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Urban Farming Helps Local Communities in Baltimore
“Real Food Farm, an urban farm in Baltimore City, works toward a just and sustainable food system,” Tyler Brown, farm manager at Civic Works’ Real Food Farm, said at a UMB Go Green-sponsored sustainability workshop April 10.
In addition to supporting community markets, Real Food Farm delivers fresh produce to senior centers, schools, community events, and fairs, and provides home delivery within a 1-mile range of the farm.
Real Food Farm is located in northeast Baltimore (2701 St. Lo Drive). It also offers a community-supported agriculture (CSA) program and educational programs for local students.
“The biggest barriers to eating healthy in the city are affordability and easy access,” Brown says. “Urban agriculture is a way to provide fresh produce to residents of the city.”
With 12 or so urban farms in Baltimore, Real Food Farm isn’t the only one offering sustainable, organic practices (which are good for the environment, too), Brown says. These practices include reducing stormwater runoff, a farm’s overall carbon footprint, the use of herbicides and pesticides, and building healthy soils, all of which leads to healthy plants and a healthier Chesapeake Bay, Brown says.
In addition to farming sustainably, Real Food Farm employs the use of cover crops as weed suppressants and high tunnels to conserve water and prevent soil erosion.
In fact, University students and staff volunteered with Real Food Farm during Earth Week on April 26. Volunteers created an erosion-protected swale to drain fields without polluting the bay. Stormwater runoff will be limited/filtered by rocks, burlap, fescue, plants, and an erosion blanket. For photos, click here.
For more information on urban farms in the area or resources for starting your own urban farm, Brown recommends visiting the Farm Alliance of Baltimore City.
“The great thing about agriculture and food is that they are very tangible,” Brown says. “You can go out and see results.”
— Tracy Gnadinger