Welcome Arcadia's New Executive Director, Pam Hess

We are very happy to introduce Pam Hess as Arcadia’s new Executive Director. Pam brings incredible talent, experience, and energy to Arcadia, and she has a great reputation in the Sustainable Food community. We're really excited to have her join the team, and as you learn more about her, we’re sure you’ll share our enthusiasm for what lies ahead.

What experiences have prepared you for this position?

I come to Arcadia with kind of a weird background -- I was a journalist who covered national security for 20 years, and I spent a fair amount of time in Iraq and Afghanistan. Between my trips overseas, I found myself drawn to the then-burgeoning world of sustainable agriculture. I had grown up with my mother feeding us from a garden (and picking blackberries in a really vicious bramble to make jam and ice cream all summer), so I was predisposed. But like many people, my "entry drug" was Michael Pollan's "The Omnivore's Dilemma." It changed the way I ate and shopped and cooked, and I became an amateur evangelist for a local, sustainable food system.

From writing about the wars, I went to Capitol Hill. It was a brief legislative career, but it taught me a great deal about government... and also that I'm better suited to affecting change from the outside than I am trying to shepherd it from the inside. I then became the editor of a beautiful and important local food and wine magazine, Flavor, that celebrated local sustainable farmers and the chefs and businesses who served their food. That's how I learned about Arcadia (OK, I fell in love with it). Flavor became Foodshed in 2012, which is both a local food magazine and a non-profit. My work with Foodshed, while brief, was fruitful: I connected many small farmers with many willing chefs; I helped landowners find young sustainable farmers to make their acres productive; and I was able to give many talks extolling the genius that is sustainable ag to folks who had not yet explored the topic. My favorite fact: on a pasture-based farm, if you raise both cattle and sheep and rotate them through the same fields, they deworm each other without the use of medicine! Email me for the details. They aren't exactly pretty (that’s why I am being oblique here) but they are fascinating. Mother Nature has a lot of this stuff figured out for us, if we are only humble enough to listen. (Farmers call it "biomimickry.')

I'll be drawing on all of my experiences to help Arcadia grow in its resources and mission. I'm not afraid of much (once you've had an AK-47 in your face after curfew in Kabul, and you don't know the password, other stuff doesn't seem very menacing.) I'm willing to ask anyone for just about anything (journalism!). I'm steeped in and am dedicated to the subject matter, and I have a pretty large network that has proven to be willing to open whatever doors they can for me. I am working with a fantastic team, so I feel confident we are going to do great things.

I'm particularly excited to be reaching out to my military network to begin making a place for recent veterans who want to learn to farm at Arcadia. It's a great field (no pun intended) -- entrepreneurial, problem-solving, independent, physically challenging. It is exactly the environment in which our service members excel. In fact, I did a story at Flavor on three local veterans who have taken up farming, which is what got me thinking on this. And Arcadia has already been exploring the idea, as the farm backs right up to the Army's Fort Belvoir. It's going to happen, and I am pumped.

What is most exciting to you about becoming Arcadia's Executive Director?

Arcadia is an incredible organization with great people doing important work that has an immediate impact on a problem that affects all of us -- the public health crisis engendered by a food system that has evolved over the last 30 years to shovel calorie-dense, nutrition-free food into us. People without much money are especially vulnerable. They have fewer options to find healthy food – fewer well-stocked grocery stores, fewer farmers markets. Many rely on neighborhood corner stores for the bulk of their groceries, and those generally are not bastions of fresh food. Arcadia's Mobile Market brings the farmers market into these neighborhoods, and doubles the face value of food assistance benefits, making it possible for our customers to eat healthier diets on a tight budget. The Arcadia staff gives samples, has recipes, and shows people how to prepare and serve sometimes unfamiliar ingredients (honestly, what do you do with kohlrabi?). It's a pretty cool thing, and you should volunteer to go out on the bus with Benajmin and Juju and see for yourself Arcadia's impact.

I'm most excited about giving other people the chance to be a part of Arcadia, and the great work we are doing. You can donate, volunteer (please! I have big plans for volunteers!), donate, attend our educational events (or send your kids to our farm camp, which is awesome), go to our fundraising dinners, or, I don't know, donate. Did I mention I am soliciting donations?
I'm also really excited about our sourcing. Arcadia isn't just about bringing fresh, local, healthy, real foods to people with otherwise limited access. We also buy our food from local farmers. We pay them a fair price for the incredible food they raise. If we want a vibrant, healthy food system, we need great farmers who can pay their bills. Not one of them is getting rich. They do it because they love farming and know their work is a public service. They should be paid fairly for it, if only for your own selfish reasons: so delicious food is there when you want it.

What are some of your goals for 2013?

I'll just lay it out: money. I am looking to raise a couple of hundred thousand dollars, in addition to the federal, state, local, and private grants we are going after. With enough money, we can expand our Mobile Market program, bringing more healthy, locally grown food to people who really need it. Obesity, diabetes, heart disease -- these are endemic in low-income areas. It's not that people just like to eat Twinkies (guilty!), it's that many don't have an affordable alternative. If you have a couple of hungry kids and not much money, you're probably going to pick whatever delivers the most calories for your buck. That's a completely rational decision. But if you make healthy, delicious, in season, well-raised food both accessible and affordable? You've changed the equation. Multiple studies of "bonus bucks" programs show that if you double the value of food assistance benefits, the beneficiaries respond by MORE than doubling the amount of fresh food they eat. You know how amazing a just-picked heirloom tomato tastes in the height of summer, especially when it's still warm from the sun? That's a universal experience. But some people can't afford it. We put that experience within reach.

With more money we can bring children to farm camp whose families would not otherwise be able to afford it. They'll get their hands dirty, pick veggies straight from the garden, make delicious food, run around in the grass, learn about biology and botany, and how to make their own gardens.

I'll make my pitch here: sponsor a kid for camp this summer. It's about $300 per child, per week. If you're sending one of yours and have some extra cash, make a gift so another child can enjoy the same experience, and enrich your own child's social network.

What’s your favorite healthy recipe?

I make kale chips all the time. They are more satisfying to me than potato chips -- thinner, crunchier. Wash and dry kale leaves really well. You can pull out the ribs or not, as you wish. I usually do. Toss them with the tiniest smidge of cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil (really good for your heart) and shake a bit of coarse sea salt over them. Bake them for about 20 minutes at 275 on a baking sheet until they are shatteringly crisp. (Make sure they are not touching, or they won't get as crisp.) Consume while watching "The Bachelor."

I also make tabouleh during the summer but use quinoa (a super grain) instead of Bulgar wheat, with really good tomatoes, cukes, and a ton of fresh flat leaf parsley and a little lemon. Gazpacho. I always have that in the fridge during torrid summers. Another summer dish: watermelon-feta salad, with black olives and pickled red onions, a la Nigella. I just made Morgan, our education coordinator, a really healthy but delicious and vaguely Moroccan chickpea-and-diced tomato stew with cumin, garlic, a little fennel seed and smoked paprika, and some hot red chili flakes. It's good when the weather is cold. I love whole roasted fish stuffed with herbs and lemon, but you have to be okay with its eye lookin' at you while you eat it. Just about any veggie, roasted till it's brown and all the sugars have caramelized, is fantastic.

Seriously, if anyone wants these recipes email me! Be warned (or better, be excited!) that I will be asking you to volunteer when you do.

If you were a vegetable, what would you be?

Another recipe opportunity! I would be a roasted red beet, and hopefully whoever roasted me would peel me, slice me thinly, layer me with thinly sliced Granny Smith apples, and grate some fresh horseradish over my head. Add a little square of feta cheese on top, a dollop of unsweetened Greek yogurt on the side and a sprinkle of fresh dill or a few thyme leaves...that's a good eating.

Chipotle Mexican Grill Sponsors Arcadia's 2013 Field Trip Program

We're proud to announce that our friends at Chipotle Mexican Grill will continue to support Arcadia by sponsoring our 2013 Field Trip Program. Chipotle's generous support will help us to provide important nutrition and agriculture education programs to more than 1,000 Virginia and D.C. school children in 2013. It will also enable us to provide transportation assistance and field trip scholarships to schools and children in need.        

Chipotle has generously supported Arcadia since our founding through contributions to Arcadia Farm, the Mobile Marketand the Farm to School Program. Chipotle staff have also taken an active role in our programs and events by providing food and cooking demonstrations. We are honored to call Chipotle a partner and very grateful for their continued generosity.

Arcadia Teams with Power Supply for New Protein Bonus Bucks Program

Arcadia is excited to announce a new partnership with Power Supply to create a new Protein Bonus Bucks program for the Mobile Market. This program will expand our current matching dollars program for local produce to include locally sourced, hormone- and antibiotic-free meat and eggs purchases as well. The new Bonus Bucks program will match the first ten dollars of all SNAP purchases of meat and eggs at the Market, providing important cost savings to the people who need it most. 

Power Supply, a paleo-diet meal delivery service based in Northern Virginia, is supporting the Mobile Market as part of is Giveback Program. Through the Giveback Program, Power Supply will donate 1% of their proceeds back to the local community. Arcadia is very proud to be Power Supply's first partner organization in this great program. Thank you, Power Supply and everyone participating in their Giveback Program.


Notes from Arcadia Farm: Welcome Spring!

Preparing the soil at Arcadia Farm.

My winter is always spent with a great deal of time in front of the computer.  Every square inch of the farm is mapped out and scheduled for planting, cultivating, and harvesting.  And then, as I like to say, the season happens.  Fields don't dry out like I'd like, the weather stays cold later than I'd like, and seedlings aren't growing according to schedule.  These are the nuances that make me view farming as much an art as a science.  On a new piece of land, you have to be flexible; you have to observe and learn not force too hard, as tempting as it may be to try to meet that schedule.  

All of the planning and prep work and patience pays off when that first seed hits the soil in the spring.  There's something meditative about the process; the cool soil on my hand, tools gliding through the dirt, and the faith in this most basic of human acts.  At the end of the day, we have to put our faith in seeds and in nature, and trust that all of the hard work will pay off and that we'll be rewarded with a bountiful harvest.

Spring has arrived at the Arcadia Farm, and our interns and volunteers have indeed been busy working our fields from sun up to sun down, prepping land and planting seeds.  We have ambitious plans as we embark on this new season to bring new land into production, expand the scope of our growing, thoroughly educate everyone who spends time with us, and, most importantly, grow delicious food to share with those around us.

Cheers to the new season!

Stephen Corrigan, Farm Director


Welcome to our new crop of Farm Education Interns!

We're welcoming a new crop of spring Farm Education Interns to the farm. They’re quite a talented and enthusiastic group!

Over the next few months, Erin, Anne, Cary, Jenny, Aisha and Gretchen will spend two days per week on the farm working with a team of Farm Educators to conduct our Field Trip Program. They’ll also be working on outside projects that will help Arcadia’s Farm Education Programs grow. 

Read on to virtually meet each of them and check out their bios. If our interns were vegetables, we'd have a full meal, including an eclectic mixed greens salad and a side of eggplant and mushrooms!

Erin Bischoff
What experiences have prepared you for this position?
For a few summers I was involved with a nonprofit that does community development work with local youth in Latin America.  Some of the projects I've worked on have ranged from community vegetable gardens and nutrition workshops to building latrines and renovating schools.  This exposed me to the potential that young people have when working towards a common goal and the experience of organizing volunteers allowed me to grow as a leader.  
What are you hoping to learn as a Farm Education Intern at Arcadia?
My exposure to agriculture is mostly limited to experiences that took place in tropical climates, so I'm very excited to learn about agricultural practices and produce that can be found in this region.  I'm also looking forward to learning about which fruits and vegetables are most abundant and available seasonally so that I can use them more appropriately at home.
If you were a vegetable, what would you be?
Even though it is technically a fungus, I think if I were a vegetable, I would be a mushroom. They're earthy and bold in flavor, but they also have a very delicate side to them.

Anne Criag
What experiences have prepared you for this position?
I love being in gardens and I enjoy sharing that enthusiasm with other people, especially children. Being a classroom teacher for over 10 years, teaching many grade levels, I know the most successful and enjoyable lessons involved the students moving around and having materials they could touch and manipulate. Sharing time with my own children often involves discovering wonderful things in nature. I am a gardener that believes there is no meal as delicious as the one you started with a seed months before.
What are you hoping to learn as a Farm Education Intern at Arcadia?
As a Farm Education Intern at Arcadia I am hoping to learn more about sustainable farming and new ways to share the importance of it with children. Working at a non-profit organization will be a new experience for me.
If you were a vegetable, what would you be?
If I were a vegetable I would be lettuce. Lettuce is pretty easy to grow and I am pretty easy to get along with. I am happy being by myself but I also enjoy being with others too. My son says I should be lettuce because I am always saying, “Lettuce do this together. Lettuce get started.”

Cary Euwer
What experiences have prepared you for this position?
I co-taught an environmental science course for 4th graders in college, and that was the first experience that really got me thinking about the optimal way to learn while considering what knowledge is absolutely essential. Unsurprisingly, our best lessons revolved around hands-on projects and food. Inspired by the empowering potential of growing one’s own food, I went on to work as the coordinator for a community vegetable garden in a food desert in north Saint Louis, where I was responsible for both the garden and the large volunteer events needed to put non-profit Grace Hill’s vision into effect.
This previous work culminated in probably my most enjoyable experience: teaching environmental science lessons, particularly on the carbon cycle, to 5-7 year olds for Living Classrooms in the summer of 2012. The cornerstone of our lessons centered on a small vegetable garden.
What are you hoping to learn as a Farm Education Intern at Arcadia?
I’d like to learn more about the possibilities of environmental education, and what crazy ideas people with a passion for it can come up with.
If you were a vegetable, what would you be?
If I were a vegetable: I’d be Okra.

Jenny Roe
What experiences have prepared you for this position?
While working towards my MS, I volunteered on Gorgie City Farm where I served as an Education Volunteer. I led weekly hands-on workshops with elementary school children, teaching them about food production and farming. This experience has provided me with the basic skills necessary to teach children in an outdoor setting about our food system and the important impact it has on the environment and our health. In addition, I spent time working  in a garden where I was able to experiment growing my own organic vegetables for the first  time and acquired basic gardening skills. I also grew to truly appreciate growing your own vegetables as it is a difficult task however extremely rewarding.
What are you hoping to learn as a Farm Education Intern at Arcadia?
I hope to be inspired by the children and other visitors who come to Arcadia each day as well as the other interns and staff members. Children always ask the most difficult questions that you would never think of, this always pushes me to think outside of the box and gives me a new perspective on things. Working with such a motivated, passionate group of people will push me to continue working towards my goals of making the world a healthier, happier place.
If you were a vegetable, what would you be?
Spinach! I put spinach in everything, it is so versatile which I can identify with. When gardening in Scotland, my spinach plants grew the fastest so I was always taking home fresh, organic spinach for all of my meals! It also helps make you strong, as I work to become stronger each day.

Aisha Salazar
What experiences have prepared you for this position?
I have worked with children as a tutor, camp counselor/director, and currently as a science educator. I interned as a food and wine reporter for Northern Virginia magazine, where I learned about sustainable agriculture by touring farms and talking with local chefs and farmers. I spent an intensive week in Toulouse, France where I visited several organic and biodynamic farms and learned about issues affecting Europe during a class on sustainable agriculture. Through my academic research I have been to both US borders to learn about agricultural inspection methods, toured large production farms, and learned about food safety and food defense policies. Arcadia will allow me to combine all those experiences as a Farm Education Intern.
What are you hoping to learn as a Farm Education Intern at Arcadia?
I’m hoping to learn a variety of engaging, hands-on, and entertaining methods to educate children about agriculture, nutrition, and food. I’d like to understand how children perceive food and how to broaden their appreciation of and exposure to food, agriculture, and the environment. Everyone has that favorite food memory, so hopefully I can help create that while at Arcadia. I want to learn how a non-profit like Arcadia works and learn more about the food system and food security issues within the DC metro region, as well as how to communicate these issues to children (and those that are young at heart).
If you were a vegetable, what would you be?
This is a tough question. If the question is based on what vegetable I eat the most and therefore “you are what you eat,” I would be cilantro or a potato. Cilantro adds an extra punch to a dish, while you can cook potatoes in so many different ways. I think I can relate to both in that I’m versatile and tend to adapt to situations well. I relate to cilantro with its zest and gusto…mine would be a zest for knowledge, food, and fun. I’m also pretty well-grounded. On that note, I would be corn with all the puns and corny jokes I make.

Gretchen Verilli
What experiences have prepared you for this position?
Prior to this internship, I was a nutrition intern and dining educator for UVa Dining for almost 5 years. Both of those positions taught me a lot about promoting health and wellness to students in a way that is both fun for them and effective in communicating our message. I also spent a summer during college working on a farm and selling the products at several farmers’ markets around the area.
What are you hoping to learn as a Farm Education Intern at Arcadia?
I am hoping to learn new and exciting ideas of how to promote healthy lifestyles to children. I hope to get children excited about nutritious foods, and also learn more about farming and agriculture.
If you were a vegetable, what would you be?
I would be an eggplant. They thrive in full sunshine, and I love the color.


We're hiring summer Farm Camp Counselors!

“This experience reinstates why I'm committed to farm education.” - 2012 Farm Camp Counselor

Would you like to help create the next generation of sustainable farmers, chefs, and eaters? If so, we have the job for you!

We’re looking for Counselors for the second season of Arcadia Farm Camp. Counselors will be primarily responsible for an age-specific group of children during four one-week sessions. This is a paid position and runs from July 1-August 5. Camp hours are Monday-Friday from 7:30am-5:00pm beginning July 8.

At Arcadia Farm Camp, we seek to connect children (ages 6-12) to where their food comes from through hands-on farming, cooking, and eating experiences. Campers will develop an understanding of food origins, seasonality, sustainable agriculture, historic preservation, land conservation, and culinary arts.

Farm Camp Counselors have enthusiasm for sustainable agriculture and the environment, a willingness to get dirty in the garden, and an ability to carry out lesson plans. They play a vital role in creating a vibrant and fun learning environment for campers. Please view the job description for full details and application instructions. Must be at least 21 years old to apply. Deadline for applications is April 2, 2013.