- Agronomic: corn
- Vegetables: carrots, greens (leafy), okra
- Additional Plants: herbs
- Animal Production: herbal medicines
- Crop Production: no-till, pollinator habitat
- Education and Training: demonstration, mentoring, networking, workshop, youth education
- Farm Business Management: grant making, land access, new enterprise development
- Natural Resources/Environment: carbon sequestration, habitat enhancement
- Pest Management: mulches - killed, prevention, sanitation
- Production Systems: holistic management
- Soil Management: composting, green manures, soil quality/health
- Sustainable Communities: community development, ethnic differences/cultural and demographic change, leadership development, new business opportunities, partnerships, quality of life, social networks, urban agriculture
There are two main problems that I will solve by developing a Farmer's Market in this underserved community. This community is eighty percent African American with a large low-income population. African Americans as a whole, and low-income African Americans in particular, consume diets high in fat and sugar. And while they also consume vegetables and fruits, their intake does not meet the dietary guidelines for these foods. Their levels of fiber, Vitamin C, and Vitamin A fall far below the rest of the U.S. population and their rates of obesity, morbidity, and mortality mirror their low consumption of healthy foods.
I am proposing to make fresh vegetables and fruits more accessible to this population in three ways. 1) the organic farm is located within their community, thus reducing the cost of gas or public transportation to gain access to these foods; 2) I will sell farm products at below market rates, and; 3) I will provide nutrition information to community residents so that they will be better informed about the value of these products.
Solving this problem is important to our farm because the sale of our products will add significantly to our ability to sustain our operation and is integral to our capacity building efforts. There is land immediately surrounding our farm that we plan to purchase . If the operation on our existing farm is successful, we will need to expand our operations.
We are already aware of the foods that are well received in this community, but after developing this farm and interacting with residents, we will have an even better understanding of other foods to which they would have easier access.
The goals of this project are to: grow pesticide-free crops for sale to community residents, restaurants, and caterers; educate adult and youth farmers on how to grow food crops naturally and the importance of supporting native habitats and pollinators; integrate natural methods of pest control while we are planting crops.
Crop Production: We will be growing a variety of vegetables and will focus on those crops that are culturally desirable and that have been popular at our other growing sites. Some of these crops will be grown in raised beds and some will be sown directly into the ground. We will test whether or not an urban farm can be a viable enterprise in an underserved residential community.
Education: we will train student farmers in the science of agriculture before we teach them how to plant seeds and seedlings. We will be demonstrating people's interest and need in developing their own food in an area where fresh, pesticide-free food is absent. Student farmers will be assessed at the beginning of the program and at the end of the growing season in order to determine if our instruction and demonstrations have been effective.
Natural Pest-Management: In the process of teaching and planting food crops will we pay close attention to methods of pest control. We will mitigate pest problems by using crop rotation, growing culinary herbs and insect repellant plants, and installing non-plant physical barriers. Our success with these techniques will be determined by the degree of insect damage to our edible crops. We will also create a native habitat that features native plants and that attracts bees and butterflies. We will also teach the student farmers the important role that pollinators play in our food system.
Project objectives from proposal:
- Grow pesticide-free crops for sale to community residents, restaurants, and caterers, increasing access to fresh produce for an underserved population.
- Educate adult and youth farmers on how to grow food crops naturally and the importance of supporting native habitats and pollinators.
- Integrate natural methods of pest control while we are planting crops.
- Share project results through social media, email and website, a farmer/consumer hub, and face-to-face meetings and interactions.