Archive for the ‘local farms’ Category

Arcadia Farm Fallfest {Support School-to-Farm in Virginia}

Friday, October 4th, 2013

What’s even better than bringing farm-fresh foods to schools? Bringing school kids to the farm! The Arcadia Center for Sustainable Food & Agriculture is doing just that at its working farm on the grounds of the historic Woodlawn Plantation in Alexandria, Virginia. The non-profit arm of the Neighborhood Restaurant Group, produce grown at the Northern Virginia farm is sold via a converted school bus, the Mobile Market, which travels around DC providing access to fresh produce in under-served areas.

chickens on Arcadia Farm, Virginia | FoodieTots

I had the privilege of attending a summer dinner on the farm earlier this year, and toured the beautiful farm. Just take a look around the Children’s Garden:

Children’s Garden at Arcadia from Colleen | GlassBottle on Vimeo.

Arcadia hosted kids farm camps over the summer, but now that school is in session they welcome schools to visit on field trips and offer family education programs on weekends. They’ve recently launched a brand new membership program to support all the good work they do. Members are given first dibs to sign up for culinary classes with master chefs and bakers from the Neighborhood Restaurant Group and others in the local food scene. To see upcoming classes and join the cause, visit their website

Arcadia Farm Fallfest 2013

You can visit Arcadia Farm this Sunday, October 6, for their Farm Fallfest Family Frolic Funtacular. It will be held from 12 to 4pm at Woodlawn, 9000 Richmond Highway, Alexandria.

Virginia Grown: Apple Picking at Stribling Orchards

Thursday, September 20th, 2012

#foodietotsapplefest

We were recently in a small market in our neighborhood picking up one or two things, when the boy picked up a shiny red apple and tossed it in the basket. I admit I felt more than a little silly telling him to put it back — but we had a bag full of fresh, local apples at home. The last time we were in the same market, I let the kids buy two of the waxy, Grown in Washington labeled apples, only to have them take a few bites and toss the rest. My kids are apple junkies, but there’s no time like fall in Virginia to appreciate the difference between supermarket fruit and fresh, local varieties. There are a number of orchards within an hour or so drive from Washington, DC, but we tend to return to Stribling Orchard just off I-66 in Markham, Va.

picking apples at stribling orchard

Stribling has a couple perks that make it the ideal apple picking destination for the 5-and-under crowd:

  • You can pick up bags, but then drive into the area of the orchard where you want to pick.
  • Sticks. Sure, the small trees have plenty of fruit within easy grabbing reach, but these cool picking sticks can be used to reach the primo fruit up high. If you have boys, you know what a powerful draw this is!
  • Bathrooms. Actual running water bathrooms — for the essential hand washing before picnicking.
  • Food. On the weekends they set up a grill offering burgers and hot dogs, and sometimes full barbecue (ribs, chicken and pulled pork). There’s also the bakery and store where you can find fresh baked cider doughnuts, pies and preserves.

apple picking sticks at stribling

Of course, it can also be quite crowded on the weekends so try to arrive early and be prepared for lines at check out and those bathrooms. Here are a couple tips gleaned from our annual apple-picking adventures.

Tips for a Happy Apple-Picking Outing:

1. Hats and sunscreen are essential. Stribling, and many other local orchards, are on top of hills which offer gorgeous views — and full sunshine.

2. Wear shoes you don’t mind getting mucky and put kids in long pants. There’s a lot of spoiling fruit on the ground and the kids will be traipsing through tall grass and other brambly undergrowth.

3. Try to find the variety you most want first. Once kids get on a roll picking, there’s no slowing them down and they may fill their bag at the first tree.

favorite find at stribling orchard farm store

apple by nikki mcclureGIVEAWAY: So you’ve gone apple picking and now you’re wondering what to do with all those apples? I’ve started an Apple Fest board over on Pinterest. Pin your favorite apple recipe, then share a link in the comments here so I can repin it to the board — or tag your pin #foodietotsapplefest & I’ll find it!

Every apple recipe posted below or tagged on Pinterest will give you one chance to win a copy of the gorgeous book Apple by Nikki McClure. You can “like” FoodieTots on Facebook and leave an additional comment below for an extra entry (or note if you’re already a fan). Contest is open to US residents only and will close at 11:59pm Eastern on September 30. Good luck, and happy apple eating!

blue skies at stribling orchard

FRESHFARM Week: Meet Toigo Orchards

Wednesday, July 11th, 2012

Farm two in our FRESHFARM Markets Week is Toigo Orchards of Shippensburg, Pa. Of all our local market vendors, Toigo is probably most likely to be a household name. Not only do they appear at a dozen markets around town, their produce is on the menu at Clyde’s and other restaurants and you can find their applesauce, pear butter and bloody mary mix — even fresh produce, in season — at local MOMs and Whole Foods grocery stores.

toigo at whole foods

I first met Mark Toigo at a Slow Food DC dinner in 2008, but the Toigo family has been farming at Toigo since 1972. They practice Integrated Pest Management (IPM), which emphasizes natural and eco-friendly pest prevention. With over 21,000 apple trees (450 acres of fruit), they offer plenty of variety each fall and my foodie tots have always enjoyed their generous samples at market as they select their apples each week.

toigo orchards tasting table

In addition to the apples, peaches and tomatoes Toigo is known and loved for, you can also find extra special items like quince and chestnuts, in season. And cherries, stone fruit, pears, the cutest pickling cucumbers, honey and more.

toigo at slow food

Try our peach tomato panzanella with some of Toigo’s fresh fruit this summer — you won’t be disappointed. Or, try Clyde’s Peach Cobbler with Cornmeal Biscuit Topping or Emeril’s Roasted Toigo Pears with Honey and Goat Cheese.

quince from toigo orchards

Find Toigo Orchards at FRESHFARM markets at Crystal City, Dupont Circle, Penn Quarter, and the White House, and the Del Ray, Arlington, Falls Church, Glover Park, Reston, Bethesda Central, Columbia Pike or Takoma Park farmers markets.

Where to Pick Strawberries This Weekend {Virginia}

Friday, May 25th, 2012

Memorial Day weekend is traditionally the pinnacle of strawberry season here in the DC area, though our earlier-than-usual spring means we’ve already been enjoying them for weeks. (As evidenced by, well, my last ten posts, give or take…). Assuming you’re not sick of them yet, here are a few favorite places to get out and pick your own in Northern Virginia:

strawberry patch at wegmeyer farms

  • Great Country Farms Bluemont, Va. (note: GCF charges admission, but is basically a farm adventure land for the kids. Check the website to see about special events.)
  • Hollin Farms Delaplane, Va. (also has pick-your-own seasonal vegetables)
  • Wegmeyer Farms Hamilton, Va. (see comments below)
  • Westmoreland Berry Farms Oak Grove, Va. (on the Northern Neck, they serve barbecue fare and ice cream/strawberry shortcake in season)

foodie tots at Wegmeyer Farms, Va.

A few things to note for a successful berry picking trip:

  • Go early and ALWAYS call ahead to check picking conditions. The farms around here tend to get picked out quickly on nice summer days, and this weekend is sure to be busy.
  • Dress the kids in dark colors (or red) to avoid stains and wear appropriate footwear (e.g., not the flip flops my toddler refused to change out of. They were new, after all, and a girl can’t be separated from her new shoes.).
  • Bug spray and sunscreen/sun hats are a must.
  • You can’t plop a toddler down in a field of the freshest berries she’s ever seen and not expect her to nibble — so be courteous and round up your tab at check-out to cover any excessive in-field consumption.* And if you hope to have enough leftover for jam, you might want to buy twice what you think you’ll need.

We went to Wegmeyer Farms earlier this week, an easy under-60-minute drive from Arlington, and loved it. The berry patch is a manageable size (and easy walking distance from parking) for younger kids. There are a couple picnic tables but unlike some of the larger farms (Great Country and Westmoreland have full-service concessions) you’ll have to pack your own lunch.

The 19th Annual Delaplane Strawberry Festival also takes place this weekend, May 26-27, if you just want to spend the day in the country and celebrate nature’s most perfect berry.

If my kids leave any, we’ll be making strawberry shortcake this weekend. You?

virginia grown strawberries

*The foodie tot heard the farmer say, “Go ahead and taste ‘em,” and promptly shoveled three in her mouth.

Peanuts Come From the Ground, Not Jars {Blog Action Day}

Sunday, October 16th, 2011

Last weekend, we headed out to the country for pumpkins and apple picking. It was a gorgeous fall day (at last!) and the farms were packed. At Hollin Farms, we came across an unexpected treat: dig-your-own peanuts! The boy and husband got to work loosening the plants and we all picked through the roots for the buried treasure.

digging peanuts at Hollin Farms

At home, I soaked, scrubbed, roasted and boiled to try our fresh peanuts two ways. FYI, fresh peanuts taste not unlike raw potatoes. With enough salt, however, they are delicious. And the boiled peanuts, still soft in their shells, are oddly addictive.

While I’m not going to start growing enough to make my own peanut butter anytime soon, at least the kids know now that peanuts come from the ground, not jars.

This post is part of Blog Action Day 2011: Food. One of my favorite local causes, the Arcadia Center for Sustainable Food & Agriculture, is bringing schoolkids to their farm on the grounds of the historic Woodlawn Plantation in Virginia to see where their food comes from. Visit their blog for updates from Farmer Mo, and if you’re so inclined, you can support their efforts by attending their upcoming November 5 fundraiser, The Vices that Made Virginia.