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The Appeal of Urban Farming

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Published on Apr 2, 2012

This is the VOA Special English Agriculture Report, from http://voaspecialenglish.com | http://facebook.com/voalearningenglish




Old properties and empty lots in cities and towns around the United States are finding new life as urban farms. EcoCity Farms in Edmonston, Maryland, is located near shopping centers, car repair shops and homes. The neighborhood is a working-class community. People do not have very much money, and they have limited access to fresh food in markets. Over the past two years, the farm has attracted volunteers from the community like Marcy Clark. She schools her four children at home. On a recent day she brought them to EcoCity Farms for a lesson. Her children harvested rows of spinach, mustard greens, lettuce, Swiss chard and carrots. "It's important that the children understand the connection between the food that they eat, the soil, the air, the pollution, how all this is connected to their well-being," she says. Her son Alston agrees: "You connect with the earth, where your food comes from. You appreciate the food a little bit more." Margaret Morgan-Hubbard started EcoCity Farms. She thinks of it as a place where people can learn to live healthier lives. "Our view is that what happens in a community, influences the culture of that community. So our idea was growing food in a community and showing that you can have farms even in urban areas, redefines what's possible in that area, in that community and brings people together." "Every piece of what we do here is a demonstration to show people everything about how to have a sustainable community," she says. That means not only farming food and raising chickens and bees, but improving the soil with compost made from food waste. Sixteen wooden bins are filled with worms. Their job is to eat the food waste and help make it into compost. EcoCity Farms is an "off the grid" experimental operation. The farm gets its power not from the local electricity grid but from the sun with solar panels. In winter, the greenhouses are heated using a geothermal system. Buried tubes pump air at underground temperature -- thirteen degrees Celsius -- into the structures. Vegetables can be grown all year. So once a week, all winter long, neighbors can come to the farm and pick up a share of the harvest. For VOA Special English, I'm Carolyn Presutti. You can find two videos about EcoCity Farms -- including one about the composting worms -- at voaspecialenglish.com.

(Adapted from a radio program broadcast 06Mar2012)

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