When Dreams Emerge: A Farm-to-Table Fundraiser

When Dreams Emerge: A Farm-to-Table Fundraiser

Celebrate and support a year in achievement as Dreaming Out Loud, Inc. hosts the third annual When Dreams Emerge event. This year’s theme is A Farm-to-Table Fundraiser, highlighting our work to build an equitable regional food system. On Wednesday December 3rd, 2014 (from 6-9pm) the Pepco Edison Place Gallery will come to life with the sights, sounds, and tastes of positive community change in action. Sample delicious dishes from some of DC’s most creative emerging chefs and food scene contributors, listen to live entertainment, and learn about how to support and get involved with one of the District’s leading social innovators.

In 2014, the organization served more than 10,000 people through Aya Community Markets, the network of farmers markets and mobile farm-stands that it founded and manages. The markets also serve as a platform for improving community health, impacting youth, and furthering community economic development while strengthening the regional food system.

Order your tickets here today!

Green Festival DC: Community Award Finalists

Green Festival DC: Community Award Finalists

We are a finalist for the Green Festival Community Award. Join us at Washington DC Green Festival, May 31-June 1 at the DC Convention Center and cast your vote to help us win a $5,000 grant!

We are working to develop an innovative urban micro-farm that is a hub for learning, community-building, and community agricultural empowerment for sustainable food-system solutions. From the site we will host youth (ages 14-15) in the Summer Youth Employment Program, schools, community-based organizations, faith-based groups and other community members in learning best practices for application in their community spaces.

With your vote, we can win $5,000 towards making this great space come alive!




ISO: Urban Farming and Farmers Market Intern

ISO: Urban Farming and Farmers Market Intern

Dreaming Out Loud is seeking an energetic and dedicated urban farm and farmers market intern to assist in the implementation of its farm/community garden projects.

We founded and manage Aya Community Markets, a growing network of farmers markets and mobile farm-stands. We also manage an urban micro-farm within a few blocks of our farmers market. From this site, we will host ten (10) youth in DC’s Summer Youth Employment Program where the youth (ages 14-15) will design, plan, and implement community garden projects; and develop entrepreneurial skills by learning to run a farmers markets.

Job Description and Skills Required:

  • Training and directing of youth and volunteer work on the farm site.
  • Ensure farm activities adhere to safety regulations and standards.
  • Assisting in implementation of marketing strategy for farmers’ market.
  • Experience with youth education and lesson planning.
  • Previous experience in education, agriculture, environmental studies, health and nutrition, or related fields.
  • Familiarity with community gardens or urban agriculture.
  • Strong people and leadership skills.
  • Interest in local food systems, advocacy, and gardening.
  • Previous experience in education, agriculture, environmental studies, health and nutrition, or related fields.

Time commitment: 15-20 hours weekly

Compensation: Market sales commission + produce

Please email resume and cover letter to info@dreamingoutloud.org and place the words “URBAN FARM & MARKET INTERN” in the subject line.

Celebrate Six Years of Making a Difference

Celebrate Six Years of Making a Difference

Dreaming Out Loud will be celebrating six years of impacting children, youth, and communities. Thursday, April 24th from 5-8pm at Marvin (2007 14th Street NW)!!! We’d love your support if you can make it out.

RSVP today! http://dreamscape.splashthat.com/

Help us keep the movement going and growing as we celebrate our birthday at one of DC’s most popular rooftop venues. There is a suggested $10 donation and when you enjoy the happy hour specials below from 5:30-7:30pm, Dreaming Out Loud receives 10% of the sales.

$4 Stella
$5 Rail
$6 Wine/ Absolute drinks
$4 Frites
$6 Mushroom Croquettes
$6 Fried Oysters
$9 Ribs

Save the Date: April 24th

Save the Date: April 24th

Join us for Dreamscape as Dreaming Out Loud celebrates its sixth birthday. Help us keep the movement going and enjoy art, music and more on one of DC’s most popular rooftop venues at Marvin (2007 14th Street NW) from 5:00-7:30pm on Thursday, April 24th. You can be involved! Are you an artist? Follow this link to find out how your talent can benefit a great cause.

By the numbers we have impacted more than 500 children and youth in after school and summer programs; and served more than 10,000 people and distributed more than 30,000 pounds of produce in our partner communities through Aya Community Markets. Beyond the numbers our contribution can be felt on multiple levels.

kids with journals
An example is Khalil: a 10 year-old boy. We met him days before our first farmers marketwhile hitting one of our yard-signs with a stick, attempting to damage it. When I gently approached him, I jokingly asked if he had something against vegetables; he blushed with embarrassment, as his friends laughed. I asked him to return to the market the next week along with his friends. They returned, along with several other friends, at 7:30am every Saturday for 18-weeks for training and learning through the farmers market. Read more about our impact.


For interest in becoming a sponsor email Chris Bradshaw, Executive Director at chris@dreamingoutloud.org.



Spring Is Near

Spring Is Near

Spring is near, so that means that we are busy planning for lots of fun and major impact. We’d love you have you join us, or donate today to our efforts. Spring means the return of Aya Community Markets, a developing network of farmers markets that help to provide access to fresh, local produce and build health equity.

On Saturday May 3rd Aya will return to Southwest DC’s Waterfront, operating from the grounds of Christ United Methodist Church (900 4th Street SW). In addition, we will be adding a location in Ward 7 and several farm stands — smaller scale mobile markets — that help to provide access to deeper within communities affected by food deserts and low-access to healthy food choices.

This season we will also be growing more food in more places, touching more people and communities along the way. At our micro-farm in Southwest (700 Delaware Avenue SW) we will expand our growing space through new raised beds and vertical growing spaces. We’ll also be helping Greenleaf Gardens (a public housing community) and Christ United Methodist Church (CUMC) to build gardens.

At Greenleaf Gardens, we will work to train youth and community members to help maintain gardens in common spaces and in individual yards, incorporating nutrition education and other programming. At CUMC, the young women’s and men’s ministries will work to build out a garden on church grounds. The churches many seniors, health ministries and the monthly Men’s Community Breakfast will benefit greatly from the harvest.

You are an important part of our work by volunteering your presence, energy, and support. Take action today to join us this spring!

Aya’s Evolution and Revolution: Not Just a Farmers Market

Aya’s Evolution and Revolution: Not Just a Farmers Market

This season, Aya Community Markets is poised to make great leaps in terms of connectedness with and reach into communities; as well as our impact on Washington, DC’s and the regional food system. This season we will open a new farmers markets in Ward 7, where the market began nearly three years ago. Here we will help to bring fresh, local produce to communities that deserve equal access to healthy options. 

We started Aya Community Markets (Aya) because we noticed many negative health impacts – obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, etc. – in the communities in which our youth programs were held. We felt that we had to do more than teach a lesson about healthy eating.

Our vision for broader impact on the food system is the AyaUplift Project: an innovative and integrated approach to food access, urban farming and “healthy food hub” social enterprise within underserved, urban communities.

To support our communities, and this project, we purchased a refrigerated truck (from DC Central Kitchen) and recently had it wrapped with our logos. We will use the truck to connect our farmers who attend Aya in our partner communities to additional market opportunities through a community supported agriculture program and wholesale opportunities to restaurants and other food service businesses.

This makes it a win-win for everyone. The community has greater access, the farmers generate additional income, and we have the potential to create jobs through the delivery of the fresh produce in innovative ways. Look our for us rolling down DC streets!

Nelson Mandela: Activist, Peacemaker and Freedom Fighter

Nelson Mandela: Activist, Peacemaker and Freedom Fighter

Today we celebrate the life of Rolihlahla Mandela. Yesterday the world lost an activist, peacemaker and a true revolutionary. Born July 18, 1918, in a small village in what is now Eastern Cape province of South Africa, a teacher at a British colonial boarding school later gave him the English name Nelson (read more). He was the first black president of South Africa and one of the key figures in a decades long struggle against apartheid and the key figure in ending it.

To embrace Madiba, as he was affectionately called, we must embrace the entirety of his legacy; never forgetting that before he was a benevolent wielder of power in the South African presidency, he was once a rebel freedom fighter. David A. Love recalled this legacy and makes the case for it’s full embrace in a recent post in The Grio; General Colin Powell also spoke to the matter of Madiba’s freedom fighter days.   

Although he will be lauded from every mountaintop upon his transition to the ancestors, let the record show that many powerful forces sought to curtail his freedom struggle, or take action again the apartheid regime, or otherwise condemn his legacy. Ronal Reagan, former president of the United States had the African National Congress placed on the Terrorist watch list, and former Prime Minister of Britain Margaret Thatcher would not impose sanctions on the apartheid regime. Spike Lee spoke to this matter in a CNN interview.

Mandela was revered worldwide for leading the anti-apartheid movement and not letting his nearly three decades in prison, nor opposition from the powers that be shake his determination. His enduring legacy is a gift to humanity. As President Obama said it, “He no longer belongs to us; he belongs to the ages.”

His story gives us hope, his words made us move, and his actions made us more free; and so may his legacy continue to guide us. At Dreaming Out Loud, we remember his call to action:

“Overcoming poverty is not a task of charity, it is an act of justice. Like Slavery and Apartheid, poverty is not natural. It is man-made and it can be overcome and eradicated by the actions of human beings. Sometimes it falls on a generation to be great. YOU can be that great generation. Let your greatness blossom.” – Nelson Mandela

Many don’t know that Madiba – during his 27 years of improvement — maintained nelsonmandelarooftop garden that he declared “one of my happiest diversions.” Each morning, he “put on a straw hat and rough gloves and worked in the garden for two hours”. Each Sunday, he would “supply vegetables to the kitchen so that they could cook a special meal for the common-law prisoners”; even giving some of his harvest to the warders.

It was this spiritual and moral power, that he carried into the heights of political power. It is this sense of humanity that we identify with and seek to represent through the Adinkra Symbol Ethics Mirror; so may his legacy endure and continue to guide us.

Finalists: Ashoka Changemakers’ Nutrients for All

Finalists: Ashoka Changemakers’ Nutrients for All

Sometimes competition can be very destructive; encouraging the worst behavior in people who believe that life is a zero-sum game. Other times the word competition may be more aptly substituted for the word challenge; where participants view one another as teammates in the fight for something bigger than one single idea. That is how we view Ashoka Changemakers’ Nutrients for All Competition in which we were named among 21 finalists.

Our submission was for the AyaUplift Project, an innovative food access, urban farming and “healthy food hub”, to generate sustainable employment in underserved communities. The process was indeed that: a challenge. In total, Ashoka read and reviewed nearly 300 entries from 78 countries and “The AyaUplift Project” was one of only 21 entries to make it to final stage.

We were tested in our knowledge of our field, innovation in our solution, and impact in our community. Every step in the process helped us present a more polished vision of our model of food systems change; however our resolve to connect and build community will make us an exemplar of real change on the ground. We are appreciative of the acknowledgment by leaders in the Nutrients for All movement, but we are even more resolved in the call for food justice. And in the words of Cesar Chavez, co-founder of the United Farm Workers Union, we say “si, se puede”.



Market Season’s End, Impact Just Benning

Market Season’s End, Impact Just Benning

This past Saturday marked an important milestone: Our first full season of Aya Community Markets completed. What began at the Center for Green Urbanism on Benning Road NE in late 2010 has grown into something we are very proud of. Our first experiment in Ward 7, consisted of a few tables of vegetables (see first photo), baked goods and a few folks actually showed up to purchase them.

We scratched together a few dollars to get things off the ground, built relationships with farmers and community members, all while developing a fuller vision of impacting the food that we call the AyaUplift Project: an innovative and integrated approach to food access, urban farming and “healthy food hub” social enterprise within underserved, urban communities.

Aya Community Markets is just the first piece in the puzzle. As our first full season comes to an end, we feel that our impact is really just beginning. Here is a brief time line of our growth over the past few years:

  • 2010 – Aya: An East of the River Health & Wellness Market began at the Center for Green Urbanism on Benning Road NE.
  • 2011 – Awarded a Farmers Market Promotion Program grant from the United States Department of Agriculture.
  • 2011 – Partnered with Pennsylvania Avenue Baptist Church to launch a market in their parking lot in July 2011.
  • 2012 – Partnered with Christ United Methodist Church to bring market to Ward 6 in August 2012.
  • 2013 – Completed our first full (30 week) season from May-November serving the Ward 6 community.