Two summers ago, we started experimenting with two garden beds at the church's main entrance to begin a vegetable garden. We successfully grew a variety of herbs and vegetables in our first season. Subsequently, we constructed 5 raised beds with the help of some neighbors thanks to Baltimore Free Farm's garden workshop last Fall.
Initially, we started the gardens as a living billboard to promote sustainable practices in an urban environment, and provide some healthy "eats" for our Lutheran Volunteer Corps residents next door, but...
...the ideas are getting bigger.
F.O.P.A.H. is a ridiculous acronym that I came up with to stand for Feeding Other People Around Hampden. The idea is simple: form a cooperative of neighbors with home veggie and herb gardens, make a growing plan together, and share the harvest. Each week we'd gather at the church for a crop share, making sure that we also provide healthy, local, organic produce for those who cannot afford market prices.
Hunger. It's a global issue. (Great video) It occurs in our neighborhood. We know this because we have TWO Royal Farms AND a 7/11 just on 36th street. These are the food sources of the poor. Food that is processed, fatty, and sugary, and most of all cheap. There are some in our neighborhood that eat entirely from these stores. That is unacceptable in a place where we are capable of raising the quality of life and nutrition with a little effort, and a little creativity.
There are nearly 5,000 households in our zipcode. That sounds like a lot of people to feed. But it really doesn't take much work or space to grow something. Imagine a neighborhood that produces it's own supply of fruits and vegetables and doesn't depend on big grocery stores to import fresh, organic produce from other states or countries. One family may grow carrots, while another grows lettuce. If you have a sunny spot on your porch maybe you can grow a tomato plant or basil in a pot. A sunny window? You could plant a small herb garden on the window sill. If you have some dirt outside, or some creativity, you can grow a lot. Not a lot of horizontal space? Go vertical! Check these out. The point is, this is #notapipedream.
There are lots of questions and details to figure out, but isn't it an exciting idea? If you are interested in making this a reality either by helping with the church's gardens or growing your own, please contact Jim Muratore by text or call at 410.292.3883, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also find him on Facebook or NextDoor and send a message there.
Let's feed some people!