This April we celebrate National Gardening Month and on April 22nd we celebrate Earth Day by rolling up our sleeves and getting our hands dirty! Living in Baltimore, we know that real estate is not only at a premium but green space is at a minimum. It is groups like Baltimore Green Space that are willing to roll up their sleeves and not only get dirty in their garden but take an active role in their community that make all the difference. Baltimore Green Space supports community gardens, pocket parks, and other green spaces that are created for and maintained by local Baltimore residents. This organization was started by Miriam Avins in 2004 when, along with her neighbors, she turned an abandoned lot into a community garden providing fresh produce for multiple families. Miriam has since continued to work with the city to turn other abandoned lots into community gardens.
A community garden takes a lot of organizational skills – in and out of the garden. If you’re interested in starting your own community garden, Miriam offers this advice “It’s really important to talk up the garden — or the idea of the garden — so people will get excited, and also to listen to others’ ideas. And then to take it one step at a time! Not everything will happen the way you plan it. It’s also important to recognize when to delegate and when to worry about the details yourself. But it’s always key to remember that community gardening is largely about building community, so it’s important that people feel good about their participation, and that the gardeners figure out how to reach new people.”
If you’re new to gardening, this month is a perfect time to get started. If you’re wondering what plants to start with Miriam suggests starting with herbs. She adds “Herbs are great — easy and very tasty. Everyone wants to grow tomatoes, and the cherry tomatoes and easiest and fun to share with passersby. At the community garden near my house we have good luck with green beans and swiss chard. Easy spring crops are lettuces and arugula.”
Finally I asked Miriam about Baltimore Green Space’s plans for 2010 and she responded it is “the gardeners themselves who have the big gardening plans!” This April as we celebrate Earth Day and National Gardening Month lets work to not only grow great produce but also to grow a sense of community. Happy gardening!