Transforming Vacant Buildings to Urban Farms
How one D.C. start-up leads the way
For Nadia Robinson of D.C.-based Locals Grow Smart, erasing food deserts means transforming the community that raised her. Growing up in Washington, D.C.’s Northeast side, Robinson spent hours in the kitchen and garden with her mother and grandmother, who grew up on a farm. While fresh meals were readily available at her home, she noticed her neighbors struggled with nutrition education and access to fresh produce, often settling for highly processed options. District-level food justice efforts commissioned by First Lady Michelle Obama target the neighborhood, but Robinson sensed a void—her community needed a multi-functional pillar to address more than nutrition. With its 3,000 square foot (914.4 square meters) greenhouse, Locals tackles four problems—food insecurity, job training, feedback loops between climate change and traditional farming, and vacant buildings in city centers.