Are you tired of not being able to eat healthier? Of fast or takeout food, that is loaded with sugar and carbohydrates, often being the easiest option? An innovative solution to this problem is urban farming, which is increasingly popular in many major US cities. This can easily be done as a community-wide effort, and can also increase jobs as communities may make a profit by producing fresh produce. In Baltimore the Farm Alliance of Baltimore City and the Office of Sustainability are offering support to urban farmers by helping them access land, and by providing training and technical assistance.
According to a report by PolicyLink, “
studies have consistently shown that there are fewer supermarkets and other retail outlets selling affordable, nutritious food in low income communities than in wealthier ones.” The lack of supermarkets that offer quality healthy food is one of the main causes for the rising obesity in our country today and if something is not done about it, obesity will continue to rise.
Urban farming not only increases the health of communities but it also stimulates the local economy, as it can create jobs at roadside produce stands, which can even be set up to accept food stamps. This is crucial because it opens the market for fresh produce to everyone and helps reduce diet-based diseases. While this is an idea that everyone can benefit from, there are still many obstacles that impede urban agriculture projects from being implemented, such as available land for long term use, access
to water, soil quality, and high start up costs. Collaborating with other farmers may be the answer to many of these problems including start up costs and soil quality.
The biggest issue of concern is the availability of land, as many communities do not have large enough plots from which to to make a profit
. The availability of publicly owned lots in your area can be determined through the Adopt-A-Lot program, which works with communities to help start their agriculture initiative. Baltimore Green Space is an organization that protects and helps create community gardens, small parks, and urban farming projects around the city. The PolicyLink report also suggests that “cities and counties can adopt urban agriculture-friendly language in their zoning codes and general plans, which will help shield urban farmers from redevelopment and encourage them to invest in infrastructure.” Currently Baltimore’s zoning code is accepting public comment, and your opinion about urban farming would be a valuable contribution to the outcome of the zoning code rewrite.
To read the full report by PolicyLink about other programs that handle urban farming click here.