New, Weird and Different

VALOR Class VI spent some time in March in our nation’s capital learning more about urban agriculture and national policy. During our time at the US Army for Civil Works I heard the phrase “New, Weird and Different” from Jamie Pinkham and knew instantly this would become the title and framework for this blog. (I went to post this blog and saw that Austin also titled his blog this!) We definitely experienced each while in DC.


• I live close enough to DC that I decided the best way to come in was via Metro. So, I and several others rode the new silver line from Dulles into DC. I have been seeing this being built for several years and I found it to be an easy way for those of us living on that side of DC to use. I definitely will be using it again.

• VALOR was able to coordinate a meeting with Todd Van Hoose with the Farm Credit Council for an update on what is happening in Washington that might impact agriculture. This was the first meeting of what VALOR hopes will be a lasting partnership. Todd’s insight and knowledge is amazing!

• While not new for VALOR, meeting with the leaders at the USDA was certainly new for me. I sat in awe at what Dr. Jewel Bronaugh, Xochitl Torres Small, Robert Bonnie, Zach Ducheneaux, Sanah Baig, Daniel Whitley and Basil Gooden have accomplished. Their perspectives and insight were inspiring and I left DC feeling like these leaders have agriculture’s best interest in mind. I especially enjoyed seeing VALOR represented by Basil Gooden (VALOR Class II) – Director of State Operations, Rural Development, and started to imagine what doors VALOR may open for me.

• Hearing leaders from the US Army for Civil Works was a highlight and I particularly enjoyed how down to earth each of these leaders were. Their willingness to share some very personal decisions that led them to where they are today was something I appreciated. Especially being told that sometimes it’s OK to stay true to your values and family and say no to things others think you are crazy for turning down. This was truly refreshing to hear.

• The time we spent at DC Central Kitchen’s new facility was inspiring. Their model is something that is proving to be beneficial. 


• As long as I have lived near DC I have never visited the Holocaust Memorial Museum. While I knew this was going to be an emotional tour I was not expecting to see everything that this museum holds. I walked away from this experience with a weird mixture of emotions. It is certainly moving.

• DC never fails when it comes to seeing weird things. However, seeing people use the restroom in the middle of a busy street certainly tops the list.

• I don’t think I will ever get used to the smell of pot while walking the streets of DC. But, we certainly smelled a lot during this trip.


• During this seminar we were joined by other state agriculture programs from Kentucky, Kansas, New Mexica and Washington. This offered us an opportunity to compare and contrast programs as well as network with other advocates for agriculture.

• I’ve always witnessed the tourist attractions during the day. During this trip I was able to enjoy a night tour of DC. 

• We had the opportunity to hear from Chris Bradshaw, Founder and Executive Director of Dreaming Out Loud.Hearing about urban, community based food systems to increase access to healthy food and improving health is something I have not had much experience with and this was enlightening. Seeing their brand while visiting a rooftop garden at the Farm Bureau was an extra bonus.

• I come from a rural area where gardening is prevalent. But, I got to experience urban agriculture at Little Wild Things Farm. Here an interior space has been transformed into a climate controlled growing area for a wide variety if things that are sold locally. Seeing this was eye opening and made me hope that more and more urban residents can start to see where their food comes from.

This was certainly an action packed seminar that exposed us to some of agriculture’s finest leaders working hard in DC every day for rural America. We also were able to see how urban agriculture works and helps supply locally grown foods to residents of DC. Meeting other state agriculture leaders from across the US was encouraging and I look forward to seeing what the future holds for each of us.

2 thoughts on “New, Weird and Different”

  1. I enjoyed reading about the new, weird and different things you experienced. Terrific summary, Adam!

  2. Great minds think alike! It’s cool to seem how some of our “take-aways” were similar!

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