Baltimore has corner and liquor stores that tend to solely offer unhealthy foods, newly thriving community farms, and is one of many cities with a food desert problem. The Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and the City Department of Health are now sponsoring a pilot program that seeks to connect produce from the Whitelock Community Farm with a local corner store in order to mitigate the food desert problem in Reservoir Hill and the surrounding neighborhoods.
A Sun article describing the program tells the story of how the farm at the corner of Whitelock Street and Brookfield Avenue will supply neighboring Linden Market with fresh farm vegetables. Johns Hopkins researcher Clare Welsh says that this program grew out of a larger effort to lower rates of childhood obesity in Baltimore City. Hopkins’s Bloomberg School supported the Whitelock/Linden pilot program by subsidizing the first month of produce so as to keep the cost low and provided a refrigerator case in which to display the new food. The objective, according to Welsh, is to collect enough information about how the pilot program has worked to be able to connect urban farms and corner stores more effectively on a larger scale.
The Sun article features a variety of opinions on whether the coordination will lead to more Reservoir Hill residents consuming fresh produce, but there seems to be no doubt that it will be by far the easiest source of fresh vegetables for community members to access. Some customers at Linden spoke of having to go to Lexington Market when in need of fresh produce, which is a 2 mile walk from Reservoir Hill.
Last week, an additional pilot project connecting Lake Clifton’s Real Food Farm and Belair-Edison’s Dakao Market was rolled out as well.