ECO City Farms has converted previously vacant land into a highly productive farming enterprise that produces healthy vegetables, fruit, herbs, eggs and honey. Our produce is Certified Naturally Grown by fellow farmers who establishes an international grassroots alternative to the USDA Certified Organic Program. We employ environmentally sound, chemical-free, permaculture farming methods and support others to do the same.
We provide in-depth, hands-on technical and practical training in urban agriculture through apprenticeships and internships and courses. In conjunction with Prince George’s Community College and other partners, we offer a wide range of Continuing Education Credit courses and a certificate in Commercial Urban Farming. Students range from beginners to seasoned experts. In 2016 we were awarded a major 3 year grant from USDA to implement our intensive beginning farmer training program, Food Sovereignty: Growing Urban Farmers and Farms, that builds upon past farmer training programs.
Composting and Rebuilding Soil:
We nurture the ecosystem by producing our own soil additives through extensive composting of local food waste and vermicomposting with millions of worms. We teach beginning, advanced and master composting through the Neighborhood Soil Rebuilders program.
With funding from a Maryland Department of Agriculture Specialty Crop Block Grant, ECO City Farms set out to develop a microgreens growing system that would work in small settings, such as urban farms or for farmers looking to create additional crops and sources of revenue to supplement their other growing operations. Over the course of two years, we researched microgreen operations around the country, tested seeds and growing media, and experimented with growing structures. With some ideas of what worked for the setup, we built out a microgreens growing area in a large hoophouse which could be expanded as market and customers grow. Learn more about ECO’s best practices from our Guidelines for Growing Microgreens.
Through hands-on, culturally appropriate experiential learning, we involve youth and their families in healthy eating and active living. Our summer SEED2FEED program creatively employs art and science to support local young people and their families’ efforts to grow, cook, eat and value healthy food and advocate for food justice.
Nutrition Education and Cooking:
Using a train the trainer model, we partner with graduates of Maryland University of Integrative Health to instruct Community Nutrition Educators who teach their peers why and how to eat healthy and live more actively. We collaborate with local chefs to teach how to prepare and cook irresistible healthy foods.
Outreach and Community Engagement:
Via extensive educational offerings, cultural events, volunteer opportunities and tours, we involve our community in growing and preparing nutritious food to overcome food insecurity and diet-related ailments, and in creating vibrant healthy places for people to live, work, worship and play.
Farm Share/CSA and Farmers Market:
We grow healthy nutritious vegetables, herbs and fruit year-round on our farm and make them available to the community through a winter and summer farm share and markets. We feed many hundreds of people a week with our farm shares and reach many hundreds more weekly at the Riverdale Park Farmers Market and through on-farm sales.
Bladensburg Farm Project:
With funding from a USDA Community Food Project grant, ECO City Farms is creating another farm in Bladensburg, Md., which will be a national model of a residential farm on a low income apartment complex. On approximately 3.5 acres of land adjacent to the 480-unit subsidized Autumn Woods Apartments, ECO City Farms is building a fully functional urban farm and composting operation. The farm will produce food for Autumn Woods residents and the adjacent community, and include hoop house structures for the year-round growing of vegetables, field crops, honey bees, and fruit-bearing trees. Read more.
A Voice for Justice, Food Security and Sustainable Farming:
ECO collaborates with a wide range of community partners to advocate for and promote food justice locally, regionally and nationally. ECO helped found and co-chairs the Prince George’s County Food Equity Council to identify and propose solutions to improve our local food system.
Our commitment to protect and restore the environment is evident in all facets of our works; reusing materials and applying permaculture methods to build our hoophouses and FoodShed kitchens, and practicing gray water recycling, energy conservation and composting.