A new crop of farm education interns!

We're welcoming a new crop of fall interns to the farm - and what inspiring bunch they are! Over the next couple of months, Teiji, Amanda, Morgan, Marta and Lacey will spend one day per week on the farm doing field work and one day per week working with young folks who come to the farm for our field trip program.

Read on to virtually meet each of them! Interestingly, if our interns were vegetables, we'd have two carrots and two potatoes, plus a pumpkin - all fall veggies!

Meet Teiji Epling...

What experiences have prepared you for this position?
I am currently working at a small library, so I have the opportunity to interact with children from the area and understand what they are thinking. Probably because of my involvement with the library, I do a lot of reading, lately mostly focused toward issues in local/sustainable food systems. I also volunteer at my local food bank in the community garden, where we grow produce to help out those who are hungry around the area. Since learning more about food issues, I've started my own garden and even have my own small chicken flock!

What are you hoping to learn as a Farm Education Intern at Arcadia?
As a farm education intern, one of my main goals is to learn effective ways in which to get youngsters interested in where their food comes from. I'd also like to continue my own learning about food issues and continue to gather resources on ways to get involved with local and sustainable food efforts. As an organic gardener, I'm excited about learning hands-on techniques for keeping plants healthy and productive.

If you were a vegetable, what would you be?
If I were a vegetable, I would be a potato. They're not particularly flashy, but pack a calorically efficient punch while always finding ways to grow regardless of the soil.

Meet Amanda Green....

What experiences have prepared you for this position?
The majority of my farming experiences until this year have been in international agriculture, so I have a lot to learn about sustainable farming in Virginia! Since
this spring I've been working as a volunteer both at Arcadia and at the Washington Youth Garden at the National Arboretum in DC, and I also have an educational background in sustainable ag.

What are you hoping to learn as a Farm Education Intern at Arcadia?
I am hoping to learn the ins and outs of small-scale, organic farming in Virginia and also the organizational and project design behind Arcadia. I'm also excited about guiding field trips at Arcadia and learning what makes children enthusiastic about eating fresh vegetables. And I'd like to get to know the chickens a little better!

If you were a vegetable, what would you be? Definitely a carrot. I would be sweet enough for desserts, good for juicing, and I'd have a good chance of being present at Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner. Plus I'd have a totally wild head of hair!

Meet Morgan Maloney...

What experiences have prepared you for this position?
My experience with teaching youth volunteers construction techniques and low income housing issues has prepared me for the Elementary school Field Trip aspect of this position. I loved empowering high school students to use their hands, and a few power tools, to transform their communities. Hands-on education skills and a passion for healthy foods will allow me to teach these budding minds about the wonders of vegetables!

What are you hoping to learn as a Farm Education Intern at Arcadia?
I hope to gain a better understanding of the farm system and the role that it currently (and could later) play in the food system. Taking part in the care of the produce and learning from farmers like Mo and Liz can only lead to amazing things.

If you were a vegetable, what would you be? A carrot. I love the way carrots are dirty and strange on the outside but exquisitely crisp just beyond that outer layer. Plus, I’m a red head; obvious correlation there.

Meet Marta Spangler...

What experiences have prepared you for this position?
In addition to keeping my own community garden plot for a couple years in Pittsburgh, I have worked for several years for my neighbor’s fruit farm, located in Ortanna, PA.

What are you hoping to learn as a Farm Education Intern at Arcadia?
I’m interested in learning more about the interpretive and educational piece. I’m especially interested in seeing an example of how can we make growing more accessible to the larger community and to see how to empower people with knowledge about their food and food sources.

If you were a vegetable, what would you be?
I’m pretty sure I’d be a potato! So versatile, and so tasty, or perhaps I’d be a carrot, also delicious. I think I must be craving root veggies as it gets closer to fall, but I just love the simplicity and heartiness of good potatoes and carrots, and they can be fun to harvest, because it feels like you are digging for buried treasure.

Meet Lacey Walker...

What experiences have prepared you for this position?
I've never worked on a farm before so I'm coming at this position with an eagerly open mind. I grew up around dairy farms, small flower gardens and more recently I have gotten involved in work with animal sanctuaries.This environment, digging in the dirt and really transforming seeds into edible produce, is rather new to me. So let me speak to what sparked my interest in this position. I spent a year teaching English in France. It's impossible not to fall absolutely in love with produce in France. The open air markets, the stacks of carrots, the fresh soups, salads and quiches packed with vegetables - it's heaven! Food in France is not just an obsession for the tourists though, the children in France seemed to be much more in touch with their food systems and food options than I had been during my childhood in the US. My time there was really spent in an equal exchange of knowledge and when I got back I was eager to continue my love affair with fresh, local produce but I also wanted to find a way to include the youth in my area. Enter Arcadia.

What are you hoping to learn as a Farm Education Intern at Arcadia?
I want to learn what it means, first hand, to have a healthy farm. I am hoping to experience and really appreciate the work that goes into producing our food and understand the special thought that goes into a sustainable, organic farm. And hopefully I'll pick up some edible weed identification skills while I'm at it!

If you were a vegetable, what would you be?
If I were a vegetable I would be a pumpkin. As a kid my aunt called me Pumpkin Head and it is something that has stuck with me. I love fall weather, pumpkin pie for breakfast and toasted seeds as a snack. I like how pumpkin picking brings friends and families together. In fact, my father met my step-mother when we were at the pumpkin patch for a field trip when I was a kid!


Arcadia Launches New Website!

We are excited to announce the launch of our newly designed website, which goes live today, August 29, 2012 and is located at the same address: www.arcadiafood.org.  The new and improved site will provide a one-stop location to learn about Arcadia's programs, upcoming events, and latest news.  Through the new site, visitors will be able to register for field trips and other programs, sign up to volunteer, sign up for our newsletter and other mailing lists, and donate to support Arcadia's mission.  As Arcadia gradually evolves, we will update the site with more media content and interactive learning experiences.      

The website was designed and developed by Blueprint Interactive, a full-service marketing firm specializing in strategy, creative, and campaign execution for nonprofits, advocacy groups, commercial groups, and more.  According to Blueprint Interactive's Cameron Cook, "Access to healthy, affordable food is an issue that Blueprint feels passionate about and was honored and excited to work with Arcadia on an updated web presence."  Arcadia would like to extend its deepest appreciation to Blueprint Interactive for their work on the new website and other publications.       

If you experience any problems using the new website or if you have any suggestions, please contact us at info@arcadiafood.org.


“I learned that it's important to grow food” and other lessons from farm field trips

As we develop our farm education programs at Arcadia, we keep asking ourselves: What's the impact we're having? What are students actually learning at the farm? How are the lessons we teach relevant to their lives?

Luckily, we've had some awesome help in figuring all this out. We teamed up with Amy Best, a sociology professor at George Mason University, and Allison Helmuth, a graduate student from George Washington University, to evaluate our spring program. Allison helped us analyze the results of our pre-test, which students take before they arrive at the farm, and the post-test, which they take when they return to school. Amy observed seven of our trips and took extensive field notes on the lessons we teach and kids' reactions.

Here's what we found out:
  • Students showed improvement on almost every question from the pre-test to the post-test. They're learning something!
  • In particular, there was a 15% jump in the number of students who reported they'd tried all six of the veggies we named: lettuce, broccoli, radish, spinach, carrot, kale. Also, 8% more students said they had not only tried, but LIKED all six veggies after attending the field trip to Arcadia Farm.
  • After the field trip, 15% more students identified which vegetables were local and seasonal compared to before the trip.
  • We found strong evidence of peer-to-peer learning. In other words, students were actually reinforcing the lessons with their classmates by discussing what they'd learned.
  • While few students understood growing cycles or the difference between conventional and sustainable agriculture when they arrived, many students demonstrated knowledge & appreciation of food origins, seasonality, locally-grown food, and environmentally sustainable growing practices during the trip. Hurray!
On the post-test, we asked the students what they'd learned on their field trip to Arcadia Farm. The word cloud at right summarizes what they said. Plus, here are some of our favorite answers:
  • “What I learned on my field trip is that compost makes plants grow better.”
  • “I learned that healthy soil is a living thing.”
  • “I learned that it's important to grow food”
  • “That you have to eat healthy and eat veggies so you can be strong. Also you have to eat a lot of fruits.”
  • “Spinach, that I really liked it, I tried it for my first time at the farm”
  • “That radishes are spicy.”
  • “That the farmer doesn't spray chemicals to kill insects because they might harm the vegetable or kill the good harmful bugs”
  • “That using natural things are better for the environment and the plant”
  • “That carrots grow under the ground.”
  • “I learned that fruits come in different seasons.”
Lots and lots of thanks go out to Amy and Allison, as well as our spring field trip team for making it all happen. Want to register for a fall field trip? You can get more information here.


Local Partner Feature: Ward 8 Farmers' Market

Ward 8 of Washington, DC is considered a food desert for its dearth of grocery stores.  For this reason, we operate four Mobile Market stops in Ward 8 on Mondays and Wednesdays.  Fortunately, residents of this community have a great resource for locally grown foods on Saturdays, by way of the Ward 8 Farmers' Market.
Their Mississippi Avenue location at TheArc has ten vendors, including one who sells vegetables grown at the garden on-site.  The St. Elizabeth's site has another four vendors, one of whom was selling heirloom tomatoes the day I visited.  

Like Arcadia's "Bonus Bucks" program, the Ward 8 Farmers' Market doubles the value of SNAP/EBT, WIC and Senior food vouchers for fresh fruits and vegetables.  

There is also fresh artisan bread, pasture raised meat, home-baked goods and handmade soap available for purchase. 

The farmers at these markets are pleased to be able to provide their products to Ward 8 residents, and the smiles of both new and repeat customers are testaments to the appreciation with which their service is received.

The Ward 8 Farmers' Market has two locations:  

1901 Mississippi Ave SE
Every Saturday 9 am - 2 pm, through Thanksgiving

St. Elizabeth's Chapel Gate
2700 Market Luther King, Jr. Ave
Every Saturday 10 am - 2 pm, through October 27


Sign up for a field trip to Arcadia Farm this fall

We're excited to announce that registration for our fall field trips to Arcadia Farm is NOW OPEN! We'll take 2nd, 3rd & 4th graders and other interested groups of up to 50 students for interactive visits to our sustainable farm.

Arcadia Farm field trips will take place on Wednesdays and Thursdays from 10:30am to 1:30pm from September 5th to November 1st, 2012.

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; and 3) that fruits and vegetables can be healthy and delicious!

Click here to register for your Arcadia Farm field trip. Space is limited, reserve your date today! For more information about our field trip program, please contact brandi@arcadiafood.org. You can also visit our Flickr page to see some photos from previous field trips to Arcadia Farm.

We hope to see your group out at the farm soon!


Hi Farm friends,

It is with much sadness and a whole lot of pride for what we have accomplished that I announce I am leaving Arcadia at the end of the 2012 season. I have loved my time with Arcadia and can't believe how much we have done in two years! Where there was once grass, we now have a beautiful, productive space-- a space that preserves the historical integrity of Woodlawn and welcomes the community to embrace and support small-scale sustainable agriculture. I could never have done any of this without the help of countless people and a simple 'thank you' will never be enough. To my interns and volunteers, your help and input is immeasurable. To the staff at NRG, we can't thank you enough for all of your support.

Some of my favorite highlights over the last two years include:
  • The official launch of the Arcadia Mobile Market (great work, Ben!!)
  • Seeing elementary school kids at the farm twice weekly (Andrea and Liz, you are amazing!)
  • The pilot of Arcadia Farm Camp this summer
  • The Farm Dinners and all the help from NRG chefs and staff
  • The first tomato we grew in 2010
  • Walking the field on an early fall morning with coffee in hand
I am going to miss my co-workers insanely, but I will still be involved with Arcadia and not too far
away! I am excited to be moving on to Moutoux Orchards in Loudoun County to manage the veggie farm there. I am excited to continue selling fresh, local produce to the mobile market and host kids for Farm to School week.

I will miss Arcadia and have loved my time here. With an aching back, dirty fingernails and a huge smile, I can't wait to see what Arcadia's future holds and the impact this organization will have on the Chesapeake region.

Thank you to everyone!

-Farmer Mo


Final Thoughts from our Mobile Market Fellow

The Arcadia Team wishes Alex Freedman the best of luck as he begins his yearlong placement with CitySprouts as a FoodCorps service member.  I was very fortunate to have Alex's help this summer, and will miss his invaluable assistance operating the market and engaging with our clients.  Below are Alex's final notes from his Tufts Active Citizen Fellowship:

As with most things that are great, they pass too quickly.  Summer is coming to an end, which for me means that my time with the Mobile Market is ending, too.  

The richness of my experiences defies all expectations -- I began my fellowship at Arcadia with specific objectives, and while I accomplished my goals of learning the inner workings of a nonprofit, running a small business, and the production and distribution of sustainable food, the greatest lessons from this summer were the daily interactions with our market-goers.              

Sustainable food issues have been my primary interest for many years, but they were largely discussed in an academic setting.  This fellowship brought these issues to life through my conversations with real people, and by serving real communities like Anacostia in D.C. and the Route 1 Corridor of Alexandria, Virginia. 

Alex overseeing a busy Mobile Market stop

I love working a farmers’ market because it brings you so close to the diversity of human experience.  I got to talk with a woman from Cameroon about a seed-sharing business she has with family who visit her in America, so that she can grow African varieties of bitter greens and beans.  I learned about one man’s experience living with diabetes and his new-found appreciation for vegetables.  I bonded with another woman over our mutual hope for Michelle Obama to visit the Mobile Market (Madame President: if you are reading this, please take note!).  On a number of occasions, I chatted at length in Spanish with a pair of Peruvian women who were seeking beef lung (unfortunately, we can't sell this variety of offal).  One regular told me about his trials growing tomatoes in his backyard, while another shared about his life living in Fort Belvoir.  On top of all this, there’s the countless family recipes I’ve been entrusted with!   

JuJu and Alex with Mr. Avalos, Undersecretary of the USDA

The most rewarding lesson, however, was the frequent debunking that low-income residents in “food deserts” don’t care about where or how their food is grown – to buy into this prevailing assumption totally ignores the vast range of experiences, interests and motivations represented by our market-goers.  These are the faces of the food movement, and they were the ones who taught me the most.   

I am now headed back to Boston, where I’ve been accepted into a one-year placement through FoodCorps.  Now in it’s second year, this branch of AmeriCorps works in partnership with local organizations and elementary schools around the country doing food education, school garden coordination, and school lunch improvement.  My placement is with a nonprofit called CitySprouts, where I worked last summer.  I am really excited to focus my energies more specifically on elementary and middle school education, although that presents a whole new range of challenges!    

Alex helping a group of summer campers pick out some healthy snacks

This summer was incredible, and I will miss my incredible colleagues – Benjamin and JuJu, first and foremost, and the host of helpers who regularly assist with the bus and farm.  They made my job so positive and welcoming every day.  I wish the best of luck to my replacement (who I am sure will be introduced on this blog shortly,) and will be sure to visit again soon! 


Meet Brandi, our new Education Coordinator

We're pretty excited to welcome Brandi Redo, our brand-new Education Coordinator, to the Arcadia team. This fall, she'll be working with the Mobile Market on educational visits, on the farm with farm tours and helping out with farm field trips. She'll also be working behind the scenes to coordinate logistics.

Read on to learn more about Brandi.

Tell us about your past experiences and what brought you to Arcadia.
I grew up in Hayward, California where our high school mascot was the Farmer. Chris, my husband, (who I met in high school) and I always joke about how we weren't even nerds we were agrarian. I have always loved being in wide open spaces and eating food fresh out of the earth. I believe that the energy you put into the food you will get back and so I love making things grow with my own hands, chopping and preparing food and teaching others to slow down and do the same.

What about the position are you most excited for?
Before I came to Arcadia, I worked and continue to work as a Health Coach. I do weight-loss challenges, teach folks to prepare healthy meals in their homes and do group cooking demos and wellness seminars for all ages. I have taught classes in a number of notable locations from McDonalds Corporation to the USDA and I really want to contribute what I know about group nutrition education to the wonderful programs going on at Arcadia.

Every time I visit the farm my nose is greeted with the fragrance of beautiful flowers and fresh herbs and my tummy rumbles knowing that there is wholesome, delicious, real food at my fingertips. I am excited to introduce this feeling of connectedness and wholeness to communities where real food is scarce. I have had an opportunity to witness the magic Ben and JuJu work at the Mobile Markets and am thrilled to be a part of that.

If you were a vegetable, what would you be?
If I were a plant food I would probably be a winter squash. Either a butternut or a spaghetti squash because they make people happy and are tough on the outside but naturally sweet on the inside. The spaghetti squash is particularly appealing because it is unique and surprising.

What’s your favorite season for growing produce and why?
I really like the fall growing season because the weather is milder and I feel more motivated to get out in the yard and garden. I also like the vast variety of fruits and vegetables you can grow in early fall and the idea of the large harvest around Thanks Giving. I am a big fan of the leafy greens that grow well in the fall, especially kale and collards which are the most important part of my diet.


Eggplant, Peppers and Tomatoes an All-Around Hit

Eden Garber is a doctor at Unity Health Clinic in SE DC, as well as a repeat customer at our Mobile Market.  She runs an eight week Exercise and Nutrition program for her clients, who recently received gift certificates for fresh fruits and vegetables at our market.  

A few weeks ago, Eden invited me to speak to her clients about healthy eating and to do an on-site cooking demonstration.  With summer vegetables in full swing, I decided to share a delicious and easy eggplant dish with this wonderful group of women.  It proved to be a hit, with many of Eden's clients saying that they'd now start to include quinoa in their diets. 

I also had the privilege to prepare this dish for USDA Undersecretary Ed Avalos when he visited the Mobile Market on Thursday.  Having grown up with these hot-weather staples in Southern New Mexico, Mr. Avalos enjoyed this dish with similar gusto. 

Eggplant with Peppers and Tomatoes

About 1 pound of eggplant (2 small or 1 large)
Salt and pepper
4 small sweet peppers, or 2 big peppers
1/4 cup olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, chopped
3 large ripe tomatoes, chopped OR
4 cups cherry tomatoes left whole
1/2 cup slivered basil
1 small can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed (optional)

Cut the unpeeled eggplant into 1 inch cubes.  Core the peppers, discarding the seeds and membranes, and cut into pieces.

In a large skillet over medium heat, saute the eggplant cubes in the oil until they are brown.  Remove them from the skillet and set aside.  Lower the heat to medium low and add the peppers, onion, and garlic to the pan.  Cook gently until the peppers and onion are soft.

Return the eggplant to the skillet, along with the tomatoes, stirring everything together.  Cook for about 20 to 30 minutes, or until the tomatoes are reduced to a thick sauce.  Stir in the basil, salt and pepper, and the garbanzo beans, if desired.  Serve with brown rice or quinoa.


USDA Under Secretary to Visit Arcadia's Mobile Market - Thursday, August 2, 2012 at 1:00 p.m.

Mobile Market Stop at Ledroit Park, Washingon, DC 
USDA Under Secretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs Ed Avalos will visit Arcadia's Mobile Market stop at the Fairfax County South County Center in Alexandria, Virginia on Thursday, August 2 at 1:00 p.m. to learn about our efforts to provide nutrition education and outreach programs and increase access to fresh, local, nutritious foods in underserved communities. 

We hope you can join us at the Market to shop for some incredible local produce, meat, eggs, and milk, and an opportunity to meet Under Secretary Avalos.

WHO:    Agriculture Under Secretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs Ed Avalos

WHAT:  USDA Under Secretary Ed Avalos Visits Arcadia's Mobile Market

WHEN:  Thursday, August 2, 2012, 1:00 p.m. – 2:00 p.m.

               8350Richmond Highway, Alexandria, VA 22309

Help out with our fall field trip program!

Have you been looking for a way to get involved with Arcadia? Have a flexible schedule? Like working with kids? Then read on...

We're looking for Volunteer Farm Field Trip Assistants to help make field trips to Arcadia Farm safe, educational and fun. Field Trip Assistants will,provide instruction and supervision, help monitor the space, and assist with general garden maintenance.

Here's what some former Volunteer Farm Field Trip Assistants had to say about their experiences:

"I enjoyed learning and teaching about sustainable farming just as much as the children did. It was so nice to meet and work with the team of women on the farm and the children were delightful. Tasting the honey straight from the hive was a thrill as was picking up the chicken and her fresh eggs." - Volunteer Field Trip Assistant, Spring 2012

"Watching kids see a carrot pulled from the ground for the first time is something special. Their eyes light up and and you can almost witness the synapses in their brain fire. Before your very eyes, their schema for a carrot has changed. That's pretty awesome." - Field Trip Assistant, Spring 2012

We’re looking for volunteers who can commit to one Wednesday or Thursday from 9:30am to 2:30 per week for the duration of the Arcadia Farm field trip program, which runs from September 5 to October 31. For more information, read the full description here.

To apply, email Liz (liz@arcadiafood.org) with your resume and a note describing your interest.