Words by Tess Becker
Inflation is the talk of the town in the United States, leading to increasing prices nearly everywhere. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, prices for fresh fruits and vegetables are 11.92% higher in 2023 versus 2020 (a $2.38 difference in value).
That doesn’t seem like that big of a difference, but when 64% of Americans are living paycheck to paycheck, any small price increase can mean a world of difference. To help lighten the impact on people’s wallets a farm started a pay-what-you-can model.
The Common Good City Farm sits in the LeDroit Park neighborhood of Washington, D.C. which is right in between two neighborhoods with drastically different economic backgrounds.
“To the north, you have the Kelly Miller housing projects, where about 94 percent of residents are below the federal poverty limit and most are unemployed,” Marc James, who worked as the farm programs manager at Common Good City Farm, told Civil Eats. “To the south, you have people who had the chance to get their master’s degrees or are captains of industry and can afford million-dollar homes.”
The hope is that the two communities can come together and support each other, with the poorer one paying less when they need it and the richer one paying more when they can.
They also want to serve as a template for what urban farming can be.
“Common Good City Farm is a place where community members can source fresh food, see sustainable urban agriculture in action, and gain exposure to concepts and skills to lead healthy lives,” Common Good City Farm writes on its website.
Since January 2007, Common Good has provided over 10 tons of fresh produce to the community, engaged over 2,700 adults and 4,500 young people in educational programs, and hosted over 3,000 volunteers.
There are programs in the D.C. area that try to support people that need help like Produce Plus, but many still struggle and Common Good City Farm is trying to fill that gap.
“With an emphasis on producing food for community members, Common Good demonstrates intensive, small-scale sustainable urban agricultural practices and participates in all parts of the food system, including: food production, processing, distribution, consumption, and waste management,” they write.
“Our mission is to sustain and support a more equitable community through growing, learning, cooking, and sharing fresh food together.”
Find out more about how to support the farm here.