Farmers are completing their seed orders and harvesting seeds from last year’s crops; getting tools fixed and making their crop plans; lesson planning for the upcoming Cultivate Baltimore training series for beginning farmers; and traveling and spending time with their families for rest and renewal. Here are a few more of the things we have been up to at the Farm Alliance of Baltimore since Thanksgiving.
Reading and reflecting
A sparkling interview with farmer Lorrie Clevenger of Rise & Root Farm in NY state;
A farmer writes about the need for many types of local food producers if we are to feed everyone with local food;
An exploration of why there are so few Black-owned grocery stores;
An investigative radio broadcast on the case of one Black farmer and his wife who found themselves evicted after experiencing discriminatory loan practices by the USDA.
Farm Alliance members, staff and board came together at year's end for the final phase of our strategic planning process that was begun last spring. We identified five core values for the Farm Alliance, which we are proud to share as the guiding values of our work going into 2018 and beyond.
Sustainable Agriculture: Farming practices that enhance environmental quality and the health and quality of life for farmers and communities
Solidarity: Interconnectedness; our fate is tied to that of Baltimore City residents
Collective Power: Strength in numbers, collaborative approach to movement building,
Equity: Shared power; fair and just control of and access to resources
Education: Ongoing exchange of knowledge, experiential learning and farmer development; collective questioning and critical dialogue
You may contact Executive Director Mariya Strauss at firstname.lastname@example.org for a more detailed explanation of these values and some of the practices that may accompany them. A big takeaway from the strategic planning process was the need for the Farm Alliance to live its values by becoming an explicitly anti-oppression organization: that is, to adopt practices that will make our farms, board, and staff more accountable—and therefore more valuable as partners, growers, and coalition members-- to Baltimore’s underserved and under-resourced communities. We are currently participating in an anti-racism training led by Soyun Park, an experienced facilitator based in Washington, DC. We expect to have more to report on this and other strategic priorities very soon!
In November, Farm Alliance members attended the Northeast Sustainable Agriculture Working Group (NESAWG) conference in Baltimore and the Small Farms conference at the University of Maryland-Eastern Shore.
We co-hosted the first-ever Maryland Urban Farmer Winter Meeting in mid-January, along with University of MD Extension Service agent Neith Little. Over 40 people came out to hear talks on pest management, growing food in containers without soil, and the City of Baltimore’s programs for urban farmers.
Also in January, Baltimore farmers swarmed the College Park Marriott Conference Center for the Future Harvest-CASA conference. And this coming weekend, Farm Alliance member farmers will attend the Pennsylvania Alliance for Sustainable Agriculture (PASA) conference, with Farm Alliance founder and flower farmer Maya Kosok speaking on a panel on growing flowers sustainably.
We are proud to call you a supporter and friend of the Farm Alliance of Baltimore! As always, your feedback is welcome. During the winter months, we are at the 32nd Street Farmers' Market in Waverly every other Saturday -- some of our urban farmers are indeed growing leafy vegetables and salad greens! We would love to see you there. Additionally, we are sponsoring a cooking and nutrition demonstration series by our community partner Holistic Wellness and Health; upcoming dates can be found on our Facebook page. Finally, the Cultivate Baltimore series of beginner farmer training workshops will begin in March. Stay tuned for those dates as well!