Growing Healthy, Affordable Food in the Heart of the “Food Desert”
In 2001, PUSH partner, the Massachusetts Avenue Project pioneered urban agriculture in the Green Development Zone when it opened its urban farm across the street from the Massachusetts Avenue Park. Since then the farm has grown dramatically.
Each year it produces dozens of fresh vegetables. Chickens cluck happily in their runs, occasionally adding nutrients to the giant compost piles.
The aquaponics operation at the farm is impressive: two green houses contain fish tanks that raise Tilapia and Bass for local consumption at area restaurants. Tens of thousands of fish swim in tanks inside the greenhouses, one made of straw bales, the other in an enormous hoop-house (below).
To make this food available locally, MAP runs a farm stand, its Mobile Market vegetable truck, and through investors in a community supported-agriculture cooperative.
MAP’s Mobile Market brings organic, locally-grown, affordable produce to low-income neighborhoods that have limited access to fresh food. You can find them in various parts of the city, each year, from June through November.
Greening the West Side’s “Food Desert”
The West Side has long been identified as one of the city’s worst “food deserts,” a place where residents have little access to affordable healthy food. The MAP Farm has dramatically transformed the local food landscape.
Youthful participants in MAP’s Growing Green program help run the farm during growing seasons. The youth spend time working on nearly every aspect of the farm’s operation, including composting, aquaponics, chickens, vegetables, seedling care, and farm planning.
While contributing significantly via labor and energy to the farm, the youth are receiving valuable job experience in the modern green economy. Some graduates of the farm program have even gone on to work on PUSH construction projects in the GDZ, entering the Zone’s growing jobs pipeline.