Farmer Maureen “Mo” Moodie has been the Farm Director at Arcadia Center for Sustainable Agriculture at Woodlawn Plantation for the last two and a half years. Moodie left Arcadia on Oct. 13 to serve as the Farm Director at Moutoux Orchard in Purcellville.
Moodie holds a masters degree in cultural anthropology from George Washington University, where she studied sustainable agriculture from a cultural anthropology standpoint. She volunteered and interned at farms in California and fell in love with farming. After graduating from GWU, she took an apprenticeship at Radix Farm in Upper Marlboro, Md. and managed a nonprofit urban farm at Fort Totten in D.C. before starting at Arcadia two years ago.
Moodie sat down with Patch to talk about her experience at Arcadia.
Patch: What was it like getting Arcadia up and running?
Moodie: It was amazing. It was a really amazing opportunity that was dropped in my lap. I remember very clearly the first day they brought me out to Woodlawn and asked “is this doable, can we turn this into a farm?” When there’s just fields and grass and no infrastructure and no water system, it seemed really daunting. But at the time it was a challenge I really was excited about taking on and was confident that we could do it. And I’m really, really proud of how big it got in just two and a half years.
Patch: What was your favorite part of working at Arcadia?
Moodie: There are lots of favorite parts. I love the transformation of the space. I was recently looking at pictures of what it looked like when we started and what it looks like now, and the transformation of turning a space back into productive farm space was really rewarding for me. I love having the kids out there and participating in all the farm to school programming. I was just at an elementary school this morning doing a farmer visit with kindergartners. I love engaging with kids. They say really funny things and it’s an uplifting part of the program. I really enjoy my coworkers, they’re my dearest friends. There are so many things. The outreach in the community, I’ve had so many amazing volunteers and interns, the help of Mount Vernon up the street. The community outpouring has been humbling and all of the people have been so fun to get to know and hang out with.
Patch: What is your vision for Arcadia’s future?
Moodie: I think one thing is that this winter will be a great time to assess the first season of the Mobile Market. I really hope with the success of the Mobile Market this season, the program will grow and that we will reach even more communities, have more food, and support more farmers by buying food from them. I also would love the space to continue to be super productive at Woodlawn. I’d love more of Woodlawn transformed back into useful space all of which takes fundraising. I think that Arcadia’s really committed to that this coming year.
Patch: Tell us a bit more about your new role at Moutoux Orchard.
Moodie: It was a very hard decision to leave Arcadia. It’s very bittersweet and I’ll still be very involved not only helping network with farmers in the area but hopefully still selling to the Mobile Market in my new position and also coming to events and volunteering. My partner and I are running a farm together that he has been running. It’s a third generation family farm in Loudoun County in Purcellville called Moutoux Orchard. We do something a little bit nontraditional here, which is a year-round, full diet CSA. So we have dairy cows where we do raw milk and and meat animals, beef, pigs, chicken, and lamb. We also have about two acres of veggies and we have orchards. The idea being that we’re really providing your full diet from our little farm. We have about 60 members and 60 shares right now and we hope to be growing that in the next couple of years. I’ll be managing all the veggies and helping with all of the other pieces of the puzzle if need be.
Patch: Do you still plan on being involved with Arcadia?
Moodie: We already are signed up for the Farm to School program, so if schools want to come out and come on a field trip, we’re only about 45 minutes from DC. The other big thing we’re going to be doing is reaching out to volunteers to come and help and do volunteer days on our farm, and do a little bit of community outreach that way. Next week all of my former interns from Arcadia are coming out here to learn how to process chicken, so there will definitely be a lot of overlap for interns as well. We’ll use this as a space for Arcadia interns to come out and learn things on a bigger scale.