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

    California Republicans Mull Choices in Presidential Race

    Ted Cruz tells state's Republican Convention delegates campaign will be 'battle on the ground, district by district by district,' ahead of June 7 primary

    Video Kurdish Football Team Helps War-Torn City Cope

    With conflict still raging across much of Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, many Kurds are trying to escape turmoil by focusing on success of football team Amedspor

    South African Company Designs Unique Solar Cooker

    Two-man team of solar power technologists introduces Sol4, hot plate that heats up so fast it’s like cooking with gas or electricity

    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.
    Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensionsi
    X
    April 29, 2016 12:28 AM
    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensions

    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Master Mohammad Ayub runs a makeshift school in a public park in Islamabad. Thousands of poor children have benefited from his services over the years, but, as VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem reports, roughly 25 million school-age youths don't get an education in Pakistan.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Bangladesh Targeted Killings Spark Wave of Fear

    People in Bangladesh’s capital are expressing deep concern over the brutal attacks that have killed secular blogger, and most recently a gay rights activist and an employee of the U.S. embassy. Xulhaz Mannan, an embassy protocol officer and the editor of the country’s only gay and transgender magazine Roopban; and his friend Mehboob Rabbi Tanoy, a gay rights activist, were hacked to death by five attackers in Mannan’s Dhaka home earlier this month.
    Video

    Video Documentary Tells Tale of Chernobyl Returnees

    Ukraine this week is marking the 30th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear accident, at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Soviet officials at first said little about the accident, but later evacuated a 2,600-square-kilometer "exclusion zone." Some people, though, came back. American directors Holly Morris and Anne Bogart created a documentary about this faithful and brave community. VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko reports from New York on "The Babushkas of Chernobyl." Carol Pearson narrates.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.
    Video

    Video  Return to the Wild

    There’s a growing trend in the United States to let old or underused golf courses revert back to nature. But as Erika Celeste reports from one parcel in Grafton, Ohio, converting 39 hectares of land back to green space is a lot more complicated than just not mowing the fairway.
    Video

    Video West Urges Unity in Libya as Migrant Numbers Soar

    The Italian government says a NATO-led mission aimed at stemming the flow of migrants from Libya to Europe could be up and running by July. There are concerns that the number of migrants could soar as the route through Greece and the Balkans remains blocked. Western powers say the political chaos in Libya is being exploited by people smugglers — and they are pressuring rival groups to come together under the new unity government. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Russia’s TV Rain Swims Against Tide in Sea of Kremlin Propaganda

    Russia’s media freedoms have been gradually eroded under President Vladimir Putin as his government has increased state ownership, influence, and restrictions on critical reporting. Television, where most Russians get their news, has been the main target and is now almost completely state controlled. But in the Russian capital, TV Rain stands out as an island in a sea of Kremlin propaganda.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora