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

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

UDC Hosts Successful Green Living Expo DC

On Sat., Sept. 7, the University of the District of Columbia (UDC) hosted the fifth annual Green Living Expo DC. The volunteer organization, Green Living DC, and the Expo grew out of the D.C. Office of Planning’s Neighborhood Sustainability Indicators Project, a 2009 pilot program that helped shape Mayor Vincent Gray’s citywide Sustainable DC initiative. Green Living DC is the primary community organizer of the event, in partnership with UDC’s College of Agriculture, Urban Sustainability and Environmental Sciences (CAUSES), and with the continued support of the D.C. Office of Planning.

Nearly 50 exhibitors were on hand to help attendees discover why DC is steadily becoming a model sustainable city. Energy-saving devices, green roofs, locally grown food, urban forests and permeable surfaces, were just a few of the featured topics. Visitors consulted with environmental experts while enjoying demonstrations, live music and local food. The event also included panel discussions and eco-tours of the Van Ness campus to highlight sustainability initiatives.  

Remarks delivered by Michael Rogers, UDC’s Vice President of University Advancement,  CAUSES Dean Sabine O’Hara, Ward 3 Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner Mary Beth Ray and DC Ward 3 Councilwoman Mary Cheh, all stressed the importance of working together to make the District a green and livable city.

Councilwoman Cheh, who in the spirit of the day biked to the event, spoke about the various sustainability initiatives under way in the District, and especially in Ward 3. Cheh has long been a champion of green living, and most especially of the important connection between locally grown food and public health.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

CAUSES TV: Food Security

This episode of CAUSES TV turns the spotlight on the issue of Food Security, which is the need to provide a steady, dependable supply of highly nutritious food to every man, woman and child. Unfortunately, right here in the nation's capital, many people do not have access to fresh nutritious food. Many only have access to food that makes them sick--if any access to food at all. 

Joining Dean O'Hara are: Dr. Sonny Ramaswamy, Director of the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), United States Department of Agriculture, along with Dr. Dionne Fortsen Toombs, Director, Division of Nutrition, NIFA and Dr. Robert Holland, Assistant Director, Institute of Food Safety and Nutrition, NIFA. The National Institute of Food and Agriculture is part of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).

Monday, September 16, 2013


Did you know that CAUSES is on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube? Not only is Just CAUSES, the online component of the newsletter a great resource for you to learn about all things CAUSES, but we are also on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube, too!

We hope you spread the word about the great things we're doing in CAUSES.   It's as simple as adding a line to your Outlook signature, such as:

"Visit us on Twitter, Facebook and Just CAUSES online."

Faculty, even if some of you are not using these mediums, we encourage you to pass the information along to your students; we assure you they are using these communication channels. 

See you online!

CAUSES Creates Community Gardens of the Senses

Last summer, CAUSES launched a community garden project on Saturday, July 20, 2013. Known collectively as “Gardens of the Senses,” the project created the first of three gardens on the UDC Van Ness Campus: a garden for the sense of vision; a garden for the sense of smell and a garden for the sense of touch.

“Each garden will be labeled and self-explanatory, invigorating the senses and presenting a connection with the stimulation nature offers to inspire our intellect and our emotions,” explained Dr. Sabine O’Hara, Dean of CAUSES.

The gardens will serve as a destination site for D.C. schools. Maintained by University of the District of Columbia (UDC) Student Garden Club with assistance of faculty and staff mentors, UDC students will serve as mentors to area school children from elementary, middle and high schools. The wide variety of plants in the gardens will also serve as research sites to investigate different plant qualities.
“To have so many volunteers come out and help was amazing and shows how strongly people feel about creating space for nature and improving our physical surroundings," said Coy McKinney, the Project Coordinator. “I hope the garden will serve as an invitation for passersby to reconnect with nature--and to appreciate what surrounds us and what we are all part of.”
The project was made possible through a grant from The Verizon Foundation, and is ongoing. Community participation is welcome. To volunteer for this and future gardening projects, contact Coy McKinney at

Pictures of the garden are available on the CAUSES Facebook page.

Friday, September 13, 2013

UDC Professor Broadnax Appointed to AARP Nursing Campaign

DC Action Coalition Launched to Help the Future of Nursing: Campaign for Action Ensure People Get the Care They Need

The DC Action Coalition has been selected as an Action Coalition by the Future of Nursing: Campaign for Action, an initiative of AARP and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF), working to  transform healthcare by preparing nursing to address our nation’s most pressing healthcare challenges—access, quality and cost.

Dr. Pier Broadnax
The DC Action Coalition will work with the Campaign to implement the recommendations of the landmark Institute of Medicine (IOM) report, The Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health. The Action Coalition team includes Pier A. Broadnax, Ph.D., RN, director and associate professor, University of the District of Columbia,  Rev. Roy Thomas, pastor of Nazareth Baptist Church and Karen Skinner, MSN, RN, executive director of the Board of Nursing, District of Columbia Department of Health among, other health care leaders.


“We are thrilled to add the DC Action Coalition to the Action Coalition network,” said Susan B. Hassmiller, Ph.D., RN, FAAN, RWJF senior adviser for nursing and Campaign for Action director. “The Campaign is working at every level to build and sustain the changes necessary to improve healthcare for all Americans, and we know the contributions of the DC Action Coalition will be invaluable as we move forward.”

4-H Scholarship Opportunity for Military Kids

The application deadline is Sept. 30, 2013. For more information, contact

High School Students Complete Summer Bridge Program

Almost 30 D.C. junior and senior high school students completed the Summer Bridge Program in Environment and Sustainability, presenting the findings of their capstone projects before an audience and receiving certificates of completion. A University of the District of Columbia program, Summer Bridge is a collaborative effort between the Center for 4-H and Youth Development and the Water Resources Research Institute, which are both program offices in the College of Agriculture, Urban Sustainability and Environmental Sciences (CAUSES).
Led by Dr. Tolessa Deksissa, the four week Summer Bridge Program offered students a hands-on opportunity to research the world around them. Dr. Deksissa is the director of the Water Resources Research Institute and the Principal Investigator (PI) of the Summer Bridge Program, which was funded through a grant from the National Science Foundation. Co-investigators are Drs. Lily Liang, Suzan Harkness and Pradeep Behera, who taught classes in environmental and sustainability science, mobile technologies, cloud computing, engineering design and a capstone project course.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Visit UDC's Farmers Market Saturdays from 8:00 - 2:00

There's still time to visit the UDC farmers market. You never know who you might run into! 

Last August during National Farmer’s Market Week, the University of D.C. was pleased to welcome Edward Avalos, Under Secretary of Marketing and Regulatory Programs for USDA. Mr. Avalos stayed for over an hour, speaking with several of the vendors and sampling various items. He even left with several bags of fresh produce – what an honor!

By the end of 2012, there were more than 7,800 farmers markets in the U.S., with number s steadily increasing as markets gain in popularity. The District of Colombia is home to more than 35 farmers markets.

The UDC market began in 2009 and currently has an average of a dozen vendors selling a wide variety of products, including fresh, local fruit and vegetables, baked goods fresh eggs, flowers and home-cooked South-American cuisine.

There is still time to visit the market until Nov. 10, 2013. The market is open Saturdays from 8:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. at 4340 Connecticut Ave., in front of the UDC Law School.

See more photos from Under Secretary Avalos' visit on our Facebook page.

CAUSES and Hay-Adams Partnership Promotes Locally Grown Food

Locally grown food is high in nutritional value, super fresh and delicious. The Hay-Adams will receive a steady supply of locally grown food from the Muirkirk Research Farm of the UDC College of Agriculture, Urban Sustainability and Environmental Sciences (CAUSES). The farm of the District's only land-grant university uses sustainable growing methods to produce a range of fresh herbs and vegetables that are rare in DC supermarkets. Many of them are so-called ethnic crops that do not originate on the American continent but can be grown locally.

"We wanted to be a part of the CAUSES initiatives to increase local food production and to serve 
our local community at the same time," says Hans Bruland, Vice President and General Manager of The Hay-Adams, "and this partnership also benefits our clients. There is nothing better than food that was harvested in the morning and is served that same evening; better yet when some of the food reminds you of home – even if home is on the other side of the globe."

CAUSES Dean Dr. Sabine O'Hara has launched a number of community partnerships that connect the dots between locally grown food, nutritional health and economic empowerment such as the Project EDEN (Everyone Deserves to Eat Naturally) initiative with ReGeneration House of Praise in Ward 8. The new partnership with the Hay Adams will also bring collaborative community service events, focusing on nutritional health, local food production and culinary training, to the residents in some of the District's food desert areas.

"Consumers are becoming increasingly aware of where their food comes from and how it impacts their health and well-being," explained Dr. O'Hara. "The partnership between Hay-Adams and the University of the District of Columbia recognizes that people want to eat locally grown food they can trust."

For more information, contact Dean O'Hara at

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Sign up to Attend the 4-H Volunteer Leaders Training on Sept. 21

For more information or to sign up, contact Rebecca Bankhead at

Welcome to Just CAUSES!

This space is where you can learn more about the University of the District of Columbia's College of Agriculture, Urban Sustainability and Environmental Sciences. At CAUSES, we believe that healthy cities = healthy people. Please join us as we seek to connect the urban neighborhoods we call home here in Washington, D.C. and neighborhoods halfway around the world. Together we will find urban solutions that improve lives and livelihoods. 

First, some background about CAUSES.

The University of the District of Columbia (UDC) is an urban land-grant University that offers associate, baccalaureate, graduate and professional degree programs and certificate programs to learners of all ages. Lead by Dr. Sabine O'Hara, Dean, the College of Agriculture, Urban Sustainability and Environmental Sciences (CAUSES) embodies the land-grant tradition of UDC. 

We offer innovative academic programs in:
  1. Architecture & community development
  2. Environmental science & urban sustainability
  3. Health education
  4. Nursing  
  5. Nutrition & dietetics
  6. We also offer a wide range of community education programs through our five land-grant centers:
  1. The Center for Urban Agriculture & Gardening Education 
  2. The Center for Sustainable Development which includes the Water Resources Management Institute
  3. The Center for Nutrition, Diet & Health which includes the Institute of Gerontology
  4. The Center for 4H & Youth Development 
  5. The Architectural Research Institute.
Our Mission The College of Agriculture, Urban Sustainability and Environmental Sciences (CAUSES) of the University of the District of Columbia (UDC) offers research--‐based academic and community outreach programs that improve the quality of life and economic opportunity of people and communities in the District of Columbia, the nation, and the world.

Our Vision The College of Agriculture, Urban Sustainability and Environmental Sciences (CAUSES) of the University of the District of Columbia (UDC) will be a world leader in designing and implementing top quality, research‐based academic and community outreach programs that measurably improve the quality of life and economic prosperity of people and communities in the District of Columbia, the nation, and the world.