Arcadia highlights new farm developments, resumes community programming


Volunteers at Arcadia's veteran incubator farm (Credit: Arcadia)

As the spring growing season rapidly approaches, the Arcadia Center for Sustainable Food & Agriculture — located on the historic grounds of Woodlawn Estate — is resuming some community programming, opening up volunteer opportunities and venturing into some new terrain.

March 12 will be the first Open Volunteer Day of the year at Arcadia. Held every second Saturday of the month from March through November, Open Volunteer Day provides an opportunity for people to get acquainted with Arcadia’s two farm sites and its work in creating an equitable, sustainable food system. Specific tasks for volunteers include weeding, hoeing, building garden beds, moving wood chips and mulch, and turning compost. Supervised children are welcome to help out. More information and free pre-registration are available on Arcadia’s Eventbrite site.

A few days later, on March 15, Arcadia is kicking off the season for volunteering at Arcadia’s production farm — Dogue Farm. This opportunity is meant for volunteers who can commit to help out on an ongoing basis on specific weekdays, and involves tasks like harvesting, planting, washing, greenhouse management, weeding and moving heavy wheelbarrows of compost. Information and pre-registration are available via Eventbrite.

Arcadia also is relaunching its Farm Camp this summer, according to executive director Pam Hess, following a two-year lapse due to COVID-19. Five different week-long camps will be offered for children ages six to 11. More information can be found on Arcadia’s website.

Children attending farm camp at Arcadia (Credit: Arcadia)

This year, several new veteran farmers will be participating in Arcadia’s incubator program, which provides newly trained farmers with land, water, equipment and other infrastructure for launching their businesses. One of the incoming incubator participants will be growing mushrooms — a first for Arcadia — and bedding plants, enabling members of the local community to purchase plants for their own gardens. Hess said there also will be an incubator farm focused on saving seeds from heirloom vegetables like okra and that they will have some new beekeepers.

Arcadia has applied for a grant to open a farm stand on Richmond Highway; if the grant comes through, they will announce details. The organization also recently received a grant from Fairfax County to obtain a new refrigerated vehicle for transporting farm produce to Arcadia’s Mobile Markets throughout the greater Washington, D.C. area.

Hess is hopeful that Arcadia will be able to hold its annual Fall Farm Dinner in-person later this year, pending public health guidance. The popular fundraising dinner, held outdoors and featuring dishes from local chefs, benefits Arcadia’s Veteran Farmer Program.

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