By Cori Lucas,
Racial disparities concerning food distribution in Baltimore City have turned West Baltimore (among other areas) into what’s considered a food desert. West Baltimorean’s access to fresh, nourishing or affordable food is minimal. City Weeds is an organization and local business that’s fighting to fill this void through the growing and distribution of microgreens and fresh, cold-pressed juices. They organize food rescues in which they collect good food from farms and businesses that are intended to be thrown away and distribute them to the community. They also host pop-up shops and farmer’s markets throughout Baltimore to reach as many communities in need as possible. In addition, they turn abandoned lots into prosperous community gardens where they grow microgreens and crops. City Weeds is striving toward eliminating food deserts across Baltimore and planting seeds of independence and thrivability. “Not just the ability to sustain—we want to start at that level. We want to teach communities, starting with the youth, the ability to thrive.”
Founder of City Weeds Dominic Nell, or Farmer Nell, is a West Baltimore native who experienced the devastating effects of living in a food desert on its people and community. In the midst of the Baltimore Uprising, Farmer Nell observed the hurt and outrage of his and surrounding communities spurred by the murder of Freddie Gray. He pondered how he could go about mending his corner of Baltimore, considering the real needs of his people. In 2016, Farmer Nell founded City Weeds to contribute to the wellness, healing and independence of Baltimore’s Black neighborhoods. He set about distributing greens and natural fruit juice to residents as well as turning local neighborhoods’ deserted lots into small farms. Using these farms, he teaches youth the importance of and how to cater to these structures that are going to provide them food security and sovereignty.
Given all the funding City Weeds needed to manifest its vision, it would expand into a healthy food chain that’s as frequented as McDonalds. There would be City Weeds and BeMoreGreen locations on every other block in major cities across the country, serving and healing as many food deserts as possible. His organization would also be responsible for training thousands of neighborhoods in the art of food sovereignty—an imperative facet of Black America’s liberation.
BeMoreGreen is City Weeds’ youth training program! Here, they use the opportunity to train youth in cultivating their own gardens to build leadership skills and pride in their community. The kids in this program are also paired with college-age mentors who encourage their service to the community and the development of entrepreneurial skills. Finally, the youth undergo a six-week course in entrepreneurship that teaches them everything they need to know about how to start, manage and market their own urban-farming related business. City Weeds’ entrepreneurial wing, Kale Yeah!, open the door for local businesses to partner with City Weeds to grow and sell their produce and juice in Baltimore’s open spaces. To locate City Weeds gardens and events and contribute to their mission to mend our food deserts, visit them at cllctivly.org/listing/city-weeds or follow their social media @nellaware. #BeMoreGreen
All February, we’re honoring a few of the many Black leaders in our community making history every day with #28DaysofBlackFutures.
This is a crowdfunding and narrative power campaign that amplifies and mobilizes resources for Black-led organizations serving Greater Baltimore.
Throughout the month, we will highlight 28 dedicated Black leaders and organizations on the ground creating programs and initiatives that drive health, wealth, safety, and culture in #Baltimore.
Let’s CELEBRATE these changemakers and SUPPORT their work! Our goal is to raise $100,000 by the end of this campaign.
Head over to 28DaysofBlackfutures.org to donate today! ❤️🖤💚
Let’s show up BIG for our Black leaders and their organizations!