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Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Organic Food Shopping Survey

OMR is looking for participants for a study about Organic Food.

This study is with non-parents age 19-25 (who are not living at home with their parents).  

This 90 minute focus group is about shopping and organic food.  The group will be held in OMR's DC location on 08/14 and there is a $125 honorarium for anyone who is qualified and participates. 

If interested please call 301-441-4660 and speak to Michelle.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Volunteers Needed for Storm Drain Marker Project

Reposted from ARLnow:

by Katie Pyzyk | June 5, 2013 at 3:00 pm 
Storm drain marker featuring Sherlock ShadIt’s that time of year when Sherlock Shad (pictured left) begins appearing more frequently in Arlington neighborhoods. But the county needs help attaching the storm drain markers bearing his likeness.
Arlington marks many of its more than 10,000 storm drains as a reminder that anything going into a drain heads directly to local streams that flow into the Potomac River. The river is the source of tap water for Arlington and much of the D.C. metro area.
Nothing should be dumped into storm drains, per Arlington County Code Section 26-5, which reads: “…it shall be unlawful for any person to discharge directly or indirectly into the storm sewer system or state waters, any substance likely, in the opinion of the County Manager, to have an adverse effect on the storm sewer system or state waters.”
Arlington partners with the neighboring jurisdictions of Fairfax County and Alexandria to all order the same style of markers. Ordering the markers in bulk helps each jurisdiction keep costs down. The costs vary each year based on how many markers need to be attached.
Arlington County Department of Environmental Services Stormwater Outreach Specialist Jen McDonnell said in addition to affixing the markers to currently unmarked drains, volunteers replace some markers that are damaged or have come loose from the pavement.
(more at ARLnow)

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Leadership Through Landscape: Exploring the Power of Place and Its Influence on Public Leadership and Sustainability Policy

June 6, 2013 ~ 6:00 PM
Artisphere ~ 1101 Wilson Boulevard ~ Arlington VA 22209
Join Virginia Tech’s Metropolitan Institute (MI) and the Arlington Economic Development (AED) in welcoming back Sir Robert Harvey to Arlington, VA. Introduction from the Right Honorable Michael Moore, New Zealand Ambassador to the United States.

For the past 25 years Bob Harvey (still known affectionately as Mayor Bob) has infused the diverse dimensions of sustainability throughout his work as an elected official, international peace envoy, President of the New Zealand Labour Party, businessman, and most recently Chairman of the Auckland waterfront authority. A charismatic speaker and visionary thinker, Harvey came to sustainability through his strong personal and professional bond with the amazing landscape of Auckland’s west region. As a young leader of a local surf club at Karekare Beach, Harvey’s respect and reverence for Waitakere’s rugged coastline and temperate rainforest set the foundation for one of his first political activities — advocating for national legislation that permanently protects the Waitakere Rainforest and Ranges from encroaching suburban development. For Mayor Bob, Leadership through Landscape does not end with acts of conservation and preservation, but becomes a starting point for a dialogue with nature, understanding the landscape, listening to the landscape, and learning from the landscape in ways that reflect the values of New Zealand’s indigenous Maori culture. Building on these themes, Mayor Bob will offer his insights and observations on how sustainability leaders in the US can leverage their own landscapes to support their work in making sustainable communities.

MI and AED welcomes the Right Honorable Michael MooreNew Zealand Ambassador to the US, for introducing Mayor Bob; and commentators, Jay FisetteVice Chair, Arlington County Board and Susannah Drake, ASLA, AIA, Principal, delandstudio, New York City.

The full flier is available here.  Please RSVP at by June 4th.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Audubon’s New Online Bird Guide Now Available

from Audubon Magazine:

 Photo by Katey Nicosia / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

For the days when hauling around a tome for identifying birds just won’t do, Audubon comes to the rescue with its new online guide to North American birds, available for $2.99 on the iPhone, Android, iPad, NOOK or Kindle through the Audubon Birds app. One screen pretty much holds it all, displaying information about birding, conservation, even avian anatomy. The guide categorizes more than 800 species by family, common name, or general shape, allowing users to pick the most appropriate identification route.
The third display option is particularly innovative. This category directs users to the quick guide, offering the ability to search the stout, slim, long-legged, and sleek-beaked contours of many birds. It presents a gallery of shapes: There are duck-like birds (think ducks, grebes, loons, pelicans, and swans), perching birds (groups like larks, flycatchers, thrushes, and wrens), or my favorite, chicken-like marsh birds (encompassing rails, coots, jacanas, and gallinules). Others include those cut like sandpipers, birds with the arrow-like anatomy of swallows, and those that feature the same, watchful upright stance as a hawk.
The guide’s homepage also lists aspects of birding beyond identification, from the most basic—such as ‘How to Bird’—to the more technical aspects of classification as well as bird plumage and molting habits. Everything is explained in straightforward terms, making this tool usable for birders of any skill level.
There are tips for beginning birders, and guidelines for selecting the perfect set of binoculars. There’s even a section that describes “stealth”—what any birder intent on spying skittish creatures must master. For the more advanced users, one link opens up a colorful and detailed display about bird anatomy and some of the more technical aspects of this hobby.
Importantly, one section of the guide is dedicated to conservation and endangered species. It includes a list of struggling birds, the threats they face, the changes wrought by climate change, and ways that users can help.
Perhaps best of all, the new Audubon guide lets birders record and then share sightings with others on the lookout for avian beauties. That’s a win for birds and bird lovers alike.

Vital stats:
Guide: Online Guide to North American Birds
Available: National Audubon Society website, iPhone, iPad, Kindle, Android, NOOK
Cost: $2.99
What it includes: 800 bird species from 74 families

Monday, May 13, 2013

Where tree seedlings come from...

Northern Virginia Urban Forestry Quarterly Roundtable
Nuts and Bolts of Urban Forestry
Thursday, May 23, 2013   9:30 – 2PM
Arlington County Department of Parks and Natural Resources
2700 S Taylor Street, Arlington, VA 22206

This is the story of how a seed at a production nursery becomes a tree in the landscape; how the industrialization of the process has ignored the biology of the trees to the detriment of trees and the consumers; and some of the things we are doing to improve.

FREE – ($10 if you want lunch provided)  If you’ve ever wondered why the trees we plant have so many problems, this will help answer.  Great opportunity to meet other jurisdictions Tree Stewards and forestry staff.   Register on line at:

Sunday, April 14, 2013

The Best State for Eating Locally - Vermont

from FOOD
Vermont takes the top spot in the 2013 Locavore Index.
The Best and Worst States for Eating Locally
Do you shop at the farmers market or subscribe to a CSA? See where your state ranks. (Photo: Digital Vision/Getty Images)
Martin Langeveld insists that the numbers weren’t rigged: Vermont is now officially, quantitatively the number one state in the union for local foods two years running, according to Strolling of the Heifers’ 2013 Locavore Index.
The annual ranking, which the Vermont-based nonprofit started compiling last year, looks at the number of farmers markets, food hubs and CSAprograms per capita in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. “We certainly didn’t set out to put a spotlight on Vermont,” Langeveld, the index coordinator, told me in a phone interview. “The real reason is to sort of let everyone compare” the local food systems that exist around the country, and to “provide a little incentive to get people thinking about it.”
Maine, New Hampshire, North Dakota and Iowa round out the top five in the 2013 index—an unlikely quartet, especially considering that California, which has more than 800 markets, the most in the country, is number 42 on the list. Who else is at the bottom? Texas came in dead last, with Nevada, Arizona, Louisiana and Florida ranked 47 through 50, respectively.  
“A state that is significantly urbanized will be at somewhat of a disadvantage,” Langerveld offered as both an explanation and admission of the rural-state bias that comes from considering local food systems in relationship to population. But the very challenge of quantifying the presence and significance of the non-globalized food trade has inadvertently become part of the point of the index.
“At this point, for all of the hoopla that local foods have gotten over the past ten years or so, the measuring it is very, very difficult. There just aren’t good, consistent metrics that are comparable across all 50 states,” Langerveld says.
The USDA keeps track of farmers markets and food hubs, but Heifers had to turn to the website Local Harvest for CSA numbers. In 2014 there will be a trove of new data to work into the ranking calculations, thanks to the upcoming release of the 2012 Census of Agriculture—but that survey is only conducted every five years.
But just as the rank of a given state might help provoke a conversation about the success or failures of nurturing the small farms and food production in, say, Connecticut (29th in the country), talking about the list on the micro level eventually shifts into a macro discussion—about local food nationwide and local food as an idea alike.
“One other thing that’s a problem in doing solid metrics is what’s the definition: what is local food?” wonders Langerveld. Data sources and methodologies and weigthed scores are disclosed, but Heifers doesn’t put forth it’s own definition of “local.”—that’s something to hash out while arguing over who (like California) got screwed.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Today, Earth Day Network is proud to announce the winners of the first-annual Healthy and Sustainable School Food Journalism Awards!

In October 2012, Earth Day Network – in partnership with the UC Berkeley Graduate School of JournalismThe Edible Schoolyard Project and the Epstein-Roth Foundation – kicked off the competition in honor of National School Lunch Week, asking U.S. high school students to submit articles about the importance of healthy and sustainable food in their schools.
We received dozens of submissions from all over the country – everything from the correlation between healthy diets and improved academic performance, to the ecological damage caused by large agribusinesses, to the need for a good balance between nutrition, portion, and taste.
Best-selling author and food activist Michael Pollan selected the winners from among an anonymous pool of finalists chosen by a panel of judges at UC Berkeley.
The six winners will receive cash prizes: $1,500 for first prize, $1,000 for second prize, $500 for third prize, and $300 dollars for each of our three fourth prize winners. In addition, all of the six winners will receive $200 for their journalism classes.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Monthly Master Gardener Update

There's a lot of good stuff here (all hyperlinked), so I'm re-posting in its entirety.

Springing into Vegetable Seed Saving

Seed Saving: Knowing the Difference Between Hybrids, Heirloom, and Open Pollinated Plants.  John Porter covers the pros, cons, and does a little myth busting about hybrids, heirlooms, and open-pollinated plants, all as they relate to seed you may to want save and plant in your vegetable garden.
5 Seed Saving Lessons From the Ground Up.   Connie Schultz shares how some of her ‘old favorite’ seed varieties needed to be replaced with ‘new favorites’ as she relocated to a new climate (but not a new hardiness zone).  You won’t want miss out on her 5 seeds saving lessons, or perhaps sharing some of your own.
Star of the Vegetable Garden.  Connie shares how one mystery plant became the star of her garden. Now she wants to know: What’s yours?

Admiring Spring – Where Spring Exists.

This month’s Wordless Wednesday contributors helped us wind up our spring gardening imagination.
Poppy in Chihuahua Desert
April Showers Bring May Flowers – contributed from Nebraska, Terri couldn’t take the winter/spring anymore, so she fast-forwarded to May flowers.
What’s in Your Lawn?  This month, Connie prompted us to consider what we appreciate or don’t appreciate in our lawns.
Spring in the Chihuahua Desert - a second Tuesday WW contributor, Sylvia Hacker shared some stunning views you won’t want to miss.
Wordless Wednesday Wanderings, last but not least, MJ shared how her recent WW contributions have changed the way she observes her garden and nature.  Would you be interested in being a WW contributor, she asks?

Garden Research and Innovative Outreach

Biochar Test Gardens in St. Paul
Biochar Test Gardens in St. Paul, MN
The First Year’s Data from the 2012 CenUSA Demonstration Garden Report is out!  This means we have completed the 2012  biochar demonstration gardens story, BUT, we will return shortly with biochar FAQs, and more on the 2013 activities in the biochar demonstration gardens. Stay tuned!
Ideas for Using QR Codes for Demonstration Gardens and Plant Sales. In a continuation from last month’s discussions,  Mary VanDyke of MGs of Northern Virginia and Emily Eubanks of UF,  share their QR Code presentations, giving us technical know-how and vision for using QR Code and smartphone technology in education and outreach.
Ecuador Adventure Update.  Many of you followed the 2013 OSU MGVs trip to Ecuador this year.  It looked so intriguing that some EMGs from other states asked via the blog comments if they could join.  The answer: We would love to have other MGVs join us!

On-demand Learning: Webinars and Online Modules

This month, you may want to consider looking into the following continuing ed or on-demand learning opportunities.
Online IPM Modules for Master Gardeners are still a hit.  Registration is required, but free!
*eXtension Fire Ant Webinars  just released April 5th – Don’t Bug Me Webinar: You Have Fire Ants.  This webinar may be of interest to those that live or travel to places where Fire Ants reside.
*3 Farmer’s Market Webinars. Do you volunteer or work at Farmers’ Markets? Three webinars about marketing and food safety are available this April, May, and June.
Looking for more learning opportunities?  Check out our past monthly updates, where many online modules and recorded Webinars are still available.

What’s Coming Next?

Did you know we’ll be celebrating National Volunteer Week (April 22-27),  Earth Day (April 22), and Arbor Day (April 26) all during the same week?
Stay tuned as we’ll be blogging (in the coming week)  to inquire about how volunteers are involved in Earth Day, Arbor Day, and National Volunteer Week celebrations in 2013.
-Karen Jeannette
-Editorial Reviewer
Linda Brandon, Extension Master Gardener Volunteer Coordinator
NC Cooperative Extension/Guilford County Center

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

25th Annual Potomac River Watershed Cleanup

Saturday, April 6, 2013  9am – 12pm
Find a site - Click here! 

The Annual Potomac River Watershed Cleanup has become a decisive catalyst for
progress that ignites people throughout the watershed with the Alice Ferguson
Foundation’s community spirit. The largest regional event of its kind, the Cleanup
provides a transforming experience that engages citizens and community leaders
and generates momentum for change.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Wednesdays in the Garden Workshops - Central Library, Arlington

Look for Master Gardeners and volunteers of the Arlington Food Assistance Center in the garden at the Arlington Central Library 1015 N. Quincy St.  Arlington VA 22201, Wednesdays in the Garden Workshops, 7:00 pm.

  • March 27 Seed Starting -  Best Methods for starting seeds and seedlings
  • April 10 Edible Landscaping - incorporating edibles into your ornamentals
  • April 17  Starting the Spring Garden - Transplanting, direct planting, how to ready your garden for spring planting
  • April 24  Container Gardening of all kinds - ideas for growing herbs, vegetables, flowers and more.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Early Childhood Conference – Lens on Outdoor Learning


Saturday, April 13, 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.
Early Childhood Conference – Lens on Outdoor Learning.
Fairlington Preschool, Fairlington United Methodist Church, 3900 King Street, Alexandria, VA. This event will feature a keynote by Ginny Sullivan, landscape designer and author of Lens on Outdoor Learning. There will also be breakout sessions and hands-on building activities including the creation of a keyhole pollinator garden. More information and registration at
NOTE: Early Bird Registration ends Saturday, March 23rd!

Sustainable Alternative Urban Agriculture Food Systems

Dr. Marcus Comer will present his research in a public program from 7-9 pm at the Fairlington Community Center, 3308 S. Stafford St.  Arlington VA 22206 on indoor food production systems including aquaculture and hydroponics. FREE.  For more information please go to  or call or email the VCE Horticulture Help Desk to reserve a space at 703 228 6414 or . 

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Gunston Middle School Street 28 Adoption

Gunston Middle School sixth graders in Ms. Chumarro's classes recently adopted a street near their school.
Working with Arlingtonians for a Clean Environment, students learned the importance of cleaning up litter, beautifying Arlington and keeping streets safe. The project aligned with the students’ environmental curriculum.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Virginia Farm to School Programs

Virginia Farm to School Programs
(click the school division names to learn more)

Alexandria City Public Schools
Food Distribution System: Member of Shenandoah Buying Coop with Merchant's Grocery as prime vendor. All food and supplies are delivered to T.C. Williams HS, which is our central distribution facility...

Appomattox County Public Schools
Our school system has 4 schools with a total student enrollment of approximately 2,300 students. We go through the bidding process, but have no specific bid for produce. At this time, all produce is...

Arlington County Schools
The school system has a produce bid and each school orders for itself, off the system-wide bid. Some of the secondary schools are ordering produce off Prince William Co. bid. School system has 31 deli...

Augusta County Schools
The school system participates in the Blue Ridge Food Coop for purchasing. There are 21 schools & 1 alternative education site in the Augusta County system. A distributor services the system, based ...

Bath County Public Schools
Central purchasing is conducted for three sites (three schools). Each school has dry storage and refrigerated / freezer storage. Purchases are conducted weekly. The school system is not in a coop an...

Botetourt County Public Schools
The school system conducts centralized purchasing, billing, and centralized menus with some managers? choice menus. There are eleven schools in system. The system works with a distributor, including ...

Discovery Woods Garden Project

Floyd County Schools
Total Student Population: 2100 Food Distribution System: Joint bid with New River Valley SNP Cooperative, Montgomery County, Pulaski County, Floyd County and City of Radford. Purchasing from local co...

Goochland County Public Schools
Total Student Population: 2400 Food Distribution System: Our food service department is currently participating in the DOD produce program. We are on a weekly delivery schedule. We do not have a spec...

Hanover County Public Schools
The school system uses a distributor(s) but does not have a specific produce bid. The system conducts some open market purchasing of produce. Each site places its own produce orders, based on need. De...

Harrisonburg City Public Schools
Total Student Population: 4,300 Food Distribution System: We currently purchase the majority of our produce through Standard Produce in Charlottesville. Standard does an excellent job of notifying u...

Henry County Schools
We currently receive produce deliveries 1-2 times per week, depending on the size of the school, and 4 schools will be participating for at least part of the year in the DoD program. Fresh fruits are...

Norfolk Public Schools
Number of Schools: 54 Total Student Population: 34,725 Food Distribution System: We have a central warehouse and that delivers to every school every day. Vendors only need to make one drop at the c...

Orange County Public Schools
Number of Schools: 9 Total Student Population: 5200 Distribution System: Sysco Foods. We also work with a local farmer as a vendor in our system with weekly deliveries to each location. ...

Pittsylvania County Public Schools
Central purchasing is conducted for 18 schools with deliveries made to each to each site. Each school has dry storage and refrigerated / freezer storage. The school system is purchasing fresh produce...

Prince William County Public School District
Number of Schools: 88 Total Student Population: 73,657 Food Distribution System: We are a centralized system that uses centralize menus and conducts centralized purchasing and billing. We have 1...

QCC Farms! is an Urban Agriculture Project designed to engage low-wealth city residents in raising organically grown vegetables in underutilized green spaces, while providing nutritional and environme...

Richmond County Public Schools
Number of Schools: 3 schools Total Student Population: approximately 1200 Food Distribution System: Receive produce once a weekly from our regular distributor. Distributor is selected through a bid...

Roanoke County Public Schools
Number of Schools: 28 Total Student Population: 15,300 Food Distribution System: We are a centralized system that services 29 schools and 15,300 students. We bid using an ?all or nothing? approach...

Rockbridge County Public Schools
Number of Schools: 8 Total Student Population: 2798 Distribution System: Normally deliveries are made to individual schools by supplier. Other means are available by our maintenance department....

The Farm-to-Table Program at Rappahannock County Public Schools
The mission of the Rappahannock County Public Schools Farm to Table Program is to cultivate students who are good stewards of the earth and productive community members through classroom study of hort...

The House of Restoration
There is a central delivery site. The schools receives bulk of food from USDA with some outside purchasing of produce items, as need ed. The school provides breakfast and lunch to between 275-450 pu...

Virginia’s Farm to School program is in the exploratory phase. By passing SJR 347 during the 2007 legislative session, the General Assembly requested the Secretary of Agriculture and the Secretary of ...

Virginia Beach City Public Schools
The school system has a total attendance of 70,000 students. The system uses a main distributor but is permitted to make purchases outside of their main distributor. General food, snacks and beverages...

Westmoreland County Public Schools
As a part of our Wellness Policy and to support local growers and businesses we purchase locally grown produce in season whenever the cost of the produce is close to or the same as prices from our ven...

Williamsburg-James City County Schools
The school system has 14 schools with a total student enrollment of approximately 11,000 students. The system uses a main distributor, but has no specific bid for produce. Produce is purchased from ...

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Lawn Care Seminar - March 14, 7pm

To reserve a spot for the lawn care class contact the VCE Horticulture Help Desk at 228 6414 or by email at 

Who:  Residents of Arlington and Alexandria, anyone who wants to know how to take care of lawns in a smarter way.

What:    ‘TURF’ is not a Four Letter Word”, will be presented by Dr. Mike Goatley, Turf Specialist for Virginia Cooperative Extension and faculty member at Va Tech.

Where:  Fairlington Community Center 3308 S. Stafford St., Arlington VA 22206

When: 7:00 – 8:30   Thursday March 14, 2013

Co-sponsored by Master Gardeners of Northern Virginia.  For more information about spring gardening programs go to:

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Monday, March 11, 2013

New Virginia Farming Magazine

Keep up with the latest news on VA Agriculture: Farms, Food and Forestry - with both this new online magazine site and Facebook page.

Virginia Poultry

Virginia Horticulture

Virginia Wine

Virginia Founding Farmers
<< >>

Sunday, March 10, 2013

USDA's Farms to Schools features local farms and Nottingham Elementary

Reposted from 

In the photos you'll see products from Maple Avenue Market and Farm (Sara and Chris Guerre).

Farm to School

Across the country, an increasing number of schools and districts have begun to source more foods locally and to provide complementary educational activities to students that emphasize food, farming, and nutrition. This nationwide movement to enrich children’s bodies and minds while supporting local economies is often referred to as “farm to school.” The term encompasses efforts that bring local or regionally produced foods into school cafeterias; hands-on learning activities such as school gardening, farm visits, and culinary classes; and the integration of food-related education into the regular, standards-based classroom curriculum. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) supports such efforts through its Farm to School Program, which includes research, training, technical assistance, and grants.

Local what?
Regional offerings (and therefore economic opportunities for local food producers) can span the school meal tray and include everything from fresh fruit and vegetable servings to the wheat in the pizza crust, beans in the chili, rice in the stir fry, turkey in the sandwiches, and cheese in the quesadillas. Thus, farm to school includes of all types of producers and food businesses including farmers, ranchers, and fishermen, as well as food processors, manufacturers, and distributors. Schools can define “local” however they choose, and definitions vary widely depending on the unique geography and climate where the school is located, and on the abundance of local food producers.

The Farm to School Grant Program
Every year, USDA awards up to $5 million in grants to help schools connect with local producers and teach kids where their food comes from. These funds support activities ranging from training, planning, and developing partnerships, to purchasing equipment, planting school gardens, and organizing field trips. Grantees include schools and districts (large and small, rural and urban), Indian tribal organizations, producers and producer groups, non-profit entities, and state and local agencies.

We’re here to help!

The USDA Farm to School Program is operated by the Department’s Food and Nutrition Service (FNS), which has seven regional offices around the country; in each is a Farm to School Regional Lead who is available to provide farm to school related support to state agencies and other entities in their region. A list of regions, along with the names and contact information for regional and national USDA Farm to School Program staff, can be found here. To receive information and updates about USDA’s Farm to School Program, please sign up for our Farm to School E-letter.
Farm to School Home
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