Janzen handles media relations for ECO City Farms, an educational, nonprofit urban farm in the Prince George's County town of Edmonston. The farm sells certified, naturally grown foods from a small, 1.5-acre plot of land in the town.
You've got to be one of the few farms so close to the District.
There are definitely not a lot of farms inside the Beltway. This farm thrives because it's a special place. It has several hoop houses, so it's able to produce a lot of food in a small area using special techniques. And they do a lot of composting at the farm, which makes especially rich soil and allows there to be more intense agriculture there.
What's a hoop house?
A hoop house is sort of like a green house. You can walk through it, it's just that the structure is made using materials which can be disassembled and moved. It's a method that's being used widely now on small farms. It's really useful because it helps to extend the seasons. You can regulate the temperature and produce a lot of vegetables into winter.
What's the food scene like in Edmonston?
There aren't even a lot of places to get food; it's considered a food desert, which means there aren't readily available grocery stores or other sources of healthy food. These are important locations because food needs to be grown where people live. They do sell a lot of things at the Riverdale Park Farmers Market, and they do have a [community-supported agriculture program].
To whom do you sell the food?
We're not talking about boxed items, but there are a lot of community members who do have a source of healthy, fresh, in-season vegetables there. They also have chickens ... The idea for it is as a prototype for urban areas everywhere.
- Ben Giles