A Note from the Field at Arcadia Farm

Arcadia Zucchini,
photo by Molly M. Peterson
In farming, there’s a point of frustration that settles in every spring. So much time and energy go into prepping fields, planting, and tending veggies, and there is very little immediate payoff. I operate solely on faith and the memory of seasons past to keep me motivated during these lean times. And then seemingly overnight, everything changes…

Summer hits, and it’s all I can do to stay on top of harvesting all of our delicious crops from the fields. It’s incredibly rewarding to see that produce making its way onto the Mobile Market and to know that it’s going out to people who will enjoy cooking it and sharing it with their friends and families. Fortunately in a good year, we have a surplus of crops that need to find a good home, and luckily we've been able to build a network of chefs and restaurants that have been clamoring for this food. By selling this surplus food, we are able to bring in revenue to help support our programs and to gain greater exposure as chefs highlight our produce on their menus. Some of the restaurants that we’ve worked with this season include Columbia Firehouse, Evening Star CafĂ©, Tallula, Rustico in Ballston, Birch and Barley, and Red Apron Butchery, and they have all created delectable dishes to highlight our seasonal produce.

As the season winds along, there are always new crops coming on and many more on deck. We've all spent a great deal of time completely covered in mud as our first new potatoes are coming out of the ground, and these little guys are perfect and delicious for a summery potato salad. Our first tomatoes are getting just a kiss of ripening. It takes all of my willpower every year to wait until the first tomato is fully ripe before eating it, but if you've ever jumped the gun for a lackluster tomato, you know that the patience of letting it ripen on the vine is definitely rewarded handsomely.

Just a quick reminder that our next volunteer day is coming up this Saturday from 9am to noon. We’ve got some fun tasks lined up, and slots are filling up fast, so register today!


Mid-week Additions to the Mobile Market Spread

Last week, after we wrapped up our market at the Circle 7 Express in Kenilworth-Parkside, our Mobile Market bus headed over to the Brookland Farmers' Market to meet some fellow farmers. Michael from Licking Creek Bend Farm (based in Needmore, PA) had a bunch of delicious vegetables waiting for us to add to our plethora of offerings.

The most exciting addition -- one that was a favorite at our markets for the rest of the week -- was a big box of heirloom tomatoes. These were the first tomatoes we had this season, and many of our customers had been eagerly awaiting their arrival. We also received our first zucchini, and look forward to having different varietals of squash at the Mobile Market as the summer goes on.

Along with the new offerings, Licking Creek Bend Farm had plenty of radishes, scallions and garlic scapes.  The scallions will hopefully tide our customers over until full size onions are in season. Radishes are an unfamiliar root vegetable to some, but they work great as both a baked or mashed dish, or as a lighter addition to a salsa or salad.

As the season goes on and more produce comes into season, we will be carrying an increasingly varied and voluminous supply of farm-fresh foods. Come find us at any of our stops across the city to see what we have! The schedule can be found on here.


Buzzing Bees Blog: Inspecting Hives with Evan, the Bee-Smoker

By Ian Northrop, Arcadia Bee Keeper and Volunteer
Edited by Marsha Johnston, Arcadia Farm Education Volunteer 

Both of the hives in the Arcadia Apiary are quite young and somewhat vulnerable, so Evan and I opened and inspected them on our second visit to the farm. 

When I inspect the hives, Evan – outfittd in his junior beekeeper suit -- helps by using the smoker. He is becoming quite skilled at directing smoke into the hives, which calms the bees  and makes them less inclined to sting. Evan told me that the bees like him more than they like me, because he has the smoker! 

We start our inspection by taking off the top of the hive box, known as the “hive body.” Once open, we take each frame out of the hive to get clues about the health of the bees.  A normal hive body has 10 frames where the bees build their comb. The bees grow young bees and store honey on these frames.  We look for the presence of a queen bee.  She is the largest and most important bee in the hive, as she lays all of the eggs that create new bees.  We also look to see how heavy the frames are with bees and honey—the heavier the better.  As the colony grows, they will begin to make more honey to eat during the winter. If we’re lucky, the bees may make enough honey so that we can harvest and eat it too!

Of the two Arcadia hives, one is strong, so we add another empty body to it so the bees can make more comb and honey. 

The other hive still looks pretty weak. Evan, my expert bee-smoker, and I will pay special attention to this hive over the next several weeks to make sure it strengthens.


Buzzing Bees Blog: Our First Arcadia Apiary Adventure!

By Ian Northrop, Arcadia Bee Keeper and Volunteer
Edited by Marsha Johnston, Arcadia Farm Education Volunteer 

I have been fascinated with bees for as long as I can remember. Early this spring, I finally purchased hives for my family. We placed them in my parents’ backyard, as their yard is larger than ours and thus less likely to cause neighbors to stress about having bees move in! 

My wife Kara volunteers at Arcadia as a farm educator, so when I discovered that Arcadia needed someone to maintain their hives, I volunteered immediately.

In late April, my 4-year-old son Evan and I began a cleanup of the Arcadia apiary, which is located just behind the gazebo. Several hives had not made it through the long winter. We cleaned the bee-less hives, including one that was now host to a family of mice (the mouse stuck his head out for a photo). It’s often difficult to tell what killed honeybees that don’t make it to the spring, so to be sure no viruses or mites are lurking about, we discard most of the items in the hive and even the hive itself if it looks infested. 

Before throwing the unusable parts away, Evan diligently cut out all the beeswax that was salvageable. We collected several bucket loads of beeswax that he is excited to experiment with, turning them into beeswax products like candles and soap.


Welcome Arcadia's new Tufts University Interns, Gene and Mae!

We're thrilled to be hosting two more Tufts University Active Citizenship Summer fellows this year. Gene Buonaccorsi and Mae Humiston will be contributing their talents and passions to the Mobile Market and Farm to School Programs, respectively.  Read on to learn more about our newest additions to the team!

Gene Buonaccorsi

What experiences have prepared you for this Fellowship?    

As a recent Community Health undergraduate, I have a solid understanding of issues relating to health justice, food access, and assistance programs. Extensive classwork concerned with program design and implementation gives me a solid background for understanding the Mobile Market’s goal and decision-making processes.   

Outside of that, much of my enthusiasm for the position comes from a desire to put my learned skills into action. I have always been a hands-on person and have enjoyed taking part in small projects where my efforts can actually influence the outcome. The nature of the Mobile Market is such that I will be able to practice outreach and program management, while also gaining farm-based knowledge and a greater awareness of the implications of community involvement.      

What is most exciting to you about joining the Arcadia Team?    

The Arcadia Team is one that provides solutions. Whether through farm education or food access assistance programs, there is positive change happening across the board. I’m extremely excited to be working for a group of people that share such a knowledge of and passion for progress. The Mobile Market -- where I will be spending much of my time -- is a perfect example of the forward thinking, engagement oriented mindset of the staff at Arcadia. It will be a pleasure to learn from the people who designed the organization's programs.   

What are some of your goals for 2013?    

I look forward to challenging myself in all aspects of my work this summer. From effectively assisting market patrons to learning about foods and herbs I've never heard about, there are news experiences at every turn. My goal is not to work without making any mistakes, but to work with meaning and purpose and persistence.

I also hope to contribute some of my unique skills and ideas to the different programs at Arcadia.  For example, my passion for communications and media will hopefully allow me to provide some tangibles (videos and written materials) that will further the reach and significance of the wonderful programs that I will be involved with.    

What’s your favorite healthy recipe?    

As an athlete, I used to struggle to build meals that had adequate protein (allowing me to recover from workouts), while also getting my vitamins and avoiding unnecessary fats. That is, until I got my hands on a blender. Doubling as a healthy meal replacement, my peanut butter and banana smoothies have kept me going through many a tiring day.   

- 1 banana  
- 1 small scoop of organic creamy peanut butter   
- ½ cup of skim chocolate milk   
- 2 tablespoons low fat vanilla yogurt   
- 1 multivitamin tablet   
- 4 ice cubes   
Blend until liquified, and take on the go if necessary.   

If you were a vegetable, what would you be?   

If I were a vegetable I would be a potato, and not because it's my favorite vegetable (although that is also true).  I would be a potato because I’m useful in a number of different situations. Whether as an able and willing set of hands on the farm, as a program planner, or as a creative communicator, I feel that my skills lends themselves to a number of important tasks.  Vegetable-wise, one day I’m sliced and baked, the next day I’m mashed -- and delicious, no matter what.

Mae Humiston

What experiences have prepared you for this Fellowship?  

I was born and raised in western Virginia in a largely agricultural area, so I’ve been around food production most of my life. When I went to college, I focused on agriculture as an independent study through my Anthropology major, doing internships at The Food Project, on a historic estate farm, and on a farm on conservation land. Working and living in a wide range of agricultural production and sales models has given me a good idea of the state of sustainable agriculture today, but I’m looking to learn more about how these models are connecting with our school systems and other institutions—which is why I’m here now.

What is most exciting to you about joining the Arcadia Team?  

I am most excited about the multifaceted approach of Arcadia and observing how sustainable production, sales, education, and food justice can intertwine. I’m also really looking forward to helping teach the new generation of conscious farmers, foodies, and feasters!

What are some of your goals for 2013?  

I’m hoping to come away from this internship with a better understanding of the workings of a food-focused non-profit, a stronger network of acquaintances and friends concerned about food and farming issues, and, of course, the chance to work with kids, farms, and food.

What’s your favorite healthy recipe?  

Butternut Squash and Goat Cheese Pizza

Your favorite pizza dough
Butternut squash
Goat cheese
Head of garlic
White sauce (good recipes can be found online: http://www.food.com/recipe/white-pizza-sauce-279060)

  1. Roast your head of garlic and your butternut squash
  2. Mix your garlic cloves in with your white sauce
  3. Spread white sauce/garlic mixture on dough
  4. Spread roasted butternut squash over white sauce
  5. Plop dollops of goat cheese on top
  6. Cook for however long your pizza dough requires
  7. FEAST (Feel free to add whatever other toppings you fancy. This pizza is especially good with spinach and caramelized onions!)

If you were a vegetable, what would you be?

I would probably be a radish because, like a radish, I grow best in full sun and I love to hang out in the soil! I can also be a little spicy if you dig down a bit, but generally I’m low key and green!


Field Trip with Kindergarteners excites the senses!

More than 40 kindergarteners from Early Childhood Academy Public Charter School in D.C. visited Arcadia on May 3rd. The field trip complemented the students' focus on healthy eating habits, and the farm provided a living classroom to observe the connection between the environment, nutrition, and education.

We began with a sensory tour of the Groundhog Garden. Kids touched, smelled, and tasted their way through sorrel, rosemary, and mint.

After a delicious lunch, which included a carrot and beet salad fit for Iron Man himself, the little farmers visited the five stations:  tasting, soil searching, funky chickens, buzzing bees and pesky pests, and incredible edible plants. It was a day full of adventure as the kids spotted new plants, chopped and grated veggies, and dug for worms. They even fed the chickens clovers and saw honey bees collecting pollen!

Never underestimate the power of experiential education. One of our young farmers sampled our fresh vegetables and whooped: "These beets are off the hook!" More expressions of joy are showcased in the photos from their Field Trip. We were happy to see the kids enjoy new and unfamiliar tastes and explore the beautiful grounds of Arcadia. 

Early Childhood Academy also participated in our In-Classroom Follow Up Visit pilot this season. Three Farm Educators visited the students in their classroom in Southeast D.C. this week and brought the farm to the classroom. A worm bin, rotting food scraps, and fresh soil were all a part of a continued learning lesson on our friends, the "Wonderful Worms." 

Thinking ahead to the fall? Well, so are we! Our registration for our Fall Field Trip Season, which runs November 4th - September 1st, is now open. Field Trips are for school groups (grades Pre-K through 5th) and special custom groups. 

If you would like to schedule a field trip, visit  http://arcadiafood.org/arcadia-farm-field-tripsHope to see you on the farm!

Written by: Aisha Salazar