At the start of this difficult year, our supporters recognized that we couldn’t afford to lose our farms and gardens. Our community growers just had to make it through this pandemic, so that Baltimore’s food supply can continue to include community-grown organic fruits, vegetables, honey, and other products. When the Farm Alliance of Baltimore asked for support, you came through. Because we raised over $102,000 from philanthropy and individual supporters, we were able to construct a strategic COVID response that helped the farms and gardens in five ways:
Infrastructure (including repairs to roofing, sheds, refrigeration and irrigation systems);
COVID-safe supplies, produce washing tools, and PPE;
Direct cash assistance;
Crop seedlings for all farms and garden members; and
Marketing and technical support, including hazard pay for our market workers at Waverly Farmers Market and amazing expertise from Deputy Director Denzel Mitchell (pictured above helping to stretch plastic at one of the farms) and our new Program Coordinator Alison Worman.
21 farms and community gardens and 3100 community residents benefited from all of this amazing COVID assistance, but you weren’t done. You went even further, stepping up to donate more than $50,000 to our new Black Farmers’ Resilience Fund. To match our supporters’ amazing donation of their hard-earned dollars, Farm Alliance staff have convened an Advisory Council of Black farmers from throughout the Chesapeake region to talk with Baltimore’s Black farmers about what they need and how to allocate these funds in the most equitable way.
But the Farm Alliance of Baltimore still wasn’t finished building community care and peer to peer support into our local farming and gardening movement. Some more highlights from 2020:
We pivoted our community cooking and nutrition demonstrations with Chef Crystal Forman of Holistic Wellness & Health to a hybrid online/on-farm model, with 61 demonstrations delivered outdoors;
We launched a Soil Coaching program with Farm Alliance paying for everyone’s soil tests and a farmer who is also a soil scientist offering one-on-one support to help farms build healthier soils;
We continued our coalition work with Black Yield Institute, co-hosting a teach-in and a series of community conversations on Community Control of Land that collected ideas and wisdom from more than 75 Baltimore residents;
We launched a new partnership with Baltimore Compost Collective to train farmers on how best to use their composting systems;
We welcomed 9 new community gardens to our membership, for a total of 23 farms and gardens in the Farm Alliance.
We’ve got even bigger things planned for 2021, including a Seed Library, continuing our anti-racist healing work, and looking toward building a new farm incubator and home for the Farm Alliance. And, 2021 will be our TEN YEAR ANNIVERSARY! Sorry, I got excited for a moment. So many things are happening. We’re grateful you are part of it with us.