BALTIMORE (WJZ) — A big tax break for small city farms may be on the way. This comes as many Baltimore neighborhoods sit in the middle of food deserts.
As Gigi Barnett explains, several city leaders are backing the proposal because urban farms bring more to Baltimore than food.
Next to the homes and stores in one West Baltimore neighborhood, rows of lettuce spring up. Every day, workers are there to tend their crops on one of the city’s few urban farms. But Baltimore needs more like it, so it’s looking to approve a big tax credit to small farms and agriculture groups who want to take root in the city.
“You really get a taste of Baltimore when you patronize the restaurants that support local farmers,” said Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake.
And that’s not all. Sites like the Strength To Love — Two farm spruce up city neighborhoods with greenery. They’re also a good source of fruits and vegetables in communities with so few stores that they’re called food deserts. And they offer jobs for a handful of former prison inmates looking for honest work.
“It’s lifesaving,” said Elder Clyde Harris.
Harris runs the farm. All of the produce is packaged and sold in Baltimore. He says the farming preserves of a way of life that’s dying.
“It’s sort of like Back to the Future. My great-grandfather was a Maryland farmer. And those in the past, it is something that we have lost,” he said.
The state allows farms five acres or larger to pay a lower tax rate. Many farms in the city can’t take advantage of that tax break because they’re smaller. Well now, they can.
“It gives that extra economic boost that is really given to other farmers,” said Big City Farms CEO Dave Bisson. “It gives Baltimore a little bit more food security if there were to be a cutoff of the supply coming from other parts of the country.”
So far, seven of the city’s 15 council members support the proposed tax break. A hearing on the bill is set for Wednesday night at City Hall.
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