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September 22, 2014 / Ciara Myers, Editor

More vacant lots could turn into urban farms with D.C. bill

In an effort to increase the availability of fresh, healthy food while transforming vacant urban lots into safer places, D.C. is considering a bill known as the “D.C. Urban Farming and Food Security Act.” Currently, when private land owners (such as nonprofit groups) lease land for commercial use, they can risk losing tax exemptions; however, if the new bill is passed, private land owners would see a 50 percent tax deduction if they lease their land for farming. (WaPo, 9/19)

The bill outlines a plan to connect publicly and privately owned vacant land with urban farming ventures in an effort to provide more sustainable and healthy food options for surrounding communities and to transform unused and sometimes unsafe areas into productive green spaces.


The bill also encourages the farms to donate to District food banks or shelters by creating a “farm to food donations” tax credit.

Related: Earlier this year, we published What Funders Need to Know: The Food System, providing an overview of the different activities that comprise the food system,  local examples of these activities, and recommendations for ways to invest for multiple, integrated impacts in the region. (Daily, 3/2014)

New effort to get more students in Maryland eating breakfast (WaPo, 9/19)

EQUALITY | Opinion: Jennifer Lockwood-Shabat, President and CEO at Washington Area Women’s Foundation shares her thoughts on the dangers in ignoring the less headline-grabbing discrimination many women still face on a daily basis. (WBJ – subscription required, 9/19)

When discrimination is blatant, it needs to be addressed, corrected and rooted out. But we must all stand guard against discrimination in disguise, the kind that lives in our choice of words, our selection of job candidates and our daily interactions.

– In Arlington County, residents are finding housing costs to be too high, with 2 in 5 saying they are likely to move out of the county within the next five years in response to rising rents and stagnant salaries. The findings come from part of a three-year study on affordable housing in Arlington. (WaPo, 9/19)

Is housing assistance a safety net or a springboard? (MetroTrends, 9/22)

DISTRICT | Today, Mayor Vincent Gray spoke at the Clinton Global Initiative annual meeting on new efforts in D.C. to decrease rates of infant mortality. The city’s rates are well above the national average. However, officials hope that new initiatives in the District can provide an example to other cities. (, 9/22)

PHILANTHROPY | The Rockefeller Brothers Fund has joined the increasingly mainstream movement of divestment in fossil fuel companies, and will increase investment into cleaner alternatives. According to Arabella Advisors – which has consulted with a number of philanthropists and investors to move them toward using resources for social good – a number of groups have pledged to divest assets tied to fossil fuel companies worth more than $50 billion from portfolios, and more than $1 billion for individuals. (NYT, 9/21)

ARTS | The 5 x 5 Project, put on by the D.C. Commission on the Arts and Humanities, includes a unique piece that speaks to present racial turmoil in America through an iconic gesture from the past. (Forbes, 9/16)

It’s the most wonderful time of year! Tonight, we’ll welcome the autumnal equinox.

– Ciara

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