Arcadia's Partner Farms

Our Farm Director, Maureen, goes to great lengths to raise top quality produce without the use of chemical pesticides or fertilizers.  She has also designed her farm plan so that all of our crops are successionally planted, ensuring that there are fresh vegetables ready for harvest all throughout the market season.  As a result, one can find a wide range of Arcadian-grown produce at any of our eight weekly Mobile Market stops.

With a month and a half of operations under its belt, the Mobile Market has already made concrete progress towards realizing its mission of increasing access to healthy, affordable food in low-income, "food desert" neighborhoods -- market participation is on the rise and food assistance recipients are happily using their benefits to purchase farm-fresh fruits and vegetables, and sustainably-produced dairy, eggs and meat.  It's truly a pleasure to see our produce go home with market goers who couldn't otherwise access locally-grown foods.

In addition to working towards a more equitable food system in the National Capital Region, our Mobile Market provides an alternative outlet for local, sustainable farms.  As such, Arcadia works with a number of partner producers who share our farming philosophy.  We are proud to supplement our offerings with their farm-fresh products, and would like to highlight their operations:

One such producer is Whipple FarmLocated in the Piedmont region of Virginia, this 160 acre farm uses biodynamic farming practices -- among other things, this type of farming follows a lunar calendar and uses herbal sprays to naturally strengthen the pest- and disease-resistance of plants.  Whipple also specializes in growing heirloom varieties, helping to preserve the genetic biodiversity of our food stock, while putting out some seriously delicious veggies not found in the conventional food system.

Another partner farm - and the source of some of our best fruit - is Kilmer’s Orchard.  Hailing from Inwood, West Virginia (about 75 miles from D.C.), this family farm means business when it comes to growing fruit.  Derek is strictly no-spray on his berries and implements Integrated Pest Management on his stone fruits.  He is also a frequent source for fresh, local produce for a number of D.C. schools, through which we originally connected with Derek.  

Not all our partners are from further afield, however -- one of our closest partners grows on land within the District.  Common Good City Farm, a nonprofit organization located in LeDroit Park (where the Mobile Market makes a weekly stop), aims to “grow food, educate, and help low-income DC community members meet their food needs” through its various programs, while creating a “replicable model of a community-based urban food system.” It’s open to the public, and a lion's share of Common Good's produce goes straight to the community and local food banks.  They, too, exclusively follow environmentally sustainable practices.

For our pork and chicken, we work with the Haskins Family Farm in Middletown, Virginia, just 80 miles from D.C. near the Blue Ridge Mountains.  This 14-acre family farm humanely raises free-range poultry and pork on fresh, green pastures, where they get plenty of sun, space to roam, and get a natural diet of grass and bugs.  Because of this, the Haskins don't need to use antibiotics or growth-accelerating hormones with their livestock.

We work with Mt. Airy Farm via White House Meats for delicious, dry-aged ground beef.  This is a USDA-Certified, Organic Black Angus farm in Upperville, Virginia, where they have 1,000 acres of pasture to graze on.  Like our chicken and pork, no hormones or non-therapeutic antibiotics are used in the beef we receive.  We love working with Jon and Seth of White House Meats, who help to make this otherwise high-end product available for our low-income market participants. 

While we have our own small flock of chickens at Arcadia Farm, we go to Helen’s Hens to meet our growing demand for heritage, brown eggs.  These hens are also raised on pasture, moving from spot to spot behind grazing cows in their mobile chicken coops.  This allows them to pick at all the tasty bugs left in the cow’s path, while also helping to return nutrients to the pasture. Their diet results in nutrient-dense eggs with a rich, orange yolk that puts conventional egg to shame. 

Lastly, for our selection of milk products, we collaborate with Moo Thru for its prize-winning, grass-fed Holstein herd which grazes on a farm along the banks of the Rappahannock River.  Whatever milk doesn’t get turned into ice cream at this Remington, Virginia creamery is made available to the Mobile Market as Cream-Top Whole, Skim, and Chocolate, served in half-gallon glass bottles.


"Beet Believer"

Beets.  Folks either love them or hate them.

Benjamin had a love/hate relationship with them a few weeks ago when we were inundated by a load of freshly harvested Bull's Blood and Chioggia varietals.  "We've got to move some beets," he told me.

As the Nutrition and SNAP Outreach Coordinator, it's a regular pleasure to find recipes for the lovely produce that graces the Mobile Market.  I peruse books, blogs and internet recipe sites for inspiration.

Last week, we featured a Shredded Beet and Kale Salad with a Balsamic Vinaigrette at our SW Waterfront stop, to much success (we "moved some beets," in a matter of speaking).  This week's variation was even more popular -- we used the beet greens and stems in lieu of the kale.  Market participants were pleasantly surprised after trying a sample, for many of them hadn't know that you could cook the leafy greens.

Several people outright told us, "I don't like beets.  Never have."  After awhile, we realized that most market participants had only eaten canned beets growing up -- those bland, overcooked slices floating in red liquid, oftentimes accompanying a public school lunch.

I was raised on whole, fresh cooked beets seasoned with butter and salt.  They were one of my favorite veggies.  I even liked smearing them around my mouth, coloring my lips red with the "lipstick."  My sons enjoy juicing beets with carrots and fresh ginger as a tasty snack.

At our Wednesday stop at United Medical Center, I persuaded Tia, a first time market participant, to try the beet salad.  She said that it was good, better than the canned beets she'd eaten (and disliked) before.  She took her purchases and left, only to return moments later to buy a bunch of beets.  "You've made a beets believer out of me!" she said, holding the crimson roots by the stems. Once you try this dish, maybe you'll be a convert, too!

Shredded Balsamic Beet & Kale (or Beet Green) Salad  
      Serves four
  •          4 medium red beets (about 1 pound), peeled and shredded
  •          3 cups (packed) of thinly sliced kale leaves, OR 
  •       3 cups beet greens and stems, sliced
  •       1 ½ tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  •         1 ½ tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  •         1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  •         2 cloves fresh garlic, minced
  •         Sea salt and black pepper, to taste
In a large mixing bowl, toss together the beets and greens of choice. In a separate bowl, whisk together the olive oil, vinegar, mustard, and minced garlic. Pour the dressing over the salad and toss to coat. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Allow the salad to stand at room temperature for 15-20 minutes before serving.  

JuJu's Note:  Add some toasted pecans, goat cheese, or orange slices to jazz it up a bit!


Goodbye Spring... Hello Summer!

May Arcadia Peas ripe for harvest! 

Today is the Summer Solstice, a time for both joyful celebration for the abundance on the farm right now, and quiet reflection upon the previous months' toil.  It is quite hard to believe that only a few short months ago, we were training pea shoots through the trellis, weeding and mulching and feeding and watering them, waiting for the first sign of a pea pod.  And even just a few short weeks ago, we harvested the last of the pea crop and folded over the vines to feed the soil for next year.

Ripe Sun Golds:
Your first taste of Summer
It's not so hard to say goodbye though to the spring crops when so many others are bursting off the plants.  This week, we harvested beets, green beans, and three types of kales (curly, lacinato, and red russian).  Since summer starts this week, it was so appropriate to also find some ripe cucumber, squash, and tomatoes!  What a treat to have your first taste of summer right off the vine of a Sun Gold tomato plant!  While the beets, green beans and kale make their way onto Arcadia's Mobile Market (see schedule here), it might be a week or so for the tomatoes.  Though the season is a few weeks ahead, the tomatoes are still a bit green (fried green tomatoes, anyone?)... but, be patient, they will soon be ready!  We added more mulch to the tomatoes and continue to tie up them up as they grow keeping them up off the ground.  This week's hot dry DC weather will be a little rough, but the mulching will help retain moisture and keep those plants growing.

Happy Solstice to everyone and I hope you are celebrating the bounty of the season with a nice salad and something really cold to drink.  Perhaps, you'll be lucky enough to find a Sun Gold today!  Many thanks to Farmer Mo for saving one for me!

Garlic Harvest!

In the early summer, one of my favorite farm tasks is harvesting the garlic! I am ready to reap the benefits of bulb planting back in October! Garlic is planted as individual bulbs and left over the winter under a thick layer of  straw mulch. In spring, the green sprouts shoot out of the mulch and are some of the first green we see after the long winter!

Garlic scapes, or the garlic plant flower, emerge in late spring and are one of my favorite culinary treats. These unusual snake-like scapes can be chopped up and used like scallions or in any place you would use garlic! They are also great for pickling. The flowers must be taken off the plant so the plant can focus the last of its energy on making the garlic bulb large and delicious!

Around the 4th of July (although early this year!), the green top begins to brown and die-back and it is time to pull up the bulbs. Garlic then needs to be 'cured' or dried and is hung in bunches from the rafters of the barn (in this case, the kids shed). After about a month, the tops can be cut off or braided and the garlic is ready to eat! Garlic usually stores well for 8 months- 1 year.

Look for Arcadia garlic on the Mobile Market soon!

-Farmer Mo


Meet Alex Freedman, our Mobile Market Summer Fellow

The Arcadia Team is proud to count Alex Freedman among its ranks, a recent graduate from Tufts University and a Fellow in their Active Citizenship Summer program.  Both Alex and Tom will be joining us through August, bringing their varied experiences and perspectives to our organization. 

What experiences have prepared you for this position?

I've been growing food in my backyard since the 5th grade, and prior to graduating this May I helped run the Tufts Student Garden.  I think, however, that the most formative experience was my time at CitySprouts in Cambridge, MA, where I helped run their summer internship program for middle schoolers in the Cambridge Public School system.  Through this program, we taught lessons on gardening, cooking, food systems, and environmental stewardship.  This was the first time I got to put into action what I had been learning at school about food systems, food justice, and alternative forms of agriculture.  The learning curve was steep, and there were definitely challenges -- lessons which I was able to learn from for my current Fellowship at Arcadia.

What do you hope to come away with from your summer Fellowship with Arcadia?

I am really excited to be working with Arcadia!  I really hope to come away from this experience with a deepened understanding of local food systems and food justice issues specific to the D.C. area, as well as the practical life skills needed to run the Mobile Market.  The occasional bunch of kale or pint of berries wouldn't be so bad either!

What about this position are you most excited for?

I am really excited for the diversity of roles I get to play in this position.  I get to harvest and process produce, market it though outreach and social media, sell it directly to customers, and then deal with the financial side of running the market.  I love that I can do a job that is on the ground, directly serving people, and seeing the effects of the work that I do, while also getting a chance to experience all these different facets of what goes into running the Mobile Market.

If you were a vegetable, what would you be?

I would be a purple string bean -- they are fun, flavorful, and a little unexpected, but once you cook them up, they turn green, and you see they're not all that different from other string beans.  And who doesn't like unusually-colored vegetables?!

What’s your favorite season for growing produce and why?

I love the early spring when leafy greens and other cold weather crops are just getting started and beginning to sprout.  There is nothing more exciting than to look around at the cold barren soil of winter and see happy, little, green sprouts poking through the surface.


Looking ahead to fall field trips

Our tomatoes aren't yet ripe, but we're already thinking about squash and sweet potatoes. In other words, school is winding down for the summer (happy last day, DCPS!), but we're already looking forward to hosting field trips in the fall.

Want to know more about our program? Read on.

What will students learn on the farm?
After a farm field trip, second, third and fourth grade students will be able to make the connection that healthy, fresh food comes from the earth, and will understand the process of growing food sustainably. Students will be familiar with and recognize fruits and vegetables that grow near Washington, DC, so that they will be more likely to eat those healthy foods when they see them in the cafeteria or at home.

To learn more about how Arcadia Farm field trips meet 2nd, 3rd & 4th grade learning standards, click HERE for DC standards and HERE for VA standards.

When do field trips take place?
Arcadia Farm field trips in fall 2012 will take place on Wednesdays and Thursdays from 10:30 am to 1:30 pm beginning Wednesday, September 5 and ending Thursday, November 1 2012. Weather cancellations will be rescheduled for Fridays during the season.

How much do field trips cost?
Field trip fees are calculated according to the percentage of students eligible for Free or Reduced Price (FRP) Meals at your school:

70-100% eligible for FRP meals = $50 per trip
41-69% eligible for FRP meals = $250 per trip
0-40% eligible for FRP meals = $400 per trip

Note: We want to make our field trips accessible to as many students as possible. If cost is a problem for you, please let us know.

Can I bring kids from my summer program on a field trip?
Our own summer program, Arcadia Farm Camp, runs from July 16-July 27, but we can host trips on a very limited basis during other weeks this summer. Email liz@arcadiafood.org to request a visit.

Where can I find more information?
Please contact liz@arcadiafood.org with questions or to be added to our email list. We'll start registering schools during the first week in August. To see more pictures or read stories about past field trips, visit Arcadia’s blog or Flickr page.


Meet our Summer Fellow Tom Chalmers

We're excited to be welcoming a couple of Summer Fellows here at Arcadia through Tufts University's Active Citizenship Summer program. Read on to get to know Tom Chalmers, who is working with us through August on both farm education and with the Mobile Market.

What past experiences have prepared you for this position?

While in high school, I spent a year and a half interning for the Food Project, a nonprofit in the Boston area that deals with issues of food accessibility and sustainability in both urban and suburban environments. Through helping maintain their CSA, leading volunteer groups, and implementing urban outreach programs, I gained a rough understanding of the problems facing the modern American food system as well the role nonprofits might play in solving them. Afterwords, I worked at a local land trust in my hometown that attempted to integrate farming practices and healthy food into a modern, relatively dense suburban environment.

What do you hope to come away with from your summer Fellowship with Arcadia?

While at Arcadia, I'd like to learn more about the methods and practices that go into promoting sustainable food system education and outreach. I hope to see what goes into constructing the educational programs and the networks of food producers, sellers, towards which Arcadia has directed itself.

What about this position are you most excited for?

Everything! If I had to name one thing, however, it would be the educational events and programs that are being implemented for the first time this summer, including the camp and family fun day. Arcadia is growing at an incredibly rapid pace, and it's great to be able to examine and experience that growth from within the organization itself.

If you were a vegetable, what would you be?

A kohlrabi. I'm not sure why, but it was the first thing that popped into my head, and it looks pretty cool.

What’s your favorite season for growing produce and why?

Late summer to early fall; the momentum that carries through from earlier in the summer is a great thing to behold, and you can plant an incredibly wide variety of food knowing that it will all grow relatively healthily.


Kids at the Mobile Market

I love it when little kids come to the Mobile Market.  Many are curious about the brightly colored bus in their neighborhood; others remember when Farmer Ben and Chef Tom visited their school this spring.  They arrive in strollers, their parent's arms or on their own fruition.  Our cutest little regular is an 8-month-old girl whose toes remind me of sweet corn kernels all lined up in row. 

The children, as well as the adults, are excited by the smells and sight of fresh fruit -- apples, strawberries, cherries and raspberries.  To encourage the kids at our LeDroit Park Mobile Market stop to spend their money on healthy snack foods instead of a bag of chips around the corner, we created Fruit Bags for 50 cents.  This past week's offering included 2 strawberries, 8 raspberries and 10 tart cherries.  We sold out within half an hour!

Last Wednesday we ended the day by playing "Market" with 5-year-old Kizzie.  Benjamin showed her how to use the scale to weigh vegetables, and she followed suit, stacking cartons and calling out the prices. Using stickers as currency, I "bought" fruit, milk and eggs from Kizzie -- strawberry stickers were $10 bills, spinach stickers were $5's.  It wasn't long before she'd mastered the concept of commerce.

This summer my 9-year-old son, Zazu, will be conducting cooking demos with me at the Mobile Market.  He's been cooking ever since he was old enough to stand on a chair without falling over backwards, and he is quite competent in the kitchen.  Recently, he made stir-fried chard and shiitake mushrooms with garlic and ginger.  My hope is that seeing Zazu in action will inspire and inform people of all ages that even children can create quick, nourishing meals with minimal adult assistance.

In the meantime, I've got to start thinking about what I'm getting at the Mobile Market tomorrow.  Kizzie will be on the register.


Andrea's Leaving Arcadia :(

It is with both excitement and sadness that I share with you all that I will be leaving the D.C. Farm to School Network at Arcadia at the end of June. I have thoroughly enjoyed my time working to connect local farms with DC schools over the past four years, but I am ready for something new. I am most likely off to Minneapolis, MN next to work on farm to school programs with Minneapolis Public Schools.

Things will look a little different for farm to school in Washington, DC in the coming months:
  • There will be a Farm to School Specialist position created in the Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE) to work alongside the School Garden Specialist and focus on local procurement in DC schools.
  • DC Greens will be the new organizational home for the D.C. Farm to School Network's information sharing, community engagement, and outreach activities - the "network" part of the Network. DC Greens will oversee the farm to school newsletter, website, and community advocacy presence, and will convene the Network's Advisory Board.
  • Arcadia will continue to conduct educational farm field trips, visits by its Mobile Market to DC schools, and a farm summer camp.
And finally, there are some other really exciting farm to school updates I'd like to share:
  • I am honored to have won the NRDC Going Green "Young Food Leader" award! Check out this great video (start at 6 minutes).  Grist also wrote a really nice piece, and the Huffington Post is posting a series.
  • The D.C. Farm to School Directory is complete! It lists local growers interested to sell to DC schools, and schools looking to buy local products. Download it here.
  • We published a report called What's Local in D.C. Public School Meals, which looks at how much produce served by DCPS' vendors (Chartwells, DC Central Kitchen, and Revolution Foods) was local from September to December 2011. On average, it was a whopping 35%! Download it here.

Andrea Northup, commonly seen in carrot costume, always enthusiastic about salad bars, and forever connecting farms and schools!


We're hiring!

We're looking forward to adding a new member to the Arcadia team this fall: an Education Coordinator. Check out the position description below, and share it with folks who might be interested.

Position - The Education Coordinator is an essential part of the Arcadia Team, working closely with both the Farm to School and Mobile Market programs. S/he will primarily be responsible for coordinating the logistics of Arcadia’s educational programs, including farm field trips, Mobile Market school visits, and farm tours. The Education Coordinator will also work with Arcadia staff and volunteers to implement educational programs. The Education Coordinator reports directly to the Farm Education Manager, Mobile Market Director and Farm Director. S/he will work primarily at Arcadia Farm and Mobile Market visits to schools, with some off-site work from home or one of Arcadia’s satellite offices.

Responsibilities - The Education Coordinator has the following responsibilities, but is also expected to complete other duties as needed:

1) Provide logistical and administrative support for all educational programs.
• Communicate consistently and effectively with schools to schedule all farm field trips and Mobile Market school visits.
• Coordinate logistics for all educational programs.

2) Implement hands-on, farm-based curriculum for fall field trip program
• Help supervise and manage large groups of students
• Teach a short interactive, farm-based lesson at each field trip
• Assist with program evaluation

3) Implement hands-on, farm-to-market educational programming for fall Mobile
Market school visits
• Help supervise and manage large groups of students
• Assist with farm-to-market activities
• Assist with program evaluation

4) Coordinate tours and group visits to the farm
• Work with the Farm Director to handle requests for informational farm tours
• Lead farm tours and group visits as needed

Qualifications - The Farm Education Coordinator must:
  • Have extensive experience working with young people, preferably around sustainable agriculture issues;
  • Possess superb time-management and organizational skills;
  • Have demonstrated, superb written and oral communication skills;
  • Have the ability to work effectively with diverse groups of people;
  • Be a self-sufficient individual excited about working in a new nonprofit organization with limited resources; and
  • Be committed to the mission and ideals of Arcadia.
In addition to the responsibilities listed above, support for fundraising activities, educational events and special programs is expected.

The Education Coordinator is a full-time position from Aug. 1, 2012 to Nov. 1, 2012, 40 hours/week, with flexibility to work evenings/weekends as necessary. Compensation will be at a rate of $15/hour.

Arcadia is committed to a diverse workplace. Women, people of color, LGBTQ folks, and members of marginalized groups strongly encouraged to apply.

To apply, send a resume and cover letter to info@arcadiafood.org by June 15, 2012.