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ensho Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Aug-11-10 11:15 AM
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Baltimore seeds city farms as path to sustainability, jobs


The common denominator is farming. Baltimore's urban agriculture movement has quietly taken off in the past couple of years, with the twin forces of sustainability and economic benefits providing the boost. Under the eyes of hundreds of visiting school kids, two new multi-acre farms are flourishing at the hands of teenagers who come back to tend seedlings, turn compost, and harvest produce to sell at farm stands. The city also has seen a growing cadre of entrepreneurs launch smaller-scale projects, from container gardens on restaurant rooftops to earthworm-fueled composting, with residents discovering the benefits of worm castings as a nutrient-rich fertilizer that can turn a small garden patch into a prolific source of fresh fruits and vegetables.

Seedy areas

In April, Baltimore got National Public Radio's attention when it launched its Virtual Supermarket project, a partnership joining its health department, two libraries, and Santoni's Supermarket in an effort to provide healthy food in neighborhoods that don't have grocery stores. Residents can order groceries at the library and pay with cash, credit cards, or food stamps, then come back to the library for their groceries the next day without having to pay delivery fees. The partners have faced challenges in getting the word out about the program, but have hopes of expanding it should it gather momentum.


A blueprint for B'more health

Urban farming might be unfolding in Baltimore at a dizzying pace, but it's in a context that gives many participants confidence that it will endure. City officials haven't let the trend get ahead of them. With support from local philanthropic groups that have rallied around the issue, Baltimore was able to hire its first food policy director in April. Holly Freishtat's desk sits in the city's planning department, but she's spent much of her time outside the office working with other city staff and stakeholders to implement the recommendations of Baltimore's food policy task force, which issued a final report in December with guidance on everything from farmers markets to "healthy food zoning."


So far, the city is winning nothing but kudos from the farmers and nonprofit organizations that have taken the lead on urban agriculture in Baltimore. "This is a wonderful way to prime the pump," says John Ciekot, project director at Civic Works. "The city is paving the way for these enterprises to show what people can do."

Baltimore has some smart thinking people - more power to them
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ensho Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Aug-11-10 11:46 AM
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1. kicking this one into the light again
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txlibdem Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Aug-11-10 12:00 PM
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2. This is a great idea
I like the healthy food zoning.
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kestrel91316 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Aug-11-10 12:11 PM
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3. I predict that Big Ag will hire a small army of keyboardists to badmouth the idea
all over the internet with nonsense about "contaminated soils" and the terrible dangers of bacterial contamination.

Liberal amendment of soils with organic matter (COMPOST) ties up contaminants and makes them irrelevant, but you can't convince some people of that. And Big Ag knows it, and tries to promote the misconception.

Keep the Little People afraid - works to prop up profits every time.
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