Farming and food security in the Washington region is being threatened by big development.   Drive along Route 7 in Fairfax County, Virginia, and you can’t help but notice the businesses and sprawling housing developments. When Hiu Newcomb makes the same drive she can’t help but think about all the vegetables that used to grow there.

Newcomb and her family have lived and farmed in the area for more than 50 years, holding fast despite the development. They’ve become an increasingly isolated outpost of farms that put fresh vegetables on the plates of Washingtonians.

“When we started, Tysons Corner wasn’t there,” Newcomb recalled as she stood near the farm’s greenhouses, where spinach, kale and other varieties of leafy greens continue to grow through the winter months. “And all the land that we used was all land that had formerly been in agriculture but not in active use. And so, we just rented it … cheap.”

Newcomb now owns the land which houses the 23-acre Potomac Vegetable Farm, clinging strong to the way of life she’s always known. Many other local farmers have given up, so much so that a recent report by Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments concludes that a decline in farming over the last several decades has reduced the region’s ability to rely on itself for food production.

Some farming advocates say supporting local growers would not only help the individual farms survive but could also benefit consumers who don’t have reliable access to affordable, nutritious food.

Read the full report from WAMU.

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Hiu Newcomb in one of the fields of her farm, surrounded by large suburban homes in Vienna, VA.
Tyrone Turner / WAMU