"People who know the garden in which their vegetables have grown and know that the garden is healthy will remember the beauty of the growing plants...Such a memory involves itself with the food and is one of the pleasures of eating. The knowledge of the good health of the garden relieves and frees and comforts the eater."

—Wendell Berry, Kentucky farmer and author
FoodPrints is FRESHFARM Markets' local foods school program that builds an edible schoolyard garden and integrates the garden into the school curriculum. Children who participate learn about where their food comes from and how important it is to eat fresh, nutritious, seasonal foods. The schools' life science and social studies curriculum is brought to life through engaging project-based learning experiences that meet DCPS and Common Core Standards of Learning. FoodPrints also teaches important life skills through project-based learning that includes hands-on experiences in the garden and the Food Lab teaching kitchen.

The name "FoodPrints" is a take-off on carbon footprint. Through FoodPrints, children learn about their food "prints"—like a footprint in the garden, a hand print in the soil and fingerprints in the kitchen—which are essential to growing and eating fresh, seasonal foods that are good for personal health and the health of planet.

The FoodPrints Beginning

The initial funding for the FoodPrints program was a gift in 2005 from Ben and Julie Feldman, who shop regularly at the Dupont Circle FRESHFARM Market. With their initial gift of $5,000 we reached out to a number of D.C. public schools and found several individual teachers who were interested in working with us. From 2005-2006, we reached more than 300 children in six D.C. schools by bringing farmers into the classroom to talk about farming in our region and chefs to cook with seasonal foods harvested from our edible gardens. We took classes on nearby farm field trips, primarily to the National Colonial Farm and Ecosystem Farm at Accokeek and the Chesapeake Bay Foundation's Clagett Farm. From 2007-2008, we had a FoodPrints program at Rudolph Elementary School until that school was closed.

FoodPrints comes to Watkins Elementary School

In 2009, our FoodPrints program found a home at Watkins Elementary School (Ward 6, Capitol Hill) where the principal was interested in expanding the edible school garden and having the 1st and 3rd grade teachers integrate the garden into their classroom lessons—everything from art to science, math, social studies, physical education and writing. To date, more than 400 children at Watkins elementary have benefited from the program. In 2011, the 4th grade will be added to the FoodPrints program and the edible garden will be expanded once again.

Essential to our FoodPrints program at Watkins Elementary School is Master Gardener Barbara Percival who has been the school's "garden lady" for more than 12 years. Our FoodPrints Coordinator is Jennifer Mampara, a former third-grade teacher with a graduate degree in nutrition. They work together with the first- and third-grade teachers to use the garden and local foods in the classroom curriculum. Bernadine Prince, co-executive director of FRESHFARM Markets, oversees the program.

At Watkins, we have classroom space for lessons about local foods (sometimes including a farmer or chef) and cooking demonstrations. FRESHFARM Markets pays the salary for the FoodPrints coordinator, for supplies for the garden and classroom, and for field and market trips. We also supplement food from the garden for cooking classes as needed.

Recent Developments

In 2010, FRESHFARM Markets received a grant to enclose the 1,700-square- foot vegetable garden, creating an outdoor classroom space and a secure area for garden activities. In 2011, FRESHFARM Markets raised $60,000 through a Kickstarter campaign to renovate the classroom space into a Food Lab that will be used for classroom instruction and afterschool activities about healthy eating for students and their families. FoodPrints curriculum materials, meeting DCPS and Common Core standards, for 1st and 3rd grade classes, are available on our website. The 4th grade materials will be developed during the 2011/2012 school year.


Funding for FoodPrints has been provided by the Phillip Graham Fund, the Capitol Hill Community Foundation and more than 500 donors and volunteers to the Food Lab in 2011.

Contact information

If you have any question about the program, or would like to help, please contact Bernadine Prince at

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