Strawberries & Salad Greens 2012

“Our students always look forward to this day! We had a great time. One first grader said that this was the best lunch he’d ever had!” – Teacher, Hearst Elementary School

Every child in D.C. Public Schools and in dozens of public charter schools across the city enjoyed fresh, locally-grown strawberries and salad greens in their school lunch on Wednesday May 23rd! Strawberries & Salad Greens Day was a huge success, reaching students in over 150 cafeterias with farm-fresh school meals, and coordinating food education stations in over 50 school lunchrooms. 

The D.C. Farm to School Network at Arcadia, in conjunction with the Office of the State Superintendent of Education, D.C. Public Schools, and Whole Foods Markets coordinated the event. Let me walk you through the event, with the help of some great pictures:

Farmers in the mid-Atlantic region grew berries and greens for D.C. schools. Produce for the event came from farms such as Spring Valley Farm in West Virginia, River View Farm in Pennsylvania, Barajas Farm in Virginia, and Kilmer’s Farm in West Virginia. Schools also worked with Sam Ullery, School Garden Specialist, to plant their own berries and greens in their school gardens as well!

D.C. Public Schools hosted a kick-off event at Maury Elementary School in Ward 6. Councilmembers Tommy Wells and Mary Cheh were among the many dignitaries who came to celebrate. Students at Maury made strawberry parfaits with Whole Foods Markets, tried colorful salads with Sweetgreen, tasted a home-made strawberry vinaigrette with Chartwells, and learn about root vegetables with Chef Indigo. See a slide-show of pictures from the great event here.

The D.C. Farm to School Network coordinated over 30 volunteers to help out with “Where Food Comes From” tables in school cafeterias. These educational displays included plants, seasonality charts, stickers, and more to remind students of the farm-to-table process. Thanks to Whole Foods, volunteers had awesome t-shirts and banners to hang! In total, over 50 schools in all 8 wards hosted “Where Food Comes From” tables in their cafeterias.

And of course, students enjoyed the fresh, locally-grown strawberries and salad in their school meals! Most D.C. Public Schools served theirs with all-muscle chicken, corn on the cob, a whole wheat roll – a great meal to mark the start of warm weather.  Many thanks to D.C. Public Schools and their foodservice vendors (Chartwells, Revolution Foods and DC Central Kitchen), as well as the charter schools and their participating vendors.  See a full list of participating schools and vendors on the Strawberries & Salad Greens website.  The produce was a hit –

“We encouraged students to try tasting the lettuce and most really enjoyed it. One student actually ran around telling others, “you HAVE to try this!”  – Volunteer, Ludlow-Taylor Elementary School

Photo credits: Kathy Brown, Sam Ullery, and D.C. Public Schools

Arcadia Farm Spring Farm Dinner

On May 13, we were honored to host our first annual Farm Dinner at Arcadia Farm! In celebration of Mother's day, Chef Tony Chittum from Vermillion Restaurant treated 75 guests to an unforgettable dinner nestled in the growing fields.

The evening began with cocktails in the field and a tour from Farmer Mo. There were great questions, a lot of enthusiasm and we were excited about the number of parents in attendance who are sending their kids to Arcadia Summer Camp!

Menu items included charcoal grilled asparagus with maryland blue crab “remoulade” & little croutons and grassentials farm rabbit with whole wheat orecchiette, mustard & everona cheese. Arcadia Farm provided lettuces, turnips, beets, radishes and herbs for the meal! Our farm friends at Fields of Athenry, Northern Neck, Pipe Dreams Farm and Moutoux Orchards (as well as many others!)  also provided local, fresh, seasonal food!

We are excited to host more dinners on the farm and we send a sincere thanks to the Neighborhood Restaurant Group staff and the amazing staff at Vermillion for all your help and hard work to benefit Arcadia! We also thank all of our guests-- we are humbled by the community support and can't wait to see you out in the fields again!

To see a recap of the dinner and a short message from Chef Tony, please watch the video HERE! You can also check out some more photos from the dinner on the Mount Vernon Patch!


Mobile Market School Visits are in Full Swing!

When Arcadia's Mobile Market rumbled into the parking lot of Ferebee Hope Elementary, early on a Tuesday morning, we officially marked the debut of our Mobile Market educational school visits.  The visits will roll out in 10 schools throughout DC this spring.

Throughout the first day at Ferebee, more than 120 students ranging from kindergarten through 5th grade visited the Mobile Market, taking part in interactive activities hosted by Farmer Ben and Chef Tom, who demonstrated the seasonality of DC's local food system, discussed the benefits of choosing fresh and local food from farmers markets, engaged the kids in a market simulation, and provided a cooking demonstration and taste test.

We are gathering some great feedback from our pilot visits, both by observing what the students respond to in our lessons, and thanks to generous feedback from the DCPS teachers who've been captive observers of our rogue band of educational interlopers!

We're planning on engaging more than 1000 k-8 students this spring in our Arcadia Mobile Market school visit pilot phase, and are planning on more success next school year as well!


Field trip update: Five spring highlights

With field trip season well underway, we're welcoming as many as 100 kids to Arcadia Farm every week. Although countless great things happen during every trip, here are a few highlights.

1. Since we've got an awesome team of dedicated staff and volunteers, we're able to facilitate hands-on learning in small groups about soil, plants, pollination, nutrition, and more. Although we're hosting larger groups this spring, we're still providing individualized attention and a welcoming atmosphere.

Many thanks go out to our stellar group of staff and volunteers for all their hard work!

2. When we first started the field trip program last fall, many teachers from DC schools told us they'd like to come, but that buses were simply too expensive for the trip. So this spring, we offered eight transportation scholarships that allowed qualifying schools (schools with 75% or more students who receive Free and Reduced Meals) to join us for a day on the farm. We're really excited to be able to make the experience accessible to as many students as possible.

3. Now that our beets are getting ready to harvest, most of the food that our visitors eat from the salad bar is fresh from the farm! We've already been eating plenty of greens and radishes and we've got sugar snap peas and carrots on the way!
4. Our experiences with teachers who come to the farm have been wonderful. Not only do these teachers go the extra mile by taking their classes on the trip, but we have also been consistently impressed with the compassionate way they deal with their students.

5. The only thing better than a great field trip is the chance to remember it through great photos. Thanks to Arcadia super volunteer Kathy Brown for donating her time and skills to capture our farm field trips!


Photos: Arcadia Farm Dinner

A huge thanks to Amanda for attending our first farm dinner and for posting these great pictures of the event! We look forward to many more! 

Photos: Arcadia Farm Dinner


First Market Days a Success!

It’s nearly impossible to miss a huge green bus, decorated with colorful illustrations of vegetables. Nor can you miss the bins of fresh produce — Pink Lady apples, radishes, herbs, and heirloom lettuces — that are artfully displayed in crates along the side of the bus. 

Drawn to this event, eager shoppers press close to scoop up bags of favorites, such as kale, collards and chard. Others inquire about the taste and uses for unknown greens, like mizuna and tat soi.

Buy Fresh, Buy Local, Buy Northern Virginian!
During its first weeks of operation, the Mobile Market has carried both seasonal and storage items, such as early season greens, baby root vegetables, and late season apples, as well as locally-sourced and sustainably-produced milk, eggs, and frozen meat. 

The bus has attracted a wide range of market participants, and in only two weeks we’ve already had several repeat customers!  We appreciate our regulars, as they’ve helped to spread the word about the market to their neighbors and colleagues.  Among them are:

Ms. E. Perot, who purchased three bags of shiitake mushrooms and asked Benjamin to sauté a batch for her as he was doing a cooking demonstration, so that she could share them with her co-workers;  
Amber, a UMC employee who visited the market fives times, drawn to the sweetness of the apples;

and Miss Mary, who returned “searching for more of that delicious arugula,” and who took several flyers to promote the market in her senior apartment building.

Amber, the Apple Lover!
My favorite stop thus far is at The Overlook, where we are able to provide the residents with a $10 voucher for produce, thanks to a generous grant from the Capital Area Food Bank.  A lot of good natured bantering went on between the seniors as they queued to purchase “country brown eggs and bottled milk” like they’d eaten “back home.” 

It’s a great pleasure to be working to bring beautiful, healthy food to D.C. residents in low-income, low-food access neighborhoods, and to educate folks on the benefits of local, in-season produce.  We still get asked “when’re ya’ll gonna have corn and tomatoes?”  Soon, dear friends, soon! 


The Mobile Market is ready to roll!

After several months of sanding, priming, painting, and sealing, Arcadia's Mobile Market has finally gotten a proper makeover! 

Having painted many surfaces in my life, a 28-foot school bus was definitely a first.  Needless to say, this process has been a learning experience.  For instance, I now know that acrylic primer dries very fast when applied to metal in 85-degree, sunny weather!  

I also learned the importance of volunteers.  A million "Thank Yous" to both new and longstanding friends who sacrificed their precious weekend time to come out and help paint. You all rock!

A huge shout out also goes to Bancroft Elementary, who let us park our “Big Bad Green” bus in their students’ school yard! Many children stopped to say hello, and a few even contributed their designs for the bus.

The early stages of painting: Priming and Designing
The finished mural on the driver's side
Painting the Mobile Market was a lengthy project, and I definitely would have talked to myself to pass the time far more frequently if it wasn’t for Benjamin, the Mobile Market Director, who would volunteer to do the laborious tasks “no one else wants.”  Thanks, Ben!

I would also like to thank McCormick Paints for lots of helpful advice and supplying our materials at a discounted price!

All told, I am pleased with the final product, particularly since this project will be used to excite kids about eating veggies!   

To that end, the Mobile Market launched its weekly, educational school visits this Tuesday, to much success!

Check out the Mobile Market’s weekly schedule and route, and read our blog post to learn more about its programming and services!


Field trip update: Eight great quotes from our spring season so far

It's true what they say: kids really do say the darndest things. After the students leave, our field trip staff absolutely loves trading stories about the quotable kids they worked with that day.

After hosting groups from the Lab School, EW Stokes School, Whittier Elementary, and Thomson Elementary over the past few weeks, we thought we'd share some with you:

  • “That’s what my dad says. We should have more dirt in our diet.”
  • We asked for kids to suggest names for our new chickens, and some of the suggestions included: “Yo beautiful!” “Max!” “Blacksmith!” “John!”
  • “When worms do their business, it makes the plants happy.”
  • “Can we pick a ladybug and keep it?”
  • After tasting a freshly-harvested spinach leaf, one student remarks: “It tastes so much greener.”
  • “I want to be a farmer. It’s fun.”
  • We're talking about trap crops, one of the natural pest control methods we use on the farm and one response is “People are hearing and they’re gonna tell the caterpillars.”
  • “I never want to leave here."

Thanks to our friend Professor Amy Best from George Mason University, who recorded these gems during her field trip observations.


Join us for Family Fun Day!

Have you been meaning to check out Arcadia Farm with your family? Arcadians are quite excited to welcome kids to the farm, so ditch your urban plans on Saturday, June 16th in exchange for some good ol' fashion fun! Come to our:

                                                   Family Fun Day!
Saturday, June 16th
at Arcadia Farm, part of the Woodlawn Estate
9000 Richmond Highway, Alexandria, VA
  • Learn to make healthy farm-fresh snacks
  • Meet our chickens!
  • Play farm-based games with your family
  • Purchase produce from Arcadia's Mobile Market
  • Facepainting, arts and crafts, and more! 
Just $5 per person (Children 2 & under are free)
Register your family here!
The rain date is Sunday, June 17th.


Rockin' Red Radish Salsa a Hit at Schools

Our second month of DC Farm to School Local Food THROWDOWNS saw Chef Tom introducing students to something a majority had never tried - Radishes. The radishes really got a chance to shine as a healthy part of a dish kids are universally familiar with: chips and salsa. Chef Tom's Rockin' Red Radish Salsa gave kids a citrusy, fresh, not-too-spicy introduction to radishes that had them calling for more!

After students had eaten their school lunch, individual samples of the radish salsa were passed out and students were encouraged to try it and offer their feedback and thoughts on what they like or don’t like about the sample. Although some students were reluctant at first, Chef Tom heard overwhelmingly positive feedback from the students that they LOVED the salsa!

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 May is Strawberries - and our Local Food THROWDOWN recipe is a super-tasty Strawberry Gazpacho soup!


Radishes are a classic salsa ingredient in Mexico, and the technique of mixing a vegetable with an acid, chiles, and fresh herbs is common in many other parts of the world. This would go great with steak, or quesadillas, or just serve it with a big bowl of tortilla chips!

  • 2 cups chopped or grated red radishes (about 1 pound)
  • ½ English cucumber, peeled and diced
  • 2 scallions (green onions), thinly sliced (use only the green part for less onion flavor)
  • 1 minced fresh jalapeño (seeds removed)
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves
  • Juice of 1 lemon and 2 limes (approx 1/4 cup) to taste
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  1. Put all the ingredients in a medium bowl and mix thoroughly.
  2. Taste and adjust the seasoning, adding more chile, lemon, or salt as needed. 
  3. Serve immediately or cover and refrigerate for up to a day.