Meet JuJu: Mobile Market Nutrition and Outreach Coordinator

With market season just around the corner, it's time to introduce the newest addition to the Arcadia Team, JuJu Harris. JuJu's job is to lead cooking demonstrations and assist with the food assistance outreach during Mobile Market stops.

JuJu planting potatoes at Arcadia Farm


What are you most excited about for this position?

I firmly believe that healthy food can be easily and inexpensively prepared. Creating delicious, nutritious meals from few ingredients and on a budget is my specialty. I love doing cooking demos and sharing ways to use what's on hand is a real joy for me. I'm also excited that the Mobile Market will accept EBT, WIC and Senior Checks so that more folks can have access to this service.

What is the coolest project you'll be working on?

How cool is it to take food directly to the people? I love the idea of rolling up with a busload of wonderful produce, ready to share a lovely dish and hopefully see the same clients week after week. The big green bus rocks, and I'm looking forward to riding around spreading the gospel of healthy eating in DC.

What experiences have prepared you for this position?

I've been a gardener for 25 years, and have eaten food for 47 (haha!). In the past I've done cooking demos at the Anacostia Farmer's Market, have been a guest chef at the Washington Youth Garden, and have held Cook Days at my homes and taught my friends how to make new dishes while our kids played outside. I've also been both a WIC and EBT recipient, and honed my budgeting and meal planning skills so that I could continue to produce healthy meals for my family on a limited income. I understand first hand the stress that of having a lower-income, and realize that folks make poor food choices because they either lack knowledge of better alternatives, are fearful of trying something new, have limited financial resources with which to purchase food, or do not have access to healthier groceries.

If you were a vegetable, what would you be?

I'd be a tomato, because I like to live "juicy," that is, I love to soak up the sun and most folks are happy to see me arrive because I give good "flavor" to the scene.

Ok, technically, a tomato is not a vegetable, so if I have to choose a real one, I'd be Kale because I have a "crunchy" vibe. Or maybe a Calabaza squash since orange is my favorite color.

Which season has the best produce, and why?

Summer is definitely my favorite season for produce due to the abundance of tomatoes, squash, luscious fruit, and yum, peaches, the best food in the world.


We're excited to have such a passionate, committed, and knowledgeable addition to the team!


Gearing Up for Field Trips at Arcadia Farm

Enthusiasm, passion, patience: these are a few of the qualities that make a great teacher, according to the staff, interns, and volunteers at our field trip training this past Saturday. As we discussed the basics of farm-based education, we also talked about how we as educators can embody those qualities and make each trip empowering for students.

In just a few short weeks, Arcadia Farm will start hosting spring field trips for kids from DC and the metro area. The goal of the training was to make sure our fantastic volunteers, interns and staff are prepared to make those trips great. Although the rain kept us indoors for most of the day, we spent time role playing activities about soil, plants, bees, chickens and harvesting so that everyone had practice teaching our spring lessons.

Amy Best, Associate Professor of Sociology at George Mason University, joined us for the training to discuss observation-based research. She has been helping us develop a comprehensive system for evaluating our programs and she'll be observing field trips to help us measure our success and improve our programs.

Sophia from Brickyard Farm, where they're starting a field trip program, also stopped by to hear about what we're doing. So did Jamie from Sweetgreen, who made a special guest chef appearance at one of our fall field trips.

Thanks to everyone who came! And special thanks to our friends at Chipotle for providing lunch for our hungry staff and volunteers.

We're enthusiastic, passionate, patient and just about ready to welcome a crop of future growers to our farm! See you in a few weeks!


Arcadia Farm Camp Registration Deadline Extended

We’re extending the registration deadline for Arcadia Farm Camp to April 15register your child now for a week of planting, harvesting, chopping, digging, exploring, learning and fun. We're hosting two one-week sessions (July 16-20 and July 23-27) for Arcadia Farm Camp's pilot season. We'll welcome kids ages 6-10 to the farm to learn about where their food comes from.

For more information, check out the Arcadia Farm Camp website. And help us spread the word! Tell your friends, family and other interested folks about Arcadia Farm Camp.


Welcoming the New Growing Season!

It has been a super busy two weeks at Arcadia Farm and I am pleased to say that the first of the spring crops are flourishing! The fields are green with Fava beans, sweet peas, beets, kale, and collards, the new farm interns have are settling in, and I am once again coming home every night covered in dirt. Must be spring!

With the help of Elin, Bonnie, Stephanie, Rachel, and Natalie, our new front field space has been seeded with beets, turnips and potatoes. I am thrilled that we already have sprouts in the new space and I have a good feeling that delicious veggies will flourish!

We've also had the help of Benjamin, our Mobile Market Director preparing the new space in our upper fields. Due to poor drainage, we have to dig a lot of trenches and Ben's spent many days the last week knee deep in the mud with a shovel in hand! It is great to have the whole staff involved in the space that will grow the food to fill the bus!

Now that the season is kicking in to gear, we are going to start regular Saturday and Monday volunteer days on Monday, April 23. Volunteer hours will be from 9am-12pm and you can sign up at volunteer@arcadiafood.org. Also mark your calendars for May 13--the first spring farm dinner at Arcadia Farm!! Featuring Chef Tony Chittum from Vermillion, we will dine on seasonal fare directly from Arcadia and some other farm friends in Virginia.

See you soon!

-Farmer Mo


Tour de D.C. School Food

As the D.C. Farm to School Network Director at Arcadia, I love it when school food friends from other districts come to town - it's a great chance to check in with some of my favorite schools and programs here in the District!  Last week, I took Doug Davis, Director of Food Service for Burlington, VT Public Schools and Julia Bauscher, Director of School & Community Nutrition Services in Louisville, KY on a tour of a few model DC school food programs.  Here's what we saw -

It all started with breakfast at CentroNia, a multi-cultural learning center that runs a host of educational programs for the community, including D.C. Bilingual Public Charter School.  Sofia Bustos, CentroNia's lovely Nutritionist, toured us around the colorful building, rooftop playground, and tiny basement kitchen where they produce over 1,000 meals each day from scratch.  We had yogurt, cereal, and fresh fruit for breakfast while Sofia told us about CentroNia's innovative programs that engage parents, teachers, students, and the entire school community in a culture of nutrition and wellness.

Breakfast at D.C. Bilingual - cereal, yogurt and fresh fruit
Sofia's enthusiasm and hospitality were reflected in the awesome nutrition posters, colorful student artwork and friendly staff at the school.  In fact, she was recently appointed Chilean Health Ambassador by the First Lady of Chile, Cecilia Morel. So Sofia is now an Adviser for Chile's national program “Elige Vivir Sano” (Choose to Live Healthy), which is similar to First Lady Michelle Obama's "Let's Move" campaign.  Congratulations Sofia!

Sofia Bustos, CentroNia's Nutritionist, here with the First Lady of Chile Cecilia Morel
Our next stop was DC Central Kitchen's new Nutrition Lab - a 6,000 square foot facility that opened about a year ago as a production kitchen for the 5,000 meals DCCK produces each day for schools, shelters, and other social service providers.  DCCK's Local Initiatives and Procurement Coordinator Joelle Johnson led us on a tour, where we saw a giant 100-gallon drum of local apples being blended in to apple sauce, and hundreds of whole-wheat wraps being loaded up with fresh mixed greens and chicken salad. 

DCCK staff making applesauce from local apples!  Take our word for it, it smelled delicious.
Most of the employees at the Nutrition Lab were graduates of DCCK's Culinary Job Training program, which equips ex-offenders and homeless individuals with the skills they need to start fresh in the food service industry.  We also had a great chat with Ed Kwitowski, the Executive Chef for the school food service programs DCCK operates at 7 D.C. Public Schools, about some of the challenges they've faced and lessons they've learned from serving scratch-cooked healthy meals over a thousand low-income schoolchildren each day.

Our last stop - lunch!  We visited E.W. Stokes Public Charter School, where Stokes' Wellness Coordinator Trisha Nakano kindly told us about some of the exciting ways the school integrates health and wellness in to each child's learning experience.  For example, each year she coordinates the Taste of Stokes festival, a fall harvest celebration where students and families celebrate the bounty of their school garden and challenge students to "Think Globally, Act Locally." Trisha joined us for baked tilapia, kale chips (many of which came from Stokes' own school garden!), whole wheat rolls, chilled carrot curry soup, and salads from the salad bar. 

E.W. Stokes' salad bar - it tasted as good as it looked!
It was restaurant-quality food, and the kids were gobbling it up just as fast as we were.  Stokes' Chef Lisa Dobbs joined us - she's the brains behind the delicious recipes and smooth operations of their school meal program, which puts out breakfast, lunch, dinner, and family to-go meals for 320 students each day out of a teeny tiny kitchen.

Doug and I also got a quick peek at the Farm at Walker Jones, where we met with Farm Director Sarah Bernardi and got to see the wonderful things they're doing on about an acre of green space surrounded by downtown Washington, DC.

Many thanks to Sarah, Sofia, Joelle, Ed, Trisha and Lisa (and all of their staff) for the wonderful day!


A Mobile Market Makeover..

Arcadia’s 28-foot, “Big Bad Green” bus is getting a makeover, beginning with some sanding and taping, and ending with lots of brightly hued paint!

Among other additions, the bus' mural will include a large banner on the passenger's side displaying the text "Arcadia's Mobile Market," with an abundance of colorful veggies underneath. After school students at Bancroft Elementary will also assist the painting of Arcadia’s insignia on the side door, where chef demonstrations will be staged during market visits.  
Here’s Arcadia's Mobile Market Director, Benjamin, putting some elbow grease into sanding the bus.

Other plans for the bus include a fun take on edgy flames, using vines running along the front hood. 

And last, but not least...we would all like to extend a huge THANK YOU to the charitable folks at McCormick Paints in Mount Pleasant and Maaco of College Park for offering Arcadia a hefty discount on acrylic, mural paint and the professional, green paint job, respectively.  Also, many thanks to the kind teachers at Bancroft Elementary for letting us park our bus in their staff parking lot during the three weekends of painting glory. 
We are also very gracious to our sponsors who assisted in funding this operation when it was just a little, green idea:
Kaiser Permanente
Neighborhood Restaurant Group
Whole Foods Market
Chipotle Mexican Grill
Washington's Green Grocer
Wholesome Wave
INOVA Health System
Cummins Power System
Clif Bar Family Foundation
Check back in a few weeks for pictures of the finished product...and look out for the Mobile Market to hit the streets of D.C. this May! 


Greenhorns Documentary Screening in DC!

Want to learn more about the good food movement and all the young people doing amazing things in sustainable agriculture around the country?

Check out the Greenhorns documentary at the DC Environmental Film Festival!

THE GREENHORNS (USA, 2011, 50 min.)

Washington, D.C. Premiere As director Severine von Tscharner Fleming embarks upon her own career in agriculture, she travels across America looking for evidence of a growing movement of young farmers in their twenties and thirties. She finds that their resolution and bonds are strong and their sense of joy is fully intact. But she also discovers that this new corps of farmers, who bring such character and vitality to their communities, faces daunting professional challenges. The Greenhorns sets forth the need and the strategies for all of us to assure the prosperity and success of this new generation and our own. Directed and produced by Severine von Tscharner Fleming.

Discussion with filmmaker Severine von Tscharner Fleming.


2012 Farm Interns!

Meet Elin! I grew up in Bethesda, MD, but have spent the last few years in the Pacific Northwest, at the University of Puget Sound.  As a kid, I spent a lot of time outdoors, going on hikes, exploring the shores of Lake Superior, and following my nature-loving big brother around.  I believe our food system is inherently backwards: processed meats and fast food should not be easier to find or more affordable than nutrient rich (and delicious!) fruits and vegetables.  (One of my favorites is asparagus.) This spring, I am excited to be working on the farm with Mo and helping out with the chickens and bees! 

Stephanie Buglione is the Farm/Farm Educator intern. She is a senior at American University, majoring in Environmental Studies. Stephanie grew up in Upstate New York, surrounded by lush forests and rolling hills, NOT. She actually grew up in the suburbs, which has fueled her interest in environmental stewardship and, more recently, sustainable agriculture. Stephanie looks forward to learning more about soil, cultivating veggies, and working with the chickens and bees. By far, her favorite vegetable is the eggplant. When she’s not on the farm, she’s probably singing a tune while making some crafts!

Bonnie Sigwalt is a Marlboro College MBA Candidate in her second year of the Managing for Sustainability program in Brattleboro, Vermont.  She is from Chicago, studied Government at Smith College, and currently lives and gardens in southern Maryland where she is passionate about local food networks and the creation of resilient communities through entrepreneurship and sustainable agriculture.  Bonnie first learned about the benefits of sustainable farming practices while working on the BrĂ¼der Dr. Becker organic vineyard
in Germany, and she has, ever since, been hearing the land call her back.  She is finally listening.  Her final MBA project will focus on funding mechanisms that will provide entrepreneurs the ability to launch sustainable food-related enterprises. Her favorite vegetable is kale and wishes you would eat more of it. @organicDC

Rachel Hendrickson is the Farm Educator intern at Arcadia. Rachel grew up outside of Philadelphia in New Jersey (the garden state!) and is a senior at American University due to graduate in May. She studies environmental science at AU with a special focus in environmental education. Her love of garden based learning stems from summers spent out in the vegetable garden with her mom Nancy. When Rachel isn’t helping to plan fun field trip activities for this spring, she likes to run and play the ukulele. Her favorite vegetable is currently kale.

I can already tell it's going to be a great year! I can't tell you how excited I am to have such an amazing and passionate team of women working with me this spring and summer!
-Farmer Mo

Spring 2012 Wish List

We're all about recycling at Arcadia, so instead of buying new, we're looking for in-kind donations of supplies and equipment for the spring season. If you've got some of the following items around, let us know! Your donation will make help make our education programs great.

Here's our wish list:

A rototiller!
1-inch binders
Picnic tables
Garden arbors
Industrial-sized salad spinner
Mortar and pestle
Reusable ice/freezer packs
A card table
Large binder clips
Tote bags

If you're willing to donate any of the items above, send an email to liz@arcadiafood.org. Thanks in advance!


Local Food THROWDOWNS in DC Lunchrooms this Spring!

The DC Farm to School Network is adding some excitement to elementary school lunchrooms this spring, and getting students excited about farm-fresh food with a series of fun and interactive Local Food THROWDOWNS!

Students will be encouraged to try samples of farm-fresh local ingredients prepared in new and exciting ways, and offer their feedback and thoughts on what they like or don’t like about the sample (with a strict “No yuck!” policy!), and encouraged to think about why serving and eating local food is important. The overarching goal is to get students excited about the amazing local foods that are already being served in their school meals! The program is on track to engage over 1,000 students each month.

The Local Food THROWDOWN program ties in with DC Farm to School's new Farm Fresh Feature effort, which helps schools celebrate a different local, in-season veggie each month. The Farm Fresh Feature for March is Spinach - and our Local Food THROWDOWN recipe is Jammin' Spinach Salad, which pairs crisp and nutritious spinach with a super-healthy raspberry balsamic vinaigrette dressing and a handful of tangy-sweet dried cranberries.

Each THROWDOWN will feature a different, colorful, farm-fresh, local foods: radishes in April, strawberries in May, and zucchini in June. (Remember: We’re trying to feature food that kids might not be likely to try on their own!)

We'll be partnering with 11 elementary schools in DC to develop delicious recipes featuring in-season, local produce - especially those hard-to-sell veggies that end up in the trash. Our partner schools for this pilot run of Local Food THROWDOWNS are Marie Reed Elementary, E.W. Stokes PCS, Garfield Elementary, Powell Elementary, Neval Thomas Elementary, Walker Jones Education Campus, DC Bilingual PCS, Miner Elementary, and Tree of Life PCS.

Special thanks to the Capital Area Food Bank and SweetGreen for their help in procuring the produce for these exciting events!


Arcadia Farm Camp registration is now open!

We're ready to register campers for Arcadia Farm Camp's pilot season! We're planning a great mix of farming and food activities, from feeding the chickens to making salsa and pesto, for 6-10 year-olds for two one-week sessions (July 16-20 and July 23-27). Help us spread the word! And check our our FAQ page for more information.

We're also accepting donations to our scholarship fund, so that we'll be able to welcome children whose families may not not otherwise have the resources to be a part of camp. We're also looking for awesome camp staff! Check out the position descriptions here.

We've even got a logo! Thanks to Cat for designing it.