Sign up for updates

From the Arcadia Blog

Subscribe to From the Arcadia Blog feed
Local Food. For the People, By the People.
Updated: 51 min 32 sec ago

Garlic Love -- Isaac "Zeek" Lee, Farmer-Veteran

Mon, 12/07/2020 - 11:24

 As many of you may know, one of our Farm Fellows this year, Zeek Lee, is quite smitten with garlic. Given that planting garlic is one of the last big projects of the year, I asked him to share some of the reasons he's passionate about this particular crop with all of you:

I fell in love with garlic when I smelled fresh garlic as I pulled it out of the ground for the first time. Garlic is the only vegetable that makes me smile when I see it growing in the field because I know that beautiful fresh smell is coming. It's also my favorite vegetable to harvest, cure, and process. 

Garlic is medicinal and has a crazy amount of health benefits due to a chemical called allicin. For example, it helps in the prevention of common illnesses and some think that it can even help to aid your body in preventing some cancers. Aged garlic extract helps to clear your vascular system, reducing blood pressure and improving cholesterol levels. Black garlic has a whole other list of medicinal properties including prevention of common cancers that both men and women should check out. Google it. I dare you!


Garlic is one of the most profitable crops to grow, because you can grow a lot of it in a small space. 

Garlic cloves need to be planted pointed side up at double the depth of their size -- if the garlic clove is an inch tall it needs to be planted 2 inches deep. If you plant an elephant garlic clove, which can be 3 inches tall, it needs to be planted 6 inches deep. 

Typical garlic needs 5-6 inches of spacing. Elephant garlic needs 8-10 inch spacing. Plant in a triangular pattern and you can fit more per square foot.  

Garlic is usually planted in October so order garlic online in August because you seed stock  will disappear quickly by the end of September. You can also plant garlic in the Spring when the ground first thaws. It’s best to use black landscape fabric over your seeds in October or during spring planting to keep the soil warm and weeds down. A 3-inch thick layer of straw or 2 inches of leaf mulch is similarly good for winter insulation and weed suppression. But you will still need to weed! 

Softneck garlic is best suited for southern states, but some varieties of hardneck are also good for southern states. Hardneck varieties of garlic grow curly scapes that turn into flowers. Harvest the scapes before they turn into flowers to enhance the size of the garlic bulbs. Plus, garlic scapes are great in stir fries. Softneck garlic does not produce scapes. Sad face!

Harvest & Cure: 

To harvest garlic you'll need a pitch fork or a shovel. You want to sink your fork in about eight inches away from the plant to steer clear of the piercing the bulbs, and lift up the earth to make each plant easier to pull. Pull the garlic at the base of the stem but be careful to not break the stem. Pulling hard can break the stem which may cause future bacterial problems in the bulb during the curing process, resulting in little to no shelf life. Do not clean the garlic; just gently shake the soil off the roots. Be careful with the bulbs as they are very sensitive to bruising. When one of the cloves of the bulb gets bruised it will be the first to rot. All cloves next to it will also go, so use them ASAP. 

Hang your freshly harvested garlic out of direct sunlight outside where it has plenty of ventilation. When all the garlic leaves are brown and dry, cut the garlic bulb stem 1 to 1.5 inches from the top of the bulb and store it in a dark room with ventilation. Store it in the refrigerator at a temp of 35-40 degrees for long-term storage

. Store garlic cloves in a ziplock bag or container of soil in the freezer if you plan to plant it in the spring. Like tulips, garlic needs a cold season to be able to produce a bulb.

Oh, I shouldn't forget to mention that I love garlic for the flavor. Did I mention that garlic is in almost every cuisine around the world?! It makes your food smell and taste better. Have you ever tried garlic bread without the garlic? Yea, not so great!

Hot tip: Softneck garlic is great for using fresh as a mince garlic or in dressings like Italian and Greek or added to a sauce like marinara and alfredo. Hardneck garlic is great roasted or sauteed. Elephant garlic is great for those who don't love the spicy taste of garlic. It's extremely mild in taste whether used raw or roasted! Also elephant garlic is not a garlic. It's in the leek family. Don't ask me why because it had me fooled too! Touché, Elephant garlic. Touché! 

Soil Magic: Reflections From a Veteran Farm Fellow

Thu, 10/08/2020 - 17:15

By Vanessa Hale, USAF, ret.  

The first time I cooked food I had helped grow at Arcadia, I started to cry.  Maybe,  just maybe,  it was the white spear scallions that helped the tear ducts awaken, but shortly thereafter I was full on weeping.  I can’t pinpoint the exact reason why.  Was it the wonder I felt following the miracle from gently pressing the tiny seed into the flat to pulling it from the soil?  Or was it the sense of accomplishment after months of aching, callousing, sweaty work resulting in this delicious meal?  Or even shadowed realizations that my Dad’s pancreatic cancer resulted from his type II diabetes, which resulted from his lack of fresh healthy food?   Regardless, eating vegetables I helped to grow has been a very emotional experience for me, one that results in improved health for both body AND mind, each and every time.

As our Fellowship year draws to a close, I have been doing alot of reflecting.  Trellising 300 feet of tomatoes provides ample opportunity!  One thing I have noticed is just how well I’m navigating this pandemic.  While the world is in turmoil, and many friends and some of my own family members are struggling,  I have thrived.  I’ve maintained a consistent schedule and eaten well.  The physical activity has been intense, leading me to restful sleep.   I’m learning new things through purposeful work.  I get to socialize with other farmers, discuss ideas (albeit 6 feet away and masked), and spend lots of screen-free time outside in the sunshine.  

But it started off rocky; let me explain.  This Fellowship was my first time working outside the home, since my youngest was born 13 years ago.  Shortly after the commencement of the Fellowship, quarantine started, my children struggled with the transition to screen school, COVID was having a field day with my anxiety, and an aunt, uncle, and cousin died suddenly within three weeks of each other.  My heart was breaking and zeal withering.  To be honest, I had several conversations with my spouse that maybe this was not the best time to return to work.   I started to think about how I could effectively manage this transition.

In my former life as a military social worker, much of my time was focused on helping troops and their families find accessible and effective ways of relieving psychological pain.   While some therapeutic interventions were complex and analytical, and some were focused on skill building; many were simple and straightforward.  We would address essentials such as improving sleep quality, improving nutrition, increasing or shifting  types of physical activity, finding fun and socialization.  We also worked on discovering or reconnecting with hobbies and activities,  establishing consistency in a daily routine,  capturing opportunities to foster deeper connection, whether in a religious setting or outside experiencing nature, and learning new things and giving back to the community -- helpful activities reduce stress.

I realized all the essential elements I worked to help my clients recapture were, for me, all wrapped in one package: a Veteran Farm Fellowship at Arcadia. I flourished due to the physical labor, the human connection, the fresh food, purposeful work and the sunshine… coupled with incredibly supportive and flexible colleagues, and furthered by a little soil magic.  

You may be aware of soil magic. If not, it's a soil microbe called Mycobacterium Vaccae.  These microbes, which can only be found in soil, enter our bodies through inhalation, skin absorption, and directly into our bloodstreams through cuts/scrapes -- especially during farming and gardening. Neuroscientists are studying the effects of this bacteria on serotonin stimulation. Serotonin is the chemical in our brains linked to relaxation, stress reduction, and a brighter mood.  Research studies demonstrated that cancer patients, when exposed to this microbe, showed improved mood. Animal studies showed increased concentration and improved cognitive function.   

So I encourage you to get outside and get your hands soiled.  I hope you take the opportunity to grow your own food, tend a flower garden, or volunteer at Arcadia when public health guidance allows, so you too can experience the soil magic!

Ready for their close up: The Birbs of Arcadia

Fri, 07/03/2020 - 12:12
The gates at Arcadia are still closed to the public and to keep safe, Arcadia farmers wear masks, stay six feet apart, wash their hands obsessively. The birds, though? The birds have no idea there's a pandemic going on.

They're living their best life on the 56 acres tucked in between Ft. Belvoir and Richmond Highway that is Arcadia's Dogue Farm, our vegetable production farm.

The Bluebird boxes hosted eggs, chicks fledged and the next tenants have already moved in.

On a recent Sunday an amateur ornithologist and budding photographer took a sunrise walk on Dogue we just had to share @nature.birdy's photos with you.

If you spend much time at Arcadia, you've likely seen this guy or some of his friends. The Red-winged Blackbirds hunt among the fields closest to Richmond Highway; in the evenings and early morning hours they can be found perched on cattails swaying under their weight in the catchment pond. Last season we observed them hunting butterflies in groups and we weren't even mad. It's a tangible example of the ecosystem Arcadia nurtures by not using pesticides or herbicides. Everyone eats!

Her plumage is far more subtle, but the female Red-winged Blackbirds are also beautiful and they too helps with pest control in the fields. Wikipedia says Red-winged Blackbirds are the most abundant living land bird in North America: bird-counting censuses of wintering Red-winged Blackbirds show that loose flocks can number in excess of a million birds per flock and the full number of breeding pairs across North and Central America may exceed 250 million in peak years. The Red-winged Blackbird male is all black with a red shoulder and yellow wing bar, and the female is a nondescript dark brown. Seeds and insects make up the bulk of the Red-winged Blackbird's diet.

This female Tree Swallow is so cute you almost want to reach out and boop her on the end of her beak. At Dogue, tree swallows nest in the equipment barns, the Bluebird boxes from time to time and, we suppose though we haven't set out to find any, cavities in trees, too. Per the Audubon Society, these little marvels eat berries and insects, which gives them a survival advantage in the winter over other insect-only swallows.

This male Downy Woodpecker is exciting to get to see upclose-- we hear them sometimes, when the farm is quiet (not often midday but oh, that sunrise hour!) and we see the holes they leave in the trees but we don't often get to see them--perhaps because they're so small? Adult Downy Woodpeckers are the smallest of North America's woodpeckers, and very common. They are great insect eaters, which is why we love 'em. Natural pest control for the win!

This female Orchard Oriole was hard to see until our young birdwatcher pointed her out, and we're so glad he did.

Another super pest predator, with a side of seed spreading: In breeding season, they eat insects and spiders. Later, their diet also includes ripe fruit, which quickly passes through their digestive tract. She will be very happy to know we are planting a fruit and nut orchard this fall at Dogue!

The farm is also a home for romance: we couldn't resist sharing these shots of two Barn Swallows having a rendezvous. Barn Swallows form breeding pairs each spring after they arrive on the breeding grounds. They form new pairs each spring, though the same two birds may nest together for several years.  But there may be trouble in paradise: Wiki says Barn Swallows often copulate with other swallows that are not their mate. On the other hand, let's hear it for fluid gender roles: the male and female work together to build a nest -- a mud shell lined with lined with grass and feathers. Both parents incubate the eggs, which hatch in 13 to 15 days. The chicks are naked and helpless when they hatch till they fledge at 20 days. Both parents feed and protect the chicks, as well as removing their fecal sacs from the nest to keep it clean. (The equivalent of a bird diaper change, we guess).

Thanks for coming along with us on our birb walk. This isn't all of the birds at Arcadia--just the ones we encountered on a quiet quarantine morning. We have raptors too. 15 acres and no one remembers seeing a squirrel or a rabbit. Everyone eats! Leave us a comment if you want to see more of the wildlife at Arcadia and for more stunning bird photos head over to Instagram and check out @nature.birdy. We're so lucky to have this pictures and see the biodiversity we work so hard to welcome up close. We're practically Jurassic Park over here. You know birds are dinosaurs, right? Like, literal dinosaurs. Also, wash your hands and wear a mask!

Meet Mary Charlton, Arcadian of the Month (see also: panda keeper)

Fri, 06/19/2020 - 09:05

It was hard to get June’s Arcadian of the month to sit still long enough to answer some of our questions--and not because she typically runs 20 miles a week. She is truly a busy woman.

Mary Charlton in the Arcadia Groundhog Garden -- pre-pandemic! Nine years after leaving her job as a primate and giant panda keeper at the National Zoo to stay home and raise a family, Mary Charlton is a cherished member of the Arcadia family. She came to us by way of Stratford Landing Elementary School where she’s the Outdoor Learning Coordinator and Garden Teacher. Last Spring Arcadia’s outreach and education coordinator Juan Pablo Echeverria visited schools in the Route 1 corridor to assess their gardens for assistance, and asked for a tour of SLES’ outdoor space.
"I honestly didn't want to take the time to give anyone a tour of the garden --I didn't realize what he was looking for,” she admitted.

But she quickly came to understand what Juan Pablo was bringing to her program -- expert growing guidance, educational resources, and an additional set of hands.  Being affiliated with Arcadia has made a huge difference in the garden classroom, Mary says: "Just having someone else to bounce ideas off of--from planting to tending-- is valuable.”

“He [Juan Pablo] even helped water all summer. He shows up and works, and he’s a bit of a rogue gardener too. I look around sometimes and see a zinnia or a pepper growing that I am sure I didn’t plant--and I smile."

A November 2018 grant to Stratford Landing funded horticultural therapy in the garden at school --every one of the 800 children at SLES has had a hand in planting, prepping or tending that garden--and the resulting produce is distributed at a free farmers market at Gum Springs Community Center. Most of the children who participate in the free and reduced lunch program at SLES live in the vicinity of Gum Springs, and the vegetables she grew in the space tucked between buildings at school went home with the students. “We wanted to make sure the kids had access to fresh produce,” she smiled. It made sense to Mary to reward them with the literal fruits of their labor.

When COVID-19 closed Fairfax County Public Schools, one of her first concerns was for the garden and subsequently the free farmers market--where would the families get extra produce if the school and the garden were closed? Ever resourceful, she found a donor to fund produce boxes for a few weeks, teaming up with Arcadia to continue the program through the rest of the summer with a grant from Act for Alexandria.

Now she and a few volunteers and Arcadia staff distribute 66 boxes of produce a week at Gum Springs Community Center. Each box has enough produce to feed a family of four for a week, and they are supplemented with bags of fresh greens from Arcadia each week--kale, collards, spinach, ovation greens.
At Gum Springs, waiting for the students' familiesShe looks forward to the distribution each week, despite the amount of work it entails.

“It’s great to see the kids--I call them my kids-- sometimes when their parents come to pick up the produce,” she said. “It’s important for me to see they’re still getting healthy, local food to supplement their meals even though school is closed.”

Arcadia's farmers take pride in contributing to the weekly "market."

“A few weeks ago [Arcadia Farmer] Katherine gave us extra seedlings to give away at Gum Springs the reception was overwhelming,” Mary said, emotion in her voice. “It was so neat to talk to people about their own gardens and where they'd grow these plants. After weeks of being socially distant during the produce pick ups, we suddenly had a commonality--tomatillo, tomato and pepper seedlings closed the gap.”

Mary is more than just one of the teachers affiliated with the education program -- she’s become a fixture at Arcadia events and work days.

Mary, Farm Education Director Ivy, and Veteran Incubator Farmer Jennie take a break last summer
“Mary is always willing to lend a hand --even before she knows what you need help with,” said Ivy Mitchell, Arcadia’s Farm Education Director. “She’s usually the first to arrive and the last to leave. Arcadia could not function without good humans like her.”

She knows all of the farmers and staff, and she’s never afraid to show up and work hard for an hour --or four. And in just one short year of working with Mary, it seems like she’s been here forever. She’s FARMily.

“I love being here. I love the mission and the people and how passionate everyone is--but I love being on a farm,” she enthused. “I grew up visiting my grandpa's small farm in Chesterfield and I miss it sometimes. Arcadia brings that back.”

Because of the pandemic -- and the importance of keeping Arcadia's farm staff healthy -- the farm is closed to visitors and the public this year, and her girls grumble when they learn Mom’s day away from home included a visit to the fields at Dogue to pick up her farm share.

“I miss bringing my girls out to the farm--I know it's closed because of COVID but I think it's important for them to see where food comes from,” she said. "They loved walking the fields and tasting things throughout the season last year--we’ll be back when COVID clears.”

Until then we get to see her every Friday afternoon when she stops just inside the farm gate to pick up her shares. Someone asked,  why would an avid gardener pay for 25 weeks of fresh vegetables?

“I signed up for the CSA to support Arcadia and the people I know who work so hard on the farm and my family loves the fresh food,” she said. “Where else am I going to get Hakurei turnips?”

Now we know. Thanks shallot, Mary --we couldn’t do it without you!

Arcadian of the Month

Fri, 05/22/2020 - 12:18
Because we miss hanging out with you, we are doing the next best thing: shining a light on Arcadians who contribute so much to the community we are all apart of, and it's almost like we are hanging out together! So we're going to feature someone from Arcadia every month.  A farmer, an educator, a Mobile Market customer, a veteran farmer in training, a volunteer, a donor.  Let's call them the Arcadian of the Month?

This month we're introducing Jennie -- she started as a volunteer in 2017, then completed the Arcadia Veteran Farmer Reserve Training in 2018 and worked alongside Kenny and Katherine as a Farm Fellow in 2019. 

In 2020, Jennie is now farming her own plot as part of the Arcadia Veteran Farm Incubator. Jennie initially planned to grow just flowers and pollinator friendly crops;  she named her tiny farm Change of Plants. After agonizing for weeks over the Johnny's Seeds catalog in January she placed an order for 40 different flowers with plans for a summer bouquet flower subscription program and plenty of nectar for the pollinators.

But, true to its name, Change of Plants is changing. The Coronavirus prompted Jennie to grow food for humans, too. "If ever there's a time to grow food it's now," she said. What started out as  1/4 acre of flowers is now 1/8 an acre of vegetables she describes as "a salad bowl" destined for CSA subscribers. The remaining 1/8 of an acre will become a "pollinator experience" with cutting gardens, a walking path, a loofah house and a bench set in a thicket of sunflowers.

Jennie's journey to farming is about as straight as the winding path she she carved out with a tractor on her small farm last weekend. The child of heroin addicts, she grew up in foster care in Southern California. She signed Marine Corps enlistment papers at 16 to get herself out of trouble. After four tumultuous years stationed at a base in California, she left the Corps to get married and start college in New Mexico. September 11th interrupted her last semester; she found a recruiter to bring her back on active duty a few days after the Towers fell. She spent much of the next decade telling the Marine Corps story as a public affairs officer while her husband and friends went off to war.

After dozens of funerals and a divorce, she hung up her uniform for good in 2006 but continued as a civilian public affairs officer for the Department of the Navy. She then headed to Afghanistan to work on a communications project for the U.S. Army.

Home from Afghanistan and recovering from injuries sustained overseas, she met and fell in love with an active duty Marine. They dreamed of rural life and starting a farm --a life far away from the war, the military, and the city.  Love emboldened the self-described city girl, and they started looking at property.

The future changed abruptly when her fiance, battling with post traumatic stress, took his own life.

Jennie describes herself as "adrift, angry and trying to figure out what the next chapter held." A scooter accident left her with a traumatic brain injury; it wasn't her first head injury but it was the most significant. Still recovering, she accepted a job offer at the United Nations headquarters and moved cross-country to New York. The pace and cacophony of the city revealed the extent of her brain injury. Combined with the the grief and anger she'd shoved aside after her fiance's suicide, old traumas she hadn't dealt with from her time in uniform, and the overwhelming rush of life in NYC, she says she felt like she was drowning.

Reprieve came -- and the inkling of a new life dawned -- in the form of weekend visits to a farm in New Jersey. She left New York two years after arriving to "chase down that last semester of school" and find out what life away from the city held. That decision lead her to Arcadia -- and this time the farm dream was her own.

Spending time on the farm has been the perfect therapy -- and, she says, likely saved her life.

"Arcadia is the community I didn't know I was looking for. It's a place to learn and grow--a place where my deficits aren't glaring because they don't know me any other way. They answer my questions, even when I ask them again the next day, and the next," she laughed. "I'm excited to put some of my knowledge to the test on my quarter acre and can't wait to see what the season yields."

When the city shut down, the Arcadia Mobile Market opened up -- nearly two months ahead of schedule

Thu, 05/14/2020 - 13:00

Arcadia's Mobile Market Director Erin Close realized in March that thousands of regular market customers were disproportionately affected by COVID-19 quarantine restrictions.

Close knew the people who purchased more than 50 tons of fresh local produce at the Mobile Market's 10 sites across Washington D.C. in 2019 would struggle to access fresh food. In the best of times, getting food in these 10 neighborhoods is tough. Pandemic restrictions made it worse.

It hit home when -- pre-pandemic -- she announced a monthly "pop-up" market, a way to stay in touch with customers before the official season began in May. Within minutes of announcing the market -- just as the quarantine was about to go into effect -- she had more than 200 orders from customers otherwise unable to access grocery stores.

On a recent Saturday, Pam Curry, a retired legal secretary who's been a Mobile Market customer for two years, waited in line to buy "her" chicken thighs as she lovingly refers to the Ayrshire Farm turkey she's come to expect from the market.

"I'm a senior and I have health issues--I'm not going to a grocery store right now," she explained. "Erin and her crew bringing the market to these communities a month early like this was a real relief. People don't believe it when I say we get farm to table right here in our own neighborhood but it's the truth, thanks to Erin and the Market."

Close, in her third year leading the Market, understood what the pandemic would mean for her customers and swung into action. She swiftly created a safe food distribution training plan based on best practices for social distancing for customers and employees an implemented it for her March markets. And she quickly made plans to implement multiple weekly markets through April to serve her customers. When the mayor required outdoor markets to apply for waivers to operate, the Arcadia Mobile Market was ready: it received the first one granted, on April 9.

Erin Close stands with Patricia Williams, the ANC commissioner for 5E02 and longtime supporter and volunteer of Arcadia's Mobile Market in Edgewood. 
Close learned from her first pandemic market and implemented tweaks to her plan. She added employees to manage lines, calling up alumni staff to ensure she had a practiced team; she asked the farmer to pre-pack boxes for efficiency; she built sneeze guards and distributed fabric masks that she washes for staff between uses.

Arcadia's long-time Mobile Market partner the Bainum Family Foundation then stepped in with the missing piece: the funds to cover operating these unexpected expenses, and the cost of 300 fresh local produce boxes from Earth N Eats Farm in central Pennsylvania. Supplemented with leafy greens from other local farms, these boxes included lettuce, cucumbers, carrots, beets, potatoes and sweet potatoes. Mindful of her customers' purchasing habits, Close also set up a socially distanced free-choice market, accepting cash, credit, and SNAP for customers who wanted to buy meat, eggs, and additional produce to supplement their boxes -- as well as for wealthier customers who traveled across town to shop for local food in the fresh air, rather than a grocery store.

Customers at the Edgewood pop up market followed social distancing guidelines as they picked up produce boxes May 1.
The produce boxes, distributed free on a first come, first served basis, were a lifeline for some of the market's regular customers in neighborhoods where brick and mortar stores are few and far between. People lined up down the street, six feet between them and waited for their turn to step to the table and grab a full box and a bag before purchasing a la carte items, including eggs, yogurt, fresh honey, apples, beef and pork ribs, chickens, cutlets and thighs. 
Customers wait to buy a la carte items after picking up boxes of fresh produce. 
Customers who used SNAP/EBT (food stamps) or WIC received a 50% discount on a la carte purchases, making the pop-up markets even more important to customers quarantined without access to the myriad of food delivery options much of the country is using to fill their pantries.

Lissette Ampara, back for her second season as a Mobile Market employee, acted as a personal shopper for market customers to help maintain prop[er social distancing. 

Close and her team marked distances off on the sidewalk, set up hand-washing stations, and handed out masks for customers who didn't have one. Arcadia staff served as personal shoppers so customers didn't have to handle anything until they walked away with their purchase.

Behind the scenes market employees were reminded to practice good hygiene while at the market and at home; to treat their cell phone like their third hand [how often do you wipe your phone down!?] and to limit their exposure to people when they weren't at work in the hopes of diminishing their chances for exposure to the Coronavirus.

Simple and effective: shoppers were encouraged to wash their hands as they made their way to the pick-up station.

Pam Curry waits in line as a Mobile Market employee gathered the items she selected.
Curry stepped to the front of the line to pay as one of the market employees bagged the items she selected for purchase. She didn't have a produce box.

"I got a box last week and it was so plentiful I don't need anything more today. I shared some with my neighbor and I still have some left," Curry said. "I see people here with a greater need than I have right now--let them enjoy the bounty this week."

The Mobile Market offered two pop-up markets per week for four weeks, giving out 150 bountiful boxes of produce at each site.

Gabriela Gomez, the newest employee on the Mobile Market team, said it was a long day and a lot of satisfying work. "It's a bizarre time in the world right now, and there are so many people in need," she said. "It's great to see people come together, to see everyone is welcome here. I'm glad to be part of it."

Setting the pace, Gabriela Gomez stacks more produce boxes and prepares to slide them to waiting customers.
Arcadia's regular market season, with ten weekly stops across the city, is scheduled to open the first week of June. For now Erin and her market team have paused operations to hire more staff and revise the market model for the coming season.

The hastily recalled team of Mobile Market employees were proud to step in and serve their customers in a time of need.
For more information about the Mobile Market, a list of sites, sourcing partners and opportunities to get involved, visit our page and see why the customers are so excited to see us season after season.  See you in June!
All packed up and ready to go, the Mobile Market team wrapped up a successful stop.

The More Things Change, The More Things Stay the Same at Arcadia Farm

Fri, 05/01/2020 - 14:50
COVID-19 can’t stop Spring – and there’s plenty of work happening in the fields at Dogue.  

There’s a different feeling in the air though, and fewer people than the farm usually sees this time of year; our site is closed. The gate is closed to keep out unplanned  visitors. The trove of hardworking volunteers who joyfully work in the fields with us  starting in April aren’t anywhere to be seen. 

Instead it’s Katherine, the farm’s production manager farming for her fifth year, and Farm operations Manager Kenneth now in his second year, at Arcadia. They’re joined by three Farm Fellows from Arcadia’s 2016, 2019 and 2020 Veteran  Farmer Reserve Program – Zeek, Vanessa and Megan. 

Katherine said they’re sticking to their crop plan in spite of COVID-19 and they’ve implemented social distancing and hygiene measures to stop the virus from  spreading. 

The first sign is the hand washing stations just about everywhere you look. Last year’s three stations ensured farmers and volunteers had ample opportunity to follow food safety regulations and spend the day with clean hands – everyone was encouraged to sing two iterations of happy birthday.

And that was in "before" times.

Hand washing stations are set up in the green house, near the entrance to the field, at the restroom, near the break and education station, the walk in cooler and other spots across the farm.Now, there are eight soap and water stations, each with additional hand sanitizer and soberly worded signs reminding staff the importance of clean hands, and disinfecting their phones and cars, too.  

"We can’t do this – we can’t farm – without being here. We’ve all had food safety training – and some of that conveys to COVID-19 precautions,” she said. “We appreciate having a job that is outside and allows us to maintain social distance-- but it's still scary. Any one of us could contract it and bring it to the farm--any one of us could pass it to someone and then they’d carry it back to their family.”  Katherine and Kenny are doing everything in their power to prevent that from happening. 

Katherine readies a weed whacker before heading into the field to join Kenny and Megan to cut  down an acre of cover crop. They eat lunch sitting 6 feet apart from one another, masks or a bandanas hanging around their necks.  each farmer had a different response to the way social distancing affects their time on the farm. 

Vanessa, who spent hours every week last year as a volunteer and came back to work part-time as a Fellow, is familiar with the day to day operations on the farm. “A lot if this is the same. All of the systems Katherine had in place for hand washing and crate washing – we did all of that before COVID-19 showed up,” she said. “It’s like we were ahead of everyone else. The hardest thing about social distancing is I like to harvest side by side with someone because we can chit chat – although maybe the six feet apart makes the work go faster.”

Megan, currently enrolled in the Veteran Farmer Reserve Program, spent time at Dogue as a volunteer last year and said the biggest change is not harvesting side by side or across from someone. 

“The reason I’d like to harvest side by side is to learn from Kenny and Katherine as we go," she said.  Adaptations are made. 

“They still teach us. We’re assigned a harvest or a task, they explain it and then they come back to check on technique and make adjustments. We’re still learning.”

In a moment of levity – though absolutely serious – Zeek, a 2016 graduate of Arcadia’s Veteran Farmer Reserve said he likes the social distancing. “I don’t have to smell people,” he said. I don’t even like my own body odor – six feet apart means I won’t smell anyone else.” 

Social distancing regulations means it’s just the five of them every day. “We’re only focused on growing food now that we’ve got fewer people. When volunteers are harvesting, there’s time to pay attention to mowing and landscaping and the way the farm looks. Without them, all we (can) do is plant and harvest,” said Kenny.

Working alone at the back of the farm, Kenny unloaded a ton of gravel without a mask on--enjoying solitude and fresh air. Katherine said face masks are nice on a cold day. They’re not nice when it’s really hot – but they’re wearing them when they’re in proximity to each other, even if it’s further than six feet.The reality has set in that this is likely to last the entire season.
“I was pushing through until mid-May but now I’ve accepted, this is 2020. This is farming with COVID-19. We have to maintain vigilance and mitigate risks to protect ourselves and our families,” said Katherine. 
“We’ll see what the next couple of months bring and it may mean we don’t plant the next succession of tomatoes. That’s fine. We’ll be nimble – farmers are used to that.”
Arcadia Farm, usually bustling with dozens of volunteers and scores of school children, is now farmed by three women and two men, working six long days each week to bring fresh vegetables to under resourced neighborhoods, as safely as possible.

COVID-19 Spring 2020 Field Trip Updates

Tue, 03/24/2020 - 15:19
Dear Educators,

Following VA Governor Ralph Northam’s announcement to close all Virginia schools for the remaining portion of SY 2019/20, it is with a heavy heart that Arcadia has decided to cancel the upcoming Spring 2020 Field Trip season.

In order to make this situation a little easier, we wanted to offer schools who are already scheduled for a Spring 2020 field trip two options for refunding their payments and rescheduling: 

Option 1: Reschedule your school’s confirmed field trip to the Fall 2020 Field Trip season with a guaranteed spot on the calendar, dates TBD. Arcadia will contact you in late August 2020. We will reassess student numbers, and arrangements will be made to accommodate changes in group size. New contracts will be distributed and signed. We will hold on to any payments that your school has made thus far.

Option 2: Cancel your field trip and waive the option to schedule a Fall 2020 Field Trip at this time. Arcadia will return your field trip fees in the form of a check at the beginning of the 2020/21 school year. Checks will be mailed to your school’s office administrator.

We understand that this decision may take some time, and we ask all schools to let us know how they would like to adjust their plans by August 30th.

Please contact Ivy Mitchell at with your preference or for more information. 

In the meantime, Arcadia is sharing links to online educational resources as well as locations where affected students and families can access meals and food supplies. Feel free to share the link to our Educational Resource Master Sheet which we will update as new materials become available:

Finally, stay tuned to our social media as our Farm Education staff and farmers share educational videos and farm inspired crafts.

Thank you for your continued support — we will miss you all so much this Spring. Stay safe and take care of yourselves.

All the best,

Ivy Mitchell, Farm Education Director and the entire Arcadia Farm Staff

#HealthyTogether: Join us in looking out for our neighbors!

Tue, 03/17/2020 - 15:07
Many residents, workers, families and children in the DMV will be adversely impacted by closures and concerns due to COVID-19.
We can all help. As we mark the occasion of  Arcadia being featured in the March 22nd episode of MSNBC’s, What’s Eating America with Andrew Zimmern with a Facebook Watch Party Event.
Arcadia, The Capital Area Food Bank and Neighborhood Restaurant Group are pleased to announce a joint fundraising effort to help our community.

Click HERE to donate to #HealthyTogether
50% of proceeds will go to Arcadia’s Mobile Market Program More than 5,000 families in 10 neighborhoods in DC rely on Arcadia's Mobile Markets for affordable access to nutritious, fresh food.   .50% of proceeds will go to the Capital Area Food Bank As the area’s largest hunger relief organization, the Capital Area Food Bank has significant regional infrastructure and storage capacity, which it is rapidly mobilizing to continue providing help for thousands of kids and families during this time.

Learn more about our organizations and collective response below.

ARCADIA – 10th Anniversary
Since its establishment in 2010, Arcadia's mission has been to improve the health of our community, support the viability of local farmers, and preserve the environment for future generations.

More than 5,000 families in 10 neighborhoods in DC rely on the Arcadia Mobile Markets for  affordable access to nutritious, fresh food. At our winter pop-up markets and our regular weekly markets starting in May, we double the purchasing power of federal nutrition benefits. That means $10 on an EBT card – formerly known as food stamps – gets our customers $20 in the best food local farms have to offer. We also double WIC vouchers, for mothers of young children and pregnant women, and Senior vouchers, for low-come seniors.

Learn more about Arcadia's COVID-19 response HERE

CAPITAL AREA FOOD BANK – 40th Anniversary
Now commemorating our 40th anniversary year, the Capital Area Food Bank works to address hunger today and create brighter futures tomorrow for the nearly half a million people across the region experiencing food insecurity. As the anchor in the area’s hunger relief infrastructure, we provide over 30 million meals to people in need each year by supplying food to 450+ nonprofit organizations, including Martha’s Table, SOME – So Others Might Eat, DC Central Kitchen, Food for Others, Manna, and others. Through these partnerships, the food bank supports 10 percent of our region’s mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, sisters, brothers, and grandparents.

Learn more about the Capital Area Food Bank’s response to COVID-19 HERE

Arcadia Coronavirus Policies and Program Information

Fri, 03/13/2020 - 19:50

Nutritious food is essential, now more than ever. So we wanted to update you on how Arcadia is caring for caring for the community during the pandemic.

Arcadia’s Mobile Market pop up on March 18th will honor pre-orders only, in order to support both food access and social distance. Please place your order at this link by midnight on March 17th: We will have your food packed up and ready to go when you arrive!

Arcadia’s Mobile Markets will also distribute FREE MEALS at both locations for any youth affected by school closures. Thank you to DC Central Kitchen for collaborating with us on this!

The two pop-up locations on March 18th are:
11:00am-1:00pm in Edgewood, Edgewood St NE & Evarts St NE, 20017
2:00-4:00pm at Bellevue Library, 115 Atlantic St SW, 20032

Place your pre-order here by Tuesday, March 17th at midnight:

Arcadia Farmers Katherine and Kenny, and our three new Veteran Farm Fellows Zeek, Vanessa, and Megan, are hard at work on the farm preparing the soil for planting and tending seedlings in the greenhouse for the upcoming growing season. On Monday, they will glean winter greens and other crops to donate to an area food bank.

Our partner and landlord, Woodlawn & Frank Lloyd Wright's Pope-Leighey House, is closed to the public until at least March 27th. Therefore, we are not accepting volunteers or visitors on the farm until further notice.

Arcadia Farm Education team Ivy and Juan Pablo are foster-parenting seedlings started in local school greenhouses and classrooms that might otherwise wither during school closures. When the kids get back to school, we will return their healthy seedlings ready to be planted, and their gardens won't miss a beat.

Fairfax County Public Schools has currently cancelled all extracurricular activities and field trips through April 12th. We do not believe this will affect the upcoming field trip season which begins April 22, and are eagerly preparing for students and teachers to join us. However, we will follow FCPS’ lead, and should anything change, we will update our website and social media with new information as it becomes available.

We will continue to operate all non-public programming during this time, and will be available by phone and internet for meetings and program coordination.

We are taking prudent steps to keep Arcadia staff, customers, and volunteers healthy, so all other public programming is cancelled through March 27.

We will revisit and update this policy every Friday and share to our social media accounts (@arcadiafood) and Arcadia's website:

Please contact us if you have questions or concerns.

Wishing you all health and safety,
Team Arcadia

Arcadia's Fall Farm Dinner Benefitting the Arcadia Veteran Farmer Program - September 29, 2019

Wed, 09/04/2019 - 14:03
Join us as DC's finest chefs cook from their hearts to honor the legacy of sustainable farming that defines the American tradition!

When: Sunday, September 29, 2019 4PM to 8PM
Where: Arcadia Farm at Woodlawn & Pope-Leighey
Dress: Farm Finery

Get your tickets HERE

Chef Chair Marcelle Afram

Allie Cheppa
Buzz Bakeshop

Autumn Cline

Carlos Delgado
China Chilcano

Paolo Dungca
ABC Pony

Rock Harper
RockSolid Creative Food Group

Tova Hillman
Nicoletta Italian KitchenOsteria Morini DC

Tim Ma
American Son

Bridget Miller

Cable Smith
The Royal

Kevin Tien

Jonathan Till
Evening Star

Shannan Troncoso
Brookland's Finest

Rahul Vinod

Chris Yates
ABC Pony

Honorary Co-chairs
Rep Elaine Luria, Virginia - United States Navy Veteran
Rep. Mike Gallagher, Wisconsin - United States Marine Corps

2019 Farm Dinner Sponsors:

<h2 style="background-color: white;

Tue, 08/28/2018 - 15:07
The most spectacular dinner you'll ever have.

For the best cause we know.Honoring our Veteran Farmers.Brought to you by the best chefs we know.Hear.Them.Roar.l to r, top: Rosenfelt, Holbrook, Dysart; mid: Brandwein, Afram, Hillman; bottom: Hellrigl, Troncoso, BirdPlease joinChef Marcelle AframBluejacketandChef Mollie Bird1789Chef Amy BrandweinCentrolinaChef Caitlin DysartCentrolinaChef Johanna HellriglDoi MoiChef Tova HillmanOsteria MoriniChef Caitlin HolbrookDesayuno, Charleston, S.C.Chef Miranda Rosenfeltformerly of Sally’s Middle NameChef Shannan TroncosoBrookland's Finest
for the 5th Annual Arcadia Fall Harvest Dinner to celebrate the Arcadia Veteran Farmer Program.This special night features four courses with ingredients harvested from our farm, beer and wine pairings, plus a cocktail reception and dessert, on the grounds of Woodlawn mansion, the home of Arcadia Farm. This event honors the military veterans training to become farmers with the Arcadia Center for Sustainable Food & Agriculture. The chefs volunteer their time, talents and food; and dinner is served entirely by Arcadia volunteers. All proceeds benefit the Veteran Farmer Program.Date: September 30, 2018Time: 4:00 pm - 7:30 pmWhere: Arcadia at Woodlawn-Pope-LeigheyDress: Farm Finery!Thank you to our dinner sponsors, including:
A note about your dinner tickets and the IRS: because the Fair Market Value of your tickets is the face value, your ticket is not tax deductible. However, because our chefs are so generous, this dinner generates thousands of dollars to support of the Veteran Farmer Program.Sponsorships, however, are tax-deductible minus the face value of the tickets included in your chosen package. Please contact to discuss your sponsorship and the tax benefits.

A Marine, A Market, and a Reflection on the Power of Food

Tue, 07/10/2018 - 10:44
My name is Nick Wood, and I have been working as one of Arcadia’s two Veteran Farm Fellows for six months now. One of the things I have so far found the most satisfying about my work at the farm is getting to see the literal fruits (and vegetables) of my labors.  I put seeds into soil, and real food is the result! Since I have had a hand in growing all the food that we prepared for delivery to the Mobile Market, getting to work on the market for a week gave me a similar, but magnified, sense of satisfaction. Not only did food come about as a direct result of my work, but people bought it, ate it, expected it, relied upon it, and loved it.

Nick and Brittany WoodArcadia Veteran Farmers

During my week with the Market, I mostly just pitched our food to our customers.  While many of our clients knew exactly what they wanted (and told us so in no uncertain terms), some of them were new to some of the vegetables and greens we had on offer.  Those curious customers were happy to talk recipes and preparation tips, and I received more than a few excellent ideas and recipes in return. The common thread of those many conversations was the passion everyone had for good fruits and vegetables.

I was reminded of one of the misconceptions that Arcadia was founded to fight against- the idea that there aren’t any good grocery stores in these food deserts because they ‘don’t want healthy food.’  Many of the people I spoke to had been to the farmer’s markets in the better served sections of DC, like Dupont Circle- which meant that they were willing to take what must have been a long bus and metro ride to get to the good stuff.  I got to see firsthand that “missing” desire for good, sustainable food, and I assure anyone who cares to ask- the demand is there. Bring them the food at a price that they can afford, bring to them the dignity of good choices, and the people will come.

The desire for good food and the way we bond over preparing and sharing it is a universal element of the human condition.  Helping someone eat well is the first step to helping to lift them up. And exchanging recipes and talking about food is a great way to get to know who someone really is.  I was raised in the Upper Midwest, and most of my family is from the Deep South. And yet since coming to the District, the most at home I have felt has been sitting with a bunch of vibrant, cantankerous, enthusiastic elderly black folk in the shade of our market tent after the rush waned, talking about how best to prepare a rack of ribs.
Getting to know the people Arcadia serves puts me in mind of a quote by the late, great Anthony Bourdain:  “People are generally proud of their food. A willingness to eat and drink with people without fear and prejudice... they open up to you in ways that somebody visiting who is driven by a story may not get.”  I can’t help but wonder if maybe as a people Americans would be a little better to each other if we broke bread with our neighbors a little more often.

It's a Wrap!

Thu, 08/10/2017 - 15:58

It's a wrap on Farm Camp 2017! As we wind down our final week of camp we are so grateful for everyone who makes this experience possible. Thank you to all the parents, guest educators, counselors, staff, fruits, vegetables and campers!!!
We hope that everyone will continue to try local fruits and vegetables and connect with the farms in their area. See you next summer!

Small Chefs 2 Begins!

Wed, 08/09/2017 - 08:25

We are beginning our last week of Farm Camp with a great group of campers, lots of fresh vegetables, and fantastic guest educators. We would like to extend a huge thank you to Alison from Big Bear Café in D.C. who did an incredible workshop with our camp. She taught us about making sourdough, june and kombucha and everyone got to bring some dough and june starter home!

For our last week we will be introducing Heather Johnson, Arcadia's full time Education Director. 

Heather oversees Arcadia’s education programs which include Farm Camp, Farm Field Trips, Farm in the Classroom and Mobile Market School Programs. She develops and helps maintain Arcadia’s educational garden, known as the Groundhog Garden. Heather has a master’s degree in Education from Wheelock College in Boston, MA and over the past two decades, she has dedicated her career to providing hands-on, interactive experiences that promote deep exploration and collaboration in authentic environments. While with the Children’s Museum of Richmond, VA, Heather worked closely with communities in need and recognized how little access these communities had to fresh, affordable produce. She wants to work with Arcadia to combat this issue. As families spend less time outside and have less access to nature, she relishes the opportunity to get kids outside to discover the simple yet extraordinary wonders of the garden and the delicious rewards that await.
We hope you have enjoyed getting to know our team! 

Overheard at Small Chefs 1

Thu, 08/03/2017 - 15:42

Small Chefs 1 is coming to a close. We have had a wonderful week of delicious food, farm work and educational activities. As always, here are some of our favorite 'overheard at camp' moments:

While preparing a bed to plant squash a camper came up with a weeding spell: "Weeds weeds weeds come up weeds just come up if you don't come up we'll pull you up"

"Are your chickens for sale?" "No" "Awwwww but I love them"

When I asked to take a photo of a camper with their plate of eggs: "You can have some they are amazing!"

During the blind taste test --
Beets: "it tastes sweet and fruity. I would put it in a salad"
Okra: "okra is so good!"
Parsley: "It tastes really frizzy. Kind of like mint. It might be parsley"

"Oooooh that tickles!" - while holding some wriggly worms during a soil learning activities

"I just want to put it in my mouth now" - while smelling Jonathan Bardzik's Farm-Fresh Fried Rice

"Bees are our friends. They give us honey and are just eating their breakfast... It might look like the bee is coming to sting you but they are just flying around looking for a flower to pollinate"

We had a blast at our tortilla fiesta today!

Thank you to Jennifer and Sophie for coming to teach us about natural herbal fixes to chef injuries! All of our campers went home with an incredible (and easy to make) plantain salve made by Jennifer. 

See you next week for our last week of Farm Camp 2017!


Chef Jonathan Bardzik Visits!

Wed, 08/02/2017 - 19:37

Extra special Wednesday blog post for our extra special friend Jonathan Bardzik! 

We are so grateful that he shared his love for vegetables, expertise in farm to table food, and enthusiasm for creativity with our camp. Here are some of our takeaways from Jonathan's visit. 

Chef Jonathan Bardzik's cooking rules:
1. It should be fun!
2. It should taste GOOD! If it doesn't taste good, try something else.
3. It doesn't have to be hard
4. Let what looks fresh from the farm help you plan your menu - don't limit yourself by having a recipe in mind first
5. I believe that you can enjoy "special food" (like oysters) any time, any place, no matter who you are/how old you are. All food, all knowledge, and all experience should be available to everyone. 

Our kids were eager to help make and help eat the fantastic dishes Jonathan prepared today. Our menu of farm-fresh fried rice, tomato dill vinaigrette, and quick cucumber ginger cilantro pickles had our campers trying new vegetables, spices, and cooking techniques. Quite well received! 

Many campers left asking about where to find more recipes from chef Jonathan. Here are a few ways to access his entertaining and healthy recipes:
He has 250+ recipes available for free on his website - www.jonathanbardzik.comHis Youtube channel (Jonathan Bardzik) has recipe tutorials and a playlist for All America Selections filmed on Arcadia's farm! -  
One more huge thank you to Jonathan Bardzik!!!!!!!! Your recipes left us eager to learn more about healthy, farm fresh eating and ready to lick our plates clean...

Small Chefs 1 Assemble!

Tue, 08/01/2017 - 15:22

Small Chefs 1 is off to a delicious start. From quick pickling to scrambling veggies and eggs, these small chefs are blowing us out of the water with their kitchen skills, patience, and creativity. We can't wait for our workshop tomorrow with fantastic chef, storyteller and educator Jonathan Bardzik.

This week we will introduce Ivy and Emily:

xIvy Assiter is excited to be serving as Camp Manager to this year’s Arcadia Farm Camp. She recently moved to Virginia from Orlando, FL where she spent her time inhabiting many different roles in the local food scene. She is most proud of her position as SNAP Coordinator at two separate farmer’s markets where she was able to work closely with her community, and foster relationships between shoppers and farmers. Ivy knows how summer camps in an outdoor setting can impact a child’s development; she has attended and worked, as well as managed, outdoor experience camps for a total of ten years. Her love for local food, food accessibility, and the outdoors brought her to Arcadia, and she can’t wait to see what this summer has in store! She’s really looking forward to having the okra from this upcoming growing season!

Emily is interning with Arcadia this summer through the Tisch Summer Fellows Program at Tufts University. She has always loved working with kids and is a big fan of outdoor exploration, experiential education and good food. Emily has worked on multiple organic farms in France and was a substitute teacher at La Puerta de Los Niños in New Mexico. She is always looking for ways to share and cultivate her love for the outdoors and healthy eating and is so excited to work with a program like Arcadia! If turned into a vegetable she would probably be a roasted pumpkin, sweet potato, or brussel sprout. 

Overheard at Seasonal Eaters

Thu, 07/27/2017 - 13:24

Hello and happy Thursday! We have explored many aspects of seasonal eating and cooking this week. From blind taste tests to squeezing cabbages to make sauerkraut, these seasonal eaters have been actively learning about sustainable food from farm to chef to table. 

A big thank you to our horticulture friends at Mount Vernon who brought a beautiful 4 month old Hog Island lamb, to Dylan for a fantastic fermentation workshop, and to Rosemary for her expertise on vermiculture and composting. 

The coolcumbers hold up a thank you card they made for Farmer Dylan
Some our favorite quotes from this week include...

"What did you try for the first time today?"
"Salad, onion, tomato, hummus, dressing, cucumber"
"What did you think?"

"I make salads and they're the best because I make them"

"After our buzzing bees water game we saw a bee with knee buckets pollinating in the garden!"

While harvesting basil: 
"I've never tried pesto before"
"pesto is soo good!" "you're going to love it" "pasta with pesto is perfection" "one time I snuck with my sister and ate a whole bowl of pesto"

Blind taste test (spoiler alert! we served parsley, beet, okra and parsnip)
An older camper: "That's the first time I've had beets in my life. No joke. Those are actually good! I'm going to have beets tomorrow or tonight"
A younger camper: "I know this one!! Okra! We eat it at home in an Ethiopian dish with fish and chicken"

"The salsa is out of this world!"    
"Salsa, like guacamole without the avocado."

"What are you excited to make today?" "I've tasted butter and I want to try new things, so I'm excited to make salsa and pesto and sauerkraut."
"I can't wait until we pet the sheep. That is the best part."


From the Arcadia Blog

  • Garlic Love -- Isaac "Zeek" Lee, Farmer-Veteran

     As many of you may know, one of our Farm Fellows this year, Zeek Lee, is quite smitten with garlic. Given that planting garlic is one of the last big projects of the year, I asked him to share some...

  • Soil Magic: Reflections From a Veteran Farm Fellow

    By Vanessa Hale, USAF, ret.  The first time I cooked food I had helped grow at Arcadia, I started to cry.  Maybe,  just maybe,  it was the white spear scallions that helped the tear ducts awaken, but shortly thereafter I was...

Visit the Blog »

Stay Connected

Upcoming Events

Arcadia Fall Harvest Dinner - Oct. 1, 2023 Learn More

Fall Funtacular - October 15, 2023 Learn More

2024 Veteran Farm Applications Now Open Learn More