Tag: urban gardening

Farming Flowers in Baltimore’s Vacant Lots

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Photo via Hidden Harvest Farm
Photo via Hidden Harvest Farm

There are vacant lots all over Baltimore. Some people have devoted time and effort to planting vegetables in those empty spaces; now, the Baltimore Sun reports, there’s a growing movement to turn other vacant lots into flower farms.

Study Raises Concerns About Soil Contamination in Urban Farms

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Photo by Colby Ware, via OSI
Photo by Colby Ware, via OSI

We love urban gardens for lots of reasons. They turn vacant lots into zones of food production, fill our farmer’s markets with delicious produce, and give backyard hobbyists a way to spend their Sundays. But there’s a potential downside to produce grown in urban soils, according to Johns Hopkins: Soil contamination.

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.

Inspired Habitat: Creative Ideas for Gardens in Tiny Spaces

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eclectic-patio

Start talking garden and most of us picture lush expanses of greenery, or maybe row upon row of planted vegetables. But what if you don’t have a big yard? Or your only outdoor space is a tiny balcony? Or there’s that awkward piece of dirt next to the driveway or garage. Whatever the reason, square footage doesn’t a garden make. Really, a garden is what you make it, and you can make it almost anywhere there’s enough sunlight to grow things. All you need is a little dirt, some organic seeds or plants, a way to water and a lot of creativity. The Urban Organic Gardener has an entire blog on managing a thriving vegetable garden – on a NYC fire escape!

This Is How My Garden Grows

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From Mary Valle’s blog, Killing the Buddha

People have been asking me for years about my garden. Being a bit contrary, I refuse to answer. Frankly, I’ve been of the opinion that gardening is for jokers—but I was so wrong. Go ahead, ask me how my garden grows.

It grows like this:

1. Here’s a hell strip, bane of the urban gardener’s existence. Also known as the “parking strip” or “incredibly bad urban planning idea,” this shabby little plot of rocky soil is usually left to weed.

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Nice one, planning masterminds.

2. This “bed” is also subject to dog presents, salt in the winter, and the occasional red Solo cup. Weeds truly are the broken windows on the sidewalks of life. A few months ago, I decided to do something about my hell strip.  I put in a bunch of plants, not knowing which were going to take. Turns out: they all did.

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Welcome to the jungle, babies. We’ve got fun and games.

3. The microgarden needed a pinch of pizzazz in the form of a few miniscule tchotchkes. I like the idea of a St. Francis or Buddha, but neither of them in particular. Here’s what I did:

A. Acquired small plastic Joan of Arc.
B. Broke a takeout chopstick in half, and,
C. Hot-glued it to the bottom of the Maid.

This patch isn’t a mere curbside getaway. It’s the Joan of Arc Victory Garden. Greet my patroness:

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La pucelle.

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