Tag: Open Society fellows

A Tree Grows in Curtis Bay-Brooklyn, Thanks to a Smart Fellow and Community Volunteers

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Jason Reed used support from OSI-Baltimore’s Community Fellowship program to transform this neglected lot in Curtis Bay from one with beer bottles and hypodermic needles into a vibrant space with raised beds and plots, including perennials, herbs, asparagus and strawberry fields.
Jason Reed used support from OSI-Baltimore’s Community Fellowship program to transform this neglected lot in Curtis Bay-Brooklyn in South Baltimore. Photo by Colby Ware.

Courtesy of The Open Society Institute Baltimore – When Child First Authority asked Jason Reed to take charge of a neglected community garden in Curtis Bay-Brooklyn nearly four years ago, he jumped at the chance. With help from the Curtis Bay Community Association, the Parks & People Foundation, nearby schools and willing community members, Reed transformed the neglected lot from one with beer bottles and hypodermic needles into a vibrant space full of life.

The acre of raised beds, plots and orchards—run by Reed, community gardeners, elementary, middle and high school students—now boasts tomatoes, asparagus, pumpkins, kale and sprouts. There are beets, peppers, watermelon and colorful perennials. There’s a strawberry field and 40 blueberry bushes. There are irrigation towers, a nature path, picnic tables, a brick oven and a shed with a mint-covered roof.

It is an oasis in Curtis Bay-Brooklyn, a part of south Baltimore where the nearest grocery store is a mile away.

But the Filbert Street Garden, as it is known in these parts, is more than just a place where residents can grow and obtain healthful food. It is an outdoor classroom where elementary children learn about planting and growing, and where older children learn the business of buying and selling produce.

Jason walks around the corner from the garden to visit the wife of a community gardener, who has made tangy pickles out of cucumbers that grew in abundance this summer. Jason and Gary showcased the pickles at a taste-testing at the Middle Branch Waterfront Festival.
Photo by Colby Ware.

It is a patch of zen for the dozen or so community gardeners who come to quietly tend to their shoots and greens, patiently wrapping chicken wire around top-heavy plants, watering and weeding and watering some more.

High school students, like Gary Brown, work alongside Jason at community events to bring healthful food choices to Curtis Bay residents, and teach those who are interested the value in urban agriculture, outdoor spaces and community gardening.
Photo by Colby Ware.

Best of all, Jason says, it is a gathering place for the people of Curtis Bay.

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