Spring is here, and so is a great opportunity for BES members to support an innovative new movement with the potential to transform Baltimore: Urban Farming.
When we arrived at Real Food Farms in Clifton Park the sun was bright and the wind brisk. The scent of damp earth filled the air. Lisa Alderson, my wife Maureen, and I grabbed our work gloves and headed off to the hoop houses, long greenhouses of curved polls and white plastic. There we met two urban farmers, Steve and Tyler, who were preparing for another volunteer morning the day before the official arrival of spring.
It was my second visit to Real Food Farms, the first being in the winter when Maya Kosok gave me a private tour of this growing – excuse the pun – Civic Works project. You may recall that Maya spoke at BES in February about “Ethical Eating.” As we walked down the rows of chard and carrots still growing in January, she explained the four interconnected goals of Real Food Farms: 1) to improve neighborhood and low-income access to healthy affordable food; 2) to stimulate a vibrant local agriculture sectors and employment in Baltimore; 3) to help Baltimore school students learn about healthy nutrition, food systems caddies, and spreaders made progress obvious, and the spirits were high as we made completed our and environmental sustainability; and, 4) to protect the environment. This dynamic combination of issues struck me as both bold and pragmatic. It is why I was back again to contribute to the cause.
“Where do we start?” I asked Tyler who was pushing a wheelbarrow piled with rakes and shovels. “Grab any implement of destruction,” he said, “and clear out between those flags.” Dotted along the scrubby ground were rows of red and yellow flags on wire posts, site of a future, sixth hoop house. We started out a small group, but by ten o’clock there were about twenty-five of us. Most were young adults – some from meet-up groups interested in making Baltimore a more livable city, some friends of Maya or her fiancé Max. Our increasing number was important when we started digging into a freshly delivered mountain of mulch. An assembly line of loaders, wheelbarrow caddies, and spreaders made progress obvious, and the spirits were high as we made completed our second full row of mulch and broke for a potluck lunch.
Advertising with my BES “bmorethical” t-shirt, I spoke with other volunteers as we ate and was impressed by the optimistic and innovative visions most had for a very different sort of a city. Many believed that urban farming was a transformational movement. Certainly this unused plot of land was being transformed into fertile crop rows, but the neighborhood, the city and the volunteers was also renewed by this Civics Works project. After only a couple of years in existence, Real Food Farms is already thriving. I hope others at BES get a chance to feel the spirit that stayed with me – despite the sore muscles – for the rest of the weekend! I urge you to grab a friend and head off to Real Food Farms for a volunteer morning. Find out more about this opportunity on their website, or speak with Lisa Alderson or me!
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