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June 25, 2009

Baltimore's City Hall vegetable garden: an update



The vegetable gardens planted around Baltimore's War Memorial Plaza, in front of City Hall, have produced more than 1,500 pounds of vegetables for the kitchens of Our Daily Bread, which feeds the homeless.

That's good news.

But perhaps just as important is this news: "The garden has been respected," said Melissa Grim, acting chief horticulturist for the city's departments of parks and recreations.

What she means is, aside for the odd head of cabbage gone missing, there has been no theft or vandalism in the multiple beds that surround the plaza. The gardens are lush, productive and unharmed.

"And no rats!" said Angela Treadwell-Palmer, who designed the gardens for the city.

Because of the abundant spring rain, the garden produced hundreds of pounds of lettuce and beans and is still producing kale, collard greens and Swiss chard.

Now the summer crops are maturing: cherry tomatoes are just about ripe and there are blossoms on the squash, peppers and eggplants. The onions are nearly as big as baseballs and the corn has just been transplanted from the city's greenhouses.

Next week, there will be "mailboxes" in the garden with recipes and information about growing and eating vegetables as part of an education campaign Treadwell-Palmer believes is needed.

"I think it is really cool that the homeless are eating better [at Our Daily Bread] than most of the citizens in the city of Baltimore," she said.

Those who stop by the garden, she said, will ask what the plants are because they have either never seen where vegetables actually come from or because vegetables are not part of their daily diet.

"We offered broccoli to people when we were harvesting it and they turned us down," she said.

From her point of view, and that of the Master Gardeners like Larry Kloze of Mount Washington and Ursula Scheffel of Coldspring who are tending it, the gardens are a huge success and actually cheaper to manage that the city gardens planted with annuals that must be purchased and maintained.

"The seeds were donated by Meyers seeds," she said. "And the Master Gardeners are here every Thursday working for free."

The harvesting of the spring crops took place every week. There will be a lull now until the summer crops mature. A public harvest event, attended by Mayor Sheila Dixon, is set for July 23.

"We will keep sending it to Our Daily Bread until they tell us to stop," said Treadwell-Palmer.

For a photo story on the City Hall vegetable garden, keep reading.

Baltimore's City Hall vegetable garden

The seeds for Baltimore's City Hall vegetable garden, donated by Meyers Seeds of Baltimore, were germinated in the city's greenhouses.

Baltimore's City Hall vegetable garden

Tiptoeing through the tulips: The hardest part of planting the City Hall garden? Trying not to disturb Mayor Shelia Dixon's beloved tulips.

Baltimore's City Hall vegetable garden

A Master Gardener volunteer begins to harvest the spring crops from Baltimore's City Hall vegetable garden.

 Baltimore's City Hall vegetable garden

 The lettuces created a dramatic striped pattern before they were harvested.

 Photos courtesy of Ursula Scheffel

Posted by Susan Reimer at 12:27 PM | | Comments (5)
Categories: Baltimore's City Hall Garden


I had wondered about vandalism. That City Hall Plaza/Courtyard space has had some interesting people hanging out in the evenings.

What a good way to help the people in need. What a good job that they have done with the garden. It has been put to good use. Thank you for sharing.
Dan and Deanna "Marketing Unscrambled"

This is amazing! What a terrific idea! I'm very proud of my city!!

Bravo!! Great work to everybody involved in the production and harvesting of the garden.

Thanks for the totally awesome update on the garden. We really appreciate all you've done!


No, Angela. You are the one who deserves the credit!--Susan

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About Susan Reimer
Susan Reimer has spent 16 years writing about raising kids - among other topics - in her column for The Baltimore Sun. And every time son Joseph or daughter Jessie passed another milestone - driver's license, college, wedding or a move to a new military duty station - she has planted another garden. Now she will be writing about those gardens - and yours - here on Garden Variety.

Susan isn't an expert gardener, but she wasn't an expert mother, either. Both - the kids and the gardens - seem to be doing well in spite of her.

She lives in Annapolis with her husband, Gary Mihoces, who loves to cut his grass but has noticed that there seems to be less of it every time the kids pass another milestone.

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