The Farm Alliance of Baltimore City is a network of urban producers raising everything from salad mix and tomatoes to honey and fish. But our members aren’t just growing food, they’re also growing future farmers, gardeners, and healthy eaters through an array of educational programs. More and more people are becoming aware of the need to not only buy and eat healthy food, but teach our city’s youth about where food comes from and how to grow it. Many of Baltimore’s urban farms are doing just that through after-school clubs, paid internships, field trips, and more.
While all of our member farms have educational events, tours, and trainings, a few farms have an especially strong emphasis on incorporating youth programming into their daily operations. Boone Street Farm in Greater Greenmount partners with Cecil Elementary School to offer a weekly garden club, regularly hosts service learning students, and is employing high school students over the summer through YouthWorks. Civic Works’ Real Food Farm hosted over 1,000 students last year and has lots of ongoing youth opportunities. The 6-acre urban farm in Clifton Park offers field trips, service learning, a middle school garden club, a year-round paid high school internship, a summer enrichment program, and mobile market visits to Baltimore City schools. Across town in Reservoir Hill, Whitelock Community Farm brings their bike-powered mobile market to John Eager Howard Elementary School during the school year, hosts a monthly garden club for youth of all ages, and gives frequent tours to school groups.
The youth are not the only ones benefitting from these programs, however. The farmers also get assistance with farm chores and, more importantly, draw inspiration from working with young folks. Cheryl Carmona, Co-Founder and Farmer at Boone Street Farm explains, “The kids get so excited about learning new things in the garden that it really has given us a lot of energy to keep going with the project. Educating the kids is such an important part of what we do.” Urban farms are relatively new to Baltimore, but as they grow older so do their students. Some youth who started out as high school interns at Real Food Farm are now employees, running the mobile market and leading summer programs. These urban farms are teaching and empowering our next generation of growers, eaters, and food advocates – one young person at a time.