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Fifty+ under 50: Innovative leaders transforming metro DCís food systemUrban farming, gardening and composting

This is page 3 of Elevation DC's 50+ #foodheroes under 50. Click here to go back to the beginning.

Adam Ortiz is the Director of the Department of the Environment in Prince George’s County. There's been an exciting explosion in food waste pick-up services from companies and organizations like Compost Cab, Veteran Compost, The Compost Crew, Growing Soul, and more, but there are few places in the region to take these valuable scraps for composting at scale. Adam is changing that by working with an existing yard waste compost facility to broaden the materials it accepts, providing a sorely needed environmental service and developing a new revenue stream for the county.

Jeremy Brosowsky is CEO of Agricity and founder of Compost Cab, a D.C.-based enterprise designed to close the broken loop between our plates and the farm by picking up and composting food scraps that would otherwise go to a landfill. Launched in 2010, Compost Cab works with thousands of people in D.C. and Maryland, and soon, in Virginia. The business has turned more than a million pounds of food scraps into soil and has inspired other entrepreneurs to start similar ventures.

Before coming to D.C.'s Department of Parks and Recreation to support gardening, recreational and community engagement opportunities throughout the city, Xavier Brown, Katie Rehwaldt, and Josh Singer increased access to gardening in their communities. In his free time, Xavier continues to support The Green Scheme to create gardens for community building and healing, to lead nutrition education classes, and to plant orchards in some of D.C.'s most food insecure communities. For her part, Katie is a co-founder of Rooting DC. Started in 2007, this year's event drew more than 1,200 attendees from across the city interested in urban gardening, farming, and healthy eating. Equally as impressive is Josh, who led the charge to create Wangari Gardens, a non-profit garden that provides hundreds of people with growing space and free garden education, recreation, and therapeutic programs.

Zachari Curtis is sustainable agriculture manager at Bread for the City. Zachari runs the City Orchard project and its rooftop gardens. With a deep commitment to sustainability, food access, and food justice, Zachari has started several programs which balance Bread for the City’s outreach and client engagement needs. Zachari originally came to the organization from Clagett Farm. Zachari is the owner of Good Sense Farm & Apiary and the co-founder of Community Farming Alliance, a cooperative of D.C. area farmers and market gardeners of color.  

Thomas Schneider is executive director of Rooftop Roots, a nonprofit growing produce on underutilized urban spaces in Northern Virginia and D.C. Rooftop Roots works on the roof of an affordable housing development in Alexandria, at a demonstration project at Arlington Central Library, and with a range of other public and private clients. It donates some of its produce to programs such as Arlington Food Assistance Center’s community focused Plot Against Hunger Program and the food program at ALIVE! In Alexandria.

Sarah Sohn is communications and program manager at Future Harvest CASA, a non-profit that provides educational, networking, and advocacy opportunities to help build a sustainable Chesapeake foodshed. She co-manages Future Harvest’s Beginning Farmer Training Program, which attracts new farmers of all ages from D.C. to Baltimore and beyond. Sarah is also founder and manager of Young Sohn Gardens, a small vegetable farm in Montgomery County that provides a gathering space for people with autism and their allies.

Gail Taylor owns Three Part Harmony Farm in northeast D.C., one of the city’s only commercial urban farms. Trained locally and deeply committed to food justice, she was the driving force behind the creation of D.C.’s recently passed Urban Agriculture and Food Security Act, which will open up greater opportunities for urban farming in the city.

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Read more articles by Lindsay Smith.

Lindsay Smith consults with philanthropic and other nonprofit organizations to build relationships and deliver customized research and recommendations for building healthy communities. She has a deep personal and professional commitment to strengthening our regional food system. You can find Lindsay on Twitter @lindsayplans.
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