Urban Agriculture and the Local Food Movement

Real Food Farm is an organization dedicated to urban agriculture. Farmers cultivate and harvest crops on six acres of land in Clifton Park in Baltimore. Photo by Gabrielle LePore/TU Student

Urban agriculture is gaining prevalence due to the increased awareness of its benefits.

Abby Cocke, the environmental planner for the office of sustainability at the Baltimore City department of planning said a number of cities, including Baltimore, have a lot of open and unused land that attracts trash and loiterers.

“Growing food is a great way to use vacant land,” Cocke said. “It provides jobs and income for people. It provides fresh, health, local food, and it cuts down on our greenhouse gas emissions because we’re not trucking food in from the outside.”

There are many ways in which students can support the movement toward urban agriculture.

Doing it is the best way to spread the practice,” Cocke said. “Volunteer at an urban farm or community garden, and help out that way.”

Pamela Hargest, a student at Towson University, is a member of TU Urban Farm. Three years ago, the group turned a vacant piece of land behind the school’s Administration building into a community garden where they weed, cultivate and grow their own food.

“It’s not just producing food,” Hargest said. “But it’s the idea of producing food together with a group of people who can work towards a common good.”

Ben Warner, the advisor of TU Urban Farm, said the group’s missions are not only to grow their own food, but to practice sustainability. By not using pesticides and herbicides, there are no chemicals that pollute the ground. They also catch their own water when it rains.

“All of our water comes off of the roof of a shed and goes into a gutter,” he said. “The gutter takes it into a series of eight rain barrels. We have many, many gallons of water stored in those rain barrels, and we use that over the summer.”

By supporting urban agriculture and sustainability, we insulate ourselves from future changes, Cocke said.

“If for some reason it’s much harder to get food from elsewhere because gas prices skyrocket and the price of food goes up significantly, it wouldn’t affect local urban agriculture.”

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