News / USA

Urban Farm Flourishes in Downtown Area

Ninety-year-old keeps farming as development springs up around him

For 30 years, Charlie Koiner, 90, has continued to farm, even as development springs up around him.
For 30 years, Charlie Koiner, 90, has continued to farm, even as development springs up around him.
June Soh

On a warm day, Charlie Koiner tends to the fruits and vegetables growing on his patchwork farm, which is made up of a collection of small plots. A few blocks - and a world - away is downtown Silver Spring, Maryland, an urban area just outside Washington, D.C.

Koiner, 90, has grown a wide variety of produce on the lot next to his home since he bought the land 30 years ago. He calls it the best investment he ever made, but not in terms of money.

“I have an acre (4,000 square meters) of ground here and that gives me plenty of room and plenty of ground to work," he says. "So it keeps me busy just raising all this stuff. I enjoy it.”

Born and raised on a family farm that is now a shopping mall in a fast-growing Washington suburb, Koiner has gardened all his life.

"That was my grandfather’s place, and we had some 30 acres (12 hectares) right there, that was all country and everything.  And we had horses and cows and chickens and always raised a big garden.”

He takes pride in what he grows in his plots and customers drop by frequently to pick up produce. Many of them are regulars, like Martha Grundmann, who came across Koiner's farm by chance seven years ago.

“I was driving by one day taking a shortcut from work," she says, "and I saw this sign on the corner saying 'radishes, cucumbers, lettuce,' and I said, 'This is a garden in the middle of Silver Spring?'"

Barbara Stein comes to Koiner’s every week. “In the early 80s, my mother and aunt started to go to him. I enjoy talking to him, he is a very sweet man. I love his produce. He has great prices and wonderful stuff. I feel kind of loyal to him.”  

Saturday, when he sells his produce at a nearby farmers’ market, are Koiner’s busiest day. He says he could not do all the work without his daughter.

"I grew up on a farm with my father. I am the only child. And around the farm I followed my father everywhere," says Lynn Koiner. "I worked on the farm and it was not because I had to, but I just loved doing it. I am the same as my father, I could not live any other way.”

Lynn, now 65, recalls the reactions from developers when her father purchased this piece of land.

“As soon as my father bought it they started calling me, asking me what I wanted to do with the land, and I said 'We are going to farm it.'  Well, you could hear, like, you know, air being sucked out of a room, this gasp of, farm?  They could not believe.”

The Koiners say they still don’t plan on selling.

“Over the years I have had a good life," he says, "just working, and I am thankful for that, at my age, to be able to get out here and do what I am doing now. As long as I am able or fit to do it, I like to keep on doing it.”

You May Like

UN Watchdog Urges Israel to Probe Possible Gaza War Crimes

More than 2,100 Palestinians, most of them civilians, were killed in a 51-day war in Gaza, along with 67 Israeli soldiers and six civilians in Israel More

New Kenyan 'Thin SIMs' Poised to Transform African Mobile Money

Equity's new technology is approved in African nation for one-year trial, though industry leader Safaricom says thin SIMs could lead to data theft and fraud More

Solar's Future Looks Brighter

New technology and dropping prices are contributing to a surge in solar power More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
October 25, 2014 4:21 PM
Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukraine

Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.

All About America

AppleAndroid