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Urban Farms Turn Food Deserts Into Green Spaces

Aug 3 2015

JaQuan was skeptical at first. Four years ago, the 14-year-old saw the Common Good City Farm open next to his housing project in northwest Washington, D.C., and didn’t quite know what to make of it. He stopped by to investigate and was drawn in by a small group of urban farmers who asked if he would like to pitch in with some painting and planting tasks. It turned out that JaQuan enjoyed the work, and a short while later he became a paid summer intern at Common Good.

JaQuan continued in that role, balancing his job with academics. He also began teaching farming skills to younger kids. Now 18, he just graduated high school and “can pretty much run the show here,” says Melissa Miller, the farm’s manager.

Over the past decade, nonprofit urban farms such as Common Good have been making a big impact in “food deserts” — stretches of cities that don’t have good access to fresh produce and grocery stores. The farms seek to provide affordable, accessible whole foods to communities that otherwise can’t get them.

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