Scientists at the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have the important job of creating regulations that keep our food safe. Sometimes this means creating computer models to predict possible risks and applying the academic knowledge of plant pathology to real problems in agriculture. A current project involves creating guidelines for farmers that grow vegetables on land that has been grazed by livestock. How long should farmers let the manure biodegrade before growing food? It’s essential and challenging work. But these scientists don’t often have the opportunity to see real farming in action. That’s where Accokeek Foundation comes in.
Through our new team building program for adult groups we created a customized day of learning and fun to expose the FDA staffers to our farming practices while getting a little real dirt under their fingernails.
After visiting our glow-in- the- dark exhibit “Underspace!,” FDA Staff take an oath to “respect rotten banana peels, wiggly worms, teeny tiny microscopic critters, and the amazing diversity of life beneath our feet – so help me soil.”
More fun than being in the office? You bet. These two FDA staffers had a blast pretending to be cows eating grass, dropping manure, and mooooving through pastures. They then visited our real rotational grazing operation on the National Colonial Farm.
Director of Agriculture and Agriculture Education, Paul Lovelace, talks with staffers about the importance of soil health to generations of farmers through history. They were able to plant cover crops, as well as to touch, smell, and observe the qualities of good, rich soil.