ECO City Farms at Bladensburg, Md.
About the Farm:
Building on the success of its first urban farm in Edmonston, ECO City Farms has begun creating another urban 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 lower income Autumn Woods Apartments, senior housing and market rate condominiums, 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, compost production, and fruit-bearing trees.
Residents will be invited to participate in every aspect of the design and implementation process. Our highly collaborative process with residents of the Autumn Woods complex will create a healthier environment, while encouraging their hands-on participation in, and learning about, healthy eating and active living. Our programs will simultaneously build consumer demand for healthy food, create and train a network of people to work in farming and food production, secure a sustainable supply of healthy food and coordinate resource providers – all key ingredients in a stronger local food system and enhanced community health.
The food grown at the farm will be made available to residents and members of the community through a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program. CSAs are a successful model for bringing healthy food to communities, allowing families to partner directly with a local farm.
In addition, the site will be used for composting and vermicomposting, since the native soil is not rich enough to grow nutritious vegetables. In partnership with Autumn Woods residents, ECO City Farms will enable families to collect their food waste for composting. Residents will be taught about soil science, healthy food production and preparation, and the importance of preserving the environment.
The northeast corner of the town of Bladensburg where we are building our farm is a certified food desert with lack of access to healthy fresh locally grown foods and a surplus of marginally employed low-income residents living in subsidized multifamily rental housing. The area has underused parcels of land, substantial amounts of organic waste that goes into landfills, rampant storm water run-off, and an extremely high incidence of diet-related ailments. These problems are seen as opportunities for community transformation through this project.
Our goals for the project are to create an economically viable urban farm that provides healthy food to lower income residents of Autumn Woods and to be a vehicle for community transformation. The farm will be a hub for community education on agriculture, food, green employment, and healthy life choices. And in addition, it will convert a significant quantity of residential food waste to nutrient-rich soil for food production.
The project was initially awarded a small seed grant by the Port Towns Community Health Partnership to work with residents to plan this farm. In September 2012, ECO City Farms was awarded a USDA Community Food Grant for the next three years to build and operate the farm, which requires a one to one match. ECO City Farms seeks matching funding to successfully conduct the project.
- Town of Bladensburg, Md.
- Chesapeake Bay Trust
- Critical Exposure
- Endtime Harvest Ministries’ Port Towns Youth Council
- Honrable Andrea Harrison, President, Prince George’s County Council
- Landex Corporation and Richman Property Services, owners of Autumn Woods
- The Magic Johnson Empowerment Center at Autumn Woods
- The Port Towns Community Health Partnership
- Prince George’s County Community Foundation