The 4th Annual Washington, D.C. Food Tank Summit is just around the corner, and we’re excited to hear from, collaborate with, and meet our member organizations based in the D.C. area. The U.S. capital is humming with food systems activity, housing an array of organizations involved in international, domestic, and local food and agriculture work, from farms to restaurants, nonprofits, and beyond.The 2018 Food Tank Summit, “Cultivating the Next Generation of Young Food Leaders,” will be held in partnership with the George Washington University, the World Resources Institute, the National Farmers Union, Future Farmers of America, and the National Young Farmers Coalition on February 28, 2018. Tickets to attend in person have sold out, but you can join still join the conversation by tuning in to the live-stream on Food Tank’s Facebook page.
In preparation for the upcoming Summit, Food Tank is highlighting 32 Food and Agriculture organizations helping to build a better food system in and around Washington, D.C.
1. Arcadia Center for Sustainable Food and Agriculture
Based in Alexandria, VA, this nonprofit promotes equity and sustainability in the Washington, D.C. area food system through a multi-faceted operation. Arcadia Farm uses sustainable growing practices and serves as an educational site for farmers and students, growing vegetables for the organization’s Mobile Market operating in underserved communities. In addition to Arcadia’s Farm to School Program, the organization is working to establish a new Food Hub to increase access to local, healthy food.
2. City Blossoms
City Blossoms works in Washington, D.C. cultivating “creative, kid-driven green spaces.” In addition to providing Community Green Spaces for public use, City Blossoms offers garden-based early childhood programming and the Mighty Greens youth entrepreneurship program focused on growing and harvesting produce while learning to grow a business.
3. Community Foodworks
Community Foodworks aims to simultaneously improve community food access while providing opportunities for farmers and food producers to bring their products to market. In addition to operating farmers markets and farm stands in Washington, D.C. and Virginia, Community Foodworks offers a range of services including the Bonus Bucks food access program, a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program through their Columbia Heights Farmers Market, and a Local Pantry that sources grains, beans, and legumes from the surrounding region.
4. Compost Cab
Compost Cab aims to “make it easy for people to compost, and make it easier for urban agriculture to thrive.” They collect household compost, work with organizations to initiate their own composting programs, and partner with local farms, agencies, and organizations to create a more sustainable food system in the Washington, D.C. area.
5. Crossroads Community Food Network
This nonprofit organization offers programming in food access, healthy eating, and food entrepreneurship. Their Crossroads Farmers Market is a pioneer in operating farmers market incentive programming to double federal nutrition benefits. In addition, the organization runs a Healthy Eating Program at the market and in local elementary schools, a bilingual Microenterprise Training Program, and a shared-use community kitchen.
6. DC Food Policy Council (DCFPC)
Established by the D.C. Food Policy Council and Director Establishment Act of 2014, the DCFPC’s mission is to “promote food access, food sustainability, and a local food economy in the District.” Members of the council represent a variety of perspectives and food systems roles. With input from the public and from working group members, they participate in monitoring the local food system and provide guidance to the Food Policy Director.
7. DC Greens
DC Greens promotes food justice in Washington, D.C., working at the intersection of food education, food access, and food policy. Their work spans many initiatives; working with schools to form school garden markets, supporting the farm to school movement in Washington, D.C., administering the city’s Produce Plus and Produce Rx farmers market food access programs, maintaining a demonstration farm, co-organizing the Rooting DC annual urban gardening event, and generating opportunities for community engagement to enhance the city’s food policy and access initiatives.
8. D.C. Hunger Solutions
Founded as a Food Research and Action Center initiative, D.C. Hunger Solutions seeks to eliminate hunger in the nation’s capital city. Their approach involves improving the District’s food policy landscape, working to increase and support participation in federal nutrition programs, and educating others about the issue of hunger.
9. DC Urban Gardeners (DUG) Network
This volunteer network disseminates information about food systems work in the Washington, D.C. area through their bi-weekly newsletter listing educational programs, events, job postings, funding announcements, and community engagement opportunities. Additionally, the DUG Network’s website features a variety of resources including an interactive map; listings of local food, agriculture, and sustainability organizations; a range of tools and guides covering a variety of topics such as food recovery and access; and a calendar of events.
10. Dreaming Out Loud
Dreaming Out Loud works toward a more equitable food system, centering their approach around entrepreneurship and workforce development in urban agriculture and farmers markets. In addition to offering programs designed to foster economic opportunity for individuals from marginalized communities, they engage in food policy advocacy in Washington, D.C.
11. Food Recovery Network
This student-initiated network began in 2011 at the University of Maryland as a way to redirect surplus food on college campuses to nonprofit organizations working to reduce hunger. The network now has 230 chapters across the United States and works with more than 300 partner agencies who distribute donated food in their communities including food banks, shelters, and community centers.
12. Founding Farmers
Founding Farmers is a restaurant group majority owned by farmers of the North Dakota Farmers Union, with locations in Washington, D.C., Maryland, Virginia, and Pennsylvania. Dishes featured on their menus are made from scratch, and the restaurants strive to use sustainable operating practices and source ingredients from family farms.
FRESHFARM uses a variety of approaches to pursue its mission of promoting sustainable agriculture and improving food access and equity. Their work includes supporting farmers through the Jean Wallace Douglas Farmer Fund, operating farmers markets in Washington, D.C., Maryland, and Virginia, offering nutrition assistance programs, and running the school-based FRESHFARM FoodPrints program in partnership with District of Columbia Public Schools.
14. Future Farmers of America (FFA)
FFA is an intracurricular student organization for those interested in the food, fiber, and natural resource industries. FFA is one of the largest youth organizations in the U.S., organizing conferences, conventions, competitions, experiential learning, and online learning experiences through more than 7,500 chapters.
15. GW Food Institute
This group connects students and faculty across George Washington University studying “all things related to food.” Researchers have partnered with organizations outside of the university and examine a wide range of topics, such as farming in Uganda, diets and obesity prevention, conflict-free chocolate, and school meal reform. The affiliated Food Policy Leadership Institute features a fellowship program providing food systems leaders the skills and knowledge to understand and influence food policy.
16. GW Sustainability Collaborative
Fostering future food policy leadership is one of the four strategic goals of this collaborative. In addition to providing support and learning opportunities for faculty and students, the collaborative fosters public engagement in the university’s sustainability initiatives.
17. Hungry Harvest
Previously featured on the television show “Shark Tank,” Hungry Harvest aims to reduce food waste and hunger. This company recovers surplus food and food rejected from retail stores due to cosmetic imperfections and delivers customizable food assortments to customers’ homes. This operation supports the sale of reduced-cost produce at Hungry Harvest’s Produce in a SNAP Markets, while others are donated to partner organizations working to eliminate hunger.
18. Institute of Applied Agriculture at the University of Maryland, College Park
Nested within the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, this academic certificate program offers eight different concentrations within the areas of Agricultural Business Management and Leadership, Ornamental Horticulture and Landscape Management, and Turfgrass and Golf Course Management. One of the available programs is a concentration in Sustainable Agriculture, featuring coursework, experiential learning, management education, and networking opportunities for students.
19. Martha’s Table
With plans to expand to new locations in 2018, Martha’s Table’s four focus areas include Healthy Start, Healthy Eating, Healthy Connections, and Community Support Services. In addition to offering child and youth development programs and emergency relief services, this organization operates pop-up grocery markets. One such program, in partnership with the Capital Area Food Bank, is a series of Joyful Food Markets located at elementary schools in Washington, D.C.’s Wards 7 and 8.
This company provides market data and a platform to facilitate the trade of organic and non-GMO commodities, collecting and compiling data and information from a variety of sources to enable price comparisons. Additionally, Mercaris brings buyers and sellers together through auctions facilitating transactions of agricultural commodities such as organic grains.
21. National Farmers Union (FNU)
Originally founded in 1902, the NFU works to protect and enhance the economic well-being and quality of life for family farmers and ranchers and their rural communities in the U.S. They promote legislation and education beneficial to farmers through a grassroots structure in which policy positions are initiated locally by the 33 state chapters. Founded on the core principles of cooperation, education, and legislation, their work includes a range of efforts such as agricultural co-ops, a Beginning Farmer Institute program, youth educational opportunities, and renewable energy projects.
22. National Young Farmers Coalition (NYFC)
The NYFC is working to halt and even reverse the decline of family farming in the U.S. by representing, mobilizing, and engaging young farmers. Their policy priorities include improvements to the delivery of federal programming, land access, student loan debt, training, housing, climate and conservation, and racial equity.
23. Owl’s Nest Farm
Owned and operated by Liz Whitehurst, Owl’s Nest Farm was founded in 2016. The Farm cultivates Certified Naturally Grown crops using organic practices and sells them via a Washington, D.C. farmers market, local restaurants, and a CSA.
24. Terp Farm
Terp Farm is a combined effort of the Department of Dining Services, College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, and the Office of Sustainability at the University of Maryland to farm in an environmentally, economically, and socially sustainable manner. This farm grows vegetables to be served in campus dining facilities and the campus food truck and is also donated to community members.
25. The Store at the George Washington University
Students at the George Washington University run this food pantry to serve the needs of GW students experiencing food insecurity. Shoppers privately gain access to the Store, which is unstaffed, to obtain the items they need. The Store partners with Capital Area Food Bank for food donations and accepts other items such as kitchen and school supplies.
26. THEARC Farm
THEARC Farm is both an agricultural and an educational operation. The farm, employing agroecological practices, supplies a CSA servicing Wards 7 and 8. In addition, the farm hosts youth, adult, and community workshops and other educational programs.
Started and founded by well-known chef José Andrés, this company operates restaurants, sells culinary products, and participates in food education and advocacy initiatives. One of the group’s most recent food service concepts is Beefsteak, a fast-casual chain centered around vegetables.
28. Three Part Harmony Farm
This farm, owned and operated by Gail Taylor and located in northeast Washington, D.C., grows vegetables, herbs, and flowers without using chemical pesticides or herbicides. They also offer a CSA, sell seedlings in the nearby area, and supply their products to local stores and restaurants.
29. UDC College of Agriculture, Urban Sustainability and Environmental Sciences (CAUSES)
This college within Washington, D.C.’s land-grant university features five centers with a range of focus areas, including urban agriculture, gardening, sustainable development, nutrition, and youth development. UDC CAUSES offers academic, professional, and community programs to “improve the quality of life and economic opportunity of people and communities in the District of Columbia, the nation, and the world.”
30. Up Top Acres
Up Top Acres, founded in 2014, grows produce on five rooftop farms in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area. They sell their products through a CSA, at a farmers market, and through wholesale to restaurants and retailers.
31. WANDA: Women Advancing Nutrition Dietetics & Agriculture
Founded by Tambra Raye Stevenson, this organization operates both in Africa and in the United States. WANDA aims “to ensure a million women and girls have access to education, advocacy, and innovative skills to improve healthy lifestyles in their families, communities, and societies through improved agriculture and good nutrition” by 2030.
32. World Food Program USA
This nonprofit organization operates in the United States to combat hunger around the globe in support of the U.N. World Food Programme. World Food Program USA works to generate financial resources from individuals, businesses, and government entities, as well as to educate lawmakers and influence food policy in the U.S.
33. World Resources Institute (WRI)
WRI is a global research organization which covers more than 50 countries and some of the most pressing and common global resource issues. The Institute has six major focuses at the environment and development nexus: climate, energy, food, forests, water, and cities and transport. The organization’s “Count it, Change it, Scale it” approach aims to turn research into action and expand tested strategies to larger geographic regions.
(Danielle Nierenberg is the President of Food Tank and an expert on sustainable agriculture and food issues. She has written extensively on gender and population, the spread of factory farming in the developing world and innovations in sustainable agriculture.)