Baltimore’s Community Gardens Make Friends with Corner Stores

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We’re excited to hear that Reservoir Hill is taking community gardens to the next level:  as of this week, the neighborhood will boast the first corner store to sell fresh produce that’s been grown on a formerly-vacant lot in the community. If ever there was a low-key way to combat food deserts, this might be it.

Whitelock Community Farm was founded two years ago by a group of neighborhood residents who were frustrated with the lack of healthy food options near their homes. More than a third of the city’s neighborhoods don’t have easy walking access to a grocery store. Many Baltimoreans rely on corner stores for daily food purchases — but those tend to be stocked with chips and candy bars, not bell peppers and salad greens. “The unavailability of healthy foods has contributed to the poor health of children and is fueling Baltimore’s obesity epidemic,” said Baltimore’s Commissioner of Health Dr. Oxiris Barbot. “Increasing the availability of healthy foods in neighborhoods is a good first step to influencing food choices, reducing obesity and improving health.”

(The program is also being launched at Dakao Market in Belair-Edison, which will sell produce from the Real Food Farm.)

Stocking locally-grown produce in local stores seems like it should be a simple thing, but the project was a year in the making. The farm got assistance from local non-profits to buy a refrigerator in which to store their veggies. In its two brief years, Whitelock has also instituted a number of other ambitious projects, including starting a CSA program and a work-for-produce exchange.

Here’s hoping this project proves to be a success — and that it spreads to other neighborhoods throughout the city. Interested in celebrating the program (or snagging some fresh tomatoes)? Stop by the opening day ceremony from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. tonight at the Linden Market (2435 Linden Avenue).



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