Ledroit Park


The Search for Produce in LeDroit Park

Last week’s Metro Connection featured a mobile market that will drive to D.C.’s food deserts and sell produce at reduced rates.

Arcadia Foods [is] a small organization that works to bring fresh produce from fields of local farms to the dinner plates of D.C. residents. The founder, Mike Babin, now has his sights set on the food deserts of D.C. by putting farmers’ markets like this one on wheels.

“We’ve got a bus and we’re calling it a mobile market that is going to be outfitted as a farmer’s market. It’s going to roll into these communities and set up shop for one day a week to just provide that food to those communities,” [Mike Babin says].

Flickr: Lisa Williams

Finding fresh and affordable produce can be a challenge in some D.C. neighborhoods.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture defines food deserts as areas with poor access to large grocery stories — and D.C. has plenty of neighborhoods that qualify. The food desert definition doesn’t take into account whether neighborhoods without chain grocers have corner stores selling produce or farmers markets.

Some LeDroit Park residents have pointed out on the neighborhood’s Listserv that although the area lacks a big grocery store, there are a couple of neighborhood options, including Common Good City Farm and farmers markets and corner stores. Some alternatives to chain grocers may not be as affordable, but that’s not always the case.

Babin’s plans may provide a temporary fix to food deserts, but as reporter Marc Adams points out, getting people to actually buy the produce takes more than just bringing the food into neighborhoods. LeDroit Park resident Jana Baldwin, who uses food stamps, tells Adams that “many communities may feel that [the mobile vendor's produce] is only for a specific population and so it would have to definitely be marketed in a way that was inclusive to all communities.”

Prince Charles Visits D.C. Urban Farm — Next Time, Also Do ‘The Dougie?’

Just days after the royal wedding, England’s Prince Charles visited D.C.’s largest urban farm.

Prince Charles, a sustainable agriculture advocate, visited Ledroit Park’s Common Good City Farm Tuesday as part of his D.C. trip. WAMU’s Courtney Collins reports that:

Common Good City Farm is a farm and education center that grows food for low-income Washington D.C. residents and encourages members of the community to volunteer.

Amanda Formica works at the farm every Tuesday and thinks Prince Charles is a fitting ambassador for sustainability.

“England is way ahead of the U.S. as far as its commitment to sustainability and global warming and creating green spaces,” says Formica.

Courtesy of: Courtney Collins

Prince Charles took time out of his farm tour to visit with community members standing outside the wooden fence.

Urban farming is cropping up throughout the city; just last month non-profit Bread for the City began work on “the largest” rooftop vegetable garden in the District.

Are these efforts the answer to D.C.’s food deserts? The mission behind most of them is to educate people on sustainable food and healthy eating, quite important points to make, but they can’t literally feed everyone in a food desert. Rather, advocates say such efforts help foster a more accessible conversation around these topics. Bread for the City communications development associate Greg Bloom has said about his group’s garden that:

All too often the question of food sustainability and environmental sustainability, it’s actually a really elitist conversation in that the people who are talking about it are the ones with the resources to experiment and buy high-end produce. We don’t think it has to be that way…. And it’s important for us to create at least one space for that.

Common Good City Farm is another space for that, as well.

As we noted before, there are exercise deserts in D.C., too. So although Prince Charles highlighting sustainable agriculture is important, perhaps next time he can also encourage exercise — may we suggest replicating First Lady Michelle Obama leading middle schoolers in doing “The Dougie?”