Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Getting Started: Year #3 at Boone Street

This past Sunday, February 10th, we had our first volunteer day to get started for the 2013 growing season. I can't believe we are already at year #3!

It's been a long, interesting road learning how to grow on a large scale, getting started with the Farm Alliance of Baltimore, coordinating volunteers and community programming, being visited by many neighborhood kids, writing grants, and maintaining  community relations, but here we are!

I didn't take any photos on Sunday, but thought I would re-post a few photos from past years. The top photo is a memorial to our sign that Cheryl coordinated our first year, which was created by our five YouthWorks employees, five teenage girls who were employed by Baltimore City to help us out on the farm. Sadly, the sign was vandalized about six months ago, so we repainted over the blue interior and will have a new sign soon.

The photo below shows our first work day in March 2011! Special thanks to the Greater Greenmount Community Association for their partnership on that first day and over the years.

If you would like to see more photos of Boone Street, here is a link to a Google photo album with photos from the blog over the past year. I hope to have improved photo albums on the website soon. I also apologize for all of the missing photos on this blog, I am having some issues with Blogger and hope to be fixing it soon.

Here is a photo from one of our first volunteer days from year #2.

By year two, we were able to triple our profits from $1000 to $3000. We grew over 1000 pounds of produce in our second year. Another blog improvement I hope to make soon is a separate page for Year 1 and Year 2 at the garden, and a list of our accomplishments and challenges each year.

This note we found last year written on a sign next to the garden is a positive memory!

And now, Year #3!

Top Three Favorite Moments from this past Sunday, 2/10:

1. High School Volunteers

Two high schoolers from DC volunteered at the farm for a whole six hours! They volunteered as part of an assignment from their science class. They helped us plant seeds in seedling trays, pick up trash, planted about 60 feet of peas, and grab a bunch of bricks from a nearby block of demolished houses. One of the students was from Rome, and was excited to have our number #1 volunteer Brian teach him how to play football.

2. A Visit From Former Homeowners

A nearby church, St. Ann's, has several congregants who used to live in the East Baltimore - Midway neighborhood, including some who used to live on the block where the farm and garden are now located. A couple stopped by on Sunday to visit the old site of the husband's home. The marble step of the home is still in the ground. Mr. Jonathan's garden bed is now located where his mother's old flower bed and their garage used to be. It was wonderful speaking to them about what the block used to be like back in the day, and we hope to capture their oral history soon! They pointed to the home shown below, which had the back of the house collapse, and remembered how immaculate it's former owner kept the house. One interesting fact they told us: the first African American pilot shot down and captured as a POW in Vietnam grew up on the community garden side of the block.

3. Visits from Friends and Supporters

Mr. Jonathan was there battling away with the vicious bermuda grass, even going so far as to dig a trench all the way around his bed. He is a very experienced and determined gardener, and I hope to get some photos of his bed and composting methods, and to do an interview with him soon. His garlic and green onions are peeping out of the ground, and I'm really excited to see his ginger grow.

Brian, Ferb, and Kamera, some of our frequent young visitors showed up to visit and lend a hand. Brian was a real champion helping us move bricks from the demolished houses, and had fun teaching Francisco how to play football. Even Kamera helped me fill seedlings trays with compost, although she couldn't resist squishing her fingers into each cell packed with with soil, so we had to keep refilling the trays! She and Ferb found a lot of worms to play with.

Ms. Katia, a local homeowner, carted many carloads of bricks from nearby demolished houses so that we can use them at the garden. She has been a great supporter of the garden and has donated many fruit trees, grape vines, and perennial shrubs, as well as the funding we needed to pay for city water access last year. If you are on our email list or Facebook page you saw the recent link we posted of the house that she has available for rent. The photo gallery of the house includes photos of the garden.

Marie, a graduate student from Johns Hopkins, stopped by to talk to neighbors about doing an interview for a study about community perceptions of urban farms. It was great to see her, especially as we are going through some growing pains this year as pass the honeymoon phase and are beginning to work out how this project fits into the long term vision of the neighborhood.

We look forward to engaging even more volunteers and supporters this year.

Thank you to everyone who read this very long post!

We hope this gives all of you readers a picture of what is going on at Boone Street Farm and Community Garden as we get started for year #3.

If you would like to get involved, please email us at boone.street.farm@gmail.com to get on our email list, follow us on Facebook, or come to our next volunteer day this SATURDAY, February 16th from 10 am to 3 pm.

See you Saturday!

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