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

US Gives Malaysia Questionable Upgrade in Human Trafficking Ranks

Malaysia’s upgrade seen as removing barrier to country’s participation in the US-led 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership More

Turkey, US Try to Establish Buffer Despite Differences

Coalition airstrikes in proposed zone would aim to drive out Islamic extremists, allowing targeted area to come under sway of anti-Assad rebels More

Video US: Millions Exploited by Vast Fortunes of Human Trafficking

State Department's annual report calls exploitation 'modern slavery,' brutalizing girls, women into prostitution and forcing men, women and children into low-wage jobs across the globe More

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.
US Calls Fight Against Human Trafficking a Must Wini
X
July 28, 2015 12:21 AM
The United States is promising not to give up its fight against what Secretary of State John Kerry calls the “scourge” of modern slavery. Officials released the country’s annual human trafficking report Monday – a report that’s being met with some criticism. VOA’s National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more from the State Department.
Video

Video US Calls Fight Against Human Trafficking a Must Win

The United States is promising not to give up its fight against what Secretary of State John Kerry calls the “scourge” of modern slavery. Officials released the country’s annual human trafficking report Monday – a report that’s being met with some criticism. VOA’s National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more from the State Department.
Video

Video Iran Nuclear Pact Wins Few New US Congressional Backers

Later this week, President Barack Obama returns from a trip to Africa to confront a U.S. Congress roiled by the nuclear accord with Iran, an agreement that has received the blessing of the U.N. Security Council. Days of intensive lobbying and testimony by top administration officials have won few new congressional supporters of the pact. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports.
Video

Video Washington DC Underground Streetcar Station to Become Arts Venue

Abandoned more than 50 years ago, the underground streetcar station in Washington D.C.’s historic DuPont Circle district is about to be reborn. The plan calls for turning the spacious underground platforms - once meant to be a transportation hub, - into a unique space for art exhibitions, presentations, concerts and even a film set. Roman Mamonov has more from beneath the streets of the U.S. capital. Joy Wagner narrates his report.
Video

Video Obama Encourages Kenya to Fix Cultures of Corruption, Discrimination

President Barack Obama bid farewell to Kenya Sunday with a major speech at as stadium outside the capital Nairobi where he called on Kenyans to change the cultures of corruption and discrimination that can hold society back. VOA East Africa Correspondent Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Europe’s Twin Crises Collide in Greece as Migrant Numbers Soar

Greece has replaced Italy as the main gateway for migrants into Europe, with more than 100,000 arrivals in the first six months of 2015. Many want to move further into Europe and escape Greece’s economic crisis, but they face widespread dangers on the journey overland through the Balkans. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Stink Intensifies as Lebanon’s Trash Crisis Continues

After the closure of a major rubbish dump a week ago, the streets of Beirut are filling up with trash. Having failed to draw up a plan B, politicians are struggling to deal with the problem. John Owens has more for VOA from Beirut.
Video

Video Paris Rolls Out Blueprint to Fight Climate Change

A U.N. climate conference in December aims to produce an ambitious agreement to fight heat-trapping greenhouse gases. But many local governments are not waiting, and have drafted their own climate action plans. That’s the case with Paris — which is getting special attention, since it’s hosting the climate summit. Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at the transformation of the French capital into an eco-city.
Video

Video Racially Diverse Spider-Man Takes Center Stage

Whether it’s in a comic book or on the big screen, fans have always known the man behind the Spider-Man mask as Peter Parker. But that is changing, at least in the comic book world. Marvel Comics announced that a character called Miles Morales will replace Peter Parker as Spider-Man in a new comic book series. He is half Latino, half African American, and he is quite popular among comic book fans. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports from Los Angeles.
Video

Video California Towns Welcome Special Olympics Athletes

Cities and towns in Southern California are greeting thousands of athletes who are arriving for Special Olympics, a competition for people with intellectual disabilities. The games will run from July 25th through August 2nd. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports from Pasadena, California, where athletes from Namibia, Singapore and Tanzania got a rousing welcome from local residents.
Video

Video Critics of Japan Defense Policy Focus on Okinawa

In Okinawa, many locals have long complained that Tokyo places an unfair burden on the tiny island by locating most of Japan's U.S. military bases there. As Japan's government moves toward strengthening and expanding the country's defense policies, opponents of those plans are joining local protesters in Okinawa, voicing concern about where the country is headed. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from Okinawa.
Video

Video IS Uses Chemical Weapons in Syrian Attack

Islamic State militants have added a new weapon in their arsenal of fear: chemical weapons. VOA Kurdish service reporter Zana Omer was on the scene within hours of a recent attack in Hasakah, Syria, and has details of the subsequent investigation, in this report narrated by Miguel Amaya.
Video

Video Historic Symbol Is Theme of Vibrant New Show

A new exhibit in Washington is paying tribute to the American flag with a wide and eclectic selection of artwork that uses the historic symbol as its central theme. VOA’s Julie Taboh was at the DC Chamber of Commerce for the show’s opening.
Video

Video Hoverbike Flying Toward Reality

Another long-standing dream of many technological inventors is quickly approaching reality: U.S.- and British-based firms are cooperating in the development of an individual flying platform they call a hoverbike. They say it may revolutionize the concept of flying, including in the U.S. military. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video As Japan Expands Defense Role, Protests Follow

The Japanese government is moving forward with a controversial security bill that would authorize the military to fight abroad for the first time since World War II. Leaders say it is critical to defend against rising threats from China and North Korea. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from Japan on the big changes ahead, and the opposition they are drawing.
Video

Video Replacing Poppies with Coffee in Myanmar

The remote mountains of Myanmar’s Shan state are home to the second-largest opium-producing region in the world. After a drop during the 2000s, production surged in the past eight years to feed an increasing demand for heroin in China. But farmers are now making less on the crop, and the U.N. is hoping many will make the switch to growing coffee. Daniel de Carteret reports for VOA from Taunggyi.

VOA Blogs