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The Woman Behind “Farming”: Q&A with Photo Contest Winner Sarah Waybright

By: Alyssa Ritterstein, DC EcoWomen Board Member

DC EcoWomen launched its annual photo contest on Earth Day – April 22 – to capture images of the incredible environmental work our members do each day.

Several photos featured members enjoying the cherry blossoms around the Tidal Basin with friends and family. Other images took us a bit farther out of downtown – the Capitol building viewed from the United States National Arboretum, rock climbing at Great Falls State Park, and rocks floating on frozen water in Alexandria, Virginia.

Many folks showed us their green thumb. We received pictures of a tree planting along the Anacostia River, community gardens, a green roof garden at the University of the District of Columbia, and farms throughout the DMV.

Other folks showed us images of people helping people. We saw a picture of women teaching women about Antarctic climate science during an all-women leadership training course in Antarctica. Another picture was taken at the Virginia High School Leadership conference, where a woman had just given a speech to students on how to be an environmental leader in their schools and communities.

Our grand prize winner, Sarah Waybright, sent us a photo incorporating all three of the categories that we put forward for this year’s photo contest – women working on environmental issues, providing career growth opportunities for other women, and taking advantage of the D.C. area’s natural beauty. Her photo depicts her farming at Potomac Vegetable Farms (PVF) in Reston, Virginia, where she works alongside three women who run the farm and put on educational programs for young women interested in farm-based leadership.

We recently chatted with Sarah to hear more about the photo and the woman behind it.

DC EcoWomen: Congratulations on winning the Photo Contest! Let’s talk about the photo you submitted. I love how happy you look in it. What’s its backstory?

Sarah Waybright: This picture was taken on a little harvesting outing when a friend (who takes lovely photos!) came to visit. Getting to pick veggies you’ll eat right away is a privilege many people have never experienced, so when I have guests I like to upgrade their dinner with a farm trip! I see farming as a foundation for all the things I want to do with my career. Food is the intersection of nutrition and science, and farming is the intersection of food and our environment. Everything I want to share can “stem” from there. Working on this farm has been a true, unique joy. The people are all so supportive and kind, which isn’t something you can say of every work environment in the D.C. area!

DCEW: From your website, Why Food Works, I see that you are a Registered Dietitian, offer nutrition coaching services, and sell your own pottery – all while working on the farm. Can you tell us more about your career and how you got to where you are today?

SW: One of the things I’ve done well to this point in my life is design my days around the things I love to do, and no two are the same. I spend 20 hours a week health coaching, 15-20 farming, 10 doing pottery, and fit maintaining my brand (at times better than others!) in between those things for now. I come from a farming family that still runs a dairy farm in Pennsylvania and was lucky to grow up with a big garden. I never intended to be a farmer, but my interest in the health sciences brought me back to it. Our food systems and health are closely intertwined!

DCEW: When you submitted your photo, you wrote that you are working to open a farm where you’ll teach workshops on fermenting, cooking, growing, crafts, environmental principles, and good living. Do you have more details on it?

SW: Yes! I’m very excited that working at PVF has introduced me to a like-minded farming partner, Pam Jones. We’ll be establishing Gathering Springs Farm just north of Middleburg, Virginia, over the course of the next year. We hope to launch in time for market season next April with a few veggies we’ll grow over the winter. Things are still very much in the planning stages, but moving forward bit by bit almost daily now. That’s about all the information that exists, but stay tuned for more over the coming months!

DCEW: I see that you’ve submitted photos for our photo contest in previous years. Why do you continue to submit photos, and is there any advice that you’d like to give folks interested in next year’s contest?

SW: I was so excited to win this year. I thought getting a runner-up spot last year was pretty great, but my entry resonating with DC EcoWomen feels like confirmation that things are moving in the right direction. My recipe for success in submitting photos has been sharing a nice picture of something authentic that I’m passionate about and explaining why with a good description!

Sarah Waybright is a Registered Dietitian, the owner of WhyFoodWorks, a health coach for Wellness Corporate Solutions, and works at Potomac Vegetable Farms. You can find her on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram to get food tips, nutrition information and healthy recipes.

posted by | on , , , | Comments Off on DC EcoWomen Take a Spin on Two of the World’s First Commercial Hydrogen Fuel Cell Cars


By Vanessa Trejos, Energy Engineer in the Fuel Cell Technologies Office at Department of Energy 

DC EcoWomen and the Fuel Cell Technologies Office (FCTO) at Department of Energy (DOE) partnered this year in a “Ride & Learn” to showcase two of the world’s first commercial hydrogen fuel cell cars. The activity drew women from diverse professional backgrounds – marketing, policy and engineering – with an interest in cutting-edge and sustainable technologies that may change the way we think about energy and transportation. Participants had the unique opportunity to drive and ride the cars and learn how hydrogen and fuel cells have the potential to enable a cleaner, more secure and flexible energy and transportation system.

Hydrogen fuel cell cars use a fuel cell that converts hydrogen into the electricity that powers the car’s electric motor. These cars are known for their 300+ mile range, quick refueling times and generating zero carbon emissions at the tailpipe – only emitting water vapor. For the first time, they are commercially available and on the streets. Hydrogen stations to fuel them are up and running in select U.S. regions.

The DOE FCTO focuses on early-stage research and development (R&D) to enable the advancement of this technology. Efforts from FCTO-funded early stage R&D have helped cut the cost of fuel cells by 60 percent and quadrupled their durability in the past decade. The cars used for this event are part of the DOE fleet and on loan from the automakers as an effort to collect data that guides the agency’s early stage R&D in this emerging technology.

To learn more about how fuel cells work and get involved, download the Increase your H2IQ to give a hydrogen and fuel cells presentation to your class or community and visit the DOE FCTO website.

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Vanessa Trejos works in the Fuel Cell Technologies Office (FCTO) at the Department of Energy (DOE) where she raises awareness of hydrogen and fuel cells as energy and transportation resources. She helped coordinate the “Ride & Learn” event with DC EcoWomen.

posted by | on , , , | Comments Off on Companies with a Conscience: Previewing our Photo Contest Prizes

By Alyssa Ritterstein, DC EcoWomen Board Member

DC EcoWomen is currently accepting submissions to our annual Photo Contest! This year, we’re awarding the first prize winner a $75 gift card to Recreational Equipment, Inc. (REI), and $25 gift cards to Teaism for the second and third place winners.

Public support for corporate social responsibility has been around for a long time. Before many companies took it upon themselves to be environmentally responsible, practice ethical labor laws, or take part in philanthropic efforts, we had federal laws put in place to protect us. Some of these laws regulate child labor, others clean water or air pollution. Now, more and more companies are extending that social responsibility to the very products they sell.

REI recently established environmentally-friendly standards that a brand must meet before its products can hit its shelves. For instance, it will ban products that contain certain chemicals. These standards will apply to REI’s more than 1,000 product lines. The company is also making it easier for people to find brands and products that are manufactured according to social and sustainability best practices on its website.

Teaism is working toward having its restaurants and teahouses be completely GMO-free. It removed canola and soy oils from its kitchens. Its fried chicken is cooked in rice bran oil and made with chickens that feed on a GMO-free diet. Teaism is also taking steps to improve the quality of its food by reviewing labels and sourcing healthy seasonal products.

Along with providing better products, these companies also support their communities. REI donates millions to conservation efforts nationwide and its employees help clean up beaches and restore local habitats. Teaism’s Penn Quarter location donates a portion of its sales to the middle school next door, and lets many local groups and organizations use its restaurants for meet-ups. DC EcoWomen is fortunate to have used Teaism for many of our EcoHours.

My hope is that more companies continue toward greater corporate social responsibility, and that people continue to step-up on an individual level. If you are a woman working on environmental issues, providing career growth opportunities for other women, or promoting personal wellbeing through taking advantage of D.C.’s natural beauty, I’d love to see what you are doing to help your community. I encourage you to participate in our photo contest going on now until Wednesday, May 23rd 11:59pm EST.

It’s a great way to connect with our community and share your perspective on your environment. The three winners will get the chance to write a DC EcoWomen blog post telling the story of their image. They will also have an extra excuse to go to REI or Teaism using their new gift card! You’ve got roughly a week and half left. Submit your photo via Instagram or email following the instructions on our 2018 Photo Contest page. Good luck!

Photo Credit: Jlhopgood/CC BY-ND 2.0