Building Bridges Across the River, which provides community programming in Wards 7 and 8, is looking to solve that problem. Last Friday, the local nonprofit launched new food literacy programs, including cooking and farming workshops, made possible by a $115,000 grant from Seeds of Change, a branch of Mars, Inc.
Kratz said he wants people at the workshops to learn new recipes and the proper ways to store produce to keep it fresh.
BBAR runs seven urban farms in Southeast, D.C., including THEARC Farm in Ward 8, which is the main source for its community-supported agriculture program that allows local residents to pay $10 for a fresh bag of vegetables that are grown weekly on the farms. According to Kratz, the program — which is in its third year — has 70 participants, mostly from Ward 8.
The grant money allows BBAR to begin offering workshops at its farms on a variety of topics, including canning, herbalism, composting and raised garden bed repairs.
Kratz said residents are most excited to start honey harvests. The honey comes from BBAR’s collection of five bee hives that are located across the urban farms. It is one of the largest bee collections east of the Anacostia River. Kratz said they’re expecting to hold a honey harvest in July.
“The bees are thriving,” he said, adding that three queens were recently born.
Tatiana Bogans, a 22-year-old Ward 7 resident and BBAR’s first intern, believes that having programs like this can change people’s outlook on healthy eating. Her paid position to manage the farms was also made possible through the grant.
“I’m a victim of eating out, of eating snacks,” she said, adding that there weren’t any programs like this when she was growing up. “Having a farm in your backyard can really change that. I know the difference between what’s fresh, what’s healthy, what’s right, and how to cook it.”
She hopes to see even more outreach and advertising to draw people to the farms.
“I brought my little sister and older sister,” she said. “They were pretty thrilled about it. They’ve never been around stuff like this.”
And beyond food literacy, Bogans said the farm serves another important purpose.
“I feel more connected,” she said of being at the farm. “You’re inside the city, but you feel like you’re outside the city. It’s pretty peaceful.”