Posts Tagged ‘local produce’

Aya Community Markets

Aya Community Markets (Aya) is a community-centered economic and holistic health experience that combines education, farmers’ markets and community supported sustainable agriculture to provide access to healthy food and improved nutrition in “food deserts” and underserved communities in Washington, DC.

Join us for our launch on Saturday July 30th from 11am until 5pm at Pennsylvania Avenue Baptist Church (3000 Penn. Ave. SE).

Aya’s physical farmers’ markets will be a vibrant gathering places and destination points where consumers will come to not only shop for produce, but will be able to access various vendors for goods and services for mental, spiritual and financial health. This holistic approach will attract customers in search of other health experiences such as yoga, exercise classes, or credit counseling which help to improve the community.

Aya Community Markets will offer fresh, local produce, flowers, prepared foods and handcrafted items directly to Ward 7 residents. In addition Aya will host a wide range of family and nutritional programs, including live entertainment, chef demonstrations and youth activities.

Aya will feature:

  • Fresh produce and baked goods;
  • Handmade arts and crafts;
  • Live musical performances;
  • Massage therapy, acupuncture and other holistic health services.

Visit http://dreamingoutloud.org/ayamarkets for more!

Celebrate Farm to School Week

By Andrea Northup

Imagine a D.C. schoolchild travels to a farm in Maryland and harvests green, leafy kale with his classmates. The students take the kale back to their classroom and prepare a delicious dish with the help of a prominent local chef. He tries kale for the first time in his life – and likes it!

And when he sees kale on her cafeteria tray during lunch that week, he eats it and encourages his friends to do the same. He gains a deeper appreciation – through his complete farm-to-table experience – of where food comes from and how it can be prepared in healthy, delicious ways.

During D.C. Farm to School week October 12-15, 2010, nearly 2,000 D.C. schoolchildren will have the chance to harvest seasonal produce on a local farm, and prepare it in the classroom with a professional chef. Additionally, schools across the District (nearly 200 in total) will serve and highlight fresh, local foods in their school meals during the week. The D.C. Farm to School Network is working in partnership with schools, parents, sponsors and community partners to make the week a success. A special thanks to our top-tier sponsors for their support – Whole Foods Georgetown , WGirls DC, and the Restaurant Association Metropolitan Washington. For more information, including a complete listing of participating schools and events, visit our site.

D.C. Farm to School Week will begin with an exciting kick-off celebration, featuring battling chefs, a local apple taste test, and a school garden work party/dedication ceremony.

When: Tuesday, October 12th; 1:00pm
Where: Thurgood Marshall Academy & Savoy Elementary’s shared Gymnasium
2427 Martin Luther King Jr. Ave. SE
Near the Anacostia metro station and many bus lines; parking available in lot across the street
RSVP to Kacie @ kwarner@washingtonyouthgarden.org

Special guests Dr. Kathleen Merrigan, Deputy Secretary of Agriculture, and Sam Kass, White House Chef and Senior Policy Adviser for Healthy Food Initiatives will join us, as students judge local chefs competing to create the tastiest dish from a local apple harvest. The images from a city-wide School Garden Photo Contest will be displayed and the winning photographers announced. A brand-new school garden, shared by Thurgood Marshall Academy and neighboring Savoy Elementary School, will be named, dedicated, painted and planted. We’ll also celebrate the passage of the D.C. Healthy Schools Act and the exciting changes in school lunches with Councilmember Mary Cheh. It’s an exciting time for Farm to School here in the nation’s capital – please join us in
celebrating!

Andrea Northup is the Coordinator of the D.C. Farm to School Network, which is a program of the Capital Area Food Bank.

Farm to School Trip to Delaware!

Katherine Bryant is an intern with the D.C. Farm to School Network, and a seasoned community food security advocate.  This blog describes her recent farm to school “field-trip” to Delaware and the Eastern Shore.

Greetings from the watermelon capital of the world!

I had the honor of joining a small group of Washington, DC school food service providers, D.C. Farm to School Network Coordinator Andrea Northup, and a D.C. City Council staffer on a trip to Delaware – a fitting ‘initiation’ into the role of D.C. Farm to School Network intern. The goal of the trip was to get a feel Delaware’s local food supply, and explore how to connect that supply with the demand for local foods in the D.C. school system. Our knowledgeable and well-connected host, fourth-generation watermelon farmer and Delaware Fruit and Vegetable Association president David Marvel, led our energetic and passionate group on a wonderful journey of learning, networking, and of course – eating!

Just a few hours from D.C., Delmarva (a catchy name for the Eastern Shore region of Delaware Maryland, and Virginia) makes its mark as the epicenter of watermelon production.  They produce a notable portion of the country’s corn and lima bean yield as well. Our first stop was the S.E.W. Friel sweet corn farm. We were able to snag a few minutes with the farmers amidst the busyness of the growing season full in swing – which means around the clock harvesting, packing, distributing and marketing of products. We stood in awe of the over 13-feet tall machines capable of harvesting 60,000 lbs of corn per hour.  We chatted with some of the many folks who work in concert to bring that sweet corn all the way from seed to harvester to tractor-trailer truck to storage facility to point-of-sale (e.g. supermarket) to a family’s refrigerator.

Would you have guessed that both schoolchildren and Delmarva watermelons use the same form of transportation? In our exploration of the watermelon’s journey from farm to table, we learned that retired school buses are rendered windowless and accompany teams of migrant workers as they walk through fields tossing watermelons on board.  The roads of Delaware are flooded with melon-filled busses on their way to washing facilities, auctions or markets. We saw Lakeside Farms, a family-owned operation where watermelons are grown, washed and packed for shipping.  And we watched in fascination at the Laurel Produce Auction as truckloads of locally-grown produce were paraded and sold to the highest bidder. From mid-July until mid-September, the Auction sells an average of over 2 million watermelons!

Ramping up Farm to School in “Healthy Schools”

Could a centralized storage, processing and distribution kitchen be key to providing wholesome, local produce to the District’s school children?

“Healthy Schools” legislation pending before the D.C. Council would require that city schools use locally grown farm goods in school meals “whenever possible.” With some 60,000 students to be fed on a daily basis, that certainly would represent a boon to the local farm economy. But is it feasible? How can we convince farmers to bring their products into the District? And how can we store vegetables from a growing season that doesn’t exactly coincide with the school year? How can we get these local foods to schools for an affordable price?

Farm to School stakeholders met to discuss with staff for Councilmember Mary Cheh (D-Ward 3), author of the “Healthy Schools” bill, how legislation could encourage farm to school programs in the District, and solve some of the issues facing existing food programs.