Monday, April 27, 2015

Dean Sabine O'Hara publishes 'Urban Food Hubs' research article

Head over to Solutions Journal to read "Food Security: The Urban Food Hubs Solution," by CAUSES Dean Sabine O'Hara, which appears in the April 2015 issue. 'Urban Food Hubs' are a highly efficient food production system comprised of: 1) food production, 2) food preparation, 3) food distribution and 4) waste reduction/recycling. Not only does the concept improve food security, but job creation and urban sustainability are natural byproducts.

Food security demands a diversified food system that includes urban communities as locations for food production, food preparation, food distribution, and waste reduction/reuse. The Urban Food Hubs concept of the College of Agriculture, Urban Sustainability and Environmental Sciences (CAUSES) of the University of the District of Columbia (UDC) tests the feasibility of small-scale urban food systems that include these four key components. The heart of the CAUSES Urban Food Hubs are high efficiency food production sites that utilize bio-intensive, aquaponic, and hydroponic production methods. Co-located with these urban food production sites are commercial kitchens that serve as business incubators and training facilities for food processing and nutritional health related activities. Given their location in urban neighborhoods, the Urban Food Hubs also focus on waste reduction and reuse through composting, water management, and related approaches to minimizing pressure on urban land and infrastructure systems. In addition to improving food security, the Urban Food Hubs thus also contribute to job creation and urban sustainability in its economic, social/cultural, and environmental/physical dimensions.

Solutions Journal is devoted to showcasing bold and innovative ideas for solving the world's integrated ecological, social and economic problems. Visit Solutions to read the full article.

2015 Water Resources Symposium Recap

Organizers Tolessa Deksissa (left) and Tamin
Younous (right) with Daniel Zarilli 
The UDC Water Resources Research Institute hosted the 2015 National Capital Region Water Resources Symposium on April 10, 2015, at the David A. Clarke School of Law. The symposium, Urban Water Management and Resilience in Uncertain Times, brought together experts from governmental agencies, academia, the private sector, and non-profits to discuss challenges and opportunities for sustainable management of water resources and infrastructure in the region, as well as nationally and internationally.

"Resilience is all about systems, and the particular systems in this region need to function well to be resilient," Dean O'Hara said before conference attendees.

In his keynote address, Daniel Zarrilli, director, Mayor's Office of Recovery and Resiliency for the City of New York, noted the similarities between Washington, D.C. and New York City--both being large, steadily growing east coast metropolises, vulnerable to extreme weather.

In addition to the 44 lives lost, Hurricane Sandy constituted a $19 billion loss in economic damage. New York City faces increasing risks from climate change related extreme weather and therefore must plan accordingly to mitigate loss. By 2050, the average temperature is expected to increase from 4.1 - 5.7 degrees, is expected to experience a 4-11% increase in average annual precipitation as well as a 1-2.5 foot rise in sea levels.

After Hurricane Sandy devastated the New York/New Jersey area, New York established the Office of Recovery and Resiliency to address the challenges illuminated by the historical storm: population growth, the impact on the economy, climate change and infrastructure being the most prominent. In essence, "Plan NYC" details how the city will address: 1) Strengthening coastal defenses; 2) Upgrading buildings; 3) Protecting infrastructure and services; and 4) Making neighborhoods safer and more vibrant.

CAUSES student wins nutrition award

Rebecca B. Silver, a CAUSES student in the Nutrition and Dietetics program, has been honored with the 2015 Cindy Reeser Undergraduate DPD/Dietetic Intern Award. The purpose of the award is to recognize local students/interns for exceptional work in the field of nutrition. The award was presented on April 10, at the DCMADA Annual Meeting. 

The award is bestowed upon undergraduate students in ACEND-accredited programs who meet a number of criterion: 
  1. Membership in the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics
  2. Enrollment in an ACEND-accredited dietetics education program (DPD, DI, CP, or DTP)
  3. Demonstrated academic achievement documented by letters from program faculty or preceptor
  4. Demonstrated leadership and professional potential
Originally from Phoenix, Ms. Silver moved to D.C. in 2012. She has a Bachelor of Arts in Physiology Degree from the University of Arizona. After working for a few years, she decided to return to school, training to become a registered dietitian. "I realized my obsession with eating healthy and sharing my passion with others," she explained. 

Once she completes the program, Rebecca hopes to become a registered dietitian, working with the communities in need to increase access to fresh fruits and vegetables.

"My end goal is to become a registered dietitian and work within the community increasing access to fresh fruits and vegetables in communities that are in need," explained Becca.

Path to Zero Waste: The District Celebrates Earth Day at UDC

Copyright: Lateef Magnum
On Earth Day 2015, 200 residents, advocates, and stakeholders met to discuss waste management in the District. In an effort to reduce waste in the District of Columbia, the District Department of the Environment and Mayor Muriel Bowser celebrated Earth Day with the first-ever “Path to Zero Waste” Summit. Held at the David A. Clarke School of Law, the summit is part of Mayor Bowser’s bold agenda to move the city towards zero waste, save residents money and create more pathways to the middle class.

“There’s no better time than Earth Day to announce my administration’s pledge to move the District towards a zero waste future,” said Mayor Bowser. “We are making a fresh start on waste policy and Earth Day 2015 will mark the first day of a newfound commitment to changing the dialogue about how we reduce waste, save money and create jobs in DC.”

Friday, April 24, 2015


  • Mary Farrah honored with Casey Trees Canopy Award
  • Chef Herb guests on "Hope and Wellness" radio program
  • Rick Hess Joins CAUSES
  • DC SARE Urban Food Producers Spring Orientation and Workshop
  • Muirkirk Farm hosts biogas workshop
  • CNDH Healthy Cooking Class

Mary Farrah honored with Casey Trees Canopy Award
Urban forestry extension agent with the Center of Sustainable Development, Mary Farrah, was  honored with the Casey Trees 2015 Award for Education, at the Canopy Awards on April 23, 2015. Mary has been as a Casey Trees Citizen Forester since 2009, and is the designer and instructor of the Casey Trees Weed Warrior Invasive plant class, training hundreds of volunteers to pull invasive plants from trees in D.C.’s parks and natural areas. "It is nice to be recognized by Casey Trees. It is my privilege and honor to be doing something to actually conserve and preserve the last remaining wild places in my beloved hometown of Washington, DC." Congratulations, Mary! Join Mary at Casey Tree's next invasive removal class on June 3 and 6.  

Chef Herb guests on "Hope and Wellness" radio program
Chef Herb Holden, from our Center of Nutrition, Diet and Heath was interviewed on the radio show "Hope and Wellness" hosted by Dr. Vicki Reese and Antoine Brooks. Chef Herb discusses small changes one can make to increase flavors and nutrition in daily meals, and shares meal tips to enhance the cooking--and eating--experience. Listen to the show! 

Rick Hess Joins CAUSES
Rick Hess has joined CAUSES as the Administrative Specialist for Data Management and Assessment. He will be working with program directors/chairs and staff to assist with the assessment needs for academic and landgrant programs.  He previously served as an Undergraduate Student Experience Advisor and Assurance of Learning Specialist at the George Washington University’s School of Business. Rick earned his M.A. from the Ohio State University in Higher Education Administration and Student Affairs and his B.A. from Rutgers University in English. Welcome, Rick!

Nursing students offer health screenings to Institute of Gerontology

by Carilyne Vance

Volunteers with the Institute of Gerontology’s (IOG) In-Service Program usually attend the monthly event to obtain information for their clients. While the info obtained can also be helpful to themselves, volunteers are not the usual focus. But this month, it was different. 

Ensuring the proper care for others may be done at a sacrifice to volunteer. Caregivers often do not make their own care nor needs a priority. With lack of time or assistance often being the culprit, and therefore the Institute of Gerontology partnered with the Nursing Program to bring care to the volunteers. 

Program participants were given detailed presentations on the causes and symptoms of diabetes and high blood pressure along with the accompanying basic health screenings. Often preventable, early detection and proper management are stressed to those at risk for or are managing these diseases. In addition, participants received important information on the role of nutrition and its’ effect on the body. 

CAUSES in the News: Washington Informer and The Root

Copyright: Washington Informer
CAUSES is featured in the Washington Informer's sustainability special issue: 

"One look around campus at the University of the District of Columbia and it’s easy to see why many schools around the nation are holding the school, located in Northwest, as a shining example of green living and sustainability."

Yep, that's us! Continue reading University of DC: Campus of Sustainability.

But wait, there's more! 

Che Axum, our director of Urban Agriculture, was recently named one of's "7 Urban Farmers to Know" (and we sure are glad we know him!). Head over to The Root to read the article.

Seeking Proposals for the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program

The Specialty Crop Block Grant Program (SCBGP) is a program administered by the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service. The purpose of SCBGP is to solely enhance the competitiveness of specialty crops. Specialty crops are defined as “fruits, vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits, horticulture, and nursery crops (including floriculture).” Over $63.2 million in SCBGP grants are allocated to U.S. States and territories based on a formula that considers both specialty crop acreage and production value. Interested applicants should apply directly through their State department of agriculture. 

The DC application is available here (or download the Word version). Please submit the completed applications to Dr. Lorraine Weller Clarke, CAUSES Project Specialist in Urban Agriculture, by 5:00 p.m., Friday, June 5, 2015.

CAUSES, UDC 4-H participate in first ever Anacostia River Festival

by Arielle Gerstein
The first ever Anacostia River Festival took place on Sunday, April 12th from 12:00 to 4:00 p.m. This Festival was a partnership between the National Park Service, the 11th Street Bridge Park and the National Cherry Blossom Festival.  Approximately 5,000 to 6,000 were in attendance throughout the day. The event focused on Historic Anacostia and why the Anacostia River is important to the Washington, DC community.  

UDC CAUSES was a partner in the festival to support the 11th Street Bridge Project. CAUSES’ activities showcased the intersection between water and food production. 

"It's very important for the Center for Sustainable Development to participate in educational activities to engage the community and foster relationships with like-minded partners," explained Dr. Dwane Jones, the Center's director. 

"This particular agroecology activity was important to actually convey how food is produced and the water it takes to produce rice, beef and tomatoes," explained Dr. Lorraine Weller-Clarke, project specialist, CAUSES Center for Urban Agriculture. "There is a lot of disconnect because people don't understand the source of the food and only know the end product."

Activities included an aquaponics display with Hugo the Betta fish, how much water does it take to produce that food? Guessing game, and making rain activity with the Brightwood Education Campus 4-H Club. 

"Teaching is harder than it looks," stated Danica, one of the CSD students volunteering at the event. The miniature aquaponics display was helpful to be able to take what they learn in the classroom and explain to a more general audience.

UDC Students attend National MANNRS conference in Houston

by LaShell Staples
(Left to right) LaShell Staples, Webs Pierre, Siaka Nuah, Connie Williams, Seanita Terry, Oluwakemi “Kemi” Adeola

Dr. B. Michelle Harris and six student members from the University of the District of Columbia Chapter of the Society of Minorities in Agriculture, Natural Resources and Related Sciences (MANRRS) traveled to Houston, Texas, to participate in the 30th Annual MANRRS National Career Fair and Training Conference. The conference, held March 26-28, 2015, provided members an opportunity to further develop academically and professionally, as well as to expand the future opportunities of MANRRS.

Members of the UDC chapter of MANRRS attended workshops conducted by professional representatives from agricultural corporations and organizations such as USDA, John Deere, and DOW Agrosciences. Workshop topics included professional development, graduate school application strategies, entrepreneurship, and personal branding. 

UDC MANNRS also participated in a 5K charity walk/run and an annual talent show, where chapter Vice President, Webs Pierre, took second place after reciting a spoken word piece.  Following the conference festivities, Mr. Pierre was offered a paid summer internship with the Ohio State University Summer Research Program. Seanita Terry, Treasurer of the UDC MANRRS Chapter, was also offered a career position. She will be employed with the USDA Agriculture Research Service in Bushland, Texas. 

For more information on the UDC Chapter of the Society of Minorities in Agriculture, Natural Resources and Related Sciences contact chapter president, LaShell Staples.

Dr. Harris (second from right) and UDC MANRRS members at the conference awards ceremony and gala

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Biogas lecture and workshop this weekend!

  • Friday, April 17, 3:00 p.m. - Short lecture in Building 44-A03 on the Van Ness campus (free) 
  • Saturday, April 18, 8:30 a.m. - Day 1 workshop at Muirkirk Farm (registration required)
  • Sunday, April 19, 9:00 a.m. - Day 2 workshop at Muirkirk Farm (registration required)

Learn more here!

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

CAUSES TV: NYC Food & Finance High School with Dr. Philson Warner

Can food and agriculture be a means of teaching the sciences to students living in our urban centers? And we are not just talking about biology, but also chemistry, mathematics, physics health and even finance? The answer is YES. 

On this episode of CAUSES TV, Dean Sabine O'Hara is joined by Dr. Philson Warner, director of the Food and Agriculture program at the Food and Finance High School in New York City. Dr. Warner is an extension agent with Cornell University Cooperative Extension.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Earth Day 2015: Path to Zero Waste

Join us on Earth Day to learn how the District is working to increase the city’s recycling rate, adopt new innovative technologies, and work towards “zero waste” as defined in the Sustainable DC Plan. 

Mayor Muriel Bowser, DDOE Director Tommy Wells, and invited guest speakers from California and Canada will discuss the future of waste management and answer questions such as, “How do we turn waste collection and disposal into materials recovery and economic opportunity?”

Invited speakers will discuss in multiple panels waste reduction, composting, reuse, anaerobic digestion, and other relevant topics. This summit will provide an opportunity to network with attendees from the waste management industry as well as representatives from the non-profit, government, university, embassy and health care sectors.


Department of Public Works, Office of Clean Cities, Department of General Services 


April 22, 9:00 a.m.


University of the District of Columbia | David A Clarke Law School
4340 Connecticut Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 

Join us for the Anacostia River Festival on April 12!

Join us for the Anacostia River Festival, Sunday, April 12, from Noon to 4:00 p.m. in Anacostia Park. There will be plenty of family-friendly activities, including: kayaking, fishing workshops, performances and live music, an oyster touch table, a pop-up gardening shop, and more! And be sure to stop by the CAUSES table and say hello!

Free shuttles will be available from the Anacostia and Eastern Market metro stations. Or bike over and enjoy the free bike valet at Anacostia metro! 

Please watch this short video by 4-H Team UPO!

Please take a minute and watch this short cybersecurity video, created by the 2015 DC LifeSmarts champions, Team UPO! The student need to increase views in order to gain points for the national competition in Seattle later this month, so please circulate!

Read more about the DC LifeSmarts competition here.