To those of us who care about local food and sustainable agriculture, there are few things as heartwarming as hearing elementary school students exclaim, “Kale, yummy!” and “I love worms!” Through the FRESHFARM FoodPrints education program, kids in schools across D.C. have the opportunity to grow, harvest, prepare, and cook healthy, nutritious foods right in their classrooms. Students work and learn in their school gardens and get to cook and eat the fruits (and vegetables) of their labors, and these lessons are seamlessly integrated into their science, math, social studies, and language arts curriculum.
This year, we piloted a farmer-in-residence component to the FoodPrints program to connect kids to real-life farmers. Over the course of the year, farmers Zach Lester of Tree and Leaf Farm and Becky Seward of Prickly Pear Produce visited students in their schools and gardens to teach them about growing healthy, nutritious food.
Last week, Becky Seward, who worked with Watkins Elementary, invited students to visit Prickly Pear Produce, her two-acre sustainable farm located in the Potomac River watershed in Maryland. The farm specializes in vegetables, fruits, herbs, and cut flowers, and the visit gave students a chance to see the farm for themselves and watch Becky in her element.
During the day at the farm, Farmer Becky discussed her focus on sustainable growing, noting that being so close to the Potomac River makes it especially critical to grow food with attention to protecting local waterways. She explained the principles of organic agriculture to the students, such as the importance of crop rotation, using cover crops to protect the soil and prevent soil erosion, and weeding fields by hand and hoe to avoid using herbicides. The kids had the chance to dig in the soil, examining the creatures and organic matter they found; observe a variety of heritage breed free-range chickens and discuss how they help the farm; and plant seeds in the field. They were full of questions and enthusiasm and clearly enjoyed spending a day on a working farm. In addition to working with FoodPrints students, Farmer Becky can be found at the FRESHFARM Ballston market on Thursday afternoons.
We were so pleased to pilot this program this year, but we need your help to continue the farmer-in-residence! To support the work of FoodPrints and help expand our reach to more students in the DC area, you can donate here.
Like what you’ve read? Share it on social media using the hashtags #morethanmarkets and #foodprintsdc. As always, thank you and see you at market!