Boone Street farm began in 2010 as an initiative to grow healthy food in East Baltimore. It has now evolved into something which encompasses a much broader scope. Cheryl Carmona spent the past couple years working with an East Baltimore community to convert two vacant lots into a productive garden and urban farm.
Cheryl’s extensive background in soil and environmental science, coupled with nutrient management skills, bring a whole lot to the table when it comes to converting material, often deemed waste, into organic fertilizer. When she and her partners first started the Boone Street farm and community garden, they often encountered household trash drifting towards the garden from alleys after trash collection day. “Effective trash removal from our alleys has been a continuous problem,” Carmona says.
Carmona’s fellowship, the Greater Greenmount Recycling and Trash Education Campaign, will use the Boone Street Farm as a living classroom to teach residents about sustainable agriculture. In addition, Carmona hopes to increase neighborhood knowledge and access to resources to reduce exposure to household waste, contribute to clean water ways while increasing access to healthy food.
Greater Greenmount includes East Baltimore Midway and Barclay. Both neighborhoods have high rates of vacant houses and vacant lots and deal with problems around illegal dumping and improper household waste disposal. Carmona envisions a future where urban farms and community gardens will draw resources from urban waste streams rather than be set back by them.
Carmona will start a recycling initiative to address issues with trash by working with residents to educate and reach out to neighbors about recycling and proper waste disposal while also providing resources such as trash cans with lids and recycling bins at a reduced cost to residents. She will build a community composting and vermiculture, or worm cultivation system, at Boone Street to supply the community garden and urban farm with organic fertilizer. She will also address food justice in these neighborhoods by increasing access to and educating about healthy nutritious food. Carmona wants to raise awareness with residents about the connections between recycling, urban agriculture, and growing a healthy community.
“Sustainable agriculture connects communities to the land and surrounding resources and we want to make this a tangible concept at Boone Street. Our community gardeners and youth volunteers are ambassadors in the neighborhood and essential partners to move this project forward.”
Carmona will develop programming for youth that introduces them to science, nutrition and growing food by offering workshops and after-school programming for youth to earn service learning hours. Boone street farm will also offer workshops on various topics from cover cropping to canning.
“Receiving this fellowship is an amazing opportunity,” Carmona says. “Given the nature of an urban setting, the number of people, concentration of resources, and limited access to land, an opportunity to build a garden and demonstrate natural farming techniques by recycling everyday waste into fresh food is truly a gift worth giving to all.”