DC Greens: Connecting Communities to Healthy Food

DC Greens: Connecting Communities to Healthy Food

“All I wanted was to start a farmers’ market in my neighborhood.”

DC Greens-Biel

For D.C. Greens co-founder and executive director Lauren Shweder Biel, what started as a desire for fresh produce in her DC neighborhood grew into a nationally recognized nonprofit with a bounty of benefits for her community and the potential for change in schools nationwide. After learning that 1 in 8 families couldn’t afford fresh fruits and veggies and childhood obesity rates were rising despite the presence of 93 school gardens and 46 farmers’ markets in the area, this mompreneuer wanted to address a fundamental disconnect between nutrition and nature in our nation’s capital. With co-founder and Education Director Sarah Holway, DC Greens bridges the gaps with innovative initiatives that plant the seed for healthier generations to come, by partnering with and activating collaborations between schools, farmers, and healthcare providers to amplify their effectiveness and impact.


Putting their own spin on thinking globally and acting locally, Biel and Holway use national best practices in the service of local solutions. Through education and improving access to locally grown food for all District residents, D.C. Greens is the glue for a healthier food system based on sustainable solutions that enhance a traditional classroom experience. With their Growing Gardens Teachers Program, educators are given the tools to run an integrated gardening and education program that brings learning to life in a school garden and trains future “garden teachers” to staff existing and future school gardens.


Biel sees that accessibility counts as much as education to create viable options for changing a nutritional outlook, so she brought a fresh spin to a classic fundraising model: Participating schools bring income to their programs by running a farmers’ market to sell the produce grown in their “outdoor classroom,” not only providing affordable, nutritional grocery options for the community, but also picking up entrepreneurial sales and marketing skills along the way. (And every participating school has turned a yearly profit—time to rethink that bake sale!)


D.C. Greens has found a creative way for healthcare providers and farmers to participate, too.  Based on a program incubated by national nonprofit Wholesome Wave, the Fruit and Vegetable Prescription Program lets doctors write prescriptions for free fresh produce that works as currency at the local farmers’ markets for those who need it the most. In this case, an apple a day should only make you want to see the doctor more! By learning about local food and making it easier to start healthier habits, D.C. Greens is making communities healthier and more aware than ever of what good can come from where they’ve put down roots.

Find out more about DC Greens here. Do you see a school garden that could blossom into something more in your area? Let us know in the comments.

We aim to provide you with the most honest and credible information possible. This article was reviewed for accuracy by The Honest Team and was written based on trusted sources that are linked at the bottom of the article.