News / Health

    Urban Farms Bloom in Concrete Desert

    Farm Blooms in Urban Food Deserti
    X
    August 21, 2013 8:18 PM
    Farms are sprouting up in vacant city lots and abandoned properties across the United States. By tilling the soil in places where people have little access to fresh food, these urban farms have the power to change what people eat … and the power to transform troubled neighborhoods. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble takes us to a community near Washington, DC, where a healthier life style is taking root.
    Rosanne Skirble
    Farms are sprouting up in vacant city lots and abandoned properties across the United States. By tilling the soil in places where people have little access to fresh food, these urban farms have the power to change what people eat and the power to transform troubled neighborhoods.  

    This healthier lifestyle is taking root in a community near Washington, D.C., where a group of young people are spending their summer learning how to cook healthy food.

    The six teens apply their skills in a kitchen set up in a shipping container at Eco City Farms. The farm is an oasis of freshly grown produce in an otherwise bleak landscape of strip malls, car repair shops and fast food marts.
        
    For example, Philip Sidibe makes a plantain dish that is popular in his native Cameroon. He and brother Adam have been in the United States for less than a year.
    Urban Farms Bloom in Concrete Desert
    Urban Farms Bloom in Concrete Deserti
    || 0:00:00
    ...    
     
    X

    Margaret Morgan-Hubbard founded Eco City Farms to make this food desert bloom. The social activist says the scarcity of fresh produce is a major health problem for these kids and their families who live nearby in Bladensburg, a historic town on the Anacostia River.   

    “What’s critical is that 70 percent of the people in these towns are either overweight, obese, have diabetes or other kinds of diet-related ailments because they don’t have access to healthy food," Morgan-Hubbard said. "So we are very concerned that this is a social justice issue, that everybody had a right not just to food, but to food that nourishes and supports their bodies and that’s what we work on.”

    Bladensburg, Maryland Mayor Walter James gets his pick of produce from the Philip Sidibe, Adam Sidibe and Wudood Omran. (Rosanne Skirble/VOA)Bladensburg, Maryland Mayor Walter James gets his pick of produce from the Philip Sidibe, Adam Sidibe and Wudood Omran. (Rosanne Skirble/VOA)
    x
    Bladensburg, Maryland Mayor Walter James gets his pick of produce from the Philip Sidibe, Adam Sidibe and Wudood Omran. (Rosanne Skirble/VOA)
    Bladensburg, Maryland Mayor Walter James gets his pick of produce from the Philip Sidibe, Adam Sidibe and Wudood Omran. (Rosanne Skirble/VOA)
    The teens not only cook their food, they also grow it in a large garden next to Autumn Woods Apartments. The low-income housing complex for 1,000 residents is served by one small store stocked largely with snack food.

    With the support of Bladensburg Mayor Walter James, Morgan-Hubbard turned an abandoned piece of land into a thriving garden.

    “Our young people are phenomenal," James said. "They always do a phenomenal job, whenever they can get their hands on something and they have that tangible thing that they can touch and say, 'I did this. I was part of this.' I believe that helps with the overall sustainability and growth of our community.”  

    James is working to rezone the property and turn the entire 1.5-hectare lot into a commercial farm to serve the community.

    Tameka Barbour-Gaskins likes the idea. She lives in Autumn Woods, where her son attends camp and spends time in the garden. The whole family is reaping the benefits.    

    “I like junk food. I like quick food," Barbour-Gaskins said. "It’s not easy just to go from eating a certain way all your life to switching over to being healthier… With the garden here, with my son learning, he can help me switch around my style of eating. I want a healthy family.”

    Fresh produce turns into a feast at Eco City Farms. (Rosanne Skirble/VOA)Fresh produce turns into a feast at Eco City Farms. (Rosanne Skirble/VOA)
    x
    Fresh produce turns into a feast at Eco City Farms. (Rosanne Skirble/VOA)
    Fresh produce turns into a feast at Eco City Farms. (Rosanne Skirble/VOA)
    Meanwhile, back at Eco City Farms, it’s time for lunch.

    There are plenty of spicy lentils and rice, a Libyan stew and fried plantains from Cameroon accompanied by fruit and lettuce just picked from the garden. 

    Morgan-Hubbard says the urban garden is a magnet for change and these young people are its newest advocates.

    “Our program is about planting seeds," she said. "It’s about planting seeds not just in the ground, but in other human beings so that the movement can grow and it’s really exciting because… these young people will be working with us throughout the year to help plan the actual farm and to organize the community and ultimately own it.”  

    This means not only farming food, but also making that food available to people who live in the community.

    You May Like

    Russian-Backed Offensive in Syria Pushes War to Tipping Point

    As threat to Aleppo and rebel forces grows, US plan to negotiate becomes less and less appealing for Syrian government, says one military analyst

    IS Runs Timber Smuggling Business in Afghanistan, Officials Say

    Government turning blind eye to smuggling, according to tribal leaders; Afghanistan's forest cover dropped by 50 percent in three decades, experts say

    Video White House Seeks $1.8 Billion to Combat Zika

    Obama administration says funding would 'support essential strategies to combat the virus' such as rapidly expanding mosquito control programs, accelerating vaccine research

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Sylvia from: Studio City
    August 23, 2013 7:13 PM
    I visited another such urban farm in Chicago last week. Every open space has its own back story. The one I visited is on the most notorious public housing site, Cabrini-Green. I compelled to know more and posted its story on my blog:

    http://slysmisenplace.blogspot.com/2013/08/a-story-of-one-city-farm.html

    by: ou from: salem, Oregon
    August 22, 2013 5:53 AM
    My Jungle dad always said food are better than gold. if I have a lot of food and some one else has a lot of money see who can stays input longer. I used to said even you live in the king's palace, space or space station that you still need to eat dirt (food) like north korean could not eat their nuclear bumb so Oregon sent them a lot of granny smith apple trees back in the late 90. soviet found that out during the cold war.

    by: Yoshi from: Sapporo
    August 21, 2013 10:03 PM
    Yes, we are apt to love fast and junk foods. It is probably because these foods are easily accessible around convinience stores. Growing fresh foods near by neighborhood is a good idea for us to enjoy healthy lives without diet-related ailments. That being said, I am sure we would realize that growing vegitables is difficult and time-consuming job!

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    'No Means No' Program Targets Sexual Violence in Kenyai
    X
    February 08, 2016 4:30 PM
    The organizers of an initiative to reduce and stop rape in the informal settlements around Kenya's capital say their program is having marked success. Girls are taking self-defense classes while the boys are learning how to protect the girls and respect them. Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi.
    Video

    Video 'No Means No' Program Targets Sexual Violence in Kenya

    The organizers of an initiative to reduce and stop rape in the informal settlements around Kenya's capital say their program is having marked success. Girls are taking self-defense classes while the boys are learning how to protect the girls and respect them. Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi.
    Video

    Video New Hampshire Voters Are Independent, Mindful of History

    Once every four years, the northeastern state of New Hampshire becomes the center of the U.S. political universe with its first-in-the-nation presidential primary. What's unusual about New Hampshire is how seriously the voters take their role and the responsibility of being among the first to weigh in on the candidates.
    Video

    Video Chocolate Lovers Get a Sweet History Lesson

    Observed in many countries around the world, Valentine’s Day is sometimes celebrated with chocolate festivals. But at a festival near Washington, the visitors experience a bit more than a sugar rush. They go on a sweet journey through history. VOA’s June Soh takes us to the festival.
    Video

    Video 'Smart' Bandages Could Heal Wounds More Quickly

    Simple bandages are usually seen as the first line of attack in healing small to moderate wounds and burns. But scientists say new synthetic materials with embedded microsensors could turn bandages into a much more valuable tool for emergency physicians. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Bhutanese Refugees in New Hampshire Closely Watching Primary Election

    They fled their country and lived in refugee camps in neighboring Nepal for decades before being resettled in the northeastern U.S. state of New Hampshire -- now the focus of the U.S. presidential contest. VOA correspondent Aru Pande spoke with members of the Bhutanese community, including new American citizens, about the campaign and the strong anti-immigrant rhetoric of some of the candidates.
    Video

    Video Researchers Use 3-D Printer to Produce Transplantable Body Parts

    Human organ transplants have become fairly common around the world in the past few decades. Researchers at various universities are coordinating their efforts to find solutions -- including teams at the University of Pennsylvania and Rice University in Houston that are experimenting with a 3-D printer -- to make blood vessels and other structures for implant. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, they are also using these artificial body parts to seek ways of defeating cancerous tumors.
    Video

    Video Helping the Blind 'See' Great Art

    There are 285 million blind and visually impaired people in the world who are unable to enjoy visual art at a museum. One New York photographer is trying to fix this situation by making tangible copies of the world’s masterpieces. VOA correspondent Victoria Kupchinetsky was there as visually impaired people got a feel for great art. Joy Wagner narrates her report.
    Video

    Video Sanders, Clinton Battle for Young Democratic Vote

    Despite a narrow loss to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in last week's Iowa Democratic caucuses, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders secured more than 80 percent of the vote among those between the ages of 18 and 29. VOA correspondent Aru Pande talks to Democrats in New Hampshire about who they are leaning towards and why in this week's primary.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.
    Video

    Video Microcephaly's Connection to Zika: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

    The Zika virus rarely causes problems for the people who get it, but it seems to be having a devastating impact on babies whose mothers are infected with Zika. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
    Video

    Video Stunning Artworks Attract Record Crowds, Thanks to Social Media

    A new exhibit at the oldest art museum in America is shattering attendance records. Thousands of visitors are lining up to see nine giant works of art that have gotten a much-deserved shot of viral marketing. The 150-year-old Smithsonian American Art Museum has never had a response quite like this. VOA's Julie Taboh reports.