2014 Feast Blog Picture

A Delicious Evolution

The first FRESHFARM Markets Farmland Feast in 2003 was an intimate dinner for 70 at Ristorante Tosca hosted by Executive Chef Cesare Lanfranconi and restaurateur Paolo Sacco. By 2006, we moved the event to the Ritz Carlton in the West End of DC to accommodate the growing, sold-out crowd and to make room for the expanding roster of chefs supportive of the local food movement. 2007 marked the launch of our farm-centric auctions. Out went the gym memberships and tickets to the MCI Center (now the Verizon Center). In came items culled from our market farmers and producers, CSA memberships and tickets to a cheese-making class on a farm. We said goodbye to the usual choices of French, Italian and Argentinean wines and turned to Virginia and Maryland for local choices from our area’s burgeoning wine scene.

That was just the beginning. Along the way, we’ve added hard sparkling cider from Maryland instead of Italian Prosecco, gin made here in DC, and chocolates and dessert liqueurs crafted locally. More and more of the auction showcases local products, including our farmer auctioneer, and small family farms all over the United States. Our guest list has grown from 100 to over 450 and our local business partnerships are booming.

The biggest change has been the growing involvement of our local chefs. In the beginning, when farmers markets were scarce and the farm-to-table restaurant revolution had yet to arrive in the Chesapeake region, we had to fly the farm-to-table “giants” in from New York and California to round out the roster of 12 chefs. Today, the farm-to-table revolution is alive and well, and our region is known for the abundance of chefs and restaurants who feature local and seasonal food. In the beginning, we had a hard time finding local items that were unique and special to feature on our menus. Now our choices are plentiful, and our menus reflect a wide variety of choices including grains, dairy, a variety of fruits and vegetables, as well as meat and seafood. All of which are being grown and produced close to home.

As we celebrate our 16th Farmland Feast on Monday, November 10th, our commitment to our core mission remains as strong as ever: to build a strong and vibrant agricultural economy in the Chesapeake Bay region by connecting local farmers and artisanal food producers directly to their customers. What began as an intimate dinner has grown into a grand and spirited evening that celebrates and showcases the delicious local food revolution.

Of course, the 2014 Farmland Feast will have some firsts. Joe Yonan, the talented and delightful food and travel editor for The Washington Post who is also a dedicated farmers market shopper, will serve as emcee. Guests at our “First at the Feast” cocktail reception will sip locally crafted beer and savor Rappahannock Oysters as they enjoy live music from Appalachian Flyer headed by Bluegrass Hall of Fame inductee Tom Gray, father of one of our farmers. Thanks to a special grant from the Farvue Foundation many of our farmers and producers will be joining us.

When guests bite into a Zoe’s chocolate, they will find a seasonal filling inside. Our centerpieces will be created by Tobie Whitman of Little Acre Flowers, a DC-based florist whose entire business depends on local flowers. The cocktails crafted by area bartenders Adam Bernbach (Two Birds, 1 Stone), Derek Brown (Eat The Rich), Lee Carrell (Urbana) and Gina Chersevani (Buffalo & Bergen) will all include seasonal ingredients as well as local spirits. Our sommeliers will be showcasing the very best from local winemakers. Our media sponsor is a homegrown publication, Edible DC. And our roster of now 16 chefs? They are from some of the top restaurants in the area handpicked by Chef Coordinator Brian McBride of RW Restaurant Group whose restaurants all source locally. Every single one of the Feast chefs are inspired by local farmers to craft their creative menus.

We’ve come a long way in the past 16 years. We are able to showcase the very best in local food, and most importantly, we want to share this continued excitement with you. You can purchase tickets here.

Can’t wait until November 10th? Mark your calendar for our first ever “First at the Feast” Kick-Off at Mockingbird Hill on Monday, October 13th at 6 p.m. Enjoy a discounted specialty cocktail and the chance to win two tickets to the cocktail reception in November. RSVP here.

We look forward to seeing you soon!

~ Ann Yonkers, FRESHFARM Markets Co-Founder and Co-Executive Director and Amanda Phillips Manheim, FRESHFARM Markets Director, Fundraising and Advancement

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Food Prints Garden Radish

Sometimes it takes a little luck — or fate — to get a great idea off the ground. On that October night in 2008 at the U.S. Botanic Garden, Bernie Prince, Co-Executive Director of FRESHFARM Markets, was looking for a new school for their nascent educational program, FoodPrints, after their first school was closed by DCPS. Barbara Percival, a volunteer at Watkins Elementary School, was looking for ways to expand the garden program at the school, especially by introducing edible gardening. As they talked, they shared a vision about educating children to grow, tend and eat fresh vegetables grown in the school garden. From that seed the FoodPrints program has expanded to include five DC public schools on Capitol Hill, reaching over 1,000 students with the message that fresh vegetables and fruits not only taste good, but are good for you.

In the early days the FoodPrints classes took place in a poorly equipped science lab at Watkins, with a small sink, hotplates and disposable plates and utensils. Our vision was that we could reach all the students and their parents if we taught substantive lessons keyed to the DCPS curriculum, but also facilitated hands-on experiences with growing, harvesting, cooking and eating fresh vegetables. From the beginning the program was embraced enthusiastically by the teachers and parents at Watkins. Jennifer Mampara, who came on board as the lead teacher in the fall of 2009, began to develop a curriculum and approach to satisfy both academic needs and the overall purpose of educating children to make healthy choices about the food they eat. At the same time we expanded the vegetable garden on the south side of Watkins to include 23 raised beds. Thanks to the generosity of the Philip Graham Foundation, in 2010 we were able to erect a wrought iron fence around the vegetable garden, ensuring the safety of the students — and the vegetables — and creating a magical green garden space that is planted year round.

In the summer of 2011, a modern teaching kitchen was constructed at Watkins that we named the FoodLab. Funded by a Kickstarter campaign that succeeded because of the eleventh hour intervention by Jose Andres and Melissa Jones, the FoodLab is a model for other schools in DC and throughout the nation.

The success of FoodPrints is now measured by its expansion to other schools on Capitol Hill. For the past two years, FoodPrints has been a vibrant presence in Peabody Elementary and SWS (School Within School). This year we started new programs at Tyler Elementary and Ludlow Taylor Elementary Schools.

Key to the success of FoodPrints at each school is support from the school community — both the larger DCPS community, through the Office of the School Superintendent of Education, and the parents and PTAs of the participating schools. We now have six teachers, a director, and a coordinator who make the program work across the board. This year we are delighted to host a FoodCorps service member, Wally Graeber, who will work particularly with the new programs at Tyler and Ludlow-Taylor.

We welcome you to our new website and hope you will follow us on Twitter @FoodPrintsDC. Online you’ll find our blog, photos, recipes, and more to inspire you.

Written by Watkins Elementary School Volunteer and Master Gardener, Barbara Percival.

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Philip Glass and Tim Fain FRESHFARM Markets

Every so often an opportunity comes along to benefit one of our FRESHFARM Markets programs in an unlikely, yet deeply rewarding way. On Sunday, September 21 at 6 p.m., FRESHFARM Markets is lucky enough to be presenting a very special evening of chamber music with iconic American composer, Mr. Philip Glass. The evening will benefit our Matching Dollars program,  which helps make fresh food more affordable to customers who spend their government nutritional benefits (SNAP, WIC, Senior FMNP) at market by matching every purchase made up to $15.

This will be Philip’s second visit to DC specifically to lend his musical brilliance to our fundraising efforts.  Ticket sales from his first concert held in conjunction with the venerable Phillips Collection museum, a longtime neighborhood partner of ours, also went to Matching Dollars. It was one of the highlights of our 2011 events calendar! Much to the disappointment of many Glass fans, the concert sold out much too fast.

We have since moved our offices into a spectacular location in the Penn Quarter neighborhood  - the First Congregational United Church of Christ – that sits just between our City Center DC and Penn Quarter FRESHFARM Markets farmers markets. The sanctuary of the church provides us with the extraordinary opportunity to host a large number of people in a striking, acoustically-superior, minimalist and spare environment that matches Philip’s music so beautifully.

This will be an intimate evening with one of the world’s most ground-breaking musicians, who has been called a classicist ‘pop star’ by the Village Voice. He has also been recognized as one of the “greatest ambassadors serious music has had in our lifetime.”

Glass is not just world renowned in his own right as a prolific composer of operas, chamber music and film scores.  During his long career he has partnered with some of the most important artists, songwriters, set designers, writers and filmmakers of this century. One of these is a relative newcomer, the virtuoso violinist Tim Fain. According to the Village Voice, Fain is one of the few soloists for whom Glass has composed solo material.  When asked why Glass answered, ‘Because he’s that good.” Tim has garnered rave reviews, not just for his own unique compositions, but for his film score contributions including Black Swan (in which he also starred) and 12 Years A Slave. We look forward to a hauntingly mesmerizing program.

The concert will be followed by a Q & A session led by a FRESHFARM favorite son, writer Sam Fromartz, whose business acumen is sometimes surpassed by his bread-baking abilities! (Sam will be signing his latest book at the Dupont Circle FRESHFARM Market on Sunday, September 7th ) An unlikely addition to a music program? Not exactly. Sam is a longtime fan of Philip’s and he can’t wait to host.

Tickets for the concert are $125. Tickets for the VIP experience including dinner with Philip and Tim, cocktails, the performance & parking are $500.


We hope you can join us for what is sure to be a spectacular and unforgettable evening.

~ Amanda Phillips Manheim,
FRESHFARM Markets Director of Fundraising and Advancement

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Iona Seniors Indoor Market

In “Let’s Glean!” the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) notes how 100 billion pounds of food are thrown away each year, despite there being 49 million people who are going hungry in our country. The process of gleaning serves to counteract that imbalance by redistributing food, which would otherwise go to waste, back to people in need. In support of local gleaning, FRESHFARM Markets partners with food kitchens and other programs organized by nonprofit organizations throughout the greater metro Washington, D.C. area to give surplus food from farmers markets back to the community.

The Iona Active Wellness Program at St. Albans is one of the programs FRESHFARM Markets works with in Washington, D.C. Every week, members of the Iona community may go to a mini farmers market in the St. Albans Episcopal Church. This indoor farmers market provides people access to the latest seasonal produce and makes it easier for senior citizens to get the nutrients they need to maintain healthy diets.

On August 18, 2014, the mini farmer’s market at St. Albans featured a variety of fruits and vegetables that were donated by growers from the Dupont Circle FRESHFARM Market: green beans, potatoes, lettuce, parsley, eggplant, Swiss chard, beets, yellow squash, artisan breads, bell peppers, zucchini, cucumbers, and chives. A sign on a nearby table displayed the recipe of the week, which was a Mediterranean salad, along with other information meant to foster awareness in the community on food topics such as cooking, nutrition, and recipes.

By the time I arrived at the mini market with FRESHFARM Markets Manger and Volunteer Coordinator, Sam Giffin, several of the produce items were already gone, which, along with the enthusiasm of the people who were there selecting their own food, spoke to the popularity of the market. I could tell how special this event is for the members of Iona’s Active Wellness program, how it plays an important role in their community on a regular basis, and how it supports the positive effects of gleaning in an incalculable manner.

By Brian Callahan, volunteer at the Ballston and Dupont Circle FRESHFARM Markets.

A special thanks to Rose Clifford and Ashley Steiner for providing me insight on the market on a busy Monday morning. For more information on Iona’s Active Wellness program, click here.

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Chef + Doctor + Farmer = A Revolution
Chef Doctor Farmer Moderator Graphic

Join FRESHFARM Markets for a ground-breaking conversation between three fresh-thinking experts, who are rarely at the same table, who just might change the way we think about cooking, medicine, and farming. The panel entitled “Chef + Doctor + Farmer = A Revolution” includes Spike Gjerde, local food advocate and chef/owner of the renowned Woodberry Kitchen; Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel, author, professor, oncologist, and an architect of the Affordable Care Act; and Zach Lester, owner of Virginia’s Tree and Leaf Farm and food visionary. They will discuss how innovative (and age-old) farm-to-body practices are transforming the future of eating, healing, and growing food. Corby Kummer, senior food editor for The Atlantic magazine will moderate the discussion. Dr. Katherine Alley, medical director emeritus of Suburban Hospital Breast Cancer Center, will introduce the panel.  The panel is the first for a new FRESHFARM Markets project called “FFM FEED Series.”

“I’m excited to present this panel which brings together three professions – chef, doctor and farmer – who never share a stage together, but whose interaction is guaranteed to produce a revolution around the key issues of health, food and farming,” said Ann Yonkers, FRESHFARM Markets co-founder and co-executive director

The event will take place on Tuesday, September 9, 2014 at 7:30 p.m. at the First Congregational United Church of Christ at 945 G Street, N.W., Washington, D.C., 20001. Tickets are $20. Go here to purchase tickets.

To find out more about other exciting events that FRESHFARM Markets is holding this September, including An Exceptional Evening with Philip Glass and Tim Fain on Sunday, September 21, go here.

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Baklava Couture

We didn’t know when the time would finally come, but when we found out in March that we’d be expecting our first child, one of the first few thoughts that immediately came to mind was “Oh, no…I’ll be pregnant in a DC hot, humid summer.”

You see, I’m not quite in the AC for my job. When I’m not running around in the oven-warmed kitchen, I’m running my outdoor farmer’s market booth – covered in pollen and sticky temperatures. I dreaded being pregnant in the summer and thought it would be difficult for me and baby, but instead, I am finding it to be wonderful. Never did I think about all the fresh picked, plucked and harvested goods my baby would be exposed to.

Since sharing the news with friends and family in May, I have been super thankful for the abundance of fresh fruits and vegetables available by my farmer friends! I remember telling Winn of Quaker Valley Orchards that I ate five pints of his perfectly ripe strawberries in just two days!! Craving?  I don’t know, but those jewels were so damn delicious I couldn’t pop them in fast enough.

I don’t suffer from allergies the way my husband does, but how lucky have we been to enjoy all the fresh, early harvest honey that is collected within 15 miles of where we live in Silver Spring. Our honey supplier (Banner Bee) has kept my husband free of any “my allergies are killing me” excuses to get things done around the house – plus 1 for me and baby!

As the seasons began to change and the DC summer was upon us, I focused baby’s nutrients around all the different varieties of heirloom tomatoes, squash and green beans, crisp asparagus, dark leafy greens and lots of buttery lettuce. Making a bunch of salads in the beginning of the week for a quick grab-n-go lunch has really been the key to sustaining my energy and this little life growing inside of me. In the last few weeks, I have never enjoyed so many stone fruits, berries and super antioxidant currants (the pink are my favorite!).

My favorite weekly cool-down meal at market has been Soupergirl’s Beet Gazpacho – perfectly seasoned and cold, it really helps keep me hydrated! I think my only true craving thus far has been BBQ and no one does it better than Three Little Pigs.  I usually skip the bun and enjoy the BBQ mixed with their house made slaw for an easy, ready meal.

We are about to close our second trimester and while my belly is beginning to resemble a large melon, I am really looking forward to the variety of melons coming in to keep me cool this August. Watermelon-Mint Granita, anyone? I’ll have my stash in the freezer for a hot, summer night’s treat that’s for sure!

Thank you FRESHFARM Markets for getting us all together and allowing for a happy, healthy and locally sourced pregnancy experience! I feel truly blessed to have this bounty surround me at markets four days a week.

Written by Katerina V. Georgallas, owner of Baklava Couture.

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