Wednesday, July 27, 2016

SNAP Education at the Farm

The Center for Nutrition, Diet and Health (CNDH) invited the DC Department of Health's (DOH) Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Education Program (SNAP-Ed) to Beltsville for a day at the farm. SNAP-Ed, which seeks seek to increase healthy food and active lifestyle choices among District residents, provides education programs, behavior-change initiatives, and social marketing campaigns designed for individuals receiving or eligible for SNAP. 

"DOH meets quarterly with it's SNAP-Ed implementing agencies. We decided to host this quarter's at the farm because of the relationship between agriculture and nutrition and the impact on families," explained Dr. Lillie Monroe-Lord, director of the UDC CNDH program. 

The activity allows SNAP-Ed participants to see how much fat is in a typical
fast food meal using vegetable shortening.
Sara Beckwith is the the SNAP-Ed DOH project manager convened the meeting and provided updates on the DC 2017-19 plan. CNDH nutrition educator, Paige Zaitlin, provided best practice information in youth curricula and conducted an activity that could be replicated by SNAP educators. Teresa Turner and Yao Afantchao presented on ethnic crops and nutrition quality. 

Following the presentation portion meeting, Urban Ag Director Che Axum led the team on a tour of the farm, with Ethnic Crop Specialist Yao Afantchao showing off the ethnic crop field and Herb Holden leading a tour of the new smokehouse and container kitchen facilities. Chef Herb also combined lunch with a demonstration of healthy recipes that can be used in the SNAP-Ed program.

USDA Open Data STEAM Camp Visits UDC

Students with the USDA Open Data STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Agriculture and Math) Camp visited the UDC campus as part of their camp research projects. According to the USDA, the free summer camp which launched last year allows students to learn about open data through researching various USDA-related initiatives. This year, students are creating projects based on USDA data in the areas of Urban Agriculture, Urban Forestry, and Food Safety.

The local teenage students toured the green roof, the Urban Architecture and Community Development Lab and participated in a cooking demonstration (and taste test) 
in our new teaching kitchen from Chef Herb Holden, CAUSES Center for Nutrition, Diet and Health. The tour ended with a data set presentation by Dr. Xiaochu Hu, Project Specialist for Applied Economic Evaluation, Center for Sustainable Development.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

East Capitol Farm in the News

East Capitol Urban Farm has been in the news this week, garnering mentions in the New York Times and in FCW: The Business of Federal Technology!

New York Times  |   Washington: The Ideal Place to Grow Older

"There has also been a focus on new park programs aimed at residents 50 and older, such as neighborhood walks, tai chi in the park and more community gardens.

One effort is the East Capitol Urban Farm, a planned transformation of a vacant three-acre plot in Ward 7 into a new urban farm. Partners include the University of the District of Columbia and the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities."

Read the full article at NYT!

FCW  |  A new face of interagency collaboration

"One final observation that might apply to other cross-agency programmatic collaborations is that the partnership's participants are entrepreneurial in the sense that they actively explore their environment for opportunities not already being exploited. Many projects begin with a narrow focus and then accumulate new purposes over time. Thus, the East Capitol Urban Farm in Washington's Anacostia neighborhood started when Interior's Fish and Wildlife Service and EPA became concerned about a water quality issue, namely that impoverished people in the neighborhood were catching and eating contaminated fish from the Anacostia River."

Continue reading at FCW!

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Building "Bridge Park Plots" in Wards 6 and 8

The Center for Sustainable Development has partnered with Bridge Park to design and build urban garden plots in Wards 6 and 8 of the District. Known as Bridge Park Plots, the gardens are all being constructed in partnership with faith-based and local arts organizations, in anticipation for the 11th Street Bridge Park, which is scheduled to open in 2019. 

Bridge Park will connect Ward 6 Capitol Hill and Southwest Waterfront to Ward 8 Anacostia and Fairlawn Neighborhoods. The gardens will serve as social and cultural hubs for residents and congregants offering the chance for participants to grow food, faith, fellowship, and finance. The locations of Bridge Park Plots are:

Union Temple Baptist Church
1225 W Street Southeast

Far Southeast Family Strengthening Collaborative
165 Mississippi Ave. Southeast

Bethel Christian Fellowship
2220 MLK Ave. Southeast

Washington School for Girls
164 Morris Rd. Southeast

 National Community Church
8th and Virginia Ave. Southeast

For more information on the project, contact Dr. Ashley Milton at

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

CAUSES TV: Community Education through Cooperative Extension Programs

Joining Dr. O'Hara on this edition of CAUSES is Dr. Thornell Page, her predecessor at the University of the District of Columbia as Director of Cooperative Extension Services. C-A-U-S-E-S, stands for College of Agriculture, Urban Sustainability and Environmental Sciences, and we are the Landgrant College of the University of the District of Columbia. As a landgrant university, we have a dual mission. 

One, to offer academic programs for our degree seeking students; Second, to offer workforce development programs, certifications, training workshops and community education programs on diverse topics like urban agriculture, food safety and sanitation, nutrition and health, various how-to and entrepreneurial training programs. These kinds of programs do not earn academic credit, but they improve skills and knowledge that help to improve the quality of life and economic opportunity in a city or community. In CAUSES, these skill and capacity building programs are call “community outreach programs.” Learn more on this episode of CAUSES TV.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

A Nobel Prize for Ecological Economics?

By Maria Grace Hutapea, CAUSES Intern

ISEE 2016 Roundtable: How to Win a Nobel Prize for Ecological Economics. 
Speakers: Peter May, ECOECO Brazil; Clovis Cavalcanti, ISEE President Elect; Sabine O’Hara, ISEE President

Winning the Nobel Prize is no doubt the most prestigious international award for global achievement. While the selection process often drawn criticism due to its political intention, the prize continues to be regarded as the supreme commendation in the world that inspires humankind to strive to fulfill their potential. In the wake of severe economic problems that partly caused by climate change and global warming, the pressure to create a Nobel Prize for Ecological Economics are increased as many hopes that it would influence the world’s economic and political decisions towards ecology and environment protection, especially in the third world countries.         

During the roundtable discussion at the 2016 Conference for the International of Ecological Economics (ISEE), Clovis Cavalcanti, ISEE President Elect, emphasized the need for sustainability in economic development, “There is no society without an ecological system as there can be an environment without society.”

Green economy remains a challenge in developing countries

By Maria Grace Hutapea, CAUSES Intern

ISEE 2016
Plenary Session I: The Food Water Energy Justice Nexus

Former Minister of Environment, Brazil, Marina Silva
Former Minister of Environment, India, Jairam Ramesh

Environmental issues remains a challenge in developing countries as the government are more focus in economic growth while putting the environment at risk. That is especially true for developing countries, especially the poorest, where the need to enhance economic performance has often resulted in environmental degradation. In other words, halting environmental pollution may undermine economic growth.
Most of the developing countries are highly dependable to their natural resources. In order to achieve their goals to improve the standard living of their citizens, these countries opt for cheap energy for all. Not only that this resulted in job creation and development, but it also attracted a large amount of foreign direct investment. Marina Silva, former Environmental Minister of Brazil linked this phenomena to a political system that has been designed in favor to the private sectors. She argues that politics has become very implicit when it comes to environmental problem. “Politicians nowadays are very quick to make changes necessary, but not to change the system,” said Silva. This is why to maintain its economic growth, poor countries are following the energy intensive model.
Minister Ramesh (l) and Minister Silva (r) 

Saturday, June 25, 2016

USDA Celebrates National Pollinator Week on UDC Green Roof

University of DC’s Rooftop Garden hosts celebration of Pollinator Week

A garden in the sky. That’s the best way to describe the Green Roof, a rooftop garden at the University of the District of Columbia (UDC), the nation’s only urban land grant university. This living laboratory is one of the latest features at UDC’s College of Agriculture, Urban Sustainability and Environmental Sciences (CAUSES), which is also home to the Center for 4-H & Youth Development. 4-H is the nation’s premiere youth development program, managed by National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA).
UDC 4-H students were among the Green Roof guests at an event to highlight National Pollinator Week and the White House Pollinator Health Initiative, a multi-agency partnership to promote pollinator health, reduce honey bee colony loss, and restore pollinator habitat.

The event’s special guest was Dr. Ann Bartuska, Deputy Under Secretary for Research, Education, and Economics, USDA. Bartuska addressed the importance of pollinators and food security.

“As part of the White House Pollinator Health Initiative, the USDA is investing in pollinator health through its Research, Education, and Economics mission area. Between FY 2008 and 2014, NIFA invested approximately $40 million in pollinator health research and education,” said Bartuska.

Bartuska was joined by Dr. Thomas Bewick, National Program Leader, Division of Plant Systems-Production, National Institute of Food and Agriculture, USDA, and UDC CAUSES Director of the Center of Sustainable Development, Dr. Dwane Jones. Sandy Farber Bandier, UDC Green Roof Master Gardner Coordinator and UDC extension agent, led the tour of the 40,000 square foot oasis filled with a variety of insect-pollinated crops such as strawberries, cherries, apples, and peaches. 
4-H Students sample local honey.
“This is the nation’s only urban agricultural garden,” Farber noted, as she explained importance of the green roof, and the pollinator’s role in helping provide nutritious food for the community. She also noted that the creation of this pollinator garden jump-started reliable fruit production at UDC. As a sweet finale, beekeepers from Capital Bee CARE brought an exhibit hive of honey bees, and guests sampled locally produced honey from neighborhoods in Washington, DC and Northern Virginia.

From a rooftop garden in Washington, DC, to farmlands across the country, pollinator health is a critical issue for the nation’s economy, food security, and environmental health.

Continue reading at USDA NIFA's website!

Monday, June 20, 2016

Renowned Author Frances Moore Lappe’ Headlines ISEE 2016 Special Event

Will be joined by Tommy Wells, DOEE

The College of Agriculture, Urban Sustainability and Environmental Sciences (CAUSES) at the University of the District of Columbia (UDC) will host the 2016 Conference of the International Society for Ecological Economics (ISEE), Transforming the Economy: Sustaining Food, Water, Energy and Justice. At a time when our planet’s vital signs are in distress and the social stability of our human community is under duress, a “transformed economy” supports the resilience of our planet and makes this conference theme more relevant than ever.

On Monday, June 27, 2016, renowned author Frances Moore Lappe’ headlines An Evening of Inspiration and Celebration. Tommy Wells, director, Department of Energy and Environment will open the event. The evening lecture will be held in the University’s Theater of the Arts, and includes refreshments and music by Trio Caliente. Registration is available here.

Frances Moore Lappe’ is the author or co-author of 18 books, beginning with Diet for a Small Planet. Her newest books are World Hunger – 10 Myths and EcoMind: Changing the Way We Think, to Create the World We Want. She is the cofounder of three organizations, including the Oakland based think tank Food First and the Small Planet Institute which she leads with her daughter Anna Lappé. Frances and her daughter have also co-founded the Small Planet Fund, which supports democratic and social movements around the world. Gourmet Magazine named Frances one of the twenty-five most influential people whose work has changed the way America eats. She is also the recipient of the Right Livelihood Award, also known as the Alternative Nobel Award. She appears frequently as a public speaker and on radio and is a regular contributor to Huffington Post.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Transforming the Economy: Sustaining Food, Water, Energy and Justice

The College of Agriculture, Urban Sustainability and Environmental Sciences (CAUSES) at the University of the District of Columbia (UDC will host the 2016 Conference of the International Society for Ecological Economics (ISEE), Transforming the Economy: Sustaining Food, Water, Energy and Justice. At a time when our planet’s vital signs are in distress and the social stability of our human community is under duress, a “transformed economy” supports the resilience of our planet and makes this conference theme more relevant than ever. Register here.

The conference brings together researchers, policy makers, and practitioners from all over the world and features plenary sessions, roundtables, and scholarly presentations focused on finding solutions for a socially and environmentally sustainable future. The International Society for Bio-Physical Economics will also hold its proceedings as a part of the ISEE 2016 conference.

Plenary speakers include:
  • Frances Moore Lappe', author of Diet for a Small Planet and founder of the Small Planet Institute
  • Marina Silva, former Minister of Environment, and contender for the presidency of Brazil
  • Jairam Ramesh, former Minister of the Environment, who was recently reelected to the Upper House of the Indian Parliament
  • Mokgadi Monamati, Senior Natural Resources Specialist of Environmental Affairs and Industry in Botswana, Africa
  • Dr. Shi Yan, President of Shared Harvest, and founder of the Chinese Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) movement
  • Dr. Renato Maluf, President Emeritus of the Food Policy Council of Brazil
  • Dr. Gar Alperovitz, Co-founder of the Democracy Collaborative and President of the National Center for Economic and Security Alternatives, Washington, D.C.
  • Dr. Peter May, Senior Environmental Scientist of Biohabitats Inc. and lecturer at the University of Maryland
The conference will also include several special events open to the community. Frances Moore Lappe’ will be the featured speaker at an evening of celebrating sustainable communities at 7:30 p.m. on Monday, June 27. Registration is available here. 2016 Kenneth Boulding Award recipient, Prof. Kanchan Chopra, former director of the Institute of Economic Growth in Delhi, India, will lecture at a luncheon Monday at 12:00 p.m.; while Dr. Arild Vatn, a well-known institutional economist from the Norwegian University of Life Sciences will be honored at 8:00 p.m. on June 28. Registration for both Boulding events is available here.

Attendees of the conference can also earn Continuing Education Unit (CEU) credits. The University of the District of Columbia is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education and follows the IACET protocol for providing CEU’s for professional development. Contact for more information.

ISEE 2016 will be hosted at the University of the District of Columbia, located at 4200 Connecticut Avenue, NW, Washington, D.C. To view the schedule or register for the full conference please visit For questions, contact

Thursday, June 9, 2016

CAUSES TV: Climate Change and Pollution

Washington, DC, is in fact well on its way to becoming one of the greenest cities in the country. We have more green roofs here than almost any other city; we have one of the largest bike share programs in the country; we have a huge number of local food initiatives; and urban agriculture is a big focus here in the District of Columbia. 

Some would say though, that it’s still not enough; and it’s still not fast enough. There are still way too many people right here in our nation’s capital and in cities all around the country, who suffer from the effects of pollution and unhealthy living conditions. And things are becoming more challenging, not less. We have unprecedented storm events, and erratic weather patterns, that impact our health. Are things getting better or worse?

The two guests who join Dean O'Hara have put a lot of thought and a lot of passion into these questions of how can we help people live healthier lives, especially people who live in underserved neighborhoods. How can we mitigate the effects of changed weather patterns that make our air feel heavier, and more oppressive? Dr. Elgloria Harrison, is a respiratory scientist and Special Assistant to the Dean of the College of Agriculture, Urban Sustainability and Environmental Sciences here at the University of the District of Columbia; and Andrea Herrera, is an environment engineer and recent graduate of the Professional Science Master Degree in Water Resources Management. 

Thursday, May 26, 2016

CAUSES CSA Produce Purchase Program

This year, CAUSES will be offering a limited produce purchase  program, featuring produce grown at Firebird Farm and the UDC green room. The program is open to students, faculty and staff of the University of the District of Columbia.

Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) is a mutual commitment between a farm and a community of supporters that provides a direct link between the production and consumption of food. Supporters cover an integral part of a farm's yearly operating budget by purchasing a share of the seasonal harvest before it is grown. CSA members make a commitment to support the farm throughout the season. Members payment help cover costs for seeds, water, equipment maintenance, labor, etc. In return, the farm commits to providing a consistent supply of high quality vegetables each week throughout the growing season. At Firebird Farm, our goal is to grow and deliver a combination of vegetables and herbs valued at $30 each week, which is an additional 15% over what you pay.

In addition, we also recognize that smaller families may not have the same needs as large families or people sharing produce. Our full-shares will feed up to 6 people on average per week, or 3-4 people who love veggies. We are now offering half-shares, which will feed up to 4 people on average per week or 1-2 people who love veggies.

The Institute of Gerontology Honors Senior Volunteers

On May 18, 2016, the Institute of Gerontology (IOG) of the University of the District of Columbia hosted the 36th Annual Senior Volunteer Recognition Day in celebration of Older Americans Month. The keynote address was delivered by University President Ronald Mason.

"I've noticed that most elders are optimists. If you hang around and listen, you can hear the funniest things sometimes,” President Mason addressed the audience before sharing a number of humorous anecdotes involving the seniors in his life. “You don't stop laughing because you get old; you grow old because you stop laughing. So keep laughing, stay young and enjoy your life."

The event honors and thank the 89 volunteers, who devote thousands of hours each year toward meeting the needs of the District’s growing population of senior residents. The Institute’s signature programs which include the Senior Companion Volunteer Program, the Respite Aide Volunteer Program, the Senior Tuition Program and the Bodywise Senior Exercise Program, collectively provide service to over 6,500 older residents of the District of Columbia.

UDC Farmers Market season starts May 28!

The UDC CAUSES Farmers Market season is here! Join us on Saturdays from 8:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m. at 4340 Connecticut Ave., NW, in front of the David A. Clarke School of Law to buy fresh fruit, veggies, flowers and more! And with us again for the sixth year are produce vendors with the National Latino Farmers and Ranchers Trade Association.

New this year, we are now participating in the Produce Plus program. Produce Plus is a locally-funded incentive program designed to increase access to healthy and nutritious food options for income-eligible District residents, promoting farmers markets to improve public health. 

See you on Saturday!

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Biophilic Cities Lecture and Award Ceremony

by Carilyne Vance

On May 23, 2016, CAUSES hosted the Biophilic Cities Lecture and Awards Ceremony in the University of the District of Columbia Student Center. Recognizing that human health and happiness are tied to our natural environment, the Biophilic Cities organization strives to bring together elements of nature and urban design. Organized under the guidance of University of Virginia School of Architecture Professor Tim Beatley, it focuses on devising best practices for creating and including elements of the natural environment into urban development. In his book Biophilic Cities, Professor Beatley explores the importance of human interaction with nature and a number of ways to measure the degree to which daily human activity – especially in an urban setting, satisfies this need.