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A Tour of DC Urban Farms

April Martin

DC urban farmers toured Baltimore farms last spring.  So this spring, Baltimore and DC urban farmers toured three different farm sites in and around the DC area.  ECO City Farm, located just over the DC border in Edmonston, Maryland, was the meeting grounds for the tour.  The staff at ECO City Farm graciously provided freshly made pesto, loaves of bread, and tamales to supplement the brown bag lunches.
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Once the crowd of farmers had engaged in food and fellowship, the farm tour began.  Benny Erez, compost guru at ECO City Farm, guided the farmers through the composting process while Christian Melendez, founding farmer and educator at ECO City Farm, guided the farmers through the greenhouse and the hoop houses.  ECO City Farm grows a high volume of organic food within five hoop houses and a greenhouse, utilizing their composting and vermiculture processes with renewable energy systems on a one acre plot of land.  Benny is shown below proudly showcasing a handful of fresh compost.  Pictured below him is one of the five hoop houses and the ducks raised for eggs at ECO City Farm.  
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From ECO City Farm, the farmers headed to Three Part Harmony Farm.  Three Part Harmony Farm is an organic farm producing fruits, vegetables, herbs, and flowers located in Northeast DC.   
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Gail Taylor, founder of Three Part Harmony Farm, and Zachari Curtis, mushroom specialist and beekeeper at the farm, gave the farmers some food for thought.  They spoke about the new generation of farmers and the importance of the Community Farming Alliance.

The Community Farming Alliance was formed to unite DC farmers and markets on common interests and needs.  A few days later, the farmers planned on attending the D.C. Urban Farming and Food Security Act public hearing.  Support for this bill would identify vacant lots for farming in DC as well as provide tax incentives for urban farmers. 

Gail considers herself a new generation farmer.  Her grandfather and great grandparents farmed cotton in Mississippi.  Her grandfather eventually moved north to escape discrimination in the south, but  Gail continues his legacy by farming today.  A row of cotton is planted at Three Part Harmony Farm in his honor.

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From Three Part Harmony Farm, the farmers traveled to Common Good City Farm in Northwest DC.

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Andrea Carter, Common Good City Farm manager, explained how Common Good City Farm offers Community Sustained Agriculture (CSA).  This allows community members to invest in the farm while reaping its benefits when the plants are harvested.  They also offer work exchange for produce and summer internships.  Pictured below is an alternative system at Common Good City Farm for growing food in small areas, such as a city balcony.  The system is called the Vertical Edible Green Towers!  The Styrofoam pots hold a variety of plants with a watering system that drains from a pipe that runs along the top of the stacked system.  

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Urban farming is created and sustained in a variety of forms.  The DC farm tour gave Baltimore and fellow DC urban farmers inspiration for their own farms: from composting and hoop houses, to joining an alliance for public advocacy, or creating outlets for the community to get involved.  DC urban farms have found their own way to grow good food in a bustling city.    


–Shannon Leeke, WYG Education Intern