BFRDP Projects

Capturing Momentum: Growing Urban Farmers and Farms
[Final Report]

Award Amount: $299,979
Grant Program: 2019 Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program Awards
Project Director: Margaret Morgan Hubbard
Organization: ECO City Farms


  • Overview
  • Results
  • Materials
  • Delivery Area
  • Comments

Project Overview

Capturing Momentum: Growing Urban Farmers and Farms was a multi-pronged program to counter the epidemic of food insecurity and diet-related illnesses in our communities through proliferating locally-grown food, farms and farmers. Our potential urban farmers were drawn from the diverse populations of the DC metropolitan area where ECO City Farms has run a non-profit urban farm on two sites for the past 12 years. The project offered a one-stop learning environment with a self-paced competency-based curriculum, where the earning of Community College certification and tracking of individual progress through a learning plan signals mastery and awards achievement. We offered a collaborative and supportive hands-on setting with passionate and empathetic practitioner educators where all voices heard and respected. The goal of this project was to increase the number and quality of urban farmers and farms in Prince George's County, where access to nutritious healthy food is still scarce, open space for farming is still abundant, and many diverse cultures and food traditions coexist. We built on our FY2016 BFRDP (2016-70017-25342) which trained 51 farmers (90% limited resource, socially disadvantaged and/or new immigrant) to grow healthy food for themselves and the market. In this first year of the program, we successfully began our program in January with three months of classroom training at the Prince George's Community College with local farmers (including ECO farmers) covering a range of critical farming theory and practical knowledge, followed by 6 months of hands on training with a dedicated training plot on site at ECO City Farms. During this reporting period, all but one trainee, or 20 out of 21, successfully completed the classroom training and received a certificiate in commerical urban farming from ECO andPGCC. However within a week of the end of class, the entire state and County was shut down due to the COVID-19 Pandemic. While ECO was deemed an essential farm business and our work was allowed to continue,it was prudent tocontinue face to face, hands on farming education for the first few months of the shut down.
Our staff worked hard to reconfigure our training and offer on-line meetings and classes, and eventually provide limited individualized hands-on training. However our original plans for creating an intimate and collaborative setting for collective training and labor was not possible this entire year to date.
Despite these unanticipated constraints, all of the 20 trainees attending the program were highly satisfied with the intensive classroom training, the dedication and generosity of the instructors, and the supplemental on-line training they received. In a change of approach, ECO has decided to supplement its offering in the coming year to provide advanced training for those who completed the first year, but may not be ready to begin farming on their own. Moreover, once the
initial sequestation was eased in late Spring 2020, more than 10 of the trainees began to regularly train at the Bladensburg farm for individualized instruction and together with staff they managed to create and maintain a significant plot of ECO's farmland for growing vegetables. Given the difficulties and challenges facing this 2020 cohort, the accomplishments of trainers and trainees alike was most impressive.

In 2021 and 2022 we experienced similar restrictions due to COVID, but each year navigated them more easily than the last, having more fully developed our online learning and COVID-safe in person training opportunities with each passing year.

Number of Participants: 56


Promotional Materials

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Educational Materials

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Reports & Evaluations

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Delivery Area

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Individual Stories / Examples of Success