Fighting Food Deserts: Capitol Heights urban farm feeds families

An urban farm is helping to bring fresh food to the community.

CAPITOL HEIGHTS, MD. - If you live near a grocery store or have a vehicle to access one that is not close, some would call you lucky. Some local communities like Capitol Heights are still considered food deserts, but a local non-profit is trying to change that.

Sitting in the 5400 block on the corner of Emmet Street in Capitol Heights, is an urban farm run by the non-profit Feeding 5,000 Inc. Using fresh produce from the farm, the organization is on a mission to feed at least 5,000 local families annually for the next five years. Kevin Alsop is the non-profit's founder and wants to make the town of Capitol Heights a self- sustaining and profitable one.

His vision involves teaching residents how to grow their own produce and creating jobs in the process.

"We want to teach people how to grow where they're at," Alsop said. " This is low-to-moderate [income area], a lot of seniors are in this area, so they have to go to different places just to get fresh vegetables."

In 2016, Safeway closed its doors off Central Avenue in Seat Pleasant because it was not making enough money, according to officials with the Prince George's County Economic Development Corporation. A spokesperson tells WUSA9 discussions with smaller food chains have been underway for months, which is a part of a largescale action plan to tackle the problem.

“There’s no grocery store within a two-mile radius,” Alsop said.



Town councilmember Darrell Miller tells WUSA9 about some of the town's plans to meet the needs of residents.

"We're looking to do economic development down here by the metro and then our focus would be on having a grocery store and other supporting stores, so that we can support the residents and get them out of this food desert," Miller said.

The farm is 7,000 sq. ft. and has several types of growing vegetables like: carrots, tomatoes, cucumbers, string beans and peppers.

Alsop said you don't need land to grow, you can do it from your porch, deck or patio with grow bags. The bags can sit on the ground or hang once its filled with soil.

Freedome El is a volunteer with the organization and helps harvest the food. Since the non-profit recently started, she said 500 families have been fed.

"I'm able to take food to the hospitals, to my friends who are in the hospital," El said. "I'm able to take food to the elderly; people just in need."

Alsop plans to establish 11 more growing zones in the community and encourages people to get involved.

For more information on Feeding 5,000 Inc., you can visit the website here

If you would like to get in contact with Alsop, you can call: 410.961.7475.

© 2017 WUSA-TV


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