Thursday, April 28, 2016

Ethnic crops workshop fosters global community, locally

Firebird Research Farm hosted Ethnic Crops: Food Production and Marketing Strategies on 
March 19, 2016. Ethnic foods have grown in popularity throughout the U.S. in recent years, and this trend is projected to continue grow, especially in the Greater Metropolitan Area with its diverse population. Our Ethnic Crops program seeks to provide consumers with foods that meet their desire for healthy foods with an international flavor while also showcasing options for Mid-Atlantic producers seeking profitable alternative crops to plant. For some consumers, the availability of ethnic crops allows them to continue cultural food traditions that have been passed down through generations, and community education events allow DC area residents the opportunity to sample and learn to prepare these crops in dishes that are both tasty and healthy

CAUSES has initiated research and outreach efforts to improve crop production and galvanize relationships between producers and consumers using the UDC research farm as a home base. Our goal is to assist in making these ethnic foods both accessible and affordable, while increasing knowledge in nutrition as well as soil and crop management.

Organized by UDC Ethnic Crops Specialist and NE SARE representative, Yao Afantchao, presenters also included: 

  • Olukemi Adeola, UDC-CC Food Science Adjunct
  • John B. Manirakiza, Community Leader
  • Tambra Raye Stevenson, NativSol Kitchen and WANDA
  • W. Dean Hively, USDA Agricultural Research Service and SARE (Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education)
Chef Marie Joe Faye catered the event (seen below, left, with Tambra Raye Stevenson)

The presenters share how these programs help to promote awareness not only of CAUSES, but of resources the international community has right in their own backyards. 

Today's presentation showed that there is a desire to create an African farm to work movement and that we have to involve the community organizations and partners to help support the work happening at UDC CAUSES. I believe WANDA is a great partner to help mobilize, advocate and engage more women and girls of African descent to see themselves as leaders in the farm to fork movement; and it begins with opportunities like today.
- Tambra Raye Stevenson, founder, Women Advancing Nutrition, Dietetics & Agriculture (WANDA)  

This workshop was extremely useful to bring together a community of folks who are looking for agricultural expertise and looking at ethnic crops to promote diversity in our food system. It was a pleasure to teach about soil science and how to mix a healthy soil that they can then market within their food preference. SARE offers farmer and partnership grants to promote trainings and small-scale trials on farms. I would encourage people to visit the USDA SARE website from the Northeast region to apply for grants for DC.
- W. Dean Hively, USDA-ARS and SARE

This workshop offers an opportunity to those who live in food deserts by giving people a chance to grow the food they love themselves, in their backyard while also promoting self-sustainability. It also saves money. And if you can sell, then you can make money from growing these types of crops. 
- Kemi Adeola, UDC-CC Food Science Adjunct and CAUSES Nutrition and Dietetics alumnus

This event promotes awareness to the community who may not know all that UDC provides.The outreach is important for people to know that they can start a garden or food production from a garden to on a larger scale, but they are able to come to these workshops and learn about their options. This is an educational opportunity to network with like-minded people and to stay informed about what's going on in the community. 
- John B. Manirakiza, Community Leader

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