(Picture of our last farm day)

Affordable and convenient access to healthy, whole, organically grown foods is often scarce in poorer communities of color, and this phenomenon is not necessarily by coincidence. If the Flint water crisis taught us anything, it’s that race and socio-economics play a large role in which communities are neglected and hardest hit by inequities in the food system. When it comes to safeguarding natural resources and advocating for food justice, our vigilance is vital.

Thanks to a growing food justice movement, urban agriculture is taking off in major cities across the country. While the changing demographics inherent of gentrification have largely contributed to the inpouring of resources and support to remedy this longstanding issue, the benefits of integrating healthy, affordable, and locally grown foods into the urban ecosystem, can be beneficial to all. To that end, a growing community of black farmers have made it their personal mission to ensure that the ecological and economic benefits of urban agriculture are inclusive as they employ local residents, patronize black-owned suppliers, and create community service initiatives. Here are 8 black-owned urban farms making a difference around Washington D.C. and Maryland.

1.  Three Part Harmony Farm

   Photo: threepartharmonyfarm.org
Photo: threepartharmonyfarm.org

Owned and operated by Gail Taylor, Three Part Harmony Farm offers a community supported agriculture program with a locally based economic model of agriculture and food distribution. Located on a 2-acre parcel in northeast Washington, DC., the farm has a greenhouse nursery operation that supplies local community and school gardens as well as two locally owned hardware stores. Taylor uses sustainable practices, with zero chemical pesticides or herbicides to grow veggies, fruit, herbs, and flowers.

2. Soilful City

Photo: soilfulcity.com
Photo: soilfulcity.com

D.C. native Xavier Brown takes both a practical and philosophical approach to farming. The North Carolina A&T alum views the practice not only as a way to cultivate food and sovereignty for communities but as a way to heal and rebuild souls. Located in our nation’s capital, the mission of Soilful City is to bring justice and heal the sacred relationship between communities of African descent and Mother earth utilizing the agricultural and political principals of Agroecology, as well as the principals of Kwanzaa.

3. The Bladensburg Farm

 

Located in Riverdale, Maryland, The Bladensburg Farm provides healthy food for residents of a neighboring subsidized housing complex as well as the larger “healthy food deprived” surrounding community. In this clip, manager, and operator, Frederick James explains how he’s working to change neighborhoods from the inside out.

Bladensburg Farm is an extension of ECO City Farms-a nonprofit organization that provides a prototype for the operation of two area urban farms.

4. District Growers

   Photo: The Picta/@districtgrowers
Photo: The Picta/@districtgrowers

Registered medical marijuana cultivator and founder of District Growers, Corey Barnettetakes immense pride in creating the highest quality cannabis products on the market. In addition to using only the most innovative technological methods to deliver unmatched results, the Duke University MBA is also a conscientious business citizen providing essential trade skills through the company’s junior gardener training program.

5. Tha Flower Factory

Photo: Facebook/ThaFlowerFactory/
Photo: Facebook/ThaFlowerFactory/

Did you know that 70 percent of cut flowers are grown overseas? Based in Maryland, Tha Flower Factory is a small local flower farm cultivating natural beauty and agricultural sustainability in the city of Baltimore. In addition to providing organic, locally grown cut flowers, Tha Flower Factory helps to mediate water run off while bringing beauty to the block and mentoring young urban farmers to do the same.

6. Five Seeds Farm

   Photo: Rachel Woolf  Baltimore Sun
Photo: Rachel Woolf Baltimore Sun

This family-owned and operated farm is championing the idea that “true food security is achieved when you control your own food.” In addition to cultivating produce that is 100 percent free of synthetic pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, and fertilizers, Five Seeds Farm is a responsible business citizen. From community gardening to neighborhood farm stands to community-supported urban agriculture to market and restaurant sales, the family of seven is committed to their practice of “harmonious diversified agriculture.”

7. Dreaming Out Loud

Photo: blindwhino.org
Photo: blindwhino.org

With a mission to build an equitable food system for marginalized people, Dreaming Out Loud (DOL) works to strategically to systemically address the issues of community health, employment, and economic empowerment within three underserved communities of Washington, DC. Through the Mayor’s “Green Summer Jobs Corps,” DOL developed and implemented a youth workforce development program for 72 participants in D.C.’s 7th Ward.

Salute to these urban agriculturalists for their commitment to quality, sustainability, and community.