A new state initiative will bring an urban farm to a vacant lot in West Baltimore, but instead of growing fruits and vegetables to eat, the focus will be on plants that can be turned into natural dyes for artists, Gov. Larry Hogan’s office announced Wednesday.
Tag: urban farming
While many of Baltimore’s urban spaces don’t have the proper soil conditions to support a newly planted orchard, the folks at the nonprofit Civic Works have come up with a solution: Make the orchards portable, and bring them to the communities that need them.
Summer school is important — it keeps kids out of trouble, improves grades, and has generally proven to help struggling students do better in school. But it’s also really boring and kind of feels like a punishment. Which is why a new pilot program for ninth and tenth graders, in which students learn gardening, practice yoga, and develop communication skills, sounds so exciting.
According to Compost Cab, the average American family produces about 500 pounds of leftover organic material each year. “The vast majority of these organics takes a long, fossil fuel-powered trip to the landfill. Methane from these landfills is equal to around 20 percent of the pollution output of coal-fired power plants in the United States,” CC notes. One solution to reducing this waste is seemingly simple — composting! — but proves to be difficult in practice.
Baltimore farmers interested in sustainability have been growing fruits, vegetables, and herbs for a while. Maryland’s even got green-minded grain farms, and organic wines. But Johns Hopkins’ new aquaponics project, which features 400 tilapia in 210-gallon tanks at Cylburn Arboretum, is the first we’ve heard of a sustainable fish-farming effort.
Last summer, I became an urban farmer. Okay, not really. I just started keeping chickens in my Baltimore City backyard when I got four baby chicks from my friend Joan at One Straw Farm. Over the last year, I have learned so much: figured out what to do with hens that turned out to be roosters (oh my, the drama), introduced new (hopefully) hens to the flock, got creative in food choices for them (they eat so well) and all the while marveled at this relaxing, yet productive venture. After a stressful day, sitting in my backyard listening to the girls free ranging, I just feel at ease. And…the eggs. Ah, the eggs. Nothing like going out to grab an egg from the nesting box, still warm. Eggs have never tasted better. No going back now…
If you’re a fan of the archaic, the quaint, the old-tymey; if you’re the type who likes making her own beeswax candles; if you’ve often dreamed of living in a big pretty farm house with a goat inside the Baltimore City line, well then Historic Farm Day is for you.
The Historic Farm in question is now the Homewood House Museum, a classy-looking building on top of a grassy knoll on Johns Hopkins’s campus, right next to the library. And sure, these days it’s right in the middle of the Charles Village bustle. But 111 years ago, it was a working farm and summer estate for Charles Carroll Jr., complete with fruit orchards, a dairy, a smoke house, an ice house, and a cattle barn. (Incidentally, the cattle barn is still standing, and serves as the home for Hopkins’s undergraduate theater program.)
Usually, the old house serves as a museum of its own period furnishings and architecture. But now that homesteading nostalgia is trendy once again, Homewood is celebrating its other history — its past as a working farm. This Sunday, April 1, Homewood House will host wool-spinning demos, pony rides, chicken-raising show ‘n’ tell, and a program on starting heirloom seeds. There will even be a real-live petting farm.
They are small-scale agricultural visionaries. They are concerned Baltimoreans who adopt vacant lots in the city and transform them into functional, welcoming green spaces. But they’re not getting any tax breaks after a bill to provide 100 percent property tax credits to land banks that promote agriculture or preservation failed to pass in the City Council on Tuesday.
The bill met opposition from the Mayor’s office, with the city’s director of revenue and tax analysis voicing his concern about the “precedent” that would be set by the bill.
A sponsor of the bill, Councilwoman Mary Pat Clarke did not mince words in her outrage at the opposition to the bill. “I know we give tax breaks to well-to-do developers,” she said. Speaking of urban farmers, she said, “They don’t hang out and sit with their suits at tables and talk about how they’ll help the city. They just do it.”