Rooting DC!

Hello all! I'm Rachel the new Farm Educator Intern at Arcadia and this is my first ever blog post. Hopefully it will be first of many! Thanks as always for reading! 

Team Arcadia took part in this year's super exciting and successful Rooting DC event two weekends ago at Coolidge High School. Sponsored by members of the Field to Fork Network (Arcadia included), the fifth annual urban gardening forum featured workshops by local initiatives and professionals, roundtable discussions, cooking demonstrations, and a bustling information fair where organizations could showcase their work. 

Throughout the day, members of the Arcadia team took turns working the info booth and chatting with other players in the local urban gardening movement. While away from the table, we attended workshops taught by other local organizations. Fellow intern Stephanie and I attended Healing with Herbs, a cooking demo by Tambra Raye Stevenson from the UDC Center for Nutrition, Diet and Health, Canning for Beginners by Bradley Kennedy, and a panel called How to Build a Successful School Garden and Use it! Thanks to everyone involved for sharing your wisdom and enthusiasm!

Farmer Mo led a workshop about soil basics called Getting Dirty, and Andrea took part in the ‘15 minute field Trips’- Garden Activities Round Robin. Both received tremendous feedback from attendees who later visited the Arcadia table - way to go! Last but not least was a preview appearance from our Mobile Market! The big green school bus received lots of attention and looked terrifically shiny and majestic in the afternoon sun.

Perhaps the best part of Rooting DC was the amount of energy and excitement generated between organizations and interested citizens. People of all ages and backgrounds connected over similar interests; found volunteer opportunities and new networks; and traded ideas, knowledge and SEEDS! It was exciting to be involved! We're so proud to be a part of this strong movement of farmers, activists and gardeners committed to a sustainable food system in D.C.


Open positions at Arcadia!

Looking for a way to improve your local food system?

We're looking for dynamic, enthusiastic folks for paid and volunteer positions. Check out the individual job descriptions for more details about how to apply.

We're excited to welcome a few new members to the Arcadia team!


Snack-time and Social Media Week!

Arcadia was a part of Social Media Week DC. Cat & Andrea from Arcadia’s DC Farm to School Network were part of an event dubbed “Snack-time: Collaboratively improving kids’ nutrition and having some fun along the way.” The event congregated various community leaders in diverse fields such as kids’ nutrition, social media, and technology to work together to get kids more active and healthy.

Andrea was on a panel with Montgomery County Food & Nutrition Services Director Marla Caplon and Kid Power Veggie Time Coordinator Katherine Harvey. They discussed the challenges facing school food service operations when it comes to serving healthy foods to kids, and how social media and hands-on educational experiences could help overcome these challenges.

The most exciting part was that students participated in a variety of healthy eating and exercise stations. Arcadia led a “Thank Your Farmer” card-making activity. After a brief discussion about farming and food, kids were excited and proud to write notes to the farmers who do so much for us. 

Take a look at some of the best:

Apparently one student thought a farmer could use some love as well...

In an increasingly fast-paced world with an ever-changing food system, there are huge opportunities for social media to bring us together and help forge new connections. But we can’t forget the value of sharing experiences, having conversations, and getting our hands dirty!


The Bees are ready for spring too...

Check out the latest from Jeff at DC Honeybees! We are excited to move two of our hives to the new front field to aid in pollination. We are even more excited to tap the hives this spring and start the honey flowing. We'll be sure to keep you updated about Arcadia honey!


Save the Date for Arcadia Farm Camp!

We're glad to announce the dates of Arcadia Farm Camp's pilot sessions! Over the past few weeks, we've been moving forward with planning a truly awesome summer camp program. We had help from some fantastic parents at our focus groups in January, and we'll use their feedback as we develop camp policies and procedures.

We're hosting two one-week sessions: July 16-20, 2012 and July 23-27, 2012. We're planning to open registration in late February or early March. For more details, head over to our website. If you still have questions, don't hesitate to email liz@arcadiafood.org for more information. You can also sign up for future summer camp updates here.

We're excited to welcome your child to Arcadia Farm Camp this summer.


Arcadia will be at Rooting DC, you should too!

Every winter, urban gardeners, local food fanatics and community food security enthusiasts from the farthest reaches of the District of Columbia gather together at Coolidge High School for Rooting DC!  It's a day-long free conference filled with hands-on workshops and inspiration about all sorts of urban food and farming topics.  This year, the event is taking place Saturday, February 18th.  If that's not enough to get you excited about spring, I don't know what is.

Here's Mo presenting at Rooting DC last year.
Arcadia will have a big presence at Rooting DC this year.  Our very own farmer Mo Moodie will be talking about soil science at noon - find out how macro and micro nutrients impact the health of your plants, how to test your soil, and how to improve soil quality.  Andrea Northup, who runs Arcadia's D.C. Farm to School Network will speak during two workshop sessions - one on how the D.C. school food system works at 10:45am, and one demonstrating 15-minute educational activities in the garden at 3:30pm.  Check out the full agenda here.  And don't miss our Arcadia table on display in the community tabling area!

Spread the word, and we look forward to seeing you at the fun, free, and fabulous Rooting DC!  Learn more and register at www.rootingdc.org.


What I learned at the Food Project's Winter Institute

I was lucky enough to spend two days last week at the Food Project's Winter Institute with a group of insightful, inspiring food activists from around the country. The Institute showcases the Food Project's work empowering teens to make change through sustainable agriculture.

Since Arcadia is a young organization, I'm grateful I had the opportunity to learn from folks who've been working for food justice for 20 years. I learned a whole lot, but here are some of the most memorable parts:

  • Bridging divides has amazing transformative power. The Food Project brings youth of totally different backgrounds together to work on farms in both urban and rural areas. Arcadia's work connecting small farmers with city dwellers and young people to the source of their food has similar potential.
  • From Eron at Collective Roots in East Palo Alto, CA to Ryan and Kayla at Farm Fresh Rhode Island, the Institute brought together a group of really down-to-earth folks working on similar issues. Although it seemed that we're all often overwhelmed with the injustice we see around us, we are each really passionate about working with young people to help create a more sustainable and fair food system.
  • The Food Project teens are awesome! I was so impressed by their knowledge of the food system, their emotional intelligence and their communication skills. A solid portion of the 2.5 day institute was actually led by the teens themselves, including a stellar set of workshops about food systems.
  • Fun is super important! At the Institute, we learned some of the great games that the Food Project staff uses with their youth teams and I can't wait to play some of them out at Arcadia Farm this year.
If you haven't already, make your way over to the Food Project's toolbox - it's chock full of (free!) useful materials for folks who are working on sustainable agriculture issues and youth empowerment.


Local Food is Joelle's Job Description

You know she's serious about local food, with the title "Local Initiatives and Procurement Coordinator" at DC Central Kitchen.  Since DCCK is one of our best organizational partners, and since Joelle Johnson is their amazing leader of the local food movement here in DC, we decided to learn a bit more about what she does...

Joelle, what is your role at DC Central Kitchen?
Mainly I am responsible for sourcing and procuring locally grown products for all of our programs – nearly 10,000 meals a day. Most of what I purchase goes into to the meals we provide for DC Public Schools. But a good portion of it also goes into the meals we send out to local shelters and into the food we prepare for catering events every week. I aim to purchase from family owned farms that use sustainable growing practices, working with them on crop planning and setting fair prices. Last year we spent nearly $115,000 on local products.

Joelle gleaning for produce!
In addition to procuring local food, I also manage two programs - Truck Farm and Healthy Corners. Truck Farm (in partnership with the USDA People’s Garden) is a mobile educational farm planted in the bed of a pick -up truck designed to bring a rural experience to urban students. DCCK uses Truck Farm as a tool to enhance the summer-enrichment programs that we provide meals for through our already established Healthy Returns program.

Healthy Corners is a pilot program that began in the fall of 2011. Healthy Corners works with corner store owners in low-income DC neighborhoods, considered to be food deserts, supplying them with fresh, healthy foods. Currently we are working with 30 stores in wards 4, 5, 7, and 8 supplying 15 different types of fresh produce and healthy snacks.

What might a typical day look like?

I spend most of my days jumping back and forth between meetings with community partners and giving tours to visiting groups to taking product inventory, data tracking and placing orders. Some of our farmers really love to chat so that can take a surprising amount of my time! (I get really excited when I find a farmer who prefers email!) But generally summers are spent placing orders, scheduling pick-ups and taking inventory, whereas winters are spent visiting farms, compiling program reports, and attending conferences.

Joelle doing Truck Farm activities with students
What is the most inspiring part of your job?
The best part about my job is positive feedback. Sometimes it comes from farmers who tell me that they appreciate our business because we pay fair prices and that we have helped them reduce their product waste or expand their operation. Sometimes it comes from customers who thank us for bringing Healthy Corners to their neighborhood so they don’t have to travel so far to find fresh produce. Other times it comes from seeing kids’ faces light up when they harvest and eat a cucumber from the truck or hold a worm that they dug out of the soil. My job is pretty fun!

If you were a fruit or vegetable, what would you be?
Well, I’d like be something sweet like a strawberry or blueberry because everyone loves those things, but I’d probably end up being something that is cheap, fits the nutritional guidelines for DC public schools and is easy to source in bulk quantity like butternut squash….only because I appreciate the convenience of produce that fits all 3 categories!

What's your favorite winter veggie dish?
Shiitake mushroom bacon!


Sign up for your field trip to Arcadia Farm now!

The D.C. Farm to School Network is excited to announce that registration for our spring field trips to Arcadia Farm is NOW OPEN! We'll take 3rd & 4th grade groups of up to 50 students each for interactive visits to our sustainable farm located at Woodlawn, a National Trust Historic Site in Alexandria, VA.

Arcadia Farm field trips will take place on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10:30am to 1:30pm from April 10th though June 14, 2012. We're especially pleased to offer transportation scholarships to help cover the cost of buses to and from Arcadia Farm for qualifying D.C. schools.

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;
  • 3) how farm-fresh food is different from processed or fast food; and
  • 4) that fruits and vegetables can be healthy and delicious!
Visit the Arcadia Farm field trip website at www.dcfarmtoschool.org/field-trips for more information. For questions, or to register your school for a field trip, please contact Katherine at katherine@dcfarmtoschool.org.
We hope to see you out at the farm soon!