Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘plantation’

Photo: Kenneth K. Lam/Baltimore Sun.
Harold Morales, left, an associate professor at Morgan State University, loads boxes of vegetables with help from Troy Costner, center, and Artar Isreal, right, at Plantation Park Heights Urban Farm to deliver to a community center.

In a time of wintry weather and a return to isolation, it’s nice to think of warmer days and communities working outdoors together. Today’s story is about an urban farm in Baltimore that is providing healthful food where it’s needed most.

Stephanie Garcia writes at the Baltimore Sun about Plantation Park Heights Urban Farm.

“The lot at the corner of Springhill and Cottage avenues in Baltimore used to be vacant. Today, it’s home to one of the top 10 innovative farms in the country, according to the American Farm Bureau Federation.

“Known as Plantation Park Heights Urban Farm, it was founded eight years ago by Richard Francis, affectionately known as Farmer Chippy, who was looking for a community from the Caribbean diaspora in Baltimore and wanted to grow food for — and with — Park Heights residents.

“The farm has grown beyond Park Heights, with farmers aiming to grow 250,000 pounds of food across 30 city-owned vacant lots, all leased by the Plantation. … Collectively, these farmers and others in Baltimore plan to build the city’s first AgriHood, or a marketplace and community-shared agriculture and training resource institute. …

“Francis [has] secured partnerships with the University of Maryland, Coppin State University and Holistic Wellness and Health, which offers fresh 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 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. ‘We wanted to remind children of the colonizers, that this is where it all started,’ Francis explained. ‘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.’

“Agriculture is found across Baltimore, with over 20 urban farms and 100 community gardens, according to the Baltimore Office of Sustainability. It is a hotbed for art and community service, hosting poetry open mics and bringing quality produce to Maryland correctional institutions. [The Plantation] also has connected families with resources beyond farming and agriculture, helping dozens of neighbors with energy-saving grants and other services to help prevent eviction and homelessness.

“One community partner is the Morgan State University Center for the Study of Religion and the City. … Harold Morales, an associate professor of philosophy and religious studies at Morgan State, usually visits the urban farm on Thursday afternoons. He can be found pulling weeds, planting, harvesting and distributing one of the 300 free food boxes donated weekly through a U.S. Department of Agriculture program. Morales also helps with grant writing and research for the Plantation. …

“Park Heights Renaissance, a nonprofit organization focused on land and economic development, awarded the Plantation a $25,000 grant to support agriculture in classrooms across four public elementary schools in Park Heights. Children ages 5 to 15 are learning how to grow, harvest and package nutrient-dense foods for families in the community.

“Morales refers to the Plantation as a little piece of the Caribbean in Park Heights, where land, food and community come together. ‘Shovel, rakes, soil. Those are the things you need to survive in the urban context, but that’s not what people usually think,’ Morales said.

“Francis has seen plenty of similarities to his native Trinidad and Tobago. ‘Park Heights is like a Third World city. It has been neglected, it is heavily populated with Black and Brown people,’ he said. ‘It has a port, and it has a thriving economy happening outside of the poverty. We have an amazing educational system in the Caribbean, just like here with Johns Hopkins and the likes. But we are still unable to retain our talent, because most of these people graduate and go outside for opportunities.’ …

“Caribbean crops like sugar cane, sweet potatoes and Trinidad scorpion peppers are grown at the Plantation. Youth farmers learn that plantain leaves have healing properties for bites or stings and can be used like a bandage. …

“ ‘What’s often referred to as food deserts more appropriately should be called food apartheid,’ Morales said. … Francis echoes that sentiment and wants to transform Park Heights from a food desert into a food oasis. AgriHood Baltimore is key for this vision to come to fruition. ‘It is the close of the summer season for us, and we’re getting ready for next year,’ he said. ‘We’re coming bigger, better, faster and stronger.’ “

More at the Baltimore Sun, here.

Read Full Post »

%d bloggers like this: