Monday, December 23, 2013

Around CAUSES December 2013

A few of the happenings around CAUSES:
  • Nursing students featured in DC Nurse magazine
  • Che' Axum to appear on NBC4's Viewpoint
  • Meet Manny, Muirkirk Farm Volunteer Extraordinaire
  • Dr. Wayne Curtis delivers keynote for DC Green Corps graduating class
  • Holiday Collection a Success!
  • CAUSES Holiday Party

Nursing students featured in DC Nurse magazine

Two UDC nursing students are featured in the current edition of DC Nurse magazine. UDC's nursing program is a division of CAUSES. The article, "East of the River Students can find Opportunity in Nursing," features Dawna Gadson and Katrina Clark, who discuss their stories in how they selected the field of nursing for their professions. "Clark and Gadson are now enhancing their professional nursing careers as students in UDC's bachelor of science in nursing program," the article details. Nursing chair, Dr. Pier Broadnax, is also quoted. Read the full article, which begins on page 11. Click here to learn more about our RN to BSN nursing program. 

Che' Axum to appear on NBC4's Viewpoint

Center for Urban Agriculture Director and Muirkirk Farm Manager Che' Axum will appear on Viewpoint, Channel 4's Sunday public affairs show. He will appear alongside George A. Jones, the CEO of Bread for the City, and Mike Curtain, the CEO of D.C. Central Kitchen, to discuss local efforts to end hunger. His episode is slated to air Sunday morning, Dec. 29, at 7:00 a.m.

Meet Manny, Muirkirk Farm Volunteer Extraordinaire

Manny is the site manager at Lederer Youth Garden in Ward 7. He also is a dedicated volunteer at our research farm in Beltsville, Maryland. During the four years he has collaborated with UDC, helping to introduce ethnic crops to his youth garden with the help of UDC Ethnic Crop Specialist, Yao Afantchao, Manny has demonstrated the willingness to adapt the growing techniques and the educational aspect of ethnic crops to his program at Lederer. Thanks for your help, Manny and thanks for helping to spread the word and sharing the knowledge!  

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Save the date: Post Oil City exhibit and workshops Jan. 30 - March 1

Click to enlarge
The negative side effects of fossil fuel use are becoming increasingly apparent and costly. Erratic weather events, growing risks for low-lying coastal areas, and unexpected feed-back loops have raised questions about the sustainability of our oil dependence and the size of our carbon footprint especially in densely populated urban areas. At the same time, urban populations continue to grow rapidly. City life, especially over the past 50 years, has been very oil dependent. From buildings, to mobility, to heating and cooling systems, to meeting the water and food demand of high density urban populations, cities run on oil. 

How then can we envision the post oil city of the future? What does such a city look like? Can cities really function without oil? How would they solve their mobility needs? How will buildings be heated and air-conditioned? If not oil, then through what means can cities function efficiently and effectively to meet the needs of their residents?

Friday, December 20, 2013

CAUSES signs on as Collaborating Org for Climate Solutions Conference

Join over 1,200 key individuals from many fields of sciences and engineering, government and policy, business and civil society to advance solutions to climate change. The College of Agriculture, Urban Sustainability and Environmental Sciences of the University of the District of Columbia is a Collaborating Organization for the Building Climate Solutions, the 14th National Conference and Global Forum on Science, Policy and the Environment. The conference, which is sponsored by the National Conference for Science and the Environment (NCSE), will be held Jan. 28 – 30, 2014.

The conference will be organized around two areas: [1] The Built Environment; and, [2] Agriculture and Natural Resources. According to NCSE, the recent release of the first part of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Fifth Assessment Report reaffirms with even greater surety that climate change is occurring and poses significant challenges to humanity. The draft United States National Climate Assessment states that the impacts of climate change have "moved firmly into the present."

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Scholarship and Internship Opportunities

  • Naval Research Enterprise Internship Program
  • National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Scholarship
  • American Legion Internship
  • Project Y.E.S. Internship 
  1. Naval Research Enterprise Internship Program
    The Naval Research Enterprise Internship Program (NREIP) provides research internships to 200 undergraduate students and 75 graduate students each year. NREIP provides a 10-week opportunity for students to participate in research at one of the 29 Department of Navy laboratories during the summer.
     The goals of NREIP are to encourage participating students to pursue science and engineering careers, to further education via mentoring by laboratory personnel and their participation in research.  Students will receive a stipend for their participation in the summer internship as follows: Sophomores receive $5,400.00. Juniors and Seniors receive $8,100.00. Graduate students will receive $10,800.00. Applicants must be U.S. Citizens. Applications are due by Jan. 6, 2014. For more information, visit

  2. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration ScholarshipThe National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is pleased to announce the Ernest F. Hollings Undergraduate Scholarship Program, available to college sophomore students majoring in STEM disciplines related to oceanic and atmospheric science, research, or technology, and supportive of the purposes of NOAA's programs and mission, e.g., biological, social and physical sciences; mathematics; engineering; and computer and information sciences. NOAA is accepting applications from students who will have Official Junior status in Fall 2014. U.S. citizens are eligible with at least a 3.0 GPA. The application deadline is Jan. 31, 2014. Contact the NOAA Office of Education at for more information.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Upcoming CAUSES Events

The College of Agriculture, Urban Sustainability and Environmental Sciences has some great events coming up next year, so please be sure to mark your calendars!

  • 4-H Volunteer Leaders Training (Jan. 11, 2014) 
  • Lead Abatement Workshop (Jan. 17 & 24, March 14 & 17, April 14 - 15)
  • Post-Oil City Exhibition and Workshops (Jan. 30-31; Feb. 8, 15, and 21, 2014)
  • National Capital Region Water Resources Symposium (April 4, 2014)
  • Sustainability and Social Enterprise Summit (Friday, April 18, 2014) 

Upcoming 4-H Volunteer Leaders Training and 4-H news

Contact Rebecca Bankhead at to sign up! 

Keep reading to see what else 4-H has been up to. 

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

PBS Interviews Dr. Prema Ganganna about Trans Fats

Last month, Dr. Prema Ganganna, Professor and Director of Nutrition, Dietetics and Food Science,was recently interviewed by MacNeil/Lehrer Productions. The name may sound familiar to you because MacNeil/Lehrer is the production company behind the long-running series, PBS Newshour (formerly known as The Newshour with Jim Lehrer). Select excerpts from Dr. Ganganna's interview appear in the short video: "Trans Fat: The Hidden Killer," alongside Julie Greenstein, Center for Science in the Public Interest and Allan Javery, Executive Chef of the Arlington, Virginia based Copperwood Tavern. 
Paul Malkie of MacNeil-Lehrer interviews Dr.Ganganna.

In the video, Dr. Ganganna addresses the topic of trans fatty acids and their prevalence in today's food culture for the "The.News," which is a non-commercial, multi-platform news broadcast geared towards high school and middle school students. Every video feature, including the one on trans fats, has corresponding lesson plans that include discussion questions, activities and other educational content supporting social studies, language arts and science based curricula. 
The video can be watched on the PBS "The.News" website, where the transcript is also available.

Describing the experience of being a resource for PBS, Dr. Ganganna said: "My service as a teacher, mentor and program director is my passion at the local level. PBS, with its global reach, has inspired me to think about going to Africa or another part of the world where malnutrition is critical and helping to educate the public about the dangers of unhealthy eating habits and trans fatty acids."

The cameraman looks on.
Dr. Ganganna, who has been with UDC's Nutrition program since 1984 and has led the accredited program since 1987, explains the difference between good fats (HDL) and bad fats (LDL) and their relation to trans fats. The consumption of more than 2 grams of trans fatty acids a day increases the LDL, which increases the cardiovascular risk. Increased LDL becomes most prevalent during the holiday season, when the consumption of cookies, cake mix, icing and other trans fatty foods is especially high. She suggests reading labels and avoid foods that have partially hydrogenated fats.  

It is never too early to educate youth about what they cook, eat and consume, lessons they will retain and pass on to those around them. And perhaps, someday, those children may end up as future CAUSES students! 

Dr. Prema Ganganna can be reached at Nutrition, Dietetics and Food Scienceis a division of the College of Agriculture, Urban Sustainability and Environmental Sciences. 

Keep reading for healthy cooking tips!

Friday, December 6, 2013

Help celebrate the season of giving

As you can see, Dr. Webster's holiday gift drive has taken over her office! There is still time to donate before Dec. 18! See below for details.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

CAUSES TV: Sustaining A Biodiverse Planet and Respiratory Care

In two new episodes of CAUSES TV, Dr. O'Hara interviews Dr. W. John Kress, of the Smithsonian Institution and Dr. Elgloria Harrison, of UDC.

Dr. Kress, a man of many titles, is the Director of the Smithsonian Institution’s Consortium for Understanding and Sustaining a Biodiverse Planet and also a Curator of Botany and a Research Scientist at the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History. The environment is changing, and Dr. Kress addresses how these changes may impact the Washington, D.C. area (including our precious monuments on the banks of the Potomac) and the nation. Together, they discuss the positives and negatives of our changing cities. In particular, can D.C. become healthier, greener, and more livable as the Sustainable DC Plan suggests? Or will the negative environmental changes be too much to overcome? Finally, should cities be concentrations of human impact, or would it be better to spread the impact of human habitation out a bit across a larger space? Learn more from a scientist's perspective: 

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Muirkirk Farm Donates to Food-a-thon; CAUSES TV: Urban Food Production

In celebration of Thanksgiving, UDC-CAUSES donated freshly grown produce to NBC Washington's Food 4 Families campaign, which seeks to feed as many people as possible during the Thanksgiving holiday season. CAUSES donated kale, collards, spinach and other nutritious vegetables grown at the UDC Research Farm. 

110 pounds of freshly picked kale and collards were transported from the farm to the Verizon Center, where Urban Agriculture Director, Che' Axum, and Associate Dean of Programs, William Hare, were interviewed on live television by NBC Washington's anchor, Pat Lawson Muse, during NBC 4's food-a-thon. Che and his crew then delivered the vegetables to the Boys and Girls Clubs on Benning Road. See behind the scene photos of the donation and interview on our Facebook page!

Food donation campaigns usually receive processed and pre-packaged goods, that go a long way toward helping those in need, are lacking in nutrition. Kale is loaded with vitamins as well as calcium, iron and antioxidants. As a matter of fact, one cup of kale is all it takes to meet your daily requirement of vitamins A, C and K. It's also good for your heart and eyes!

Around CAUSES November 2013

Here are some of the topics and events happening around CAUSES:
  1. UDC farmers market closes for the season
  2. 4-H "Ready, Set, Go!" training 
  3. Watch: Dr. Wayne Curtis hosts UDC Forum on Minority MBAE Case Competition
  4. Dr. Prema Ganganna interviewed by PBS 
  5. GO DUTCH 2014 Consortium partnership
  6. Agriculture and nutrition team guest lectures at Georgetown University
  7. Former Governor of Bangkok visits UDC
2013 farmers market season comes to a close 

The UDC farmers market recently celebrated the end of another successful season. Said Market Manager Stephanie Wingate: The last Saturday, for 2013 UDC Farmer's Market came and passed. To reflect on the day, I remember seeing a D.C. policeman standing for a while, with one of our vendors, nice friendly chat, even helping to hawk the vendors goods for a few moments to patrons as they walked by. So many people were grateful for the market and are already ready for the 2014 season to begin in April. Thanks to everyone, who participated in this 2013 Farm Market season!

4-H hosts "Ready, Set, Go!" training

The "Ready, Set, Go!" training was recently offered by Operation Military Kids, a division of the Center for 4-H and Youth Development. Ready, Set, Go! community trainings are designed to increase non-military youth workers, educators, counselors and other community members understanding of military culture and the issues facing military youth, among other things. 

In other 4-H news, the center received a special visit from a Chinese delegation. China is interested in implementing their own 4-H club!

Watch: Dr. Wayne Curtis hosts UDC Forum 

Dean Sabine O'Hara is not the only TV star we have within CAUSES! Dr. Wayne Curtis, project specialist for Sustainable Entrepreneurship in the Center for Sustainable Development, recently hosted an episode of UDC Forum. Watch him as he interviews four UDC graduate students who are participating in the 9th Annual Minority MBAE Case Competition, sponsored by LMI Consulting. Giresse Pembele (MBA), Anita Johnson (MPA), Timothy Glymph, III (MPA) and Tamon George (MBA) provide insight into the preparation and presentation of their award winning case study.

The competition is held at the annual Howard University MBA Exclusive where student find endless networking opportunities with top executives, engaging professional development workshops and a career fair with industry leading companies. The case competition unites top MBA candidates across the country and gives them the opportunity to develop important professional skills such as analyzing and responding quickly to an organization's strategic challenge. Dr. Curtis can be reached at

Dr. Prema Ganganna interviewed by MacNeil/Lehrer (PBS)

Dr. Prema Ganganna, Professor and Director of Nutrition, Dietetics and Food Science, was recently interviewed by MacNeil/Lehrer Productions, producer behind the PBS series, Newshour. Dr. Ganganna addressed the topic of trans fats and their prevalence in today's food culture for the "The.News," a non-commercial, multi-platform news broadcast geared towards high school and middle school students. We can\t wait to see the finished product! 

Monday, November 25, 2013

CAUSES Hosts Hamburg-DC Urban Revitalization Exhibit

CAUSES, together with the Goethe-Institut Washington, HafenCity Hamburg  and the International Building Exhibition (IBA) Hamburg, recently hosted the conference and accompanying exhibition: “Hamburg: Building the City Anew. A Journey into the City of Tomorrow.” The exhibit served as the basis for a panel discussion engaging Hamburg urban revitalization partners with representatives from the U.S. government, the District of Columbia, the private sector and from the local citizens in designing the city of the future while bridging the divide between those who have access to economic opportunities and those who do not.

Cities all over the world must reinvent themselves in order to thrive in the future, use resources more wisely, improve operational efficiencies and become more intentional about reducing negative environmental impacts. Socioeconomic divides must be overcome, and all citizens must be engaged in defining the future and in constructing cities in ways that improve the health, wellness and economic opportunities for all of their citizens.

City-states have an important role to play in modeling such a vision of urban development that is environmentally sustainable and socially just. City-states require renewal. They have little to no surrounding space, nowhere to go; and therefore must continuously be reinvented while growing upward and inward, becoming more sustainable and livable all within its perimeter. Hamburg and D.C. are both experiencing a return to urban life that offers both challenges and opportunities for economic growth and for livability. Strategies and development models must recognize the role of culture, education, the arts and recreation in managing growth that is environmentally sustainable, socially just and provide economic value.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Meet the Expert: Dr. Dwane Jones and Center for Sustainable Development Team

Dwane Jones, Ph.D., is the Director of the Center for Sustainable Development, a division of CAUSES. Dr. Jones conducts research and teaches courses in Urban Sustainability, Urban Design, Urban Planning and Low Impact Development. He has degrees in Urban Planning, Environmental Planning, and Urban Design.

"The Center for Sustainable Development is a central component of CAUSES in which all academic and land-grant initiatives coalesce. The Center implements research projects that integrate all programs of CAUSES in an effort to produce and understand the implications and impacts of sustainable development," explained Dr. Jones.

The Center for Sustainable Development encompasses the three pillars of Sustainability- People, Places, and Profit (Environment, Economics, and Equity). As such, the Center consists of faculty and staff appointments in Environmental Sciences, Economic Analysis, Sustainable Spaces (green infrastructure, green buildings, and resources), and Entrepreneurship. UDC’s Center for Sustainable Development also includes a world-class water quality research lab as part of its Water Resources Research Institute (WRRI).

"My vision is that the Center for Sustainable Development become a leader in educational excellence and research in sustainable development. This vision includes developing, implementing, and evaluating applied research projects as building blocks of sustainability. Each project will then become a classroom for student learning, community engagement, and economic development."

Dr. Jones is joined by Dr. Jon Cooper, Dr. Wayne Curtis and Dr. Kamran Zendehdel. Continue reading to learn more about the Center for Sustainable Development and its core team!

Testimonial: Muirkirk Farm Ethnic Crops

Reprinted with permission from UDC alum, Margaret Forbin:

As a proud alumnus of The University of the District Of Columbia, I was very delighted to learn about UDC's association with the budding ethnocentric farm project in Beltsville, Maryland, at the Muirkirk "Firebird" Farm.

I learned about the project from a former UDC CAUSES Nutrition major who had been helping to introduce "ethnic crops," particularly those from West Africa, to the cultivation and distribution schema of the Washington, D.C. metropolitan grocery system. He referenced crops that I was quite familiar growing up with in Cameroon, Africa. I was quite eager and excited, and could not wait to visit the farm myself.

When I arrived at the UDC Muirkirk "Firebird" Farm, I was overwhelmed by what I saw. There, before my very own eyes were rows and rows of West African ethnic crops, including: water leaves, bitter leaves, anchai, etcetera and various types of peppers! I like cooking ethnic vegetables with hot peppers which produces very pungent flavor. In my experience, African food cooked without hot peppers is tasteless.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Fall Gardening Tips by Mary Farrah

CAUSES Urban Agriculture and Forestry Outreach Extension Agent, Mary Farrah, provides helpful tips about taking care of our gardens during the winter:

It’s time for the fall garden clean up! As our growing season is winding down, the only crops able to tolerate the chill are the overwintering garlic bulbs, the cold hardy greens of the brassica family, lettuces and spinach.

It’s time to pull all the dead and decaying warm season veggies—and the weeds that escaped our notice while we were busy having fun this summer! Doing this will eliminate many overwintering insect and pest eggs and bacterial, fungal and viral diseases you didn’t even know you had. This simple and easy cultural practice is the number one place to start minimizing pests and pathogens that will otherwise gladly move right into next season’s garden.  A fall garden clean-up equals good gardening hygiene!

Friday, November 15, 2013

CAUSES TV: IBA Hamburg & HafenCity Project

In this episode of CAUSES TV, Dr. O'Hara is joined by Mr. Bruns-Berentelg, CEO of HafenCity Hamburg, Europe’s largest inner-city development project that is also the blueprint for the development of a European city on the waterfront--very similar to the likes of Washington, D.C. The discussion centers around the healthy city initiatives underway in Hamburg, Germany, and the Sustainable DC initiative launched by DC Mayor Vincent Gray.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Exhibit: Hamburg: Building the City Anew. A Journey into the City of Tomorrow.

UDC and Goethe-Institut Washington Partner to Host Hamburg Conference and Exhibit
“Hamburg: Building the City Anew. A Journey into the City of Tomorrow” will explore the German city’s sustainable initiatives

Germany’s second largest city and the ninth largest in Europe, Hamburg, is home to two of the most important urban development areas in Europe: HafenCity and the International Building Exhibition (IBA) Hamburg. Both projects embrace the vision of a European city meeting the challenges of the future without abandoning its unique traditions and character. HafenCity, Europe’s largest inner-city development project, is setting new standards for ecological sustainability and mixed use development along the Elbe River in Hamburg, Germany. The International Building Exhibition (IBA) is applying experimental design and urban planning to a neglected inner-city island, transforming it into a vibrant and sustainable area. 

Like Washington, D.C., Hamburg is a city-state that consists solely of the city itself without a surrounding rural area. This poses unique developmental challenges and unique opportunities. Hamburg is commercial, compact and comfortable at the same time. And it has to be. Without a surrounding land area Hamburg must meet all the needs of its citizens, attract businesses and visitors, and reinvent itself ever anew to meet the ambitions of a modern city that keeps pace with the times.

How has Hamburg organized itself to meet the demands of a modern city that is ecologically sound and economically vibrant?  The University of the District of Columbia’s College of Agriculture, Urban Sustainability and Environmental Sciences (CAUSES) and the Goethe-Institut Washington will present a half-day conference exploring these important topics and accompanying exhibition Hamburg. Building the City Anew. A Journey into the City of Tomorrow.

Keep reading for details on the Nov. 14 reception and Nov. 15 panel discussion! 

Thursday, October 31, 2013

All about UDC's Architecture Program

DC's first LEED
Platinum home
before and after
All about architecture--well, all about the University of the District of Columbia’s premiere architecture program, which is part of the College of Agriculture, Urban Sustainability and Environmental Sciences.The Department of Urban Architecture and Community Planning exemplifies the University’s urban land-grant mission, providing a program that equips students with the essential skill set to effectively implement maximum sustainability in the design and planning of buildings, neighborhoods and communities.

The department offers both bachelor and masters degrees: 

This degree requires completion of an eight-semester curriculum for a total of 121 credits.

The Master of Architecture I degree program requires completion of a three-semester curriculum for a total of 37 credits. The Master of Architecture II degree program requires completion of a seven-semester curriculum, for a total of 86 credits.

Architectural Research Institute

The Architectural Research Institute (ARI) is the clinical arm of UDC’s architecture program, offering a research and community service based program that utilizes the university’s capital assets to support the District of Columbia’s mission to provide affordable and energy efficient shelter to its citizens. 

ARI offers programs in construction, architecture, and planning, providing students and faculty with opportunities for research and field work across disciplines in support of the CAUSES mission, “Healthy Cities – Healthy People.” 
Apartment building in
Northwest, DC,
before and after

ARI also serves the District of Columbia Department of Housing and Community Development through its Homestead Program. To date, ARI has participated in the rehabilitation of over 525 homes and apartments, projects valued at more than $110 million.

The Building Rehabilitation Services program of ARI revitalizes abandoned properties throughout Washington, D.C., giving students first-hand insight into today’s discipline of architecture. This includes practice of architecture, including field documentation, specification writing, interaction with other professionals and client contact through project administration.  

The Building Systems and Envelope Assessment program provides technical assistance and training to building owners, managers, operators, and occupants. Have a question about energy efficient design or construction? The ARI team offers a variety of professionals include ENERGY STAR and LEED® experts. Meet them below!

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Upcoming Events

We’ve got a host of events coming up in CAUSES, so please be sure to mark your calendars!

Keep reading for more information on:
  • Nursing Forum: Evolving Healthcare Leadership in the Era of ACA through Diversity & Inclusion (Nov. 7, 2013)
  • Farm Day at Muirkirk Farm (Nov. 9, 2013)
  • DC Eco Women Mentor Dinner (Nov. 12, 2013)
  • Hamburg Conference (Nov. 15, 2013) and Exhibit (Nov. 15 - Dec. 6)
  • Daffodils for Dad (Nov. 16, 2013)
  • Sustainability and Social Enterprise Summit (February 28, 2014)
  • National Capital Region Water Resources Symposium (April 4, 2014)

CAUSES TV: Healthy Cities; Healthy People and Creating a Green and Sustainable Economy

CAUSES Dean, Dr. Sabine O’Hara, believes that it takes a healthy city to have healthy and thriving people. This episode of CAUSES TV on healthy cities and people champions that theme with Harriet Tregoning, Director of the D.C. Office of Planning, who happens to be one of the leaders in D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray’s development and implementation of the Sustainable DC plan joining Dean O'Hara. Director Tregoning is working to make DC a walkable, bikeable, eminently livable, globally competitive and sustainable city. Kathy Dixon, UDC Assistant Professor in the Department of Urban Architecture and Community Planning, also joins the conversation. Professor Dixon is the Principal at K. Dixon Architecture, a member of NOMA, and is LEED-certified.

Want more? You can watch another new episode of CAUSES TV on creating a green and sustainable economy after the jump!

Friday, October 18, 2013

Nov. 9 is Farm Day at Muirkirk Farm!

We are pleased to announce Farm Day at Muirkirk “Firebird” Farm, Saturday, November 9, 2013 from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. This event will include:

·         Panels on organic growing practices and building an eco-friendly business
·         Farm tours
·         Face Painting
·         Chef demonstrations
·         A traditional Ethiopian coffee ceremony

Click here to register.

The Event is sponsored by The Big Bad Woof, Blessed Coffee, 5 A DAY CSA, and the College of Agriculture, Urban Sustainability and Environmental Sciences (CAUSES
of the University of the District of Columbia. 

The Muirkirk Research Farm is located at: 12001 Old Baltimore Pike, Beltsville, MD 20705. For more information, contact Vicki Reese at  

We hope to see you there!  

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Fiji at the Farm

Ambassador and Mrs. Thompson
CAUSES was pleased to welcome the Honorable Winston Thompson, Ambassador of Fiji, to our research farm in Beltsville, Maryland. The Ambassador was joined by his wife, Mrs. Queenie Thompson, and spent over two hours touring the farm, taking a special interest in our native, or "ethnic crops" program. 

Where is Fiji, you ask? The Fijian Islands--over 300 of them--are located in the Pacific Ocean, east of Australia and north New Zealand.

In a diverse metropolitan area like D.C., specialty crops are in high demand. In fact, ethnic food products comprise more than 12% of all retail food sales and are seeing 5% growth annually. 

The Muirkirk "Firebird" Research Farm on a sunny fall day.
 This in part is why CAUSES began researching crop production for these ethnic crops. In making these products accessible and affordable, we are helping to connect consumers to new types of food. We are also giving both native born and or local immigrant populations a taste of home, right here in D.C.

"It was very eye-opening for us to see so many familiar food crops though different cultivars growing in DC," Ambassador Thompson said.

For those of you who are not trained agrologists like Ambassador Thompson, a cultivar is defined as a plant variety that has been produced in cultivation by selective breeding.
Queenie Thompson samples Sawa Sawa.
Throughout the tour, the Ambassador and his wife sampled many of the ripe crops that were growing--directly off the vine (our farm does not use pesticides or other agents, so active sampling is encouraged). Mrs. Thompson, an avid sampler, delightfully told stories of her homeland, and how she prepared certain crops. She was particularly a fan of the Sawa Sawa or the "sour leaf" plant.

"The passion and enthusiasm CAUSES has for this program is infectious and I’m sure you will have the whole of DC converted to growing and relishing these exotic food crops in a short time. Its applicability to our developing countries as they continue to urbanize is clear and we must find a way to expose some of our thought leaders to what is being demonstrated at Muirkirk Farm," stated the Ambassador.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

4-H Operation Military Kids Ready, Set, Go! Training Nov. 22, 2013

It's National 4-H week and earlier, we learned about the Environmentors Program. Another 4-H program, Operation: Military Kids (OMK) is the U.S. Army's collaborative effort with America's communities to support children and youth impacted by deployment. Regardless of whether Families are experiencing deployment for the first time, the second time or another in a series of multiple deployments, OMK’s goal is to connect military children and youth with local resources in order to achieve a sense of community support and enhance their well-being.
Watch this slideshow to see the type of fun activities available to our Operation Military Kids! 

Through OMK, Military Youth:
  • Meet other youth who are also experiencing deployment
  • Participate in a range of recreational, social & educational programs
  • Gain leadership, organizational, and technical skills by participating in the Speak Out for Military Kids program or Mobile Technology Lab programs
  • Receive assistance with school issues by connecting with Army Child, Youth & School Services School Liaisons -- More on School Transition Support
  • Attend single day, weekend or even longer residential camps
Ready, Set, Go! community trainings are designed to increase non-military youth workers, educators, counselors and other community members understanding of:
  • the unique issues facing military youth
  • military culture
  • the deployment cycle
  • fostering resilience in youth and to engage them in building State and Local community networks to provide support for military children and youth.
The University of the District of Columbia will be hosting a training on Nov. 22, 2013 and are looking for volunteers. For more information on the Ready, Set, Go! training visit or contact Rebecca Bankhead, Director & State Program Leader 4-H & the Center for Youth Development at UDC, at or FeiFei Sun, Operation Military Kids Extension Agent, at

4-H: Environmentors Program

Did you know that Oct. 9 is 4-H Youth Science Day? 4-H students from across the nation have gathered at the 4-H national headquarters, which just happens to be up the street from the University of Columbia in Chevy Chase, Maryland.

The Center for 4-H and Youth Development develops innovative programs that emphasize experiential learning opportunities for young people and their families. Through "hands-on" interactive programming, participants develop life skills, leadership abilities, and an ethic of civic stewardship. As the home of the District of Columbia's 4-H program, we are excited to share more about our programs in the Center of 4-H and Youth Development:

  • 4-H Clubs 
  • 4-H Living Interactive Family Education (LIFE) 
  • Common Measures 
  • 4-H International Network 
  • 4-H STEM 
  • 4-H Summer Camp 
  • EnvironMentors 
  • LifeSmarts Consumer Education for Teenagers 
  • Operation Military Kids 
  • Health Rocks Program

Friday, October 4, 2013

Che Axum discusses sustainable farming techniques

Taught by Dr. Elgloria Harrison, Associate Dean for CAUSES, students of her UDC capstone course have been encouraged to step outside the classroom and to experience the world around them. 

In this series of YouTube videos from Michelle Wingley, watch Che Axum,  Muirkirk "Firebird" farm manager, talk about his sustainable operation. Dr. Elgloria Harrison interviews Che onsite at the farm. He also discusses composting and soil quality

Stay tuned for more student videos!

CAUSES, DC Central Kitchen collaborate for school's African Food Day

CAUSES recently had the opportunity to participate in African Food Day at Walker Jones Education Campus in Washington, D.C. A program of DC Central Kitchen, the demonstration was led by Yao Afantchao, UDC’s Ethnic Crop Development Specialist.

The 5th – 8th grade students were eager to try samples, although a few proceeded cautiously at first. General consensus was that the event—and the food--were both a success. 

Programs such as this allow students—many who have never been out of the country—to expand their pallet by sampling fare from around the world. As several students discovered, several of food and vegetables were familiar to them, they were just prepared differently.

“The Students were very encouraging in their willingness to try new foods, which is not an easy thing for anyone,” said Mr. Afantchao. “We believe too that through education it will become easier for people to adapt to new tastes.”

Friday, September 20, 2013

Meet the CAUSES Expert: Che' Axum - Center for Urban Agriculture

Meet the Expert: Che' Axum
By Carilyne Vance

Axum is a graduate of the University of Maryland’s College of Agronomy, (now named the College of Natural Resource Management) and worked for the United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service, Plant Sciences Institute for 20 years.  Che Axum has taught middle school science and is also a successful farmer and sustainable farming consultant. He currently serves on the Board of Directors of the Harry Hughes Center for Agroecology and is a member of the American Agronomy Society/ ASA, the Crop Science Society of America and the Soil Science Society of America.    

Mchezaji “Che” Axum is the Director of the CAUSES Center for Urban Agriculture. He is a trained environmental agronomist with over 25 years of experience in agriculture. He leads a team of Researchers at the Muirkirk Research Farm in Beltsville, Maryland, and oversees the University's DC Master Gardener, Specialty/Ethnic Crops and Urban Agriculture certificate programs.

A native Washingtonian, Mr. Axum is a third generation farmer. In 1918 after relocating to Washington, D.C. from Alabama, Mr. Axum's paternal great-great-grandfather started farming in the northeast section of the city. Additionally, his maternal great-grandfather was an established farmer in Mitchellville, Maryland. With generations of farming in his blood, it is no wonder that George Washington Carver is one of his personal heroes. 

Along with Che, the Center for Urban Agriculture is comprised of:
Contact Che at