If you hadn’t noticed, there’s been an explosion in the number of farmers’ markets in the past few years. This has increased access to and demand for locally and regionally sourced food.
When this demand is combined with the excess space left by urban flight in places such as Detroit and Baltimore, it creates the ideal condition for urban farming to take root. But unlike traditional market models where each business competes to bring products to the consumer, many urban farmers recognize that collaborative arrangements can have multiple benefits.
The Farm Alliance of Baltimore City is “a network of producers working to increase the viability of urban farming and improve access to urban grown foods.” Since their inception, this network of 11 farms and producers have secured a booth at the city’s premier year-round farmers’ market (at which they rotate staffing duties) and worked on collectively securing larger grants than they would have been able to get singly. They share not only tools and resources, but also learnings and struggles. And collectively, they’re able to source larger restaurants and institutional buyers than they could individually.
Jeffrey Clark is the publisher and editor of Collaborator Magazine. He writes and publishes on organizational sustainability and partnership building, community development, and social entrepreneurship. He also conducts financial social work and free tax preparation programs. Follow him on @anvariclark and @CollaboratorMag