Field trip registration opens Monday!

We're opening registration for 2013 field trips to Arcadia Farm on Monday, December 3.

Here are some reasons our field trip program is awesome:
  • We encourage kids to try new healthy fruits and vegetables by showing them where food comes from.
  • The Groundhog Garden, our kid's educational space, is a fantastic classroom where kids can interact with each other and with nature in a positive way.
  • We help reinforce classroom learning by providing hands-on lessons where students can experience the concepts they've learned in school. For example, check out the photo above: instead of just learning about decomposition in a book, kids can dig in the compost and even touch worms!
We've gotten some great feedback from teachers, like the comment below.
I thought the trip was very well organized and the volunteers were really great with the students. All the topics were interesting, age-appropriate and relevant to what we were studying at the time. I loved that the students got the opportunity to get hands on with their learning and their favorite part was tasting all the different things from the garden. - DCPS third grade teacher, fall 2012
Our program is designed for pre-K through 5th grade groups of up to 60 students. In 2013, Arcadia Farm field trips will take place on Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays starting March 20. Learn more by visiting the field trip page on our website or you can download an overview of the program here for Virginia schools and here for DC schools.

We hope to see you out at the farm soon!


We're growing! Preparing new fields for 2013

The growing season is winding down and the Mobile Market is in the shop for repairs, so Mobile Market Director Ben has a new project: procuring leaves. LOTS and LOTS of leaves.

Why all the leaves? We're expanding Arcadia Farm! In 2010, we cultivated our first 1.5 acres. In 2013, we're hoping to put about two more acres under cultivation to grow more healthy local food for the community. We're using the leaves as a mulch, which will decompose over the winter and improve the health of our soil. We're also adding horse manure from a local stable as an organic fertilizer.

Those two acres (also known as the lower field) are visible as you drive south on Route 1 from Alexandria. With help from our friends at Mt. Vernon, we tilled the land for the first time in the spring of this year. Then, we planted oats as a cover crop to suppress weeds and we grew a few vegetable crops, including potatoes, kale and radishes.

We're also winterizing our original 1.5 acres using cover crops like winter wheat and red clover, and lots of leaf mulch. Plus, we're still harvesting carrots, spinach, kale and more from those fields.

With the help of those leaves, some decomposers and a new Farm Director (stay tuned for a post about Stephen next week), we're looking forward to making the lower field a beautiful, productive space in 2013.


Wrapping up our fall field trip season

After a bustling, exciting fall season, Arcadia Farm is quiet this week after our final field trip of 2012 last Thursday.

We started the program last fall with the belief that experiential learning can play a key role in helping kids form healthy and sustainable eating habits. In other words, we think that when kids have the opportunity to learn about where good food comes from, they're more likely to eat it and they're more likely to become healthy adults. We also think the farm is a great place to explore and reinforce the concepts kids learn in their classrooms, like plant life cycles, decomposition, and pollination. Plus, the farm is FUN, for kids and adults alike.

We welcomed about 350 kids to the farm this fall and just under 1000 kids in 2012. Here are some highlights from this fall's trips:
  • We got lucky: we had NO cancellations due to weather this season! In fact, we hosted most of the trips to the farm under sunny fall skies.
  • Inspired by our trip to the Washington Youth Garden, we added farm-fresh honey tasting to our Pests and Pollination station. Not surprisingly, it was a huge hit.
  • Education Coordinator Brandi strengthened our Taste Sensation station by incorporating healthy recipes like a honey mustard dressing and a beet salad. (Check out the kid on the right: he can't get enough of that beet salad!) She also made some awesome additions to the salad bar, including roasted eggplant and hard boiled eggs from the farm. Yum!
  • Awesome intern Lacey filmed one of our trips, and is in the process of creating some videos of our lessons that we can share with future farm educators (and you!).
What really stood out this season is our fantastic field trip crew: Kasey, Eli, Adriana, Brandi, Teiji, Marta, Lammot, Morgan, Lacey, Amanda and Mallory. It was a joy to watch this awesome group of farm educators grow and learn over the course of the season and it's because of their skills and passion that we have a successful field trip program. Kudos to the field trip team!

See you in the spring! (Email liz@arcadiafood.org for more information about spring field trips).