Meet Team Torrey: Barbara Patterson
Share your farm background, and how you came to work in D.C.
I grew up going to the farm stand near my house (and eating delicious Michigan sweet corn), but my passion for agriculture developed while I was in grad school. I was studying nutrition and food policy, and thanks to some great professors, I got immersed in the connection between agriculture and nutrition. From there, I went to work at National Farmers Union where I visited farms as often as I could all across the country. I love learning about the history of individual farms and the broader history of our agrarian roots.
I came to DC to work in policy after graduating from college. I worked in a few different sectors as I was looking at different graduate school programs. I moved back to DC in 2014 – with a more specific goal of working in food and agriculture policy.
What issues are you most passionate about?
I am passionate about interdisciplinary and multi-pronged approaches to some of the challenges in our food system. I think solutions for major issues like food insecurity are best addressed when working across different sectors, understanding root causes, and taking into account various stakeholder perspectives, so I get excited when I see groups like DC Central Kitchen thinking about food insecurity in an innovative way.
What is your favorite ag or food event around town?
My favorite food event in town is the annual dinner for the Friends of the National Arboretum. The arboretum is such a gem in the city. It’s administered by the Agriculture Research Service at USDA, and as such, the annual benefit dinner always brings together friends and colleagues in the food and agriculture space. It also happens to be a beautiful venue to enjoy a glass of wine. They usually send you home with a plant, which I appreciate since I have a rather extensive plant collection.
What’s the best restaurant in D.C.?
Rasika is by far my favorite restaurant in DC. The palak chaat is so good.
What is the most interesting trip you’ve been on?
After I graduated from college, I met up with my sister in South Africa after she finished her service with the Peace Corps. We traveled for a month around South Africa, Namibia, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. We camped under the stars, hiked through petrified forests, ran down red sand dunes, went on safaris, and visited Victoria Falls. And I got to watch my sister learn how to drive a stick shift, only to forget how to when an elephant approached our car and screamed at us.