadia-tastic text on the bus!

What experiences have prepared you for this position? While nannying for three, young children in the DC area I learned that if you can draw vegetables playing music, kids think you are infinitely cooler. At the time, I did not realize this skill would come in handy down the road!  On a more adult note, a recent Master’s degree from GW in Art Therapy has prepared me for this position as well. The program played a major role in my artistic development and the grew my ability to engage kids in unique and engaging day-to-day experiences.  On a more historic note, I was my grandfather’s sidekick growing up, and he was an avid gardener. And though I have been a city dweller all of my life, my love and appreciation of growing food is strong. An appreciation of nature and vegetables is quite necessary to spend to amount of time that I do drawing them!
One of Cat's awesome signs at Arcadia Farm
If you were a vegetable, what would you be?
An eggplant. I love it’s rich and unique hue and it’s the main ingredient in one of my family’s favorite dishes, Eggplant Parmesan.

Which season has the best produce (and why?!) 
Hands down: fall. There are pumpkins to carve, apples to butter, and squash to soup. Now top all of that off with a over-worn, comfy sweater and life is good.


Fun Times at Smithsonian Farm to Table Family Day

Arcadia had a super fun day at Farm to Table Family Day at the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery this past Sunday. There was an amazing turnout of families throughout the day -- we had nearly 100 families visit our table! It was such an honor to share the beautiful Portrait Gallery atrium with so many great organizations from around DC, including City Blossoms, Washington Youth Garden, Bread for the City, Martha's Table and more!

We had a great time engaging kids in creating cards that we're going to send to local DC farmers. We encouraged each kid to write a personal note to thank their local farmers for growing their favorite veggies for them. (Side note: We were amazed by how many of the kids said their favorite veggie was the oft-maligned brussels sprouts!) We thought it would be a great opportunity to get kids handling different kinds of fresh veggies and to begin to make a connection between the fresh food they eat and the local farmers who grow it.

After they'd written their thank yous on the front, they got messy with our veggie stamps to create some wonderfully colorful cards!

While the kiddos were stamping and doodling away, we had some great conversations with their adult companions, learning about the foods they eat at school and at home, and building some buzz about our programs -- especially our Mobile Market community and school visits upcoming this spring.

We ended up with nearly 50 cards that we'll be sending to local farmers on behalf of our young artists. We know they'll appreciate a little special early spring pick-me-up.

All-in-all, the kids had a great time - and we did too!


Farm to Table Family Day

We're excited to be participating in the National Portrait Gallery's Kogod Courtyard for a Farm to Table Family Fun Day!  Join us on Sunday January 22nd from 11:30am to 3:00pm for some hands-on food & farming activities, give-aways, entertainment and more.  Find more details on the flyer here.

We'll be joined by some of the best D.C. area nonprofits, like our friends at City Blossoms, the Washington Youth Garden, and the Capital Area Food Bank.  We've got all sorts of fun, hands-on activities planned, like veggie stamping, produce matching, and "find the real food" challenges.  It's all free, so don't miss out!


Healthy Schools Act Snapshot

The D.C. Farm to School Network at Arcadia thinks the Healthy Schools Act is pretty great.  It's a local law passed in 2010 that sets high standards for health and wellness in all Washington, DC public and public charter schools.  We're especially excited about the nutrition and food quality requirements that schools must adhere to, which translate to more whole grains, fruits, and vegetables in school meals.  It even gives schools a financial incentive to serve local food!  Learn more about the Healthy Schools Act on our website.

We worked with D.C. Hunger Solutions and a number of other community organizations to pull together a Healthy Schools Act Snapshot for the 2010 school year, which was when the Healthy Schools Act first went into effect.  The document shows how differnt parts of the Act have been implemented thus far, and which areas have the biggest room for improvement.

Check out the Healthy Schools Act Snapshot for yourself how this landmark piece of legislation is overhauling the health of Washington, DC schoolchildren, is working in communities in our nation's capital!


Meet Tom - Mobile Market School Educator

We just hired Tom Flanagan as our Mobile Market School Educator! Tom's going to be coordinating educational visits to schools by our Mobile Market, and putting on local food throw-downs in school cafeterias across the District.  Here's some more about Tom:

What past experiences have prepared you for this position?
I've had all sorts of jobs so far in my life -- you name it, and I've done it. I've worked at a coffee shop, a driving range, a nonprofit, and a soup kitchen; I've worked as a landscaper, a mechanic, a carpenter, and a baker; I've done marketing, organizing, teaching, and mopping. Now, as I step into this position with Arcadia, I can see how each of these unique experiences is going to contribute to the success of this program.

Recent experiences that I'll be drawing on most heavily include working with kids in the KIPP schools tending a small garden of edibles (with some minor success), and working with volunteers at Miriam's Kitchen to produce healthy meals for DC's homeless population.

What’s your favorite healthy recipe?
I have an adaptation of a lentil soup recipe that I stole from a food blog a few years back. It uses french beluga lentils that maintain their shape a bit more than the green lentils you usually see. Using some of my homemade canned tomatoes and adding in a stiff green toward to the end makes this a very clean tasting, healthy and hearty meal, perfect for a cold winter night (if we ever have those again!).

Tom doing some serious canning. 
That's what we like to see in an Arcadian.
If you were a vegetable, what would you be?
I'd probably be an apple, because I go best with either peanut butter or cheese, but not at the same time. Does that make sense?

What about this position are you most excited for?
I'm most excited to be working with kids, helping them find food they like and learning from them what makes food appealing to people of all ages. But I'm most excited for the opportunity to work with a small and highly motivated team, building a program that will get kids psyched up to eat their local veggies!

What’s your favorite season for growing produce and why?
I love the early spring farmers markets - all the good strong leafy greens, the spicy arugula, the sweet strawberries, the pencil-thin asparagus, the tart rhubarb... So much goodness happens in the first few months of the growing season. Second favorite, of course, is tomato season. Because tomatoes!


We Love Basecamp

Need something printed?  T-shirts?  Mailings?  Business cards?  Basecamp's got you covered.  Arcadia is happy to support a fellow locally-owned business for all of our printing and shipping needs, and you should too! 

Located at the corner of 18th & U NW, Basecamp is a friendly, small business that gets the job done.  Raj, the owner, is a huge supporter of the local food movement (and Arcadia in particular).  He and his team know their stuff!  Check 'em out at www.basecampdc.com.


2012, Here We Come!

Arcadia’s gearing up for 2012! We have ambitious goals - here’s what our staff are most excited about for in the upcoming year:

After a stellar first season, our Farm Director Mo Moodie, is excited to expand Arcadia Farm at Woodlawn to an additional 2 acres (“the Lower Field”) this growing season. Our Mobile Market needs fresh fruits and veggies to sell in and around DC, so she’s gonna grow ‘em. We’re also welcoming some living, breathing new members of our farm family: chickens & ducks!

Benjamin Bartley, our Mobile Market Director, is excited to get Arcadia’s farmers’ market bus on the road this season! He’s establishing a “Double Dollars” program that will match fresh produce purchases dollar-for-dollar from low-income folks using WIC, SNAP, and the Senior Farmers’ Market Promotion Program – up to $15,000! He also aims to engage thousands of students, parents and families when the Mobile Market makes educational stops at schools. Keep your eyes peeled for a produce-filled school bus soon!

Andrea Northup, D.C. Farm to School Network Director, is rolling out a number of food, nutrition and farm education programs this year. She’s most excited for a Farm to School Workshop for school food service providers later this winter, and the launch of our Farm-Fresh Feature program. The Farm-Fresh Feature will include a suite of educational materials and programs for schools to help them celebrate a different sustainable, local fruit or veggie each month. Stickers, handouts, banners, taste-tests and more will get kids jazzed about the local options in their school meals!

Liz Whitehurst, our Farm Education Coordinator, aims to build off of a successful season of school field trips to Groundhog Garden, our youth space at Arcadia Farm. Her main goals are to make field trips accessible to all schools, regardless of their ability to pay for a bus to transport students. Liz also plans to grow at least 50% of food for education programs at Groundhog Garden. Whole Foods generously donated hundreds of pounds of produce for field trip programming last year, but Liz’s planned expansion of Groundhog Garden will allow us to stock our salad bar with produce grown just a few feet away.

Wow, we’ve got a lot in store for the upcoming months! Help us reach our goals by donating to Arcadia (email info@arcadiafood.org to learn how) and stay in touch – follow us on twitter, find us on facebook, and be sure to get on our email list.


Farmer Hibernation

Happy New Year from Arcadia Farm!

(this is what the farm looked like last year at this time and today it was 65 degrees!)

Is the cold winter weather ever going to visit us out at the farm? Things have slowed down, despite the balmy days, and I am looking forward to a little rest and relaxation for January. I'm already dreaming of spring greens and greenhouse babies, but the winter downtime will be spent building a duck house and constructing a new farm stand (expected to be open in May 2012). We're also really looking forward to volunteer days in the spring and welcoming a new team of interns.
In the meantime, I'll be hibernating in a dark cave eating stored up garlic and cave-aged apples. Maybe baking some bread and climbing a few rocks? Who knows? Happy Winter!

-Farmer Mo