Bainum Foundation Farm: Embracing Fresh Opportunities Amidst a New Growing Season

The foundation’s programmatic work is focused on Early Childhood. At the same time, we continue to honor the interests and intentions of our founders through several Legacy Programs — including the Farm.

On the outside, the Bainum Foundation Farm (the Farm) may appear quiet during the winter months, but preparing for this year’s growing season has certainly kept our staff busy. Following the foundation’s strategic shift in 2022, the Farm followed suit to ensure its programmatic efforts maintained alignment as one of the foundation’s Legacy Programs while embracing unique opportunities as an independent operation. Notably, the updated Farm strategy hones in on three of its existing efforts: food production, education and training, and ecological revitalization — all of which aim to support the local communities on and around its land.

Food Production

Under the previous strategy, the Farm was committed to growing and supplying nutritious foods to families facing food insecurity across the District of Columbia, with a focus in Wards 7 and 8.  From 2017 until 2022, the Farm produced and distributed 160,000 pounds of fresh, organic, and sustainably grown fruits, vegetables, and herbs which have reached thousands of children and families in and around D.C. These efforts in production and distribution have assisted in forming a more resilient regional food system.

Moving into the 2024 season, the Farm is continuing its efforts in donating produce, focusing its support to the local food system in Loudon County of Middleburg, VA. The farm is proud to be partnering with local organizations the Windy Hill Foundation and the Loudoun Education Foundation for produce distribution. Moreover, what acreage had previously been dedicated to farming efforts is being downsized to focus more succinctly on training and demonstration for sustainable regenerative farming practices.

Education and Training

Sustainable farming strategies have always guided ecological decisions on the Farm, and these practices are being highlighted in the Farm’s shift towards farm management. Historically, the Farm’s on-site training events and paid assistantships, have been focused on education around sustainable farming and food systems. Moving forward, the Farm is seeking to support local and BIPOC farmers with tools and strategies around sustainable, regenerative farm management practices through on-site education and training programs.

Additionally, the Farm aims to expand educational resources for the community at large. This includes infrastructural improvements, self-guided educational stations along existing trails, and elevating community voices to highlight the diverse and rich history of the land. Community access to natural land and resources is important, but it is just as important to recognize and ground the efforts of the farm (new and old) in the history of the people who helped make it worth preserving throughout history.

Ecological Revitalization

Over the past six years, the Farm has made land conservation and revitalization an important priority. In addition to restoring the health of its soil, the Farm has sought to improve the area’s ecosystem at large. This was done by installing and maintaining honeybee hives, a critical pollinator, and by planting pollinator-friendly flowers. The team also built the longest bluebird trail in Loudoun County to revive the population of native bluebirds (a source for natural pest control) to the area.

Currently, the Farm is working with Northern Virginia Conservation Trust to place part of the property under a conservation easement to preserve its rural aesthetic and agricultural history. This is especially important given the significant loss of farmland around Loudoun County.

This year’s growing season brings with it not only fresh produce, but also opportunities for the Farm, its community, and the foundation. A unique asset to the foundation, this update to the Farm’s strategy seeks to foster a healthy environment and future for children and families. Building a more resilient food system while also training the next generation of local, diverse groups of farmers will ensure these resources continue to serve our communities for years to come.

Check out other blogs about the Farm:
Bainum Foundation Farm: Staff Field Trip
Winter Work at the Bainum Foundation Farm