As I walk into the Baltimore City Detention Center for my weekly garden class, a guard remarks on how big the plants are getting. I place my belongings into a bin and get patted down, and another employee tells me about her own garden. I tell her about the direction of the program, and for better serving the juveniles locked up there, facing adult charges. When they get out, I hope to be able to provide them with community service options or assist them in getting jobs in the field of horticulture. My hope for the city is that we can use gardening in schools, churches, and transition environments to heal and build stronger and healthier communities.
We live in a time when the social contract between individual and society has become implicit. We forget that as individuals we engage in our community, our government, and with our neighbors because they are there for our benefit as we are for theirs—to make our lives better than if we went on alone. For the members of low-income, underserved communities such as Brooklyn/Curtis Bay however, this contract has failed.
One Friday afternoon at Whitelock Community Farm I found myself confronted by an 8-year-old who was pushing the carrots on anybody who would listen. Every few minutes, when somebody new walked up to the weekly farm stand, he exclaimed how sweet and delicious the carrots were and proceeded to enthusiastically chomp on a long, slender carrot with the greens still attached.
Elementary School children gather around a table in their Food Education class. The teacher brings out a pomegranate, which she cuts in half and opens to the waiting eyes of the children, one of whom lets out a delighted “ooooooh. It looks like jewels!!” Kwan, age 10, picks up a shovel as community members gather […]
In Southwest Baltimore—as well as in communities across the country—our behaviors have led us to unhealthy lives and lifestyles. The increase of chronic health conditions (e.g. high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease and stroke) is affecting younger individuals and not enough people are concerned. In some neighborhoods in Southwest Baltimore, the life expectancy is 10-15 […]
Everyone knows that Baltimore has a plague of vacant lots that attract nuisances such as dumping, drug use, and crime. Some folks even do something about it, turning a vacant lot in their neighborhood into a community vegetable garden, pocket park, or even horseshoe pit. If you are troubled by a vacant lot near your […]