Building Community & Social Impact
At Founding Farmers, hospitality means acting towards others with kindness, showing real concern for the well-being of people without the expectation of return, welcoming people, and sharing with them in the spirit of giving. We are a mission-driven team partnering with our neighbors, farmers, and communities to elevate humanity.
At Founding Farmers, we continually and consistently invest in our communities. We are a farmer-owned company on a mission to support American family farmers, preserve and protect our planet, and maintain close ties to our neighbors, friends in business, and collaborators. We believe in Conscious Capitalism and never prioritize profit over mission. We grow our philanthropic projects with an appreciation for long-term relationships and making an impact. In 2019, we were awarded the prestigious Moxie Award for our bold, innovative growth strategies and helping to not only “make the DC metro area a great place to do business, but also an incredible place to live, thrive, and play.”
Our enterprise goes beyond the plate and beyond the dining experience, to walking our talk in our communities, our industry, and on behalf of our environment. We are members of the Founding Circle for DC’s Conscious Capitalism chapter, hosting meals and participating in educational efforts and outreach. We are continually working to raise the bar in our industry, most recently hosting a panel on Women In Hospitality: Pathways & Ladders at Founding Farmers & Distillers.
For over a decade, we have stayed true to our mission, consistently working to build community and make an impact in how we hire our employees, source our ingredients, and participate and influence others in our regions and across the hospitality industry.
DC Central Kitchen
“I am a student at DC Central Kitchen’s Training Program. You came today and spoke to the class about time management, soft skills, and life skills. I want to thank you for your dedication to empowering yourself and others. Be encouraged!”
We have worked closely with DC Central Kitchen, teaching classes regularly in personal development and time management. We also support chef interns in our restaurants as part of their job training programs. Many of our former DC Central Kitchen interns have successfully become full-time employees in our kitchens. Our 18-wheeler that brings food supplies directly from our farmer owners in North Dakota has also provided ingredients for DC Central Kitchen’s culinary job training program and for their community meals.
The George Washington University Apiary & Research Program
“With the support of Farmers Restaurant Group, students not only become masterful beekeepers, but are granted the opportunity to conduct independent research concerning the health of honey bees & their local environments. This summer, our apiary was buzzing with 18 active hives and nearly 200,000 honey bees, resulting in us collecting over 250 pounds of honey!”
—Camille Leoni, Head Beekeeper, The George Washington University
Through a unique initiative, developed in partnership with The George Washington University, Founding Farmers established the largest restaurant-owned apiary in the country. Since 2011, we have been providing annual funding for an urban apiary at The George Washington University for undergraduate research and to maintain the hives. This research helps us better understand bee behavior patterns and colony collapse disorder, as well as a scholarship for the lead student researcher. And in a beautiful symbiotic relationship, our urban rooftop apiary annually provides up to a hundred pounds of honey that we harvest to use in our restaurants and once used in a very special GW Limited Edition Founding Spirits “Never Bitter” Amaro.
Cornell University Maple Program
Founding Farmers partners with Cornell University’s Maple Program, which provides the largest acreage in the world devoted to sugar maple research. Nestled in the Adirondacks are 200+ acres of forest where approximately 6,000 trees are tapped for maple syrup and studied to better understand syrup production and forest preservation. About three-quarters of the maple syrup produced at Cornell’s forest comes to our restaurants, which amounts to over a thousand gallons of syrup each year, all produced with sustainability for the future in mind.
Our Last Straw
In 2018, our parent company – Farmers Restaurant Group – founded a business coalition turned non-profit, Our Last Straw. We wanted to expand our sustainability efforts beyond the walls of our restaurants and into our communities, working to lead a coalition across the hospitality industry. Our goal is to eliminate the distribution and use of plastic straws across our regions and work together to reduce our reliance on single-use plastics. As major distributors of plastic straws, it is imperative that the hospitality industry leads the charge for change. Business demand for non-plastic straws has already led to more effective, affordable alternatives.
Our Last Straw has been credited with helping establish the new DC straw regulations and taking the DC plastic straw ban over the finish line to enforcement, in addition to helping several local towns and the state of Maryland draft similar plastic straw legislation. Our Last Straw has funded merit scholarships for college students needing financial aid while studying aspects of sustainable business. Our Last Straw is looking to expand to other regions and other single-use plastics in the future.
Feeding Our Neighbors
We have an ongoing partnership with community groups in DC’s Wards 7 & 8 to provide weekly meals to those in need. Our Founding Farmers & Distillers location has been partnering with Breadcoin, a growing nonprofit in the District who distributes food tokens, or “Breadcoins,” to people who are hungry or food-insecure that can be used like cash at local restaurants, bakeries, markets, food trucks, and more. Additionally, we have provided support to programs that help train veterans in sustainable agricultural practices and worked with Peter Scott’s Fields 4 Valor Farm to help provide healthy and fresh food to veterans and their families. We also received the Seven Seals Award for our efforts to feed the National Guard deployed to protect our Nation’s Capitol and our city by providing over 5,000 meals made from-scratch in our kitchens at Farmers Fishers Bakers and Founding Farmers & Distillers. When COVID landed in our region, we stepped up our efforts working hand-in-hand with multiple local non-profits to help feed our communities, including front-line workers. We collaborated with Last Call for Food, a DC-based program providing affordable meals for college students and our house-bound elderly neighbors during the pandemic. Farmers Fishers Bakers also partnered with World Central Kitchen providing almost 2,000 meals per week for our community by working directly with the Ward Memorial AME Church in Ward 7.
Supporting Schools & Non-Profits in Our Communities
We regularly support many non-profits and local schools across our communities. We have worked with the DC Public School system and their Career Ready Internship program by hosting paid interns in our Founding Farmers DC restaurant. With us, high school students learn about the hospitality industry, and we give them hands-on culinary experience in the kitchen and pastry. We have also partnered with our restaurant teams, schools, and other organizations to regularly help with school supplies (including our Founding Spirits Hand Sanitizer), books, and food. We collaborated with Sweet Virginia to inspire and educate children about the importance of honey bees. We have several ongoing programs to support justice-involved citizens, including a partnership with Georgetown University’s Pivot Program to hire chef interns in our kitchens and supporting reunification dinners for DC or Nothing‘s “I am a citizen” initiative. We commissioned custom-craft cabinetry for Founding Farmers King of Prussia that was designed and created by the Challenge Program, a Delaware-based organization teaching at-risk youth valuable construction and mill-working skills. We participated in an educational summit on plastic pollution, have regularly supported Potomac River clean-up efforts, including collaboration with the Alice Ferguson Foundation. We have also supported Best Buddies, No Kid Hungry, the Armed Services Arts Partnership, Serve Your City, Feed the Fight, a local elite cycling team, and more.