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Best Development Project

Farming on vacant, city-owned properties

Urban farming has come into its own in recent years in Baltimore, as the success of Belair-Edison’s Five Seeds Farm and Clifton Park’s Real Food Farm has shown. The city is now doing its part by setting up a scheme to offer five-year leases, at $100 per year, to farmers who want to grow food on vacant city-owned land. So far, 35 acres have been identified, ranging in size from one- to 17-acre plots, as suitable for farming. It’s a heck of a development idea, getting idle land back into use and producing healthy, locally grown food. By leasing the properties at a highly affordable rate, rather than selling them outright to farmers, the plan doesn’t foreclose on future uses for them that may hold higher returns for city coffers. In a shrinking city with a lot of vacant land, and in a marketplace where consumers increasingly want to support local agriculture and know where their food is coming from, this is an idea whose time has come.

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