COVID-19 has been devastating for poor people and people of color. Systemic racism and economic inequality have resulted in higher death rates for Black and Hispanic people. Food insecurity is twice as likely to affect Black and Hispanic households as White households and the Maryland Food Bank estimates that one in seven of our state’s children suffers from food insecurity.
As individuals we can volunteer for community kitchens and food banks, donate produce from our gardens, support local farmers, and learn about the root causes of these problems and disparities. We can also support the awesome groups that are educating, organizing, and growing food to address food apartheid and food insecurity. Here are a few outstanding examples with Baltimore roots:
Our mission: The Black Church Food Security Network (BCFSN) utilizes an asset-based approach in organizing and linking the vast resources of historically African American congregations in rural and urban communities to advance food and land sovereignty.
The Black Farmer Directory was created by BCFSN to connect Black Farmers to African American churches, other faith-based institutions, and all who wish to support them.
This fund is a special project of the Farm Alliance of Baltimore and supports 10 Black-owned farms and Black-led food and farming organizations in Baltimore.
Denzel Mitchell, Deputy Director for the Alliance, says “2020 has been stressful but work has ramped up. On top of organizing and assisting farmers we’re dealing with racial tensions and pandemic issues. How do we help farms succeed and how do we move as an organization in this current climate of fear and anxiety?”
He noted that the City has provided support for the Alliance and donors helped get the Resilience Fund started mid-year. Farmers in need receive cash assistance, tools, and equipment.
Great Kids Farm is a 33-acre educational farm operated by Baltimore City Public Schools’ Office of Food and Nutrition Services. The farm is home to goats, chickens, turkeys, sheep and a lot of veggies and fruit.
In the 2020/2021 school year, we are offering virtual field trips for any Baltimore City Public Schools’ class (http://Bit.ly/GKFfacetime ), a pre-recorded virtual program for 2nd grade students (http://Bit.ly/virtualGKF), and agriculture-based activity kits for students to gain hands on experience in their own homes. Great Kids Farm also offers youth employment to high school students, and we are looking forward to hosting our 2nd annual African American Foodways Summit for high school students this February (a virtual event). For more on our programs, contact: email@example.com.
Do you have gardening supplies and tools to donate or would you like to become a volunteer? Contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Let’s all pledge to do more in 2021 to learn from one another, feed one another, and work for a more healthy, equitable, and just food system.
Best wishes for a safe and peaceful holiday season!
Older oak trees have been plagued with health problems and are dying in large numbers throughout Maryland. Why? Both researchers and homeowners are asking the same question. The tree diagnostic laboratories have identified an assortment of diseases and pests on the dying trees. Yet no single, conclusive problem is killing them all. It remains a mystery. A few facts that everyone agrees on are these: We have never had so many mature oaks in our forests, so maybe this is the way they naturally decline. We experienced unusually wet summer weather in 2018 and 2019. Researchers believe this could have compromised the relationship between the mature oak roots and the fungus on which they depend for water absorption. As a homeowner, you can try to alleviate oak drought stress. If we experience a July/August drought, watering the area around the drip line of a tree can reduce stress. The objective would not be to stimulate growth with volumes of water, but instead to sustain the tree during the drought period. If your oak is in a lawn and you feed the turf once a year, that will suffice. Visit the Home and Garden Information Center website for a summary article.
Joyce Browning Horticulturist, Master Gardener Coordinator Video credit: Bethany Evans Longwood Gardens Professional Gardener Program Alumni; CPH
As the seed catalogs slide into your mailbox and you begin to think about next year’s garden, here are a few vegetables to keep in mind. These are fairly common crops that for various reasons may not be the first ones chosen by beginning gardeners, or that more experienced gardeners might have tried and given up on. But I think they’re worth a chance!Read More
Not sure what to get your garden lover this holiday season? The Master Gardener Handbook makes a nice gift.