On June 6, Team AMSG, including our AMSG summer interns, gathered at Arcadia Farm for a team building event and day of volunteering. Located in Alexandria, Virginia, Arcadia Center for Sustainable Food and Agriculture is a nonprofit organization that works to create more equitable and sustainable local food sources in the Washington, D.C. area.

Arcadia’s mission is to make sure that everyone has access to nutritious local food, which is good for the public, the land, and the economy. Established in 2010, Arcadia works “to improve public health through equitable access to better food, increase the viability of local farmers, and preserve the environment for future generations.” Restaurateur Michael Babin founded Arcadia to help meet the supply needs of restaurants looking for local, sustainable options that were cost-effective. After running into this supply chain problem for his restaurants, he also asked how low-income families could afford to eat sustainable and nutritious meals. By founding Arcadia, he removed the barriers of access.

Arcadia trains farmers, and through their multi-tiered Veteran Farmer Program, helps veterans learn to farm after transitioning out of military life. This unique program is hands-on and teaches veterans to capitalize on the rise in popularity of seeking local, sustainably grown foods and encourages veterans to be entrepreneurs.

Our team of 29 volunteered to build planting beds, transplant plants, harvest, move compost and mulch, and learned more about the farm’s history and mission. Together, they volunteered 2,610 minutes of work time — about a week’s worth of work for one of the farm staffers.

Through this day of team building and community outreach, they learned to communicate more effectively with one another, as well as work with one another’s strengths and weaknesses.

Our CEO Jim O’Farrell told the participants, “Competence, Courage, Compassion and Character, Communication, and Community. These are OUR CORE VALUES. Thanks for demonstrating them today, just like every day. Thanks for wanting to be part of something bigger than yourself. When the children attend farm camp this summer, and they sit under the tent to eat a nutritious lunch, they won’t know that you built the base on which the tables are sitting. But you’ll know.”

We left with nurtured spirits and dirty hands, benefiting ourselves and our community.

For more information about Arcadia Center for Sustainable Food & Agriculture, visit their website.

Written by: Sheila Rupp