I was blessed to have grown up in a rural section of Howard County, MD, participating in the local 4H chapter. From a young age, my parents had us raising chickens, ducks, rabbits, pigs, goats, and sheep on ours or neighboring properties. Weekends were spent vegetable gardening, picking weeds, hauling feed, collecting eggs, cleaning troughs… the tasks are endless.
In recent years, I’ve adjusted to city life in Baltimore and have been exposed to neighborhoods struggling with nutritional desserts and food insecurity for the first time. This early childhood exposure to homesteading practices, coupled with the recognition of and wrestling with my privilege, has led to a renewed passion for the ways in which environmental and food justice concerns affect us all.
To paraphrase Wendell Berry, “You don’t love the environment. You love a specific place.” Baltimore City has become my new home, and as I develop this relationship with the city, I recognize that to show it love, I must give back in the ways I can. Pope Francis’s encyclical letter “Laudato Si: On Care for our Common Home” has also been an inspiration in this process. A theological perspective on humanity’s shared responsibility for the protection of our biosphere, the essay is a deliberate call to action connecting issues of technology, environmental and human exploitation, climate change, and economic poverty.
When able to, I volunteer with the Baltimore Orchard Project, stewarding at Lakeland Elementary/Middle School in Southwest Baltimore and learning from their permaculture-focused educational program. I am also a former student of University of Maryland Extension’s Small Farm series, where I’ve continued to develop small scale homesteading and restorative farming practices. Finally, I donate regularly to the Franciscan Center of Baltimore. Partnered with The Little Portion Farm in Howard County, MD, the Franciscan Center serves the needy in a variety of ways, but chiefly in providing sustainably farmed produce and meals to guests of the mission.
My wife and I delight in homesteading wherever we find ourselves, and at whatever scale is afforded to us, leading to the “Charmstead” project. An expression of our delight in growing, preserving, cooking, drinking, and eating Baltimore local, we invite you to follow our adventures at @thecharmstead!