A Chinese food restaurant and an Ez Food Mart sit at the corner of 57th Avenue and Emerson Street. Apartment complexes line up the streets leading to the Bladensburg Farm, where Fred, forehead filled with sweat, prepares the land for the upcoming planting season.
The farm at Bladensburg is one of two farms run by the non-profit organization ECO City Farms, which aims to work as a sustainable and local urban farm. During their 2016 spring break, seven Davidson students decided they wanted serve a lending hand, working on both farms to provide accessible high-quality foods to the community.
Instead of going home and watching TV or staying behind at the dorms, the Davidson students have decided to get their hands dirty, starting their days at 8:00am. Under staff supervision, they spend their mornings weeding the hoop-houses, seeding, and planting all kinds of vegetables and herbs. “We are in the presence of a food desert,” says participant Rosalia Polanco, a sophomore Environmental Studies major. “These farms are essential to providing healthy, organically grown foods to many people who are not able to get them anywhere else, nevertheless afford them.”
ECO City Farms sells their produce primarily through weekly farmshares, or CSAs. Community members pay up front for their produce, receiving either 6-8 or 4 items a week during the 22 week season, the pricing depending on the package. Their packages are to be picked up at the farmers market where non-CSA members can also buy the produce. The farmshares also support the farm itself, the up-front money serving towards upkeep of the farm, buying of materials (such as seeds), and payment of staff.
Working alongside Benny Erez, Senior Technical Advisor, Deborah Wren, Lead Farmer at the Edmonston farm, and Fred James, Lead Farmer at the Bladensburg farm, the group has developed a newfound appreciation for farm work. “Even though our arms are sore and our clothes are filled with dirt, there is nothing better than knowing we are serving the community for the better,” says Frida Rotich, a freshman.
Alongside ECO City Farms, the group also served two afternoons at A Wider Circle, another non-profit organization that aims to provide furniture and basic necessities to community members in need.