Since March is National Nutrition Month, I thought it would be fitting to blog about urban farming and its role in eliminating food deserts. A food desert is a situation common in lower income communities as larger grocery store chains are fewer and farther between in these areas. Families become dependent on smaller, convenient stores that sell typically sell unhealthy snack foods that contribute to poor health.
Let’s look a little closer at the problem, using Washington, DC as an example. The nation’s capital is home to approximately 43 grocery stores. Out of those 43 stores, only nine are located across Wards 4, 7, and 8, which are the cities lowest income sections. Ward 3, DC’s highest-income section, has eleven grocery stores.
Urban farming is an interesting part of the food solution in areas with limited access to nutritious food. DC residents have demonstrated this through the creation of several projects, but my favorite example is happening at the University of the District of Columbia. UDC runs a small research farm and provides training to students interested in urban farming and gardening solutions.
Much of the food grown by the school is donated to organizations that help feed people across the city. Here is an interesting article that discusses the UDC project. It is interesting to see this model at work and to see students and residents working together to solve a community problem.
Here is another article about some of the other food projects in Washington, DC.