Arcadia's Veteran Farmer Program
Arcadia’s Veteran Farmer Program is a direct response to a national crisis. The average American farmer is 58 – even older in Virginia – and is nearing retirement. Arcadia’s solution to this national crisis is to pay veterans to learn how to farm. They help them find affordable land and provide easy market access for the food they produce to satisfy the robust and growing public demand. Arcadia’s Veteran Farmer Program is a multilayered, hands-on educational program that develops new farmers; capitalizes on the growing market in local, sustainably grown foods; and encourages entrepreneurship and job creation. Arcadia has three training tracks to set veterans up for success. (1) Arcadia’s Veteran Fellowship is a one-year, salaried on-farm apprenticeship for military veterans to learn and practice and sustainable agricultural methods. (2) The Veteran Farmer Reserve program meets one weekend a month for 12 months for intensive cultivation, business, botany and farming skills training, along with field visits to successful farms to explore the full range of agricultural businesses. (3) The Reservists also work two weeks a year on Arcadia Farm to experience the challenges, rewards, and day-to-day rhythms of agriculture.
Brainfood and its associated social impact business, Brainfood Homegrown, are a shining example of everything a local nonprofit can and should be. They run innovative, effective programs that establish and strengthen the food education and cooking skills of DC high school students who might otherwise not be exposed to them. They seek to develop and strengthen the confidence, teamwork, and leadership skills in teens that enables them to be a force for good in their communities. Brainfood Homegrown, and its summer CSA program are perfect examples of the way Brainfood continues to grow and thrive in creating opportunities for its constituents. For example, Cooks in Training is Brainfood’s entry-level program for high school youth designed to build leadership and cooking skills. Their goal is to give more young people opportunities to build their own leadership skills through food. Whether the setting is an after school classroom, an externship experience, or a first job, BrainFood believes that young people have the right to learn in a safe, supportive, environment while being seen and celebrated for who they are.
FRESHFARM FoodPrints uses an academic approach to grow healthy students and families in partnership with Washington, DC schools. FoodPrints provides hands-on experiences with growing, harvesting, cooking, and eating nutritious, local foods. The program engages students and families in teaching kitchens and school gardens with standards-based health and science lessons, hands-on cooking experiences, and family-friendly, affordable recipes. In the 2017 – 2018 school year, FoodPrints will be in 12 DC elementary schools, reaching nearly 4,000 students. Thanks to this program, students are more likely to try, eat, and request recipes with fresh fruits and vegetables and more likely to understand nutrition concepts and how to make healthier choices about food. Foodprints pays teachers to work in schools, and keeps them there. These are two of the biggest challenges to food education programs--most programs rely on volunteer teaching and many install someone to get a garden or food curriculum going for just one or two years, so the investment lays fallow. The program has been tied in with DC Public Schools Food and Nutrition Services division so that in many of the schools, the cafeteria offers the same recipes kids have learned to cook (and sometimes grow ingredients for) in Foodprints class.