Last September, Kim Rush Lynch of PGSCD and Linda Jones, Urban Farmer and Founder of Elements of Nature Botanicals and Farmaceuticals, taught a class for UMD Landscape Architecture students on Planning & Policy in Urban Agriculture in Prince George’s County, MD. The focus of the presentation was improving the health, education, environment, and economic development for Maryland’s Prince Georgians through Urban Agriculture.
Urban Agriculture is a great opportunity to connect with local residents who may not be aware of conservation districts. Urban farmers can learn about more conservation practices, how to implement Better Management Practices (BMPs) for erosion and sediment control, and stormwater management in urban and pre-urban areas of the county. In addition, Urban Agriculture can help expand access to healthy, locally-grown food and foster education and career development. In Prince George’s County, a variety of urban Ag producers are growing produce, cut-flowers, composting, and bee-keeping–even providing their services in the form of workshops and selling directly to customers or local food businesses.
With 79% of Prince George’s County zoned for urban farms–land permitting the cultivation of produce, plants, bee-keeping, and more on or near residential, commercial, or industrial lands–Prince George’s County is an ideal landscape for Urban Agriculture. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, many communities across the county struggled with food insecurity, chronic disease, and limited opportunities for outdoor recreation. As of 2020, over 125,000 Prince Georgians are food-insecure and many grocery stores and food outlets lack nutritional food options. Although an estimated $26 billion is spent on food in the Baltimore-Washington region, only 2% is spent on locally-raised food. Given these figures and today’s challenges with COVID-19, food insecurity is growing at an alarmingly faster rate than ever before.
Urban Agriculture is one of the best ways to invest back into the community and improve the health of local residents, as well as keep local businesses afloat during these difficult times. Prince George’s Soil Conservation District is fully committed to continue expanding Urban Agriculture outreach across the County. Most recently, the District has been sponsoring free virtual Bloomin’ PGC workshops, such as the upcoming workshop Indoor Sowing — Get Ready for Spring! on January 30, where attendees can learn how to jump-start their farm or garden in time for the spring season. (Continue to check our website for future event updates!) As Prince George’s County continues to persevere through the COVID-19 pandemic, the District continues to fulfill its mission to protect and promote the health, safety, and welfare of citizens and residents of the county.