BALTIMORE — The Cherry Hill Urban Community Garden has been providing the area with fresh and affordable produce for over 10 years, but now the future of the garden is question.
The Housing Authority of Baltimore City is threatening to evict the stewards of the farm with plans to build affordable housing on the property.
The city said Black Yield Institute, which is the organization that’s been running the garden for the past three years, “is occupying the land without permission.”
“Our hope is they will be able to relocate and continue their farming elsewhere,” a spokeswoman said.
Eric Jackson, who is with the Black Yield Institute, said it’s true, confirming that the lease expired long before they took the land over.
He said he’s not arguing the city’s legal right to take back the 1.25-acre piece of land on Cherry Hill Road, but he is questioning why now.
“The question really is about why not grow food on land that’s underutilized and presumably will be underutilized if we are asked to move off the land today,” he said.
Jackson said his organization has invested hundreds of thousands of dollars to grow and provide fresh produce for the community of Cherry Hill and people across the city.
He also said they’ve been able to provide jobs, education on farming and other opportunities.
“We’re growing food and we’re growing people,” he said. "It’s like a church without walls. It’s a place not only to grow food, but to congregate, to come together [and] learn from one another.”
Jackson was born and raised in the Cherry Hill neighborhood, which has long been considered a food desert. He said it’s important to him to have healthy options in the area because of food insecurity and its connection to diseases that disproportionately impact he black community.
“This community hasn’t had a grocery store in over 16 years,” he said.
Since the eviction notice, Jackson and his organization created a change.org petition to save the garden. It has garnered over 35,000 signatures.
He hopes with the public’s support, the organization will be able to continue its mission to give people affordable and healthy eating option sin a place where they don’t exist.
“People in Cherry Hill need food that is culturally appropriate that is affordable and that is grown here right in our community,” he said.
The HABC has scheduled a July 8th meeting to discuss the future of the land. The Black Yield Institute will be in attendance with the goal of coming to an agreement to stay until at least the end of growing season.
In the meantime, the organization will hold a rally at 4:00 p.m. on Saturday. It will be at the garden located at 900 Cherry Hill Road. The public is invited.