News


Fall is Full of FOUA Events!

posted Aug 18, 2018, 7:29 AM by Arlington Urban Agriculture   [ updated Aug 18, 2018, 8:02 AM ]


FOUA Social Hour, Thursday, Sept. 27, 6:30 – 8:30pm at Trade Roots in Westover. RSVP today!

 

START YOUR OWN FARM, new book by Forrest Pritchard and Ellen Polishuk


Arlington/Alexandria Urban Ag Summit, Friday, Oct. 5, 9:00am – 3:30pm, St. Andrews Episcopal Church, Arlington


FOUA Winter Meeting: CelebratingArlington Urban Ag, Tuesday, Nov. 13, 6:30pm – 8:30pm, Arlington Central Library

Visit www.arlingtonurbanag.org and our Facebook page for details and to RSVP!

Highlights from Beyond Farmers Markets: A Look at Food Hubs

posted May 24, 2018, 10:57 AM by Arlington Urban Agriculture   [ updated Jun 6, 2018, 11:09 AM ]

At our spring meeting on May 10th at the Arlington Central Library, we had a lively discussion about changes in local food delivery systems. We explored food hubs and regional trends, and discussed how we get nutritious food to all. 

We were fortunate to have Ellie Bomstein, Program Associate, Wallace Center as moderator for the panel discussion. The Wallace Center is part of Winrock International, a national nonprofit with headquarters in Little Rock with an office in Arlington. The Wallace Center “supports entrepreneurs and communities as they build a new, 21st century food system that is healthier for people, the environment, and the economy.” Specifically, the Wallace Center “leverages these strategies across all of our work, drawing on market-based approaches to bring more healthy, affordable, sustainably-produced food to all communities, by scaling up to wholesale, retail, and institutional outlets.” Learn more here: http://www.wallacecenter.org/how-we-work/.

An important part of the Wallace Center’s mission is supporting food hubs. What is a food hub? The USDA definition is “a centrally located facility with a business management structure facilitating the aggregation, storage, processing, distribution, and/or marketing of locally/regionally produced food products.” The USDA has compiled a registry of food hubs that currently numbers 220. According to Ellie, there are closer to 400 operating food hubs nationally with about 22 in the DC area.

Michigan State did a 2017 survey of food hubs with 119 hubs responding. There are fewer food hubs being added each year, but the ones that do exist are more profitable, viable and are showing more longevity than previously. 42% are nonprofit and 37% are for profit. To learn more from the 2017 survey and to find further food hub resources, check out Wallace Center’s Food Hub Portal: http://ngfn.org/resources/food-hubs/food-hubs

The discussion moved to food hubs in the DC region with an introduction of the panel:

Katie Farnoly, Eastern Vegetable Buyer and Local Farm Coordinator, Coastal Sunbelt Produce, a large for-profit distributor of both imported and local fruit and vegetable products, including home-grown hubs to help local farmers.

Dalila Boclin, Food Access Director, Community Foodworks. Community Foodworks is a nonprofit using the “convening power of farmers markets” to “help farmers get the most bang for their buck.” Community Food Works is using 3.5 of their 14 farmers markets as pop-up food hubs where bulk, wholesale orders can be picked up, generally by small concerns that cannot use a larger distributor, such as faith-based groups and daycare centers. Community Foodworks serves as the middleman.

Chris Guerre, Owner, Maple Avenue Market. Chris and his wife Sarah own a farm, located in the Shenandoah, and brick and mortar market in Vienna. They grow and sell year round and have had a 10-year, small-scale partnership selling produce to Arlington County Schools.

Topics covered:

Pricing—

Dalila: We are grant-funded and nonprofit, so we do not raise prices.

Katy: Depends on the crop. If everyone has curly kale, it goes for market price with little markup. If a farm has a known brand, such as Little Wild Things City Farm, they can ask higher prices. Also depends on the customer—larger institutions and volumes require a smaller markup.

Chris: Pricing is tricky, especially because we buy from other farmers. We have had a CSA for 10 years that includes all products in our store and operates as a discount: $550 gets you $650 worth of products from June through October. Many farmers don’t believe that CSAs should be discounted.

Is there something about this region that allows an alternative approach to food hubs to work?

Dalila: A dense urban area is a plus when you can make 30 stops within 50 miles. CFW places a value on serving disadvantaged customers first. CFW currently serves 45 daycare centers at about $15 a drop.

Katy: Coastal Sunbelt serves many restaurants and other institutions that are hard to convince to pay more for local. But that is a Coastal goal, to get mainstream food institutions to go local.

Chris: In this area, there is no shortage of markets for local items.

Affluent people use farmers markets—do others?

Katy: Coastal Sunbelt gives produce to food banks and does a lot to encourage people trying to get into farming. It also works with underserved school populations. It tried to work with Baltimore City, but the schools had no way to process the produce.

Chris: Food access has been an issue for them since 2008. They work with Carlin Springs Elementary School, which has the highest number of free and reduced lunch students; went there exclusively for one year. He also wants the food in their store to be affordable to families.

How can we increase the biodiversity of products grown? How can we increase the interaction between customer and farmer?

Katy: We are trying to bring farmers and restaurants together. If they meet, they develop a relationship and restaurants are willing to try new things. We have to start small. Biodiversity is one of the beauties of local food.

What about waste? Is there a lot?

Chris: We grow on about 2 acres. There is definitely waste. Not just what doesn’t sell but what is not saleable. AFAC is great at getting leftovers from the markets.

Katy: Waste is a challenge. Bumper crops are especially hard. We need ample notice to take on more. Processing is one avenue, but the labor adds to the cost.

Delila: A lot of waste occurs on the farm itself. “Local frozen” could add capacity to food hubs.

How can consumers support their work:

  • Buy local.
  • Join a CSA.
  • When you think local is too expensive, think about what went into it, the farmer’s costs.
  • Ask in the mainstream for local. Push them to want to add that value.
  • Be collaborative, not “all or nothing” local.
  • Grow a garden.
  • Work with kids.
  • Start a nonprofit.


 

Marymount University Promoting Urban Farming!

posted Apr 11, 2018, 5:06 PM by Arlington Urban Agriculture   [ updated Apr 11, 2018, 5:10 PM ]

Our extremely popular Potting Kit Giveaway is back for a second year. Arlington Friends of Urban Agriculture has teamed up with Marymount University again to promote gardening in small spaces. With assistance from Rooftop Roots, students started basil seedlings and on April 25th will distribute Potting Kits to lucky commuters at the Ballston and Clarendon Metro stops.

For updates on the Potting Kit Giveaway, go to our Facebook event page.

In addition to promoting gardening in small spaces, Rooftop Roots built raised beds on Marymount University's campus, which will be maintained by Marymount's Food For Thought campus group. This garden is a Plot Against Hunger plot and the produce will go to AFAC families in need.

The Marymount Farmers Market, a local producer-only market, opens for the season on May 26th. Each of the vendors grows, bakes, roasts, cooks, or prepares all of their products within 125 miles of Arlington County.  

When: Saturdays 9:00 AM – 1:00 PM, May 26th through Thanksgiving

Where: Marymount University surface parking lot, near the intersection of Glebe Rd. and Old Dominion Dr.

Follow Marymount Farmers Market on Facebook.

Beyond Farmers Markets: A Look at Food Hubs - May 10th Presentation

posted Apr 5, 2018, 10:59 AM by Arlington Urban Agriculture   [ updated Apr 11, 2018, 6:52 AM ]

Come to our spring meeting to learn about changing local food delivery systems. We’ll explore food hubs and regional trends, and discuss how we get nutritious food to all.

WHEN: Thursday, May 10, 7 – 8:30 pm

Networking and display tables at 6:30 pm

WHERE: Arlington Central Library – Auditorium

1015 N. Quincy St. (free parking, near Virginia Square & Ballston Metro Stations)


Panel Moderator – Ellie Bomstein, Program Associate, Wallace Center at Winrock International

A regional food hub is a business or organization that actively manages the aggregation, distribution, and marketing of source-identified food products primarily from local and regional producers to strengthen their ability to satisfy wholesale, retail, and institutional demand.

Check our Facebook event page for updates!

Our Mission: Facilitating community collaboration to promote sustainable food systems for Arlington. Sponsored by Arlington County Department of Parks & Recreation

FOUA Winter 2018 Meeting: Climate Change & New Board Members

posted Jan 26, 2018, 9:14 AM by Arlington Urban Agriculture   [ updated Feb 13, 2018, 7:16 AM ]

Our Winter 2018 meeting on Climate Change, Agriculture and Our Food was well attended. Our panel presented a wide range of information on climate change impacts on food plants, pests and production, plant variety changes, techniques to address the coming changes, and the role of policy and governmental planning to steer change in practices.

Kirsten Conrad, Natural Resources Extension Agent,
focused on how plants are physiologically affected by heat and other climate change impacts and outlined expected changes in foods that will grow in this region. She emphasized that high nighttime temperatures are often overlooked when talking about how rising temperatures are damaging plants. High nighttime temperatures increase plant respiration rates, which reduces biomass accumulation and crop yield. Kirsten ended her talk with a list of handy tips for how gardeners can adapt to the changing climate. Click here for her full presentation.

Don Weber, USDA Research Entomologist, discussed changes in pests and beneficial insects and adaptive approaches to controlling pests. Don focused on how microenvironments, microclimates (such as urban heat islands) and temperature extremes impact insects the most. He also provided a list of tips for gardeners, very similar to Kirsten’s list. Click here for his full presentation.

Tod Wickersham, Biodiversity for a Livable Climate and Beneficial Results, LLC, opened our discussion with an overview of climate change trends and how our weather is getting “weird.” He then highlighted how the use of regenerative agriculture and ecological restoration brings carbon back into soil and heals the climate. He highlighted ways that gardeners can bring regenerative practices to their own gardens and how people can work within their communities, and at the state and national levels to promote policies and regulations that will increase regenerative agriculture practices. Click here for his full presentation.

At our meeting, we also voted in three new board members: Robin Broder, Clean Water & Local Food Advocate and Nonprofit Consultant; Andrew Rude, Retired from Agency for International Development and USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service, and Nanda Setlur, a CPA and small business owner, Urban Farm Greens, a vertical hydroponic farming venture.

We want to thank Thomas Schneider, an original member of the Steering Committee and Board member, who has resigned so he can grow his nonprofit Rooftop Roots. He will continue to coordinate our Spring Potting Party with Marymount University.

We thank Arlington Central Library for once again providing a great venue for our meeting. We thank Pu Wen Lee from AFAC and Kirsten Conrad for bringing displays.




AFAC Spring Garden Kickoff - Feb. 10th

posted Jan 4, 2018, 8:57 AM by Arlington Urban Agriculture

The Arlington Food Assistance Center’s “Plot Against Hunger” program will host a Spring Garden Kickoff on Saturday, February 10th from 9 a.m. to 12 noon. The event will take place at St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church, 4000 Lorcom Lane, Arlington, VA 22207, home of AFAC’s largest Plot Against Hunger garden.

The Kickoff will feature:

·         Information about how Plot Against Hunger gardens provide fresh produce for AFAC clients and how to start one yourself

·         Short presentations on techniques for starting a garden, irrigation/mulching, pest control, and safe body mechanics for gardeners

·         Displays on compost bins, container and window sill gardening, cold frames, growing mushrooms, and more

·         Hands-on tables to practice basic gardening skills

·         Exhibit tables for Northern Virginia Extension Service, 4-H in the Schools, Master Gardeners, and other local organizations

Free vegetables and herb seeds, seed pots and trays, coffee grounds and other compost, and containers for packaging produce donations will be available to AFAC gardeners.

Light refreshments will be served. 

All are welcome.  RSVP to https://afac.org/spring-garden-kickoff

 

Flyer attached.

Winter is the Time to Read a Good Book on Farming & Food

posted Dec 14, 2017, 8:31 AM by Arlington Urban Agriculture   [ updated Jan 8, 2018, 5:43 PM ]

Winter is a time when we put our gardens to bed and have time to read a good book on farming and food. To help you find that good book, here are a few of our favorite book lists:

http://smithmeadows.com
Happy reading!



Climate Change, Agriculture and Our Food

posted Nov 30, 2017, 10:04 AM by Arlington Urban Agriculture   [ updated Jan 25, 2018, 10:30 AM ]

Arlington Friends of Urban Agriculture presents

CLIMATE CHANGE, AGRICULTURE & OUR FOOD

What will change? How can we adapt?

Wednesday, January 24, 2018, 7:00-8:30pm

Arlington Central Library Auditorium, 1015 N. Quincy St., Arlington

(Near Virginia Square/GMU, Ballston/MU Metro Stations)

Networking & Display Tables at 6:30 pm.

New FOUA Board Members will be elected at this meeting.

Free and open to the public.

Check our Facebook event page for updates

Panel

Moderator: Tod Wickersham, President, Beneficial Results LLC

Ø Changing Climate & Food Plants – Kirsten Conrad, Cooperative Extension Agent DOWNLOAD PRESENTATION

Ø Changing Climate & Insect Populations – Don Weber, USDA Research Entomologist DOWNLOAD PRESENTATION

Ø Adaptive Growing Techniques for our Gardens and Agriculture in General – Tod Wickersham DOWNLOAD PRESENTATION

Q & A and Group Discussion

A collection of books on regenerative agriculture and related topi
A collection of books on regenerative agriculture and related topics.

Our Mission: Facilitating community collaboration to promote sustainable food systems for Arlington. Sponsored by Arlington Department of Parks and Recreation.

FOUA Presentation: What Healthy Soils Mean to You -- and Beyond

posted Aug 15, 2017, 9:30 AM by Arlington Urban Agriculture   [ updated Oct 29, 2017, 1:16 PM ]


What Healthy Soils Mean to You – And Beyond

Saturday, September 16, 1:00pm – 2:30pm

Arlington Central Library

Come learn about what healthy soils mean to you, your health, your community, clean water and even climate change. We'll have a few short films and a panel discussion with local experts on healthy soils in your own backyard, in the community, on local farms, and for the planet. 

Panelists:

  • Betsy Nicholas, Executive Director, Waterkeepers Chesapeake & Maryland Fair Farms Campaign (fairfarmsnow.org)
  • Nina DeRosa, Master Gardeners of Northern Virginia (mgnv.org)
  • Nicole Broder, Urban Farm Fellow, Tricycle Gardens, Richmond, VA (TricycleUrbanAg.org
FILMS

Why Soil Matters - by Kiss the Ground (3.26 min)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pesqtODu_XM


Unlocking the Secrets of Soil -- USDA - NRCS (2.44 min)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yzfb-MSDEcU


Soil Solutions to Climate Problems narrated by Michael Pollan (4min)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NxqBzrx9yIE 


Fair Farms: Are You Ready for a New Food Future? (1.56 min)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ks_ZytiaWu0

 

www.ArlingtonUrbanAg.org

Facilitating community collaboration to promote sustainable food systems for Arlington - Sponsored by Arlington Department of Parks and Recreation

Call for Volunteers!

posted Jul 25, 2017, 8:21 AM by Arlington Urban Agriculture   [ updated Jul 25, 2017, 8:23 AM ]

We would love to have your help at these tabling opportunities:

July 29, Saturday - Help at Marymount Farmers Market to staff a FOUA table and the Market’s table. Get an insider’s view of running a market and promote FOUA. Time slots are 8 – 10 am, 9 – 11 am or 11 am – 1 pm. Contact Audrey Morris at agmorris1@yahoo.com. The market runs Saturdays 9am - 1pm May 27 through Nov. 18.

August 18 – 20 – Arlington County Fair. Help staff a table promoting FOUA and Arlington County urban agriculture activities, for a 2-hour time slot on Friday or Saturday, August 18 - 19. Contact Audrey Morris at agmorris1@yahoo.com.

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