Urbanite Project 2012

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The Urbanite Project

Healthy Food Challenge

This March, we launched Urbanite Project 2012: Healthy Food Challenge—an open call for ideas to solve one of Baltimore’s most pressing problems. Food insecurity, we’ve learned, affects a staggering percentage of this city’s population. One-third of all Baltimore City residents accept federal nutrition benefits, such as food stamps. Roughly two-thirds of the city’s adults (and nearly 40 percent of all high school students) are overweight or obese. One in four school-age children lives in a food desert. But lest we get bogged down in the facts, let’s remember there’s hope for change. And never has that been clearer than from the quality of creative ideas we received in

the fifty-four submissions. We asked you to specifically address the barriers to healthy food access in food deserts. Although it proved nearly impossible to pick the best ones, an all-star jury of local chefs, policy makers, urban planning experts, and architects chose six finalists, whose proposals are printed on the following pages. Congratulations to them—and to our People’s Choice Award winner, too. By the way, 3,830 of you voted for our People’s Choice Award. This is obviously an issue we, as a city, really care about. For more information on the winners of Urbanite Project 2012: Healthy Food Challenge, visit www.urbanitebaltimore.com.

Urbanite Project 2012: Healthy Food Challenge is made possible with support from the Baltimore City Health Department, the Maryland Department of Agriculture, Stratford University, and United Way of Central Maryland. Urbanite #99  september 2012  43

urbanite project  finalists

Mobile Farmers Market Redux team

Lauren P. Adams is a graphic designer and adjunct professor at Maryland Institute College of Art. Tyler Brown, Zach Chissell, and Ben Myers are the farm manager, project manager, and mobile market coordinator for Real Food Farm.


real food farm’s mobile farmers market travels to neighborhood communities surrounding Clifton Park in Northeast Bal timore. Offering pesticide-free local produce grown in Clifton Park, the Mobile Market already offers a solution to many of Baltimore’s food ac cess issues. However, seven suggestions could make the truck even more effective, alleviating healthy food access issues in the area.



Real Food Farm Map

Megaphone Announcements

Seeds and Seedlings

Give-and-Take Compost

The farm serves the Mobile Market by growing fruits and vegetables, aggregating and storing food, composting waste into fertile soil, and saving seeds and growing seedlings. The fact that these services come directly from the neighborhood, a physical space for social interaction and learning, contributes to community investment in the Market.

Famous Baltimore celebrities will record messages encouraging residents to stop at the truck. Similar to an ice cream truck, the messages will draw more customers. Who wouldn’t think a little more seriously about eating their kale if Ray Rice said so?

Most people aren’t aware that individuals can use their Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits to purchase seeds and seedlings. Finding places that accept SNAP and sell these products is also difficult, but the Mobile Farmers Market will provide the resources for true food security—affordably growing your own food.

Seeds and seedlings need soil, so the Mobile Market will continue to close the food security loop in the neighborhood by collecting compostable material and turning it into finished compost. Participants will keep track with a punch-card for savings on compost or veggies.





Bulk Foods Orders

Cooking Demos and Samples

Semi-Prepared Frozen Foods

Aggregated Farm Products

Fresh vegetables from the farm are an important starting point for a meal, but a family needs a wide variety of food products to complete it. The Mobile Market will partner with an area food co-op and take orders for bulk foods like whole wheat flour and other grains, providing better savings on healthy products and further alleviating transportation issues.

Some local, organic produce is less commonly known, like bok choy, and often it comes with the stigma of being unaffordable. The Mobile Market will feature cooking demonstrations using ingredients for sale and affordable, simple meal recipes. Samples of prepared food will highlight the food potential of fresh produce.

Some days you just don’t have time to cook a full meal, but you still want healthy, tasty food. Semi-prepared frozen foods will be prepared by students at REACH! Partnership High School in their industrial kitchen. These foods will be oven- or pan-ready so the preparation time of produce is minimal.

Urban farms provide an important part of a community’s food security and identity, but they can’t satisfy a neighborhood’s entire fruit or vegetable needs. Real Food Farm will continue to partner with other area farms to increase the diversity of products, like fresh fruit.

44  september 2012  www.urbanitebaltimore.com

finalists  urbanite project

The Snack wagon team

Sarah Hope put herself through school by working in the food industry. She holds a masters degree in landscape architecture and currently works for the Baltimore Department of Recreation and Parks.

In a nutshell … This mobile food truck, outfitted with a full commercial kitchen, can provide a much higher caliber of culinary arts classes on a rotating basis for up to ten schools with one part-time instructor. Housing up to twenty children and two adults, these classes can travel to local community gardens, farms, grocery stores, or farmers markets to educate children about where their food comes from and how to prepare it.

Expanded uses … Following the model used in Hartford, Connecticut, the Snack Wagon could be used as a hip way of distributing free or low cost meals to school children at breakfast, lunch, and dinner. By creating a school system currency, children participating in the program could sell their creations to their peers, providing healthy food options while educating others about the program. The Snack Wagon could be rented to local entrepreneurs looking to start their own business but lacking the means to jump in and purchase their own truck or open their own restaurant. In this way, the vehicle could support its own existence.

Feasibility … A standard size school bus and industrial kitchen equipment could both be purchased on consignment or donated. Cost to outfit could range from $50,000 to $200,000 depending on quality and age. Remaining costs would include a salary for a food educator and money to purchase ingredients and gas.

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urbanite project  finalists

Health is a recipe comprised of two ingredients: Diet and Exercise

The Loop team

Sarah Hope

Description The proposal uses the open space corridor of the existing railroad track as an armature for the design of an 8-mile bike path and community food system. The proposed land use plan creates a sustainable system for food production, processing, and distribution, while promoting active outdoor recreation. This agrocentric route fuses Baltimore’s established interests in urban agriculture and cycling to create a healthfocused identity for Baltimore citizens that addresses both diet and exercise.

Hyper Local Food Distribution team

Kimberly Gudzune, MD, MPH, is a clinician-investigator whose research focuses on preventing and treating obesity and cardiovascular disease. Yung sang Cheah is a masters student at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. Claire Welsh, MPH, is the program coordinator for B’More Healthy: Communities for Kids. Joel Gittelsohn, PhD, is a professor of nutrition at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health

Definition A food system includes all processes involved in keeping us fed: growing, harvesting, processing (transforming or changing), packaging, transporting, marketing, consuming, and disposing of food and food packages.

Background Many low-income neighborhoods have few grocery stores, resulting in residents’ poor access to healthy foods. Our team has created prior programs that have increased residents’ access to fresh fruits and vegetables by using point of purchase promotion materials in corner stores to increase purchasing of fresh produce. Storeowners have challenges in stocking produce after these programs end, due to wholesalers’ high prices and lack of proper produce storage.

Goals and Objectives Our goal is to address barriers to affordable, healthy food for Baltimore City residents, including a lack of healthy food at nearby stores and limited knowledge about which foods are healthiest and how to prepare them. We will achieve our goal by partnering local urban farms with local corner stores to create a hyper-local, sustainable distribution network for fresh produce (Figure 1), as well as using a social marketing campaign to advertise this hyper-local produce and provide educational materials on food preparation. We anticipate that the distribution and sale of fresh produce from urban farms at corner stores will be feasible, acceptable, sustainable, and cost-neutral.

46  september 2012  www.urbanitebaltimore.com

finalists  urbanite project B e n e fi t s PHYSICAL HEALTH/ Provides food stability and infrastructure needed to promote healthy eating and living habits to Baltimore’s identified food deserts.

HISTORY/ The trail design will highlight Baltimore’s industrial history as a railroad powerhouse while providing access to many unique areas.

ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH/ The plan analyzes existing urban typologies to best locate uses along the rail. A phased development plan restores damaged land for future use, while minimizing dumping.

BEAUTY/ The trail provides vast open green spaces spotted with more structured landscapes and includes sweeping views of Baltimore’s cemeteries, which include views down to the harbor. Each section allows a user to easily identify their location on the loop.

SOCIAL HEALTH/ Unites neighborhoods and provides common areas to socialize in a relaxing park-like environment. ECONOMIC HEALTH/ New production means new jobs,

new business, and new investment. MOBILITY/ A continuous bike path provides a quick method of transportation that is accessible to all despite age or income and provides a low impact method of exercise that’s fun and easy. CONNECTION/ The loop connects many up and coming neighborhoods to Penn Station and the free Circulator bus, increasing access to higher paying jobs. INCREASED OPEN SPACE AND VALUE/ Properties along the rail corridor have historically been undervalued and in many cases are already vacant. This allows for larger swaths of open space to be developed at a lower price. EXERCISE/ The path forms one 28.2 mile trail network by connecting Herring Run Path to the Jones Falls Trail and Druid Hill Park.

Design We will link two farms in Baltimore City with two corner stores in their neighborhoods to create a hyper-local distribution network for fresh produce (Figure 2). All parties have agreed to participate. Based upon initial conversations with farmers and storeowners, we propose that farmers will distribute fresh produce to their designated store once a week beginning in August. We will combine this new hyper-local produce distribution network with a social marketing campaign that will include:

M e th o d o f S e le c tio n a n d A n a lysis First, the study investigated existing food deserts and looked for possible solutions that address both diet and exercise. Site selection was then based on the available open space corridor, established interest in urban agriculture, and ability to connect existing trails, farms, and community gardens. The study mapped and overlaid available urban agriculture sites, school locations, and farmers market locations onto existing food desert maps to determine need. It then addressed existing zoning and vacancy to determine future zoning. The selected open space was quantified by its history, topography, impervious surface percentages, past documented locations of hazardous waste, size of the site, and distance from residential areas to determine best use. The proposal locates uses strategically to maximize efficiency.

·  Exterior signs for each store to alert customers that they carry fresh produce from the farm. ·  Advertising at the farms’ weekly farm stands and community events that these stores sell their produce seven days a week. ·  Point of purchase promotional materials including shelf labels and healthy recipe brochures highlighting how to prepare the available fresh produce items (Figure 3).

Figure 2

Figure 3

Project Neighborhoods

Point of purchase materials to promote products



Shelf Labels

Evaluation We will perform in-depth interviews with the farmers and storeowners throughout the project. These interviews will help us understand how both parties perceive the urban farm-corner store partnership, including satisfaction, challenges, and sustainability, and their role in addressing healthy food access in the neighborhood. We have developed semi-structured interview guides for this purpose. We will assess feasibility by understanding and overcoming challenges perceived by farmers and storeowners. We will evaluate acceptability by assessing farmers’ and storeowners’ satisfaction with the project. We will determine sustainability by establishing whether farmers and storeowners plan to continue the project in the next growing season. We will collect produce distribution and sales data throughout the project from both farmers and storeowners. We will evaluate the impact on costs by calculating profit margins for both the farm and corner store, in which we will compare corner store owner produce costs and profits between pre and final project months. Significance We believe that an urban farm-corner store partnership will create a sustainable distribution network for fresh produce in Baltimore City, especially in communities with poor access to healthy foods.

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urbanite project  finalists

The Karesa Bari Community Garden team

Anna Wherry, Kaetan Vyas, Jared Katz, and Bridget Harkness are undergraduate students at Johns Hopkins University.

a f f i l i at e s

Goodnow Community Center Regional Management, Inc. Frankford Improvement Association The International Rescue Committee (IRC) Baltimore Gas and Electric (BGE) The Johns Hopkins University Center for Leadership Education Baltimore City Office of Sustainability Frankford Residents

By uniting pre-existing organizations we seek to solve a multifaceted problem with a single solution: to expand a community garden that incorporates both local and refugee residents of the Frankford neighborhood in order to address food security, grow community relations, and preserve cultural traditions. Our idea first took seed after observing the success of the Karesa Bari garden implemented by a group of Bhutanese refugees at the Goodnow Community Center in Frankford. The garden aimed to give the refugees an opportunity to use skill sets from their agricultural backgrounds. Additionally, it provided them with fresh foods that they were not otherwise able to obtain in the area where they lived. We seek to build upon this success in the following ways: A. It has been brought to our attention that Baltimore Gas and Electric owns a vacant lot in the Frankford neighborhood. The lot is within walking distance of the complex where many of Baltimore’s refugees currently live and is thus an ideal location for urban agriculture. BGE has offered to make the lot accessible for the purpose of improving the Frankford community. B. A garden proposal on the BGE land was brought to Frankford residents. Residents voiced that the abandoned lot is felt to be a major hazard to their quality of life. A garden, it was soon determined, could help eliminate many of the residents’ primary concerns—notably trash and the resulting rat problems. The solution, it seems, is quite elegant. By working together the refugees can maintain their previous ways of life as well as help to improve the community where they now live. By giving Frankford and its refugee community an opportunity to work together, we hope to build community relations, provide a productive green space, and eliminate health hazards.

Your Ride to the Farmers Market team

Katrina Brooks is community relations/youth coordinator for the Center for Adolescent Health. Trevor Arnett is the center’s research and communications specialist. Niesha Walls and Graham Blake are Youth Advisory Committee leaders. The Youth Advisory Committee (YAC) of the Johns Hopkins University Center for Adolescent Health (CAH) is a functioning advisory committee that informs Center research practices and programs in partnership with partners and community members throughout Baltimore City. We are East Baltimore residents; the majority of us reside in oneparent households and grandparent-led households. We understand [that, like some of us,] many of our peers are being raised in East Baltimore communities that lack proper access to farmers markets. These households are left to pay the high price of low quality foods at high prices. Shopping options for families without personal transportation are extremely limited in our community. Our families eat fast food or carry-out meals at least three to four times weekly. Most of us reside in households that receive some form of food stamp assistance, WIC, or Social Security income and free or reduced lunch. 48  september 2012  www.urbanitebaltimore.com

finalists  urbanite project Issue: Cultural Preservation Many of Frankford’s refugees were involved in agricultural pursuits in their home countries and are now struggling to preserve their cultures within Baltimore’s urban environment. One man spoke to his concerns in an interview: “We want to pass our farming traditions on to our children who never experienced Bhutan, but it is difficult. This city is killing our culture.”

Issue: Food Insecurity Over one-third of Baltimore City consists of food deserts. According to a 2009 study, the Frankford neighborhood boasts a higher fast food restaurant density than the city average. Additionally, Frankford has higher average traveling times to the nearest supermarket via both car and foot—the nearest supermarket is a 19-minute walk.

Issue: Residential Environment Residents living adjacent to empty lots have complained of the hazards that the lots attract. They complain of rodents and trash; in a community meeting one resident complained, “There are rats so big that I am afraid to go out at night.” The residents are frustrated with the amount of energy they have expended time and again to alleviate these problems, with little success.

Issue: Community Relations A large number of refugees in Baltimore City are relocated by the IRC to the Frankford area, yet a significant portion of the preexisting Frankford community is unaware of this. Additionally, what relationships do exist are strained. “There is some tension between the refugees and the Baltimoreans … that is something we need to focus on …” pointed out Amy Harmon, an English as a Second Language teacher at Baltimore City Community College.

To directly address the East Baltimore food desert experience in our community, we propose an idea that addresses access to three of the city’s large farmers markets—Waverly32nd Street Farmers Market, City Farmers Market (under I-83), and Fells Point—by providing transportation through a partnership with Johns Hopkins University (JHU). The existing Johns Hopkins Shuttle service would provide four JHU shuttles designated for increasing access for East Baltimore residents (see map) to the three area farmers markets on weekends, with shuttles running every half hour for pick-up and delivery from 7:00 a.m. to noon each Saturday and Sunday (except holidays) from May to December annually. YAC members and adult mentor volunteers would like to serve as hosts and greeters on shuttles, helping residents safely board and disembark shuttles. Shoppers would receive reusable shopping bags donated by volunteers in an effort to decrease plastic bag use and waste. Shuttle trips would allow students valuable contact with elders and community members to help build strong community relationships. Shuttles would leave at 7:00 a.m. from at least one location that is safe and easily identifiable for seniors, our target population. Shuttles vary from an average of twenty seats on smaller mini-buses to forty-five seat buses. The boarding location, The Door, is a faith-based organization that has served families in East Baltimore for over twenty-five years. Located at 219 N. Chester Street, 21231, The Door is surrounded by senior homeowners, church members, and volunteers. The location provides a safe place for residents to wait for shuttles, and kids can benefit from the Saturday morning programming at The Door. Urbanite #99  september 2012  49

PEOPLE's choice  urbanite project

People’s Choice

City Hearth team

Lynn Khuu is a graduate of the School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation at the University of Maryland, College Park. She is currently an intern architect at Bennett Frank McCarthy Architects in Silver Spring.

As you are heading home on a warm summer day, you decide to stop at CityHearth to pick a few fresh tomatoes and catch a glimpse of the day’s specials. Upon entering, you are greeted by the aroma of freshly baked bread. Vibrant colors of local produce and freshly prepared meals line the counters of the marketplace. Making your way to the garden, you see children excitedly learning how to care for and harvest the garden vegetables. Meanwhile, a friend has volunteered to teach a community cooking class upstairs, and locals are joyfully preparing a meal with fresh produce from the garden. In little time, they all share in the meal at the community table and some friendly conversation. A typical day at CityHearth.

Many memories and bonds are shared over food. CityHearth, a community kitchen and learning center, responds to this tradition by rejuvenating the cultures and traditions of food and cooking. Its program is aimed at bringing the community together to support and promote healthier lifestyles, providing access to both nutritional nourishment and educational opportunities. Nestled among a neighborhood of schools and within walking distance of the Perkins Homes and Douglass Homes communities, CityHearth’s proposed location on S. Eden and E. Baltimore streets offers a viable place for afterschool activities and access to fresh meals and produce for Baltimore’s residents. With the support and sponsorship of local community groups, school systems, and businesses, the community has the opportunity to promote healthy lifestyles and embrace the diversity of cultures through food. The community kitchen will benefit its sponsors as an extension of teaching, research, and marketing opportunities as well as meet the physical and social needs of the community’s residents.

The program of CityHearth offers a central meeting place that combines the needs for a market place, learning center, and practices of healthy and sustainable living. The on-site garden and marketplace support local farming, reducing cost and the need for transport over long distances while nurturing an appreciation of farm-to-table. A library and kitchen classrooms offer educational experiences and hobbies for students after school and adults alike. Businesses have the opportunity to reach out to the community through special events or classes. Ultimately, the community is offered a choice for healthier living and a place to share in and enjoy the cultures of food that connect us all.

P rogram : Marketplace & Bakery — with flexible indoor-outdoor space for farmers’ markets Café Food & Nutrition Library Standard Classrooms Office Space Children’s Kitchen Classroom Kitchen Classrooms (4) Dining & Lounge Areas Surrounding Central Hearth Outdoor Terraces & Courtyards Greenhouse Vegetable & Fruit Garden

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