moving from local food desert to local food distribution

Let's just start by talking about how cool the American Brewery building is. Built in 1887 by a German immigrant, the Brewery was one of the largest in Maryland with a 10,000 bushel grain elevator, a 30,000 square foot Brewhouse and 60,000 square foot Bottle Building . It rocked and rolled until Prohibition shuttered its operations in the 1920s. In 1931 the building was sold the American Malt Company, who modernized the operation until 1973, whereupon it was listed in the National Registry of Historic Sites.

Over the following decades, this once bustling, beautiful building fell into disrepair and neglect in one of East Baltimore's most blighted neighborhoods. In 2004, the non-profit organization Humanim (a social and human services organization) secured $22.5 million to restore and renovate the building into
their new headquarters. It is truly stunning - you should really go by sometime and check it out!

Now that that is out of the way, I can actually talk about why I was there on Tuesday evening for, shocker, a Baltimore Green Week event. This one was a combo of a presentation by Baltimore Green Space followed by an awesome documentary crated by MICA students, entitled Baltimore Food Ecology Documentary (of, B FED - how clever!). Tracing the exodus of supermarkets from the city after the 1950s, as well as the disintegration of the city's systems of local food production, the documentary explored by the dominant food system falls short for so many Baltimore residents. With much of the city situated in what are known as "food deserts," the BFED team explored community gardens, produce warehouses, a local fish-farm, corner stores, and urban farms to find hope for a brighter food future for Baltimore.
The idea of community gardens was elaborated upon in the presentation by Baltimore Green Space. Working with residents throughout the city, BGS has helped fascinate the transformation of abandoned, desolate vacant lots into thriving community gardens that help nourish the neighborhood, both in terms of food and community-building. With help from BGS's land trust, communities can take ownership of these spaces and keep them safe from future development. With a future characterized by immense worldwide population and high transportation costs, the availability of locally grown food becomes an attractive, and necessary, reality. Additionally, green spaces create permeable surfaces for rain water to be absorb by the ground and make its way to waterways "naturally," as opposed to running off through storm drains. I just wrote a whole blog about this, though, so I won't go back into details again, so as not to bore you, my darling readers.
There was so much to think about, so many ways to improve, and myriad ways to take action. What are your ideas to reduce the "food desert" effect in Baltimore? I want to know!

love k


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