Churches Work Together to Create a Healthier Baltimore

Barbara Williams buys tomatoes from Aleya Fraser outside the Ark Church in East Baltimore. Photo by: Fern Shen
Barbara Williams buys tomatoes from Aleya Fraser outside the Ark Church in East Baltimore.
Photo by: Fern Shen

The women came out of a midday Wednesday service at Ark Church on North Avenue to a bright and colorful sight – red tomatoes the size of tennis balls, deep-green okra pods, pristine white turnips and yellow-and-orange-streaked winter squash that resembled miniature pumpkins. 

“Well, what do you have today?” Barbara Williams asked the farmers from Black Dirt Farm, who had driven nearly two hours from their Eastern Shore farm to sell produce on a table outside this small East Baltimore church.

“Oh I don’t like those sweet turnips, I like the bitter ones! I’m sweet enough already!” the 69-year-old Williams said, cracking everyone up and proceeding to buy some tomatoes.

Margaret Lyle, meanwhile, went out on a limb and tried something new – instead of collards, she bought mustard greens that she planned to boil up with smoked turkey wings. (“Turkey tips,” she actually called them.)

“I really like having this right outside of church,” Lyle said, eyeing the bounty on the table. “There’s no supermarket around here.”

Ordinarily, to get produce like this, the 79-year-old would have had to make a special trip to the Northeast Market many blocks away.

“This is very convenient,” she said with a smile

No Nearby Markets

Giving people in the city access to fresh healthy produce is what this weekly farm stand event is all about, said Aleya Fraser, a co-founder of Black Dirt Farm, located on 137 acres in Dorchester County.

(The farm is on an old plantation that is, essentially, Harriet Tubman’s ancestral land, Fraser notes with pride.)

For the past three months, Fraser, farming partner Blain Snipstal and other members of the Black Dirt Farm Collective have been coming up to this spot to sell their produce after weekday church-services let out.

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Source: Baltimore Brew | Fern Shen