A new farming partnership in Brandywine, Maryland, will create an urban farm focused on producing fresh livestock and vegetables to combat Prince George’s County’s food desert issue.
After partnering with the University of the District of Columbia and the Anacostia Economic Development Corporation to build community gardens in various D.C. neighborhoods, urban farmer Mike Jones is now partnering with former banker Desmond Reid on the 36-acre farm in Brandywine.
Urban farmers will utilize the land to farm vegetables, cows, chickens, goats and sheep using non-traditional methods. Jones, CEO of Fresh Communities Holding Corporation and a Prince George’s County native, said his goal is to produce food 365 days a year.
“We understand that Prince George's County and Washington, D.C., the DMV is a major food desert hub,” Jones said. “So how do we correct a food desert hub? Well, we have to, number one, manufacture our produce that we control, and we market and distribute to the communities that we know are actually in need.”
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Jones said he is financing the farm on his own thanks to his marketing business.
“Our kales, our collards, our cabbage, all the things that for our community, leafy greens are very important to our diet,” Jones said.
Jones said in the next seven to nine months, the area will include hydroponic and aquaponic farming to farm tilapia and salmon.
“The fish, of course, waste feeds the plants, the plant roots clean the water, and it recirculates itself. And that's how the two work,” Jones said.
The system, which Jones practiced at the community gardens he helped develop, allows for year-round production of fish and vegetables.
While the farm offers an international market on weekends, the plan is to expand access to different types of consumers.
“Food deserts are actually becoming food swamps because of the food that they're eating, it is not fresh, it has no nutritional value, has less than anything that they need to be eating,” Jones said.
In the next two weeks, the farm will begin offering classes to teach children about farming. For more information, visit firstharvestclub.com.
The farm's international market is open Friday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.