small raised-bed garden layout with lawn around

Small Plots Make a Big Difference

More Valuable, More Impactful, More Possible

Heathcote Farm's tunnel greenhouse on our terraced land. Wood-frame, sheet-plastic covered. Growing herbs and vegetables.
Large farms now do and will continue to produce the majority of US yields; Despite this, micro-farms like Heathcote Farm, which are usually run by part-time farmers earning outside the farm economy, make up the majority of US farm plots. Though considered direct competitors, these two kinds of farms produce very different yields in personal, social, environmental, and secondary economic benefits.

Before the pandemic and new zoning and use restrictions from the county, Heathcote provided a wide range of educational programs consisting of classes and workshops. These taught hundreds of participants applied-skills in bio-intensive farming, self-care, and community building. The take-home value for these learners included more ability to implement personal-scale projects with benefits beyond profits and food production.

The increasing value of gardens and micro-farms come from a combination of increased need and productivity. Small-plot farmers lack market linkages to sell produce, but the latest e-commerce technology and aggregation platforms now connect them at all times to consumers. Large farms profit from scaling expensive technology that is more productive than human labor, but miniaturization has made affordable labor-saving and productivity technology accessible to almost everyone. Centralized distribution and warehouse networks make food available cheaply from anywhere, any time of the year. Disruptions in these food systems increase costs to consumers while limiting choice, security, and access. Personal and small-scale gardens and farms produce a variety of nutritious foods that mitigate these disruptions and increase the food sovereignty of communities. And there’s even one more data-supported alchemy: Gardeners and micro-farmers over-count their already objectively real higher productivity from their plots. Perhaps they also feel better about their food, valuing it more.

Temperature map of the Baltimore City area in August 2018 showing relative differences in local temperature that are magnified by global warming.
Baltimore’s urban heat-island is magnified by climate change, disproportionately impacting less-powerful communities by up to 20 degrees F. Heat-events of now increasing frequency and severity cause more deaths and injuries than hurricanes, tornadoes, or any other weather-event.

Food Systems Not Food Markets

The world food crisis of 2007/8 failed to result in rethinking of our food systems. We may be seeing a replay, now accompanied by environmental tipping and continuing public health vulnerabilities. The breakdown of food supply chains is driven by a combination of infrastructure neglect and just-in-time economy that can’t adjust to climate and political instabilities. Programs that teach and support networks of personal, homestead, and small-plot agriculture now have greater food security impact alongside overall economic and environmental pay-off and equity. In 2023, Heathcote intends to make major investments in infrastructure, starting with urgently needed remodeling of the historic Heathcote Mill as a hybrid program center. If you’re able, Heathcote and its partners and participants would appreciate a year-end donation. Mill improvements will better enable us to serve our education and community-building missions.

There are many ways to donate. If you are looking for a tax-deductible year-end financial donation, choose to make a financial donation. If you are replacing old furniture, computers or office equipment, ask us if we need it. Remember that gifts-in-kind are tax-deductible, too. What if we can’t use it? Consider including a donation for School of Living on e-Bay for Charities, where you can donate a part or all of the sale. And if you’re a trades-person, Heathcote needs carpentry, electrical, and plumbing work. The new accessible public bathroom, the new handicapped ramp, better lighting, safer grounds, and other necessary improvements won’t build themselves!

Finding another way to help

And don’t forget that you can even help with your year-end shopping: Choose School of Living with your Amazon Smiles purchases. It doesn’t go to Heathcote but will help our parent organization, while it costs you nothing that may eat into your holiday gifts and plans.

Thank you for your continued support. Heathcote is a half-century old because of people like you.

Your donation will help us…

Thanks from everyone at Heathcote!