News / USA

Baltimore's Empty Lots Bloom With Healthy Greens

Baltimore's Empty Lots Bloom With Healthy Greensi
|| 0:00:00
X
May 01, 2013 2:07 PM
About two-thirds of the world’s population will live in cities by 2030, according to the United Nations. The U.N. says poverty is already growing faster in urban areas than in rural ones, and feeding the world’s hungry urbanites poses a mounting challenge. Experts say cities must grow more of their own food, wherever they can. In the struggling U.S. city of Baltimore, that means turning urban blight into a source of healthy greens. VOA’s Steve Baragona takes a look.

Baltimore's Empty Lots Bloom With Healthy Greens

On a patch of asphalt on the edge of Baltimore, a row of greenhouses lay like giant white caterpillars across the blacktop.

This one stretch of land is blooming in the midst of a post-industrial wasteland that has lost about one-third of its population since its post-World War II peak, leaving hollowed-out neighborhoods of boarded-up buildings and abandoned lots.

“It was a high-crime area. This vacant lot was a haven for drug activity. But not anymore,” says William Long, a farm manager who works for Big City Farms.

The company was the first to sign a lease to grow food on abandoned land owned by the city.

“We can really create jobs in the city, in an industry that doesn’t exist," said Alex Persful, president of Big City Farms. "That’s the whole meaning behind here. One, having good food. Two, having good jobs. And, all these lots that are just trash heaps right now.”

Turning trash heaps into fresh-food treasure troves makes a lot of sense for a city with 17,000 empty lots and 10 percent unemployment. Baltimore hopes to lease about eight hectares of vacant land to urban farmers in the next five years.

There are multiple benefits, says the planning department’s Abby Cocke. "Decreasing the burden on us for caring for vacant property. Employing more citizens, revitalizing the local economy. Drawing people into the city. I know of a few people who have moved to Baltimore to be part of the urban farming movement in Baltimore. It hits a ton of our goals.”

Farming in the city hits one of Persful’s main goals, too. While most produce is shipped in from across the country, Big City Farms grows its greens within 15 kilometers of the customer.

“I’m cutting it now," Persful said. "It’s getting to your plate within 24 hours. And there’s a big difference between something that was cut a week ago, or two weeks ago, and something that was cut just a couple hours ago.”

Restaurant chefs savor the ultra-fresh taste.

“I had the opportunity to serve carrots that were pulled from the ground less than two hours ago," said Timothy Dyson, chef at Bluegrass Tavern love. "The flavors really pop.”

Persful has shown he can grow fresh food just about anywhere, including this infertile patch of asphalt on the edge of the city.

“It’s been a parking lot for I guess about three years now," he said. "But this used to be the city garage behind us.”

Walking through a green carpet of lettuce inside one greenhouse, Persful digs through the roughly 15 centimeters of compost lining the floor. This is the pilot farm, where the company started out. But Big City Farms is all about growth in unexpected places.

That includes its employees. Farm manager William Long spent time in prison on drug-possession charges.

“This community itself needs a change for the better," Long said. "And me being an ex-offender myself, if they see that I can do it, maybe they will want to make a change as well.”

It's a change Big City Farms hopes to bring to cities across the country.

You May Like

Mood Tense Ahead of Scotland Independence Vote

As race to persuade undecided voters continues, No voters say they believe life in Scotland will slowly improve and do not want to take a risk by endorsing independence More

South Africa’s 'Open Mosque' Admits Everyone, Including Critics

Open Mosque founder plans to welcome gay worshipers and allow women to lead prayers More

Ukrainian Activist in Despair About Future of Her Country

IrIna Dovgan, accused of being a spy and tortured by pro-Russian separatists, is appealing to UN Human Rights Council to support her country More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: FOODYHydroponics from: Orlando, FL. USA
May 05, 2013 3:13 PM
That is fantastic! Great way to help others help themselves and get healthier in the process! Think how much more production you would have if you grew some of the area vertically! All that greenhouse space and 80% is empty air.

Call me for info!

Skip Stein
FOODY Hydroponics Systems
http://foody-hydroponics.com/

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Spacei
X
September 17, 2014 4:20 AM
The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Future of Ukrainian Former President's Estate Uncertain

More than six months after Ukraine's former President Viktor Yanukovych fled revolution to Russia, authorities have yet to gain control of his palatial estate. Protesters occupy the grounds and opened it to tourists but they are also refusing to turn it over to the state. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Mezhigirya, just north of Kyiv.
Video

Video China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

China says its has sentenced three men to death and one woman to life in prison for a deadly knife attack in March that left more than 30 dead and 140 injured. Beijing says Muslim militants from China's restive western region of Xinjiang carried out the attacks. Now, more than six months after the incident, residents in the city are still coping with the aftermath. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Kunming.
Video

Video Enviropreneur Seeks to Save the Environment, Empower the Community

Lorna Rutto, a former banker, is now an ‘enviropreneur’ - turning plastic waste into furniture and fences discusses the challenges she faces in Africa with raw materials and the environment.
Video

Video West Trades Accusations Over Ransoms

As world leaders try to forge a common response to the threat posed by Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, there is simmering tension over differing policies on paying ransoms. In the past month, the jihadist group has beheaded two Americans and one Briton. Both countries refuse to pay ransom money. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London, there is uncertainty in the approach of some other European nations.
Video

Video Scotland Independence Bid Stokes Global Interest

The people of Scotland are preparing to vote on whether to become independent and break away from the rest of Britain, in a referendum being watched carefully in many other countries. Some see it as a risky experiment; while others hope a successful vote for independence might energize their own separatist demands. Foreign immigrants to Scotland have a front row seat for the vote. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell spoke to some of them in Edinburgh.
Video

Video Washington DC Mural Artists Help Beautify City

Like many cities, Washington has a graffiti problem. Buildings and homes, especially in low-income neighborhoods, are often targets of illegal artwork. But as we hear from VOA’s Julie Taboh, officials in the nation's capital have come up with an innovative program that uses the talents of local artists to beautify the city.
Video

Video US Muslim Leaders Condemn Islamic State

Leaders of America's Muslim community are condemning the violent extremism of the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria. The U.S. Muslim leaders say militants are exploiting their faith in a failed effort to justify violent extremism. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.
Video

Video Bedouin Woman Runs Successful Business in Palestinian City

A Bedouin woman is breaking social taboos by running a successful vacation resort in the Palestinian town of Jericho. Bedouins are a sub-group of Arabs known for their semi-nomadic lifestyle. Zlatica Hoke says the resort in the West Bank's Jordan Valley is a model of success for women in the region.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid