The Farm Alliance of Baltimore is now developing a teaching farm in Farring-Baybrook Park at 3901 West Bay Avenue. The farm site is owned by Baltimore City’s Department of Rec and Parks. It is a total of 6.7 acres of mostly pasture and trees nestled between 2 schools, Benjamin Franklin Highschool and Curtis Bay Elementary Middle School, just north of the William J. Myers Pavilion. The space will serve as a backbone in the demonstration and education components of the Black Butterfly Urban Farm Academy, providing a location for each years’ 10 trainees to gain farming experience.
There are plans for 5 different agricultural production styles to be demonstrated on this site. A micro-scaled market garden producing dozens of varietals for direct-to-consumer marketing, bulk crops for storage and small-business collaboration, high tunnel production, small-scale grain raising plots and an apiary (a honeybee yard). The vision for the farm is to create a multi-use urban farm training site with up to 1.5 acres in production using chemical-free and regenerative agricultural techniques that will provide inspiration and guidance to aspiring farmers and growers. Other plans include a post-harvest handling shed, a greenhouse to support our members’ transplants needs, high tunnels for season extension, community composting to support our soil health programming, communal gathering space for visitors and neighbors and an outdoor natural playspace.
The site was provided to us by the Department of Planning’s Office of Sustainability. We prepped the site by taking several soil samples and investigating site history. This past summer, we had several diseased and dying trees removed and also cleared the land of invasives, poison ivy and rubbish. We are in negotiations with several departments in city government to secure a long-term lease. Currently, we steward the land under a 12-month long ‘right of entry’ agreement.
We planted our first crop at the farm in October 2021 of garlic and leeks. These crops will overwinter during the 2021-22 winter for harvest in the late summer and make way for Baltimore Fish peppers. In the upcoming season, we will plant bulk storage crops such as potatoes, sweet potatoes, winter squash and root vegetables.
We are developing this site to provide the following:
- market and production demonstrations in urban agriculture
- research and education innovations in urban agriculture
- a gathering space for community members
- a teaching space for aspiring farmers
- continued collaboration with local producers and foodmakers