Accokeek Foundation Brings Together Food Recovery Leaders at Annual Food for Thought Festival

Accokeek, MD—Up to 40% of the food produced in the U.S. never gets eaten. From losses at the farm to waste in the home, Americans are throwing out over $150 billion of food each year.

To raise awareness on this pressing issue, join the Accokeek Foundation at Piscataway Park as we explore strategies for reducing food waste through discussion, theater, DIY workshops, games and – of course – food. Located on the green pastures of the historic National Colonial Farm, this fun and interactive event will be held on September 26, 2015 from 12-5 p.m. and feature nationally and locally recognized writers, activists and performers, inspiring us to eat sustainably and well.

The panel discussion will include the following leaders in the field of food recovery:

  • Jonathan Bloom, journalist and author of American Wasteland
  • Alexander Justice Moore, chief development officer at DC Central Kitchen and author of Food Fighters: DC Central Kitchen’s First Twenty-Five Years on the Front Lines of Hunger and Poverty
  • Nancy Sabella-Rousell, former advisor for corporate responsibility and sustainability for a large supermarket chain
  • Mary Louise Webb, Vice-Chairperson of the Charles County African American Heritage Society, author of Life on the Farm with Grandma and Grandpa: Growing up on a Farm in Southern Maryland and a former board member of Accokeek Foundation. Webb is a living witness to 90 years of changes in our food system
  • David Sloan (moderator), Maryland Director of No Kid Hungry and Accokeek Foundation board member

The event will also include various cooking and food preservation demonstrations, a farmer’s market, “Food Avengers” and yard games. You can even take a spin on our composting bicycle! In addition, support local vendors doing their part to reduce food loss, including: Relay Foods, P.A. Bowen, Fruitcycle, Hungry Harvest and Slow Food DC. “Food for Thought is part of a larger initiative to connect the Foundation’s programs under the umbrella of sustainability by addressing complex environmental issues through an historical lens. Our goal is to teach people practical ways to be part of the solution in a way that is educational yet fun and entertaining,” Director of Programs, Andrea Jones said. The event is sponsored by MOM’s Organic Market and food will be provided by Panera Bread. Donations of Extra Food will be given to Coalition for the Homeless. The event is $5 per person, children 10 and under are free and AF members are free. For more information email or call 301-283-2113.


Media Contact:
Anjela Barnes, Director of Marketing
twitter: @asbarnes
301-283-2113 ext. 34


Special Ops Volunteer Team

celebrating-the-potomac-volunteers-event-sponsors-2014Want to volunteer for a local organization, but your schedule doesn’t allow for a weekly time commitment? Join the Accokeek Foundation’s Special Ops volunteer team!

New this year, the Special Ops volunteer team is a group of volunteers that will help the foundation complete special “missions” throughout the year. Missions will include park maintenance projects, event support, educational program support, and much more!

dave united way doc volunteersWe’ll be calling on the Special Ops team when we have a special project or event that we need volunteer support for. When you receive these “mission requests,” you’ll have the chance to review the details of the project and decide whether or not you would like to participate. There will be a couple missions each month, so there will be chances for you to volunteer all throughout the year.

It’s easy to join–just e-mail Casey Lowe at, and let her know you are interested in becoming a Special Ops volunteer. volunteer maryland volunteers ecofarm 2014She’ll add you the list, and you’ll begin receiving mission requests.

If you would like to read more about the position, check out the position description here.

Valentine’s Day Great Backyard Bird Count at the Visitor Center

Love truly IS for the Birds this February!

bluebird at piscataway parkFebruary is National Bird Feeding Month, and with the Great Backyard Bird Count taking place February 13 -16, we thought it only fitting that we celebrate our love for the birds this Valentine’s Day. Whether you’re a bird lover, or just a lover in general, we invite you to join the Accokeek Foundation on Saturday, February 14 at the Visitor Center, and help us show our love for these backyard feathered friends.

This free family activity will include bird seed feeder crafts for the kids and chocolate treats for kids of all ages! We will have count sheets available for visitors to help collect data for this year’s Great Backyard Bird Count, all while we listen to the romantic tunes of Sinatra and Crosby.  Saturday, Feb 14, 12 – 2 pm, Museum Gift Shop and Visitor’s Center. 3400 Bryan Point Rd, Accokeek, MD 20607. Call 301-283-2113 or email for more information.

Inaugural Festival Provides Food for Thought

king corn contest-SMALL

Board member, Amanda Truett with “King Corn” costume winner, Frank Pipitone.

Whether it was crunching on cricket bars, running a food miles race or learning how to cook healthy on a budget, the inaugural Food for Thought festival offered something for everyone to consider the sustainability of our food system. Held September 20th on the National Colonial Farm, the festival was designed around an essential question of whether we should return to a locally sourced food system like our ancestors had. Over 250 people participated in the event, which featured a panel discussion with leaders in the field of food sustainability, two theater performances on food and farming, cooking demonstrations, food tastings, vendors, games and children’s activities.

Preparations for the event began in February, when Andrea Jones, Director of Programs and Visitor Engagement, conceived the idea for a humanities-focused food event as a way to explore agriculture through a past-to-present lens. Mixing colonial and contemporary activities, the festival encouraged participants to understand the cultural roots of our current agricultural system. As Jones explained, “This festival provides an opportunity for the community to reflect on how we got to the point where we don’t know where our food comes from, and what we can do to change course to a more sustainable model.”

The heart of the festival was a lively panel discussion. James McWilliams, author of Just Food: Where Locavores Get It Wrong And How We Can Truly Eat Responsibly, posited that eating local is not enough, that society must use additional metrics to gauge the sustainability of the food we grow and eat. Joining him in conversation was culinary educator JuJu Harris (author of The Arcadia Mobile Market Cookbook), farmer Forrest Pritchard (author of Gaining Ground, A Story of Farmers’ Markets, Local Food and Saving the Family Farm), and Slow Food DC co-chair Sarah McKinley. Bringing a range of experience and expertise to the conversation, the panelists left the audience with plenty of food for thought.

Food for Thought panelists included authors Forrest Pritchard, JuJu Harris, James McWilliams, and Slow Food DC co-chair, Sarah McKinley.

Food for Thought panelists included authors Forrest Pritchard, JuJu Harris, James McWilliams, and Slow Food DC co-chair, Sarah McKinley.

The Foundation’s Ecosystem Farm manager, Holli Elliott, encouraged people to think outside of the (lunch)box when it comes to sustainable eating by offering samples of unusual foods. People eagerly snacked on weed salad made from the often maligned or overlooked plants commonly found in our backyards, and voted on their favorite flavor of protein bar made with cricket powder. Two companies, Chapul and EXO, kindly donated samples of their cricket bars as a way to promote insects as a more sustainable protein source than livestock.

Farmer Holli and volunteers serve up heirloom tomatoes during Food for Thought festival.

Farmer Holli and volunteers serve up heirloom tomatoes during Food for Thought festival.

Food for Thought was made possible through a generous grant from the Maryland Humanities Council, and additional support from MOM’s Organic Market and Graham Holdings Company. The event was featured on the MHC Humanities Connection radio program, the Marc Steiner Show, and in several regional newspapers. It brought many first-time visitors to the park, introducing a new audience to the role of the Accokeek Foundation in promoting the natural and cultural heritage of Piscataway Park and our commitment to stewardship and sustainability.

–written by Heather Leach, Agriculture Education Manager

Accokeek Foundation Hosts Inaugural Festival Featuring Food Experts and Family Fun

IMG_0341With so many choices out there how do we choose what foods are best for the health of our families and the planet? Sourcing and eating foods that are locally grown, non-GMO, and certified organic can be quite cumbersome, especially for the busy family and for those with limited food access. But it doesn’t need to be. Held on the green pastures of the historic National Colonial Farm, Food for Thought is a one-day festival that is as delectable for the mind as it is for the taste buds. This inaugural event explores the intricacies of our food system through discussion, theater, DIY workshops, games and, of course, food.

On Saturday, September 20, 2014 from 12 – 5 pm, the Accokeek Foundation will host this fun and interactive event featuring nationally and locally recognized writers, activists, and performers inspiring us to eat sustainably and well. “This event brings together James McWilliams, along with local farmer and activist Forrest Pritchard, Co-Chairperson of Slow Food DC Sarah McKinley, and culinary educator JuJu Harris to have a lively talk show-style discussion on the best ways to eat sustainably,” shares Andrea Jones, Director of Programs and Visitor Engagement for the Accokeek Foundation. “JuJu [Harris] will also demonstrate how to eat well on a budget using recipes from her cookbook, combining WIC staples with seasonal produce that are easy to make and delicious.”

Activities throughout the day also include thought-provoking museum theater performances which asks the essential question: Should we return to a smaller-scale, locally-based food system like our ancestors once had? Written by Jodi Kanter, a theater professor at George Washington University, the performances depict a current day farmer of Native American descent who is visited by an ancestor from the past telling the story of how the meaning of food has changed. Food for Thought is uniquely designed to intertwine the past to the present and possible future of agriculture by creating peak experiences and engaging participatory education, combined with novelty and fun. There will be activities to fit all ages and interests including hayrides and games, workshops on raising backyard chickens, food tastings and challenges, and a costume contest and parade. Participants are encouraged to register in advance by September 15 for the King Corn costume contest to receive free admission to the event. Costume contestants will be judged based on originality, costume design and expression with winners announced in two categories for adults and children. Admission is only $5 per person with free entrance for children 10 and under. The first 100 to arrive will receive a commemorative EcoTote bag.

Support for this event has generously been received from the Maryland Humanities Council and MOM’s Organic Market. Additional sponsorships are available by contacting the Accokeek Foundation at 301-283-2113 or emailing

Calendar Listing:

Saturday, September 20, 2014 12 noon – 5 pm. Food for Thought is a festival that is as delectable for the mind as it is for the taste buds which explores the intricacies of our food system through discussion, theater, DIY workshops, games and – of course – food. On Saturday, September 20 from 12 – 5 pm, held on the green pastures of the historic National Colonial Farm at 3400 Bryan Point Road, Accokeek MD 20607, this fun and interactive event features nationally and locally recognized writers, activists and performers inspiring us to eat sustainably and well. Additional activities include a food miles challenge, children’s activities, cooking demonstrations, hayrides, performances, and a costume contest for all ages! General admission is $5 per person; children 10 and under are free.

Media Contact:

Anjela Barnes, Director of Communications
301-283-2113, ext. 34


The Show Must Go On!

TT '12 smallI began working at the foundation last October–just in time for Twilight Tales. When I agreed to participate in the event, I had no idea what I was getting myself into, and just two weeks after my first day I was decked out in colonial clothing and covered in ghost make-up and fake smallpox. It was the most fun I had ever had while working, and gave me even more reason to look forward to October every year.

We began recruiting volunteers for this year’s Twilight Tales over the summer, and the dedicated group of people who answered our call have been working tirelessly, despite the shutdown, to make this year’s event a spectacular one. After a jam-session to learn the songs (yes, you heard right–songs!), a prop design day to help transform the farm, and two rehearsals of the script, we are only one dress rehearsal away from event day.

This year’s Twilight Tales will follow Gemmy Catnach, famous “death hunter” and murder balladeer, and the ghosts that are the subjects of his sinister songs. With tales of tragic love triangles, cruel mothers, murderous affairs, and poisonings, we’ll be exploring  murder and death through the music of colonial Maryland. It will be both creepy and toe-tapping as the real-life spirits of the day serenade you from the fields to the farm house, and the tobacco barn to the Tavern of Lost Souls.

This is certainly an event you don’t want to miss, and whether we’re closed or not–the show will go on! Follow the links below to learn more about the event, keep updated about its location, and to register your spot in one of the tours.

Friday, October 25

Saturday, October 26

We hope to see you there!


Twilight Tales Prop Design Day

Twilight Tales Prop Design Day

Twilight Tales Rehearsal

Twilight Tales Rehearsal

Blocking out the scene

Blocking out the scene

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Twilight Tales Rehearsal


Harvest Festival: The Way of Food

6289125954_e27475ba28_mFrom how it is grown to the historical and cultural significance to why it is grown, from region to region, food is a central part of everyone’s lives. Come and celebrate the way of food in this free public gathering that will not only entertain, but also educate you about our agricultural past, present, and future. The National Colonial and Ecoystem Farm managers will delight visitors with a lively demonstration integrating heirloom and colonial foodways with modern sustainably grown farm delights, tour the farms and enjoy ongoing activities throughout the day.

Fee for food, general admission is free.

For more information contact or visit

Botany Study Group

Meeting monthly, this instructor-led botany study group will learn about the major plant families, while focusing on identification skills and basic botany terminology using Botany in a Day by Thomas Elpel as a reference guide. Textual studies will be supplemented with local plants in flower for a hands-on practice with identification keys. This study group is appropriate for beginning to intermediate botanists of all ages. Kids are welcome, but must have an adult with them, and must pay the full registration fee. The registration fee is for an 8-session course of study.

The meeting schedule is:

  • April 1
  • May 6
  • June 3
  • July 1
  • August 5
  • August 26
  • October 7
  • November 4


About the Instructor:

Holly Poole-Kavana

Holly is a lifelong plant enthusiast, and started formally studying herbal medicine in 2005, after she began working in health care. She is the owner of Little Red Bird Botanicals and is excited about the ways herbal medicine can help us all to have a little more control over our own health, and provide support to those we care about. She had apprenticed with herbalist 7song at the Northeast School of Botanical Medicine, completed the Clinic II program at Sacred Plant Traditions, studied at the Pacific School of Botanical Medicine, and holds a BS in botany.

Weekend Vignettes

Sunday, July 24, 2011 – Leading up to our Colonial Day: Crime and Punishment event our Museum Theatre Interns will be performing weekend vignettes or short scenes to further explore the justice system in colonial Maryland. Vignettes will be every Saturday and Sunday from June 25th through July 24th.

“Tales from the Pillory” – What would it take to land yourself in the pillory? Stop by and hear from those unfortunate enough to find out!

Where: “The Pillory” on Cedar Lane

Show times: 11 am, 1 pm, and 2:30 pm

“Insolent and Contemptuous Carriages” – Bastardy in 18th century Maryland: This trial re-enactment looks into the crime of bastardy (a child born to unwed parents) and how it was dealt with in colonial Maryland. Here we present three women convicted of the same crime whose circumstances clearly illustrate how this particular crime was dealt with. Some subject and language may not be appropriate for children.

Where: “The County Court” at the demo kitchen

Show time: 2:30 pm