At a Glance

Native, edible landscaping and innovative stormwater treatment, capture and reuse are integrated into the planning and design of a fully operational farm in the heart of Baltimore.

Project Description

Nestled between a public park and a high school in Northeast Baltimore, Real Food Farm is a fully operational urban farm. Real Food Farm is a project of Civic Works, Baltimore’s urban service corps and an AmeriCorps program. The farm’s mission is to improve neighborhood access to healthy food while providing experience-based education and developing economically viable, environmentally responsible local agriculture. In keeping with this mission, Real Food Farm sought a sustainable way to improve overall site drainage and treat runoff from its fields, orchards and high tunnels so that it could be used for irrigation.

To help Real Food Farm achieve these goals, Biohabitats crafted a native, edible landscaping plan, designed a bioswale to provide water quality treatment for runoff, and developed a unique rainwater harvesting system that employed a retrofitted bicycle as a human-powered irrigation pump. The bioswale was designed to include native, flowering perennials that not only take up nutrients, but provide the farm with an opportunity to harvest and sell cut flowers.

The design and final construction documents for the bioswale, rainwater harvesting system, and landscaping plan fit well within Real Food Farm’s long-term master plan as well as day-to-day operations and maintenance requirements. The drainage and stormwater management plan not only met the site’s challenging drainage requirements but also the Maryland Department of the Environment’s latest and most stringent stormwater regulations. The plan also presents the farm with a hands-on opportunity to integrate lessons related to water quality and reuse into its outreach and education initiatives.



Chesapeake/Delaware Bays

Physiographic Province



Chesapeake Bay

Expertise Areas

Ecological Restoration, Infrastructure, Urban Ecology


Civic Works


Baltimore, Maryland, United States