Tag: farming

Greenlaurel: Try Local Cut Flowers and Avoid Those Jetsetter Blooms

0
A gorgeous locally sourced Local Color Flower bouquet grown within 100 miles of Baltimore.

These days, two dozen roses may only set you back $30. Yet, behind these cheap blooms is a $60 billion global cut-flower industry with a story that’s not quite as rosy. The modern flower industry is known for a voluminous carbon footprint, thorny labor issues and prickly land, pesticide and water practices.

The next time you pick flowers for your special event, think outside the flower box and consider choosing your blooms from the many local and sustainable flower options right here in Charm City.

GreenLaurel: Four Ways Climate Change Is Affecting Baltimore Today

0

A smart bunch of oceanographers from the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science and others combed through 114 years of Maryland weather data. They discovered something you may already suspect: Baltimore’s weather and climate have changed significantly. Yet, how it’s changing — and will continue to change — our daily life may surprise you. Here’s what to expect and how you can be part of the climate solution. 

Bears Chow Down on $20,000 Worth of Maryland Corn

0

Bear carrying ear of corn

Sure, “a plague of bears” doesn’t have the same ring as “a plague of locusts,” but it turns out that black bears can wreak their own kind of havoc on crops throughout Maryland.

Vegetable CSA from Little Gunpowder Farm

0

CSA

catch of the day fish (2)It’s been quite a few months now since many of us have had the pleasure of a tomato fresh off the vine, or peas picked from the backyard. It’s winter now, after all. And once spring springs again, we’ll be back to our weekly trips to the farmer’s market to regularly fill our kitchens with nutritious, local food that’s as good for our bodies as it is for the local economy. But year after year, we show up at the farmer’s market come spring, and notice that everyone else seems to have actually thought ahead (gasp!) and reserved a CSA (that’s community supported agriculture) share ahead of time– guaranteeing them a hearty (and inexpensive) supply of seasonal produce all harvest long. By the time we remember to sign up, most local farms have sold out of shares. Which is why we’re reminding ourselves (and you) that now is a great time to start poking around for the right CSA, and reserving a share while you can.

Four Llamas, 30 Cats, 16 Alpacas, and a Peacock: Ellicott City Farm Family Lives Happily off Their Land

0

bigpig

“I may smell like pig!” Alison Martini Meyer tells me, laughing, when I’m moved to hug her goodbye after a visit to her vet clinic in Silver Spring. At her generous invitation, I’ve transported a sick and dizzy and can’t-walk rescue kitten from a shelter in Baltimore. “We’ll keep him here and run tests,” she says calmly, walking quickly through the clinic in jeans and flats. The pretty brunette 40-something works here half the week and spends other weekdays at home on the nearby range of western Howard County tending land and animal and little child. Her loaded life’s super inspiring to an animal lover like me, who wants to help critters in need but does so only in small doses.

Maryland is First State to Ban Arsenic in Chicken Feed

0

This feels appropriate, considering the recent research about all the creepy chemicals our chickens are eating:  Maryland is just about to become the first state in the U.S. to ban arsenic in chicken feed.

You may be wondering why anyone would feed a chicken arsenic in the first place. (Unless, say, the chicken was in an Agatha Christie novel, and had just come into a large inheritance.) But while arsenic is certainly a poison — and has been shown to contribute to diabetes and heart disease — it’s also used to fight parasites in animals.  The arsenic-containing drug roxarsone, manufactured by Pfizer, also promotes blood vessel growth, which can make meat appear pinker and plumper. Purdue and McDonald’s both refuse to feed it to their chickens. Canada and the European Union prohibit it as well.

Grim job market sends 20-somethings farming in Hampden. Yes, Hampden!

1

Coast down hilly Ash Street in Hampden and you’ll spy a couple of queen-size iron headboards sprouting from a hill that’s been neatly divided into planted rows. The headboards function perfectly as trellises, but they look like funky sculpture.

Welcome to the Baltimore Free Farm, one of more than a dozen garden programs cropping up locally.

In January of 2010, Don Barton, 28, and a dozen or so friends, all in their twenties, all of whom found job prospects in Baltimore extremely dim, decided to found a farm in Hampden, and attempt to live off the food they raised.

Through Baltimore City’s Adopt-a-Lot program, Barton’s acquaintances Bill Hudson and Allison Guitard had secured an abandoned plot suitable for community gardening, and invited their more creative, industrious friends to roll up their flannel sleeves and plant.

The young farmers lease two buildings on site, a row house, where five of the participants reside, and a multi-use warehouse, ideal for rooftop gardening. Money’s tight, but expenses low. They stage fundraisers to help make ends meet, and received $10,000 early on from Kickstarter.com. Helps, too, that the landlord gave them a big break in rent, after the crafty crew promised to rehab the warehouse week by week.

Currently, a few hundred people participate in the Free Farm. City dwellers rent four-by-eight foot plots and raise food seasonally, for a donation of their choosing.

“We really want to lift the [intimidating] veil of mystique off food production,” Barton explains. “To show people how to do it and learn to do it ourselves.”

Seedlings have just been started in the group’s greenhouse: onion, peppers, tomatoes, and eggplant coming soon.

Most days you can find at least several Free Farm members working outdoors, on the steep hillside land they call their own. Barton says they were very pleased, and frankly relieved, that soil analysis revealed healthy Hampden dirt (for the most part).

“We’re growing in the ground on our hill; it’s safe soil,” Barton says. “When we can’t vouch for the soil, we use a raised bed technique. You build a box and put landscaping plastic or a barrier, and fill it with soil, and you can grow in it.”

Core group members possess an impressive range of practical skills. Barton grew up in Carroll County, raising chickens, planting, and canning. His girlfriend, A.J. Sherman, does fiber work and screen-printing professionally. She helps decorate the space and stage colorful community events. Other workers are adept with carpentry, cooking, and coaxing a nice array of delicious veggies to life.

It sounds like a free-style hippie commune on one level, yes, but these kids seem much more driven than your typical song-singing hippies. They’re committed for the long haul, to educating people about growing food locally, and sharing and selling a portion of what they can produce. (Thus far, they’ve sold tomatoes to Woodberry Kitchen and Frazier’s.)

“I’d like to think Baltimore will follow through—we can clean this place up and make a difference,” Barton says.

Upcoming plans include alternative energy projects, and raising hens for their eggs.

“We plan to experiment with growing prawns and tilapia in tanks,” Barton explains. “And we’ll incorporate an alternative energy system to power the system—a [specialized] roof for rain collection can feed the tanks. Rooftop gardening is in the works. Up there, plants can be directly fertilized.”

Volunteers are welcome to help with farm chores every Saturday. The address: 3519 Ash Street. To learn more about the Baltimore Free Farm or to make a tax-deductible donation, go to: www.baltimorefreefarm.org

Guides