A Very Colorful Summer at City Orchard

BFC’s City Orchard, in Beltsville, MD, grows fruits and vegetables for our clients nearly all year long! In August and September 2017, BFC’s Sustainable Agriculture team harvested over 7,000 pounds of fruits and vegetables and cared for the orchard and vegetable plot to ensure continued food production. This equates to nearly 5,000 servings of fresh, local, nutrient-dense produce distributed to DC residents through our farm to pantry operations.

The Sustainable Agriculture team engaged over 300 volunteers at orchard workdays, including the U.S. Secret Service, Freestate Challenge Academy, Hogan Lovells, Uber, out-of-state mission trips, and several client volunteers. We also engaged about 20 clients through our monthly Farm Tour & Fruit and Vegetable Picking events and other client engagement opportunities.

 The Highlights

In the last 2 months, our volunteers, staff, and Purple Mountain Organics together:

  • Harvested 1,710 pounds of winter squash from UDC’s crop, including 380 pounds of acorn squash, 110 pounds of kabocha squash, and 1220 pounds of butternut squash. In exchange, we get a share of the bounty after it has cured in the greenhouse for a few weeks.
  • Prepared our greens to plot by laying down plastic and landscape fabric as weed barriers, planting the greens, and covering them with agricultural fabric to protect them from insects. The greens include kale, collard greens, mustard greens and turnip greens.
  • Began removing landscape fabric from our veggie plot and some of UDC’s veggie plots we have gleaned from, so the fields can be planted with cover crops for the winter.
  • Cleared our older strawberry field, to prepare it for the next crop.

And beyond growing and picking all of that good, we also hosted two more Farm Tour & Fruit and Vegetable Picking events, one in August and one in September. We host this monthly event specifically for clients in order to further the Sustainable Agriculture division’s goals of promoting agricultural education, sustainability, and nutrition in our community. At the event, participants get to learn about the farm and UDC’s program offerings, pick their own produce, and bag up the extra harvest for the food pantry. We engaged about 20 clients through the August and September events, volunteer opportunities, and gleaning opportunities at the farm.

BFC’s City Orchard operates with the support of the University of the District of Columbia’s Firebird Research Farm.

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