A food desert is an urban locality in which there are complications when it comes to finding healthy nutrition sources at nearby businesses.
Whole foods, fresh fruits, fresh vegetables, and other healthy food sources are scarce in many of America’s impoverished urban communities due to a lack of grocery stores and farmer’s markets. This puts many of the inhabitants of these communities at risk for a number of diseases, such as diabetes and stroke.
The unhealthy conditions of food deserts also disproportionately affect blacks and other minorities who tend to be the predominant population in the urban areas of many major U.S. cities. These realities about a lack of healthy food sources in underserved communities is creating a sense of urgency over educating urban residents about farming.
According to Tidewater News, a new academic program at Virginia State University (VSU) is being launched to help students learn how to farm and provide their own healthy food sources. VSU has created the Urban Agriculture Certificate Program, which is a part of the curriculum provided at VSU’s College of Agriculture.
A VSU administrator said that the high demand for urban farming has led to a renaissance of sorts across the country.
“It’s no wonder we’re seeing a huge increase in the number of urban farms from Brooklyn to Boise and everywhere in between,” Dr. Leonard Githinji told Tidewater News.
Dr. Githinji is VCU’s Urban Agriculture Extension Specialist. He has been instrumental to the creation of this new initiative, which has been created to combat the food desert epidemic that is affecting the state of Virginia. The instructors for VCU’s new Urban Agriculture Certificate Program are all professors from VSU and Virginia Tech.
The 10-week courses will begin on March 11th and end on May 13th. For more information about VCU’s new Urban Agriculture Certificate Program, please click here.