October 09, 2015 01:53 UTC


The Appeal of Urban Farming

Volunteers harvest spinach at EcoCity Farms in Edmonston, Maryland
Volunteers harvest spinach at EcoCity Farms in Edmonston, Maryland

Download this story as a PDF

This is the VOA Special English Agriculture Report.

Old properties and empty lots in cities and towns around the United States are finding new life as urban farms.

Eco City Farms in Edmonston, Maryland, is located near shopping centers, car repair shops and homes. The neighborhood is a working-class community. People do not have very much money, and they have limited access to fresh food in markets.

Over the past two years, the farm has attracted volunteers from the community like Marcy Clark. She schools her four children at home. On a recent day she brought them to Eco City Farms for a lesson.

MARCY CLARK: “It’s important that the children understand the connection between the food that they eat, the soil, the air, the pollution, how all this is connected to their well-being.”

Her children harvested rows of spinach, mustard greens, lettuce, Swiss chard and carrots.  What did Hannah, Caleb, John and Alston think of the experience?

HANNAH CLARK: “You know, it’s good for the earth and it’s good for us.”

CALEB CLARK: “It may not be like fun, fun, but it’s fun, ’cause you’re learning and not, like, writing something out on a piece of paper.”

JOHN CLARK: “Basically instead of feeling down when I have to eat vegetables, I feel happy.

ALSTON CLARK: “I like coming out here. You know, you connect with the earth, where your food comes from. You appreciate the food a little bit more.”

Margaret Morgan-Hubbard started Eco City Farms. She thinks of it as a place where people can learn to live healthier lives.

MARGARET MORGAN-HUBBARD: “Our view is that what happens in a community, influences the culture of that community. So our idea was growing food in a community and showing that you can have farms even in urban areas, redefines what’s possible in that area, in that community and brings people together.”

“Every piece of what we do here is a demonstration to show people everything about how to have a sustainable community," she says. That means not only farming food and raising chickens and bees, but improving the soil with compost made from food waste. Sixteen wooden bins are filled with worms. Their job is to eat the food waste and help make it into compost.

Benny Erez is a technical adviser at EcoCity Farms.

BENNY EREZ: “When people come and look at this, obviously we show them a technique, a technique how to take food waste and close the circle and bring the food back from being food to composted and then use it on the farm, back to growing vegetables and back to people, and it’s basically closing the loop.”

Eco City Farms is an "off the grid" experimental operation. The farm gets its power not from the local electricity grid but from the sun with solar panels. In winter, the greenhouses are heated using a geothermal system. Buried tubes pump air at underground temperature -- thirteen degrees Celsius -- into the structures.

Vegetables can be grown all year. So once a week, all winter long, neighbors like Chris Moss and her three children bicycle to the farm to pick up a share of the harvest. What does five-year-old Owen Moss think of it?

OWEN MOSS: “I like eating the vegetables.”

And that's the VOA Special English Agriculture Report. You can find two videos about EcoCity Farms -- including one about the composting worms -- at voaspecialenglish.com. I'm Jim Tedder.


Contributing: Rosanne Skirble


<iframe width='480' height='305' src='http://www.voanews.com/templates/widgetDisplay.html?id=141434043&player=article' frameborder='0' allowfullscreen></iframe>

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments page of 2
by: Ms.Dieu Quynh-TTLady
03/21/2012 3:15 AM
It's incredible ! I'm so proud of my system at home. It's keeps our earth green !

by: nguyễn hoa
03/19/2012 11:51 AM
i find it really interesting and helpful. i'd like to listen information about agriculture which voa gave for us.

by: trungle
03/19/2012 5:52 AM
it is the great idea, but it will be difficult to apply in some developing countries like Vietnam. because having a big barrier that is people do not separate organic waste and inorganic waste, so to collect organic to make compost will be difficult.
most urban places in Vietnam pollution because of waste food is a serious issue, so the local governments should train dwellers to contain each kind of waste in different nylon bags before throw them into garbage cans.

by: Bui Van Huong
03/19/2012 5:05 AM
this model was strongly developed in Vietnam with more limited scale. in fact, a lot of box filled with earth have been often used to plant vegetable in a number of families not only in the countryside, but the urban areas. these vegetable harvested are very good for health, assists citizens in saving a mount of money for other daily life demands

by: Karl
03/17/2012 1:01 PM
It's a good exemple for community especially in USA where a lot of food is wasted . People eat too much , growed fat and underestimate that meal is very important and valuable .

by: Old oak
03/16/2012 8:05 AM
We are living a time where a space to plant is almost impossivel or doesn't exist. So this project is wondeful and must be shared with all the people aound the world.

by: Thinh Nguyen Van
03/12/2012 7:12 AM
It is so good to hear that.I could image that our house will become better and better in the future with more and more Eco cities.Lets act together for a better world.Thanks for VOA.

by: sherif
03/10/2012 2:52 PM
very good vidio

by: sherif
03/10/2012 2:52 PM
very good vidio

by: NGDI
03/10/2012 10:38 AM
Good, to have modern life, we need natural raise.

Comments page of 2

Learn with The News

  • Photogallery Japanese Rock Band Goes English

    After 10 years of international success, a Japanese rock band records its first album in both its native language and English. They begin performing around the United States this fall. More

  • Audio FIFA Suspends Blatter

    The suspension comes less than two weeks after Swiss attorneys opened a criminal investigation against Blatter. He is charged with possible involvement in a $2 million payment in 2011 to Michel Platini, the head of the Union of European Football Association. More

  • Audio Belarus Writer Gets Nobel Literature Prize

    Svetlana Alexievich of Belarus has won the Nobel Prize in Literature. The Nobel Prize committee in Stockholm, Sweden, called her writings “a monument to suffering and courage in our time." More

  • Audio  US Official: Russian Missiles Aimed at Syria Crash in Iran

    Four Russian cruise missiles fired from a Russian ship crashed in Iran. The cruise missiles were intended to reach Syria. Russia launched its missiles in the Caspian Sea. The Russian Defense Ministry has denied that any of the missiles had fallen short of their targets. More

  • Audio UN Group Calls for Secure Financial Base to World Economy

    The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development deals with trade and development issues. It has called for measures to strengthen international finance including more support for the International Monetary Fund and development banks. More

Featured Stories

  • #aidrefugees

    Audio Top 5 Crowdfunding Projects Ever

    Crowdfunding sites can help start profitable businesses or help people in need. More

  • Video Fabric Fights Dust Mites in Your Bed

    Many people around the world suffer from dust-related allergies. People with allergies have trouble breathing or suffer from tightness in the chest and shortness of breath. Now, scientists in Poland say they have successfully tested cloth that the microscopic creatures cannot pass through. More

  • "Vape," according to the Oxford Dictionaries, is the verb that describes inhaling and exhaling the vapor from an electronic cigarette. It can also be a noun referring to the action or the device.

    Audio Very Low Nicotine Cigarettes May Reduce Addiction

    A new study suggests that selling only cigarettes with very low nicotine levels may actually help people stop smoking. Researchers studied more than 800 smokers. However, cigarette replacements, like e-cigarettes, have not reduced nicotine addiction or tobacco use. More

  • Video Know Your Enemy

    Do you have an enemy? Hopefully, you don’t. An enemy is someone who hates you and you hate them back. An enemy threatens you, attacks you or tries to harm you. In some languages, there are different words for a personal enemy versus an enemy of war, political enemy or enemy of the state. More

  • Audio Everyday Grammar: Comparatives and Superlatives

    When we want to compare things we use comparative and superlative forms. Find out some of rules and exceptions of these important forms in Everyday Grammar for this week. More

Practice Your Writing

Confessions of an English Learner
Confessions of an English Learner blog

Tell us About Our Programs