FRESHFARM Markets


THANKSGIVING FRESH FOOD DRIVES
Turkey Drive Blog

Last year during our Thanksgiving FRESH Food Drives we raised over $10,000 total at seven markets and we bought food from FRESHFARM Markets’ farmers (including turkeys!) that we donated to our gleaning partners. Not only will this donated food go to feed those in need, but each dollar we raise will be spent with our farmers which will help them sustain their business as we prepare to close up markets for the season. This year we’d like to raise even more to help our gleaning partners and farmers alike. Here are some of the ways you can help:

Get a cup of coffee at our Dupont Circle FRESHFARM Market. We have vetted local coffee businesses to participate in a coffee fundraiser at market, based on their sourcing, environmental management and waste management practices. They will be donating 25% of their proceeds to our Food Drive – all of which will be spent with FRESHFARM Markets farmers. We see this as a dual fundraising and awareness raising venture, not a change in our producer-only rule.  The coffee will be served at the North end of the market, on 20th Street between Q St. NW and Connecticut Ave. NW leading up to and during the Sunday of our Dupont Circle FRESHFARM Market FRESH Food Drive which is on November 23rd.

Give the market turkey roosting at each of our orange Market Information tents a feather! All donations are tax-deductible and will be spent with FRESHFARM Market farmers on local, humanely raised turkeys for our gleaning partners.

Buy food at market and drop it off at the orange market info tent the day of the FRESH Food Drives.

Make a tax-deductible monetary donation online or at the orange market information tent at any of our markets listed below. We will purchase food directly from our farmers and producers and donate it to our gleaning partners.

Our Food Drives take place at the following FRESHFARM Markets the week before Thanksgiving Day beginning with:

Wednesday, Nov. 19th at Foggy Bottom benefiting Miriam’s Kitchen

Thursday, Nov. 20th at Penn Quarter benefiting Thrive DC

Saturday, Nov. 22nd at H Street NE benefiting First Church of Christ Holiness

Saturday, Nov. 22nd at Downtown Silver Springs, benefiting Growing Soul

Sunday, Nov. 23rd at Annapolis, benefiting Annapolis Light House

Sunday, Nov. 23rd at Dupont Circle, benefiting DC Central Kitchen

Tuesday, Nov. 25th at Crystal City, benefiting Arlington Food Assistance Center.

Thank you for your support as we fight hunger and help farmers this Thanksgiving!

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BEN WENK, IN HIS OWN WORDS
Ben Wenk, Three Springs Fruit Farm

Three Springs Fruit Farm’s Ben Wenk, a seventh generation farmer from Pennsylvania, was our featured speaker at our 12th Farmland Feast on Monday, November 10. Here’s what he had to say:

There is a contradictory nature about agriculture that I have always found fascinating.  On one hand, the art of agriculture is ancient and has been practiced by human beings for over 12,000 years.  Yet, each spring brings renewal: new opportunities and new challenges – testing everyone in agriculture, regardless of his or her age.

As a young farmer representing his family’s seventh generation, I am the beneficiary of both the wisdom and sacrifice of my ancestors, but am also responsible for crafting my generation’s legacy on our land.

In 2006, I graduated from Penn State University’s College of Agriculture with a degree in Agroecology. There I learned the science behind making an agricultural environment and the natural environment work together harmoniously. After a brief period of soul searching and kicking the tires, I decided to return home and introduce our farm to selling at farmers markets.

This was a big change because Three Springs only sold our fruit wholesale to processors for applesauce, juice, and pie filling or to distributors for fresh sales in grocery stores.  My father David and Uncle John allowed me the opportunity to make this business decision, although I didn’t have a good sense of how many changes this would entail at the time.

For starters, in addition to growing tree fruit, I would have to start growing vegetables to make my farmstand more attractive and profitable.  Now you might think, what is so controversial about growing vegetables?   This doesn’t seem like such an odd thing.  But in Bigglerville, PA, the “Apple Capital USA” vegetables are grown in your backyard, not on “good orchard ground.” My little acre patch raised a lot of skeptical neighbors’ eyebrows.

What’s more, I started keeping odd hours.  Odd, like sorting tomatoes until 1 a.m. or odd like waking up at 4:30 a.m. to drive to market.  Two farmers markets per week that first year seemed like a lot.   Now, seven years later with many crippling box truck disasters, collapsing market tents, bad weather, and crop struggles under my belt, Three Springs Fruit Farm attends seven Chesapeake Bay regional farmers markets weekly including the vibrant Silver Spring FRESHFARM Market.  Our veggie patch has grown from one acre to seven and our neighbors now come to me for advice about growing their own vegetables.

But really, this idea of diversifying our crops wasn’t a new one. It was standard practice in Adams County just two generations ago.  And while different crops made for more full tables at market, it also had other benefits.  This diversity made more work for our diligent crew, who now had full time jobs all year, planting annuals and harvesting spring veggies as well as taking care of our fruit tress.  Furthermore, the crop diversity breeds biodiversity.  These new crops helped raise populations of beneficial insects and limited susceptibility to all kinds of diseases.

In 2010, I was able to parlay our sustainable growing practices into certification by the Food Alliance.  This third party certification verifies that we are reducing our pesticide use, protecting  the Chesapeake Bay with nutrient and soil conservation tactics, enhancing the biodiversity around our farm, managing our farm labor in a fair and socially responsible way. Market customers liked this certification and our sales have increased by 16% since our first certified crop.

In 1993, my grandfather Donald Wenk passed away.  Though my memories of him are few and dear, he continues to inspire me today.  In spite of what we now know about the benefits of a diversified farm, post war farming wisdom told American farmers to “get big or get out.” Donnie chose to go big into apples and a fledgling Grower Cooperative over an allegiance to corporate poultry (thanks, Pap!).  But it wasn’t an easy road.  After taking out a large loan to buy apple trees, my grandfather farmed during the day and worked the night shift at the box factory in town until his trees came to bear.  In 1964, apple trees didn’t reach full maturity for fifteen years or more. For my grandfather, this meant working around the clock for over a decade.

My grandfathers’ sacrifice and my father and uncle’s perseverance are the foundation on which my new endeavors were built.  There are no words to express how fortunate I was to have a successful family farm to return to after my schooling.

Being a younger man on an older farm has allowed me to put my youthful energy into some new enterprises that haven’t been explored for generations.  If I can match the perseverance of my ancestors, these opportunities can make my farm better for my heirs, just as Pap’s farm was for Dad, and Dad’s farm was for me.   Three Springs Fruit Farm is now nearing completion of the legal requirements for our own commercial hard cider business, P&Q Cider Company.  The release of our first cider is scheduled for the spring of 2015 and I’m excited about our new venture into this historic American beverage.

And that’s what it’s all about for me. A new face practicing the ancient art of agriculture.  I am working the same soil as my ancestors, honoring their sacrifice and devoting a new energy into their same struggles.  I am striving to improve my family business and preserve my family’s land. Humbly appreciating the ways in which my work and my land improve me everyday.  I am feeding my local foodshed with clean, wholesome food and maintaining the vibrancy of the natural world through our farming practices and doing it with a smile.  And each spring, when the buds break and new life flows into the farmland of my ancestors, I am again inspired to pursue this ancient art for the generations yet to come.

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FARMLAND FEAST: THEN & NOW
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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PLANTING THE SEEDS
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 www.foodprintsdc.com 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 COMES TO DC ON SEPTEMBER 21
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.

PURCHASE TICKETS HERE.

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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WHAT HAPPENS AFTER GLEANING
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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