Farmer Chippy

Plantation Park Heights Urban Farm’s Project Access as the recipient of its inaugural George E. Mitchell Park Heights Community Fellowship Grant. (Above) Richard “Farmer Chippy” Francis is the director of Plantation Park Heights Urban Farm. Courtesy Photo/Plantation Park Heights

Baltimore— Park Heights Renaissance, the non-profit organization that is shaping the future of the Park Heights community, has announced Plantation Park Heights Urban Farm’s Project Access as the recipient of its inaugural George E. Mitchell Park Heights Community Fellowship Grant.

Project Access was selected from a pool of applicants, which submitted an original concept to address a specific social or economic challenge of one or more of the priority project areas as identified in the Park Heights Master Plan. The unique program will receive $25,000 to support the sustainability of its urban agriculture curriculum in elementary schools.

Focused on Baltimore City students in the four public elementary schools in Park Heights— Arlington Elementary; Creative City; Pimlico Elementary; and Park Heights Academy— Project Access will provide experiential teaching to young students on how to grow, harvest and package nutrient-dense foods that will then be available to families in the Park Heights community.

“The key to keeping our young students energized and engaged is through sustainable programs like ours that set the foundation for learning, for community engagement and long-term success,” said Richard “Farmer Chippy” Francis, director of Plantation Park Heights Urban Farm.

The Fellowship Grant was initiated to honor the legacy of George E. Mitchell who, before his untimely passing in July 2020, worked as a tireless advocate for the residents of the Park Heights community.

“George Mitchell dedicated his life to loving and helping people but his leadership and passion for the Park Heights community is what gave me the vision for this grant opportunity,” said Yolanda Jiggetts, executive director of the Park Heights Renaissance. “Mr. Mitchell always made the children one of his highest priorities, so we look forward to seeing how Project Access develops over the next 12 months.”

The goals of the Fellowship Grant are to inspire leaders and residents of Park Heights to imagine and implement a creative public and community service-oriented project, to strengthen and develop leaders and role models for youth in the Park Heights community, to strengthen and encourage community unity and to support social entrepreneurial enterprises that empower the community to increase opportunities and improve the quality of life for the residents of Park Heights.

The Park Heights Master Plan’s priority project areas include youth engagement and safety, community leadership and training, reentry returning citizens, workforce development and skills training, social enterprise development, food access solutions, affordable housing and housing opportunities for vulnerable populations and social determinants of health.

“Mr. Mitchell was a champion for Park Heights. I cannot think of a better way to honor his legacy than to invest in the youth of the community he loved,” said Mayor Brandon M. Scott. “Project Access is most deserving of this award and I look forward to the greatness that will come from this monumental investment.”

“Our challenge was a difficult one because of the high quality of applications. Each applicant presented a unique approach and while each was deserving of funds, we had to make the hard choice of choosing one project to fund,” said Ellen Parker, PHR board member. “The good news is that this is an annual initiative, not just a one-time funding opportunity.”

Last fall, during Preakness 145, 1/ST RACING and the Maryland Jockey Club honored the legacy of George E. Mitchell with the renaming and introduction of The George E. Mitchell Black-Eyed Susan Stakes (GII). As part of its continued commitment to recognize Mitchell’s contributions each year during the Preakness weekend celebration, and as part of 1/ST RACING and the Maryland Jockey Club’s partnership with the Park Heights Renaissance, the recipient of the George E. Mitchell Fellowship Grant will be recognized before the running of The George E. Mitchell Black-Eyed Susan Stakes (GII) on Friday, May 14, 2021.

Following the race, members of the Mitchell family will join leaders from Park Heights and other city and state officials to present the trophy to the winning connections of the 97th running of the Black-Eyed Susan Stakes graded stakes race.

For more information on Park Heights Renaissance, visit: www.boldnewheights.org.