Baltimore's City Hall vegetable garden: abundance in tough times
Volunteers and city workers harvested a dozen crates of spring greens from the vegetable gardens planted around War Memorial Plaza in front of City Hall, and then hurried to deliver them before they faded in the hot sun.
It is the second year of the program, which delivered more than 1,000 pounds of fresh vegetables to Our Daily Bread last year.
But it is in danger because proposed city budget cuts would eliminate the Univerity of Maryland's Extension Service in the cityand, with it, the Master Gardeners program whose volunteers manage the massive garden.
"We've made a commitment to always maintain the City Hall and War Memorial gardens," said Bill Vondrasek, chief horticulturalist for the city's Department of Parks and Recreation.
Facing massive budget cuts himself, he has had to rank all the gardens he maintains in order of importance. Many gardens didn't make the final cut, but City Hall is a priority.
"It will be harder to do," he said of continuing to plant the City Hall beds with vegetables. With the harvesting and the replanting of seasonal crops, these beds are much more labor intensive. "But it will happen."
Even with their program on the chopping block, the Master Gardeners were there to harvest in the heat, and they promised to return when it is time to plant the summer crops of tomatoes and peppers.
"They want to fire us and we work for free," said Larry Kloze, a Master Gardener for 20 years.
He said he will continue to work in the City Hall garden. "I really like the idea of growing food for the hungry in a public place."