Listen to this article here
Dubbed one of the nation’s top 10 innovative farms by the American Farm Bureau Federation, Plantation Park Heights Urban Farm is bringing “AgriHood” is wired to bring Baltimore bundles of fresh .
Founded eight years ago by Richard Francis, affectionately known as Farmer Chippy, he linked up with the Caribbean diaspora in Baltimore to grow food collaboratively with Park Heights residents.
According to The Baltimore Sun, the Plantation has grown beyond Park Heights, with farmers aiming to grow 250,000 pounds of food across 30 Baltimore City-owned vacant lots, all leased by the Plantation.
AgriHood to grow just like its plants
Collectively, these farmers and others in Baltimore plan to build the city’s first “AgriHood” — a marketplace and community-shared agriculture and training resource institute. By the end of the year, training for farmers on food safety and good agricultural practices will be complete, as well as soil testing and risk assessments across the farm’s sites.
The AgriHood will make programming more formalized and consistent, said Francis, who has secured partnerships with University of Maryland, Coppin State University and Holistic Wellness and Health, which offers healthy plant-based cooking classes.
“We’ll be positioned and ready to serve our youngest citizens, those who are at risk in Park Heights,” Francis said. “The institute is going to put agriculture in the classroom and [be] following through with our children so that they can become farmers and chefs before they become scientists, doctors and lawyers.”
Francis said the farm’s name is intentionally provocative.
Stringer Bell Peppers will hit different in Baltimore.
“We wanted to remind children of the colonizers, that this is where it all started,” Francis said. “One group produces and the other group developed a thriving economy. Today, we say equal rights and justice for all on the Plantation; let’s include those who were left out.”
More than a food source, the urban farm also has connected families with resources beyond food, helping dozens of neighbors with energy-saving grants and other services to help prevent eviction and homelessness, according to The Baltimore Sun.
If you travel more than a mile to a supermarket, superstore or large grocer with affordable and healthy food options in an urban area, and more than 20 miles in a rural area, you live in what the U.S. Department of Agriculture considers that to be a “food desert.”
Food deserts are an American problem.
With inflation and the rising cost of food in Columbus, Ohio, Family Missionary Baptist Church brings the South Side urban farming to residents to help combat food deserts and to give residents a sustainable option to grow their farms, according to 10 WBNS.
In East Knoxville, Tennessee, BattleField Farm & Gardens delivers fresh food to East Knoxville residents stripped of healthy local options.
Agrihood Baltimore, launching Saturday, will have an open farmer’s market from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. on the 4800 block of Park Heights Avenue and connect the community with Baltimore resources around food, housing and school access. University partners, master gardeners, city politicians, school principals and nonprofit leaders plan to attend as well.