Food Drive Blog Image

For the past seven years, FRESHFARM Markets has seized the Thanksgiving holiday as an opportunity to both fight hunger and help the farmers who make it possible for you to eat the very best regional foods all year round. Our FRESH food drives are different than most. Rather than asking you to purge your pantry of dusty canned goods that you never seem to get around to using, we ask that you help us buy fresh food from our farmers as a donation.

The way our food drives work is simple: Over the next few weeks we are accepting tax-deductible monetary donations from shoppers (which can be made online or in person at our markets). Then, starting on November 18th at Foggy Bottom FRESHFARM Market, we will spend all the funds raised with our farmers on food to be donated to our gleaning partners, organizations such as Miriam’s Kitchen and Arlington Food Assistance Center who help fight hunger in our market neighborhoods.

Our FRESH food drives are a double benefit: the food we purchase feeds those in need and every dollar we raise will be spent with our farmers which will help them sustain their business as most of our markets will soon be closed for the season.

Last year FRESHFARM markets shoppers donated over $10K at seven markets. This season, we’ve expanded to eight markets (this year will be the first for our FRESHFARM Market by the White House) and our hope is that we can raise even more money, but we need your help.

Donations of any size are appreciated, but any donation over $10 gets you a chance to win a fully loaded basket filled with market goodies; for details on prize levels, click here. If you’re a regular Dupont Circle FRESHFARM Market shopper, you can also help out by grabbing a cup of coffee or bag of beans from local roasters selling at our Dupont Circle FRESHFARM Market for the next two Sundays, where 25% of your purchase will be donated to the drives.

Our FRESH Food Drives take place at the following FRESHFARM Markets the week before Thanksgiving Day. Here is the full schedule.

Wednesday, Nov. 18th at Foggy Bottom benefiting Miriam’s Kitchen

Thursday, Nov. 19th By the White House benefiting Thrive DC

Thursday, Nov. 19th Penn Quarter benefiting Thrive DC

Saturday, Nov. 21st H Street NE benefiting First Church of Christ Holiness

Saturday, Nov. 21st Downtown Silver Spring, benefiting Shepherd’s Table

Sunday, Nov. 22nd at Annapolis, benefiting Annapolis Light House

Sunday, Nov. 22nd at Dupont Circle, benefiting DC Central Kitchen & Iona Senior Services

Tuesday, Nov. 24th at Crystal City, benefiting Arlington Food Assistance Center

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Em and John for Blog

Voices from the Market, a new and recurring blog feature, connects you with the people who grow and make your food! For our debut installment we posed five random questions for John DiZazzo and Emily Best, who farm together at New Morning Farm and can be seen most Sunday selling at our Dupont Circle FRESHFARM Market. Have a random question for a farmer or producer or a specific farmer or producer you’d like us to interview next? Let us know by sending an email to

What do you grow?

At New Morning Farm, we grow a variety of certified organic berries, vegetables, and herbs. We focus on the standard items: green beans, sweet corn, tomatoes, summer squash, potatoes, onions, broccoli, and greens like lettuce, chard and kale. We grow strawberries in the spring and raspberries in the late summer and early fall. Our most famous items are rhubarb in the spring (and through the summer in smaller quantities), Sungold cherry tomatoes in the summer, and romanesco cauliflower in the fall. We also grow many other items in small quantities — including winter squash, fennel, bok choi, and more!

How did you get started farming?

John’s from Connecticut and started farming up there immediately after high school, in search of a tangible and real experience. I started farming at NMF, after a stint in the Peace Corps in Senegal and getting an MA in Environmental Policy from American University; I was also looking for a tangible way to be involved in the food system.

Weirdest request or question a customer has asked you?

Do you have bananas? Actually, the question we dislike the most (especially as an organic farm) is the “Do you use chemicals?” ALL farmers use chemicals (like water, or soil nutrition of one form or another). There’s a misconception among some folks that chemicals are inherently evil — it’s much more nuanced than that.

If you could add another product to your stand, what would it be?

Avocados! A real item–blueberries. Been wanting to grow blueberries now for several years… may still happen someday.

What is your favorite way to cook or prepare food that you grow?

We both like to eat our produce as simply as we can — salads, stir fries, and gazpacho are frequently in the rotation. Our stuff tastes so great that it doesn’t need much!

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FB for Blog

As another school year begins, I am so pleased to share exciting news about FRESHFARM Market’s FoodPrints program.  FoodPrints is FRESHFARM Market’s food education program that aims to make positive changes in what children and their families eat through highly engaging, hands-on experiences with growing, harvesting, cooking and preparing nutritious, local and in season foods.  This is the beginning of our 10th year of partnering with D.C. Public Schools and we have so many exciting projects and opportunities on the horizon!

FRESHFARM Markets works in partnership with administrators and teachers to ensure that FoodPrints offers a relevant, enriching educational opportunity that teaches Common Core, Next Generation Science and DCPS/OSSE Health standards, and that adapts to the unique curricular goals of each school we partner with.  The Program was started by FRESHFARM Markets co-founder, Bernadine Prince in 2005, and by 2009 landed at Watkins Elementary where we developed an extensive school garden and converted a classroom into a Teaching Kitchen. FoodPrints continued to grow and by the 2014-15 academic year, FRESHFARM Markets had partnered with five DCPS elementary schools, serving 1,800 students in 77 classrooms ranging from preschool through 5th grade.

The 2015-16 academic year is marked by exciting partnerships and developments, including:

  • Debuting FoodPrints at School without Walls at Francis Stevens (2425 N Street NW). This is our first school outside of Capitol Hill, and will bring our current program reach to 2,200 students in 110 classrooms.  Through collaboration with The George Washington University and Jose Andres’ ThinkFoodGroup, D.C. Public Schools is constructing a demonstration teaching kitchen classroom inside the school cafeteria that will provide a state-of-the-art space for FoodPrints classes.
  • An intimate Harvest dinner on September 29 at Urbana to celebrate and support FoodPrints at School without Walls at Francis Stevens. Stay tuned for details about tickets! .
  • Whole Foods Markets has come on board as our Food Prints program partner and will provide dry goods and pantry items that aren’t available at FRESHFARM Markets to all six Food Prints schools. FoodPrints recipes (so popular that some students have insisted these dishes be served at their birthday parties) will be prepared and featured at the Whole Foods Markets-Tenlytown in its deli.
  • A partnership with DCPS Food and Nutrition Services to serve and highlight FoodPrints recipes as part of the school lunch program at our partner schools.
  • The removal a large area of asphalt from the playground at Ludlow-Taylor Elementary and replacement of it with a storm water retention basin, native plants, and an extensive FoodPrints vegetable garden with over 30 raised beds. This is a joint project with the District Department of the Environment’s RiverSmart Schools program, the University of Maryland and The Neilom Foundation.
  • At Tyler Elementary, the construction of a free-standing FoodPrints Teaching Kitchen Classroom in the courtyard next to the vegetable garden. This project has received funding for architectural plans and project management from The Share Fund, and drawings have been completed.  We hope to raise the funds for construction this year and see the project complete and ready for students as they return to school in the fall of 2016.
  • A pilot of our new Farmer-In-Residence program at one school that will provide a substantial stipend to a farmer or producer in exchange for developing a year-long relationship with students and families through FoodPrints. The aim is to roll this out at all FoodPrints schools in the 2016-17 academic year.

As FRESHFARM Market’s education program, FoodPrints is also looking forward to developing programming at our markets and in the larger community. Click here for more information about FoodPrints and please reach out with ideas, comments and your support.


Jennifer Mampara

FoodPrints Program Director


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Building Communities Blog Pic

The Oxford English Dictionary defines community as “a body of people or things viewed collectively.” The word originates from the ancient Anglo-Norman and Middle French communité meaning “joint ownership.”

I believe that Americans are forming community at farmers markets faster than they are anywhere else. I believe that a greater sense of American community is desperately needed in our time.

I have been working in and around farmers markets for more than a decade. They are, in many respects, burdensome and exhausting. Early morning risings, complicated packing and transportation, risk-laden commercial transactional logistics, and considerable physical exertion, all wrapped up in a rather primordial and certainly unpredictable reliance on Mother Nature to be kind, a posture she refuses to accept.

But then the bell rings – and then the weekly building of the market culminates in the creation of community. And with the first customer greeting, with the first smiled question, with the first purchase, the weariness ends and the burden lifts. In an act as ancient as any in our time, food is provided, labor is recognized, quality is rewarded, and connection is made.

In their repeated weekly cycle, these market-built communities expand organically like the rings of a tree or the tendrils of a vine. On your next visit to market, take note. Our market community is strong and inclusive: food from five states bringing together consumers of all colors, ages, races, ethnicities, and economic and social backgrounds. Rural meets urban. Rich meets poor. Young meets old. Conservative meets liberal. These distinctions fall away as we collectively relish the joy of beautiful lettuce greens, perfectly ripened stone fruits, humanely raised meats, actively ripening cheeses, breads from local grain, and all manner of products made by the hands that sell them.

Building these market communities is most significant. They are among the few places where we still permit ourselves this falling away of divisive and artificial social layering. They are among the few places where we slow down enough to greet a stranger, make a new friend, see and wonder about those others – those not like us. In a sense, farmers markets are where we can see true democracy at work.   In these market communities, we come face to face with those who feed us, and for a few hours we share with them an experience of the primordial and unpredictable natural environment and climate that we collectively rely on. Too hot, too cold, too wet, too dry, too windy, too humid? Yet, the market happens.

And our market community is growing. Market gleaning partners like DC Central Kitchen and Iona Senior Services take leftover, unused food to those with the greatest need, those who may never be able to physically attend the market. Matching Dollars and Produce Plus attract consumers to the market, these programs work to break down the economic barriers that prevent consumers from joining the community and that prevent access to the food we celebrate.

Ann Harvey Yonkers repeatedly calls my attention to a phrase in the founding documents of FRESHFARM Markets. The phrase, “to share the burden of government,” partly justifies our status as a non-profit organization. In this phrase beats the heart of the market community because it illustrates how markets knit up the fabric of community and make communities prosper and connect people. She also calls markets “the new town squares” because markets welcome everyone and are places where people feel at home.   The community works to exclude none, the community that week after week grows toward a fuller awareness of our joint responsibility to care for the people and places that provide our food.

Next time you are at market, pause a moment and look around. Look at peoples’ faces and listen to the murmur of conversations all around you. This is not an ordinary public space. Somehow the combination of the beautiful food, the authenticity of the exchange between farmer and customer and the simplicity of the setting is transformative. Everyone feels at home. The market feels like their place and they are engaged, receptive and happy there. There is no question there is some magic going on.

See you at market!

Written by Mike Koch, Executive Director, FRESHFARM Markets

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Kip Supply Side Blog

My father always kept a small garden in our suburban DC backyard. We regarded it as a rather messy place – a source of embarrassment and reason to avoid the backyard altogether. It was not the tidy kind of garden our imaginations conjured. It looked nothing like the landscaped places we found in the backyards of our friends and neighbors.

The garden was not square or rectangular or frankly any recognizable geometric shape. It grew over the years like the plants it was meant to contain: organic and misshapen. There were raspberries that shot up in thorny unkempt fashion, a radish patch, mounds of asparagus plants, cucumbers grown in hay bales that he would bring home one at a time in the backseat (infuriating my mother), and caged peppers and tomatoes. Rather oddly we thought, marigolds and mint formed a frothy border around the whole perimeter.

Behind the garden and next to the fence was “the rotting place,” what I would later learn to call the compost pile. Despite my mother’s protests, all manner of kitchen scraps, weeds, leaves, grass trimmings and garden detritus would be piled up there. It created a fecund and puzzling heat – often steaming up in wafts during cooler weather. In the summer, when the rotting pile was most unbearable, he would spend more time there, turning it over in shovels full, pausing to pick up and inspect the worms and insects that he found there.

Dad would spend most weekends endlessly puttering in his messy garden, too often by himself. On those occasions when I agreed to help, he would quietly work alongside me trying to teach me without scaring me away. He told stories about his Great Depression-era life on my grandparents’ farm. He told stories about rain – too much and too little. He told stories about the joy that he, my grandparents, and my aunts and uncle would get from their farm and garden in Iowa. How the soil sustained them. Most often then, his stories inspired a derisive laughter from me. There was a Safeway blocks from our home; we could walk there for goodness sake. Most often now, and most certainly in this act of writing, I struggle to remember his stories as he is no longer here to tell them. These memories invoke as much shame as they do fondness.

When we were too young to refuse, we would summer on that family farm in Iowa. My Swiss grandparents were well into their seventies then, but still worked harder than most urban adults I now know. Days started early and ended late. Sleep was profound and fresh-air filled. Their farm, that home, was what I now know to be a family farm, a subsistence farm. It was eighty-eight acres – “there’s eighty-eight keys on a piano,” Grandad would say. It was enough land to grow grain for the animals and vegetables for family. And in good years, there was enough surplus grain to sell for cash and the inevitable but carefully-managed purchase of “catalog goods.” There were cows, pigs, chickens, rabbits, dogs, cats, and all manner of field vermin.

After years without making a single visit, the last time I visited that farm in Iowa my grandfather was in his nineties and I was a recent college graduate. He had fallen from his tractor and broken his hip. It was time, everyone said, to sell the farm. None of us grandchildren wanted to farm; I think that broke his heart. He sold the farm to the neighboring mega-farm and took a week-long vacation to Hawaii. He died shortly after.

Decades later, my partner Pablo and I bought a forlorn and crumbling 133 acre family, subsistence farm in Garrett County, Maryland. It is a hilly, rocky place with about 25 acres of tillable soil. We bought it from the ninety-something-last-remaining-child of its owners who had died there in the farmhouse. Pablo and I sense their spirits in the house still. The nineteenth century farmhouse and barn had all the same smells and sounds that I had finally grown to miss. We started our business there, there in the rural mountains of western Maryland. We work with farmers there, and I no longer deride the feelings of joy that well up in front of a table laden with locally grown and locally produced food.

The data on local, sustainably scaled farming is dire. In Garrett County, Maryland alone, an average of close to 3 acres of farmland have been lost everyday since 1997. Nationally, According to the USDA, between 1945 and 1975 the total number of farms decreased from around 7 million to 2 million while the average farm size more than doubled from 200 acres to 500 acres. And from 1987 onward, the median farm acreage has grown consistently while the median cropland acreage has stayed constant, reflecting the dramatic shift of cropland from smaller farmer for larger ones.  In fact, the nation’s largest farms, containing 500 or more cropland acres, account for more than 70% of total cropland in the United States and the top 2.2% of farms constitute 34.3% of all national cropland. Despite the much written about food movement, between 2001 and 2011 growth in agriculture has come almost entirely from large industrial farms with minimal growth in smaller, environmentally sustainable farms.

Friend and FRESHFARM Markets’ board member and accomplished businessman, Herb Miller, has said repeatedly to me, “Stay on the supply side, Mike.” I confess: until recently I received this advice rather generally, in a macro-economic sort of fashion. Over the past few months as I have reflected on my new place in this life, the meaning of Herb’s advice has deepened.

With global population likely to reach 10 billion souls in the next generation, his advice is indeed quite specific: stay on the supply-side, stay on the side of the farmer and the food producer. By investing in their survival, we are investing in a future that offers the joy of knowing a vine-ripened hand-picked tomato, hand made cheese, tree-ripened fruit, and an abundance of grains, produce, fruits and foods that are delivered to us by the hands of a neighbor.

I’m long on the supply side, Herb.

Written by Mike Koch, Executive Director, FRESHFARM Markets

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FRESHFARM Markets new Executive Director Mike Koch

We are thrilled to introduce Mike Koch, a recognized change maker and local food innovator, as our new Executive Director. We asked Mike to share his vision for FRESHFARM Markets that takes on the economics of our food system and puts the farmer at the core of its mission. Here’s Mike in his own words.


I am thrilled by the opportunity to continue to serve FRESHFARM Markets mission as Executive Director, and humbled to follow in the footsteps of Co-Founders Ann Harvey Yonkers and Bernadine Prince. Their vision and leadership over the past 19 years has altered the landscape of agribusiness and local food in our region, creating the environment necessary for a thriving group of viable food businesses and brands, including my very own FireFly Farms. I am committed to continuing their work, committed to ensuring that our regional and national food systems are diverse and sustainable.

And, I am invigorated by what lies ahead:  a future dedicated to realizing the mission of FRESHFARM Markets.  In my view, ours is a singular mission thanks to the vision of Ann and Bernie.  It is a mission that dares to take on the underlying economics of our food system, and to support and give voice to those who raise, make, or otherwise produce the food we eat.

It is an important mission, one that has as much meaning in Washington, DC as in Atlanta; as much relevance in London or Madrid or Bangladesh.  It is a mission in three acts:

Act One: Supply-side
Global population is rapidly increasing and is likely to reach between 7.5 and 10.5 billion by 2050. Feeding that growing population is – and will continue to be – challenging under the best of circumstances; already today in many places around the planet, strained food systems have lead to food shortages and food unrest.

Macroeconomics suggest that when large increases in food demand occur, there will be commensurate – if lagging – increases in food prices, unless and until the supply of food increases.

A broad and diverse set of food producers is needed, globally.

Act Two: Food (Security)
Whatever your convictions, investing in a community’s ability to feed itself from its own regional “foodshed” is becoming a point of galvanizing consensus. A rather primitive consensus like that only developed through generations of inherited experience. The alternative might lead to some Soylent Green reality of mass-produced, synthetically manufactured food, goodness forbid.

Draw the radius as far as you like, feeding the estimated 40 million people who call the region home requires an active and vibrant community of farmers, food producers, and food entrepreneurs.  To survive, these local businesses must be profitable, well-managed, and have access to the resources and services they need.  It is also in our interest that these local food-producing businesses not just survive but thrive, and that they produce a diverse and locally indigenous group of foods and food products.

Act Three: Investing in your Garden
It has been reported widely that the overwhelming majority of American farmers are operating at a loss — the median farm income was negative $1,453 in 2012. Many of these farm families require additional non-farm related income to make ends meet.

Global food production and distribution has become a business that advantages scale, and food systems in the US economy have accommodated that advantage well over the past decades.  Some innovative food businesses and entrepreneurs have invested in changing their sourcing models to ensure the viability of smaller, sustainably scaled local farming, some have not.

Our regional food distribution system needs to accommodate such smaller scale partners – and the very different economics that govern their success.


Over the past two decades, FRESHFARM Markets has served as a catalyst, spark, and incubator fueling change in our regional agricultural landscape.  I am committed to continuing this work, and honored to steward this ground-breaking, innovative organization that has the farmer at the heart of its mission.

~~ Mike Koch, FRESHFARM Markets Executive Director

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