Homegrown Baltimore: Planning to Grow Locally
On Wednesday, June
19, 2013, Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake announced “Homegrown Baltimore: Grow Local, Buy Local, Eat Local”, the
City of Baltimore’s initiative to support the growth, sale, and consumption
of fresh, healthy, local food.
Grow Local aims to increase local food production in Baltimore
through urban agriculture. Buy Local addresses the sale and
distribution of locally produced foods, including the expansion of farmers’
markets, farm stands, community supported agriculture, farm-to-school programs,
and the sale of local foods in local food stores. Eat Local seeks to increase the
demand for local, healthy food.
As the first step in
Homegrown Baltimore, the Departments
of Planning and Housing & Community Development jointly issued a Request
for Qualifications for urban farmers. Through this process, local farmers were
qualified to negotiate with the City of Baltimore for five-year leases on
vacant, city-owned land.
The first new agriculture
site to be created through Homegrown
Baltimore is Strength to Love Farm, which is transforming 1.5 acres of
formerly vacant land in Sandtown-Winchester into an entrepreneurial venture
that trains and employs residents returning from incarceration. Strength to
Love Farm is a partnership between Big City Farms, a local benefits corporation that supplies start-up funds, technical assistance, and sales support, and
Strength to Love II, a project of Sandtown-based Newborn Holistic Ministries,
which provides manpower.
With one hoop house
(a low-cost greenhouse covered in flexible plastic rather than glass) already
in active use and five more currently being built, Strength to Love Farm is
already producing fresh, healthy vegetables for Baltimore. Many volunteers and
partners have contributed so far to help make Strength to Love Farm a success,
including the Parks & People Foundation, which is helping to install a
stormwater collection and reuse system on the site.
The second Homegrown Baltimore lease was signed
this June with Real Food Farm, a project of Civic Works, for another 1.5 acres
of vacant land in the South Clifton Park neighborhood. This site will be a
training ground for new urban farmers, and will allow Real Food Farm to
experiment with different types of crops. A third and fourth lease are
currently in negotiations.
A Grow Local Plan is currently being
finalized within the Department of Planning, and will be released for public
comment this summer. This plan will lay out specific steps, beyond the Land
Leasing Initiative, to support urban farms and farmers in the City of
For More Information:
Voice of America Video: Baltimore's Empty Lots Bloom With Healthy
Baltimore Brew Article: Fresh produce for Sandtown and a fresh start
for ex-offenders. Mayor cuts ribbon on Strength to Love
II Farm, first city "farmland" leased through new program.
Visit our Partners:
Baltimore Office of Sustainability
Baltimore Food Policy Initiative
Farm Alliance of Baltimore City
Big City Farms
Strength to Love II
Real Food Farm
Future Harvest CASA