Top Five: Baltimore Urban Ag Resources

Want to start your own urban garden, orchard, apiary, chicken coop, rain garden, perennial herb and flower bed, mushroom logs, urban farm, and more?

Don't know where to start?

There are a lot of different resources around Baltimore City that can help you learn more about growing food in the urban environment, get access to tools or other resources, and find out which city paperwork you need.

Here are my top five links to programs that are an essential part of the urban gardening and farming network of support!

Click on the highlighted names to get to the resource you want.

1. Getting Started: How to Get Land + Water

Baltimore City's new Power in Dirt program has a list of vacant lots available for adopting, and links to the city's necessary forms for adopting a vacant lot and getting access to the municipal water system.  This is the number one place to start for many projects.

2. Join a Community of Support: Access to Tools, Plants, Grants & Events

Parks & People's Community Greening Resource Network(CGRN) is an essential for any city gardener from backyard growers to schoolyard gardens to small scale urban farms. Their plant giveaway days, event calendar, potlucks, and tool bank cannot be beat. Membership is only $20, which is a total steal once you factor in the giveways goodies like fruit trees and seedlings, access to lots of tools, and more. Plus you can apply for community greening grants. Sign up ASAP!

3. Learn How to Grow

If you don't quite feel confident yet in your green thumb, you might want to consider taking  Master Gardener training. The classes are a commitment (basic training is 40-50 hours), but once you are trained you can become part of a corps of truly knowledgeable gardeners that do all kinds of great volunteer work around town such as maintaining demonstration gardens at City Hall and Cylburn Arboreatum, and providing plant clinics and advice at gardening events.

Or just volunteer at your nearest farm or community garden! Getting hands-on and having a knowledgeable friend by your side is the best way to learn.

4. Learn How to Farm

This might sounds the same as #3, but there is a lot more to farming than just growing food. Future Harvest has hosted an absolutely incredible workshop series for training beginning farmers, with opportunities for internships with local farms and detailed classes on everything from marketing to planning your planting schedule. This year's class series has just ended, but there are still two classes left in this year's brand new urban farm specific classes!

5. Supplementary Organizations

Blue Water Baltimore: learn about how we can improve the city's watershed

Baltimore Orchard Project: dedicated to planting fruit trees and sharing fruit across the city

Baltimore City Office of Sustainability: find out the zoning regulations for urban livestock and gardens and other city support of urban farms and garden, and an annual Request for Qualifications opens up large areas of vacant land to bids from potential grower.

Farm Alliance Baltimore: Don't have time to start your own farm? You can support existing urban farms by purchasing produce at the Farm Alliance table at the Waverly Farmer's Market, volunteering at a farm, or even sharing event information or photos through your favorite social media.  Go to the Farm Alliance website for more information.

Urban Agriculture Law Project Exploring the intersection of cities, farms and gardens, and the law.

Hope this list helps anyone doing research on how to get started turning the vacant lot near you into a thriving community space and diverse ecosystem. Happy growing.

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