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Meet Baltimore Free Farm

Today we’d like to introduce you to Baltimore Free Farm.

Hi Baltimore, so excited to have you with us today. What can you tell us about your story?
Baltimore Free Farm (BFF) began in 2010 by a group of friends who wanted to start a community garden and squat a nearby rowhouse. First came the garden which was cleaned of trash and debris and terraced into garden plots to grow food. The rowhouse was squatted on and off for the first few years and eventually, BFF members formed a legal entity (a corporation) called Horizontal Housing (HH), in order to purchase the property as a group – it was important to us to be as egalitarian as possible, so no one person would have power over others because of property ownership.

Today, thanks in part to the cooperative development nonprofit NASCO and the cooperative bank Shared Capital, HH owns the three rowhomes next to Ash St Garden where BFF/HH members live, and has expanded the growing spaces to include two more lots adjacent to the homes.

Would you say it’s been a smooth road, and if not what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?
Yes and no. There have been lots of trials, mostly due to interpersonal conflicts – which is inevitable in collective spaces, especially when you learn as you go. Over the years we have adopted processes like consensus and communication agreements which have helped us deal with conflict and become more resilient. We also realize how privileged we have been being able to buy property, namely borrowing from family members for down payments.

BFF and HH members operate a community garden, called Ash St Garden, which is now protected from development by Baltimore Green Space land trust. We also operate a cooperative vegetable farm and a food forest. We are working towards a world where sustainable living, social justice, and community activism are central values, and food has been our main passion.

Not only growing food but also rescuing and giving away what would normally be thrown out – we started the program that is evolved into what is now Food Rescue Baltimore. We enjoy working and learning together to grow food, and teaching others. We love collaboration, community living, and working together towards a common goal.

Thanks – so what else should our readers know about your work and what you’re currently focused on?
Urban Farming, Community Outreach

How do you think about happiness?
Serving our community!

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