USDA Wraps Up Tour Of Memphis

MEMPHIS, TN (localmemphis.com) - Urban agriculture may not be a term you hear often, but the idea of growing food in big cities like Memphis is catching on.

Officials with the USDA just wrapped up a two day tour of Memphis to see firsthand the benefits of urban farming.

With urban farming on the rise, the USDA made a stop in Memphis to see how they could help support this growing form of agriculture. What they found here at landmark development is they are a whole lot more than a community garden.

Urban farming could be the answer to food deserts, communities that lack grocery stores and therefore lack access to healthy foods and fresh produce.

"We’re really interested in how communities are addressing the food desert issues and how they are getting healthy foods into their communities," USDA Agriculture under secretary Dr. Ann Bartuska said.

Landmark Development in Orange Mound is one group addressing those food desert issues. What began as a food pantry in 2011 has now blossomed into a farmers market and urban outreach center. In addition to fresh produce, the folks at Landmark also have a catfish pond, a chicken coop, and are even beekeepers.

"Rather than relying or being dependent upon outside sources, there are many things we can do for ourselves to create sustainability and self-sufficiency. Particularly in neighborhoods that are considered food deserts," Landmark Development coordinator Mike Minnis said. 

Now families in Orange Mound are asking for help to start their own gardens.

"Every one of these urban agriculture activities brings the community together, so they become a community gathering place,” Bartuska said. 

The food is not the only benefit. Landmark's youth urban farm training program teaches skills that can keep teenagers in the neighborhood from falling into a life of crime, while providing a source of income.

"And that's giving them the ability to buy school clothes and other items they would need in order to just function on a normal level," Minnis said.

Landmark hopes that their involvement with the community continues to grow. In fact, now you can buy their produce locally thanks to a partnership with Whole Foods. 


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