Monday, December 19, 2011


Join Baltimore Green Space to learn how to make your community garden, pocket park, or other urban oases last forever! Baltimore Green Space works to protect these green areas and other open spaces created and cared for by city residents.

At the request of community groups, Baltimore Green Space acquires community-managed open spaces and provides support to those who care for them. This allows communities to ensure that their urban oases will endure without taking on the responsibilities of acquisition, ownership, and liability.

Join us to learn about the processes and benefits for your neighborhood. The evening will also feature a "virtual tour" of some of the loveliest community green spaces throughout Baltimore.

When: Wednesday, January 18th, 6:30 p.m.-8:30 p.m.
1212 North Wolfe Street
Baltimore, MD 21213

Please RSVP if you can by contacting:

Galadriel Rosen-
443 524 2800 ext. 126

Miriam Avins
Executive Director
Baltimore Green Space

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Tree Baltimore

We have had our first tree delivery!

Now three red maples will be planted at the corner of Montford and McElderry in partnership with

Banner Neighborhoods and the McElderry Park Community Association.

Thank you Tree Baltimore!

Dr. Rayner Browne Elementary School

Dr.Rayner Browne Elementary School revitalized their chess park garden on the corner of Chase and Montford on Saturday November 5th. The event was held for the James W. Rouse day of service and the school, the residents, Parks and People, Elev8, American Communities Trust, HEBCAC, and Power in Dirt all busied themselves to make this day full of sweat and smiles! The greenspace was expanded to include room for a raised bed vegetable garden that students can use to sprout to their hearts content. A new horseshoe pit was created too. Many folks from little ones to Bobcat drivers manned their post. The central pathway was reworked, new beds dug for planting, trash removed, the chess tables refinished, trees planted, and on and on! Volunteers arrived bright and early on a Saturday and had their bellies filled with a lovely lunch and also a BBQ (two meals!)

Thank you so much everyone! I can't wait to see how this project will grow!

Dr Eason, The Schools' principle with rose bushes~

A Horseshoe pit is formed!

A Bobcat machine digs a new space for plants~

Artist Ivy Parsons weather seals the chess tables she built in collaboration with the residents~

Peanut, a resident, reworks the stump on which the tables are built~

On the way for more mulch~

Monday, November 7, 2011

C.A.R.E Foundation and Baltimore City Vacant Lot Transformation

The C.A.R.E. Community Association is a non profit located in East Baltimore. Their boundaries are from N. Washington Street to Patterson Park Ave. and Fayette Street to McElderry Street. They are a resident-led coalition to create better living conditions in and around their neighborhoods. "C.A.R.E." stands for Cleaning, Active, Restoring, Efforts.

The C.A.R.E. Community Foundation has worked on four separate gardening sites in Baltimore City - Duncan and Orleans, Orleans and Chester, Duncan block, and Medeira Block. 
Community residents dig in the dirt to fix up a vacant lot
Everyone comes out to help turn a neighborhood vacant lot into a green space
President of C.A.R.E. Drew Bennett answers a few of our questions below:
How did you get started, and why?
Our community has large open spaces that need continual maintenance.  Power in Dirt was an opportunity to restore one such place and assist with our overall objective of making the space more community friendly.

What things did you learn?
It was great to work with so many city departments to see the project executed.  I learned how to communicate and network effectively to see something impossible become possible.

What obstacles have you faced? 
The large quantity of open spaces is a burden to regularly maintain.  We are in the process of training residents in our community to have a collective priority of beautifying and up-keeping the spaces so as to prevent any possible decay.

What are the benefits you've found?
Such activity draws residents together around common objectives.  It is also an opportunity to develop deeper and more meaningful relationships with residents, which enhances the overall community.

Who is involved? 
Our neighborhood group works closely with Banner Neighborhoods, Civic Works, and The Door to execute the vacant lot projects.  We appreciate the kind funding and technical assistance provided by the Baltimore Community Foundation and Parks & People Foundation.

What is your favorite plant in your garden? 
We have a spectacular weeping redbud that peaks my aesthetic senses when in full bloom. 

Power in Dirt coordinates Baltimore City community efforts to adopt and revitalize city-owned vacant lots. Tune in to our blog to learn as we help residents transform unused space in their neighborhoods into community managed green and open spaces! Do you have a vacant lot to green space story? Please share it with us!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Concepts for Vacant Lot Projects

Vacant lots are just vacant space - sure there is sometimes trash in them, they have the leftover rubble from the buildings that once stood on site, there are tall grasses and weeds. But imagine if all of that were gone and you had a blank slate, a vacant lot, to put in whatever you could dream up! Here are some ideas to get your creative juices flowing. All of these suggestions have been created in vacant lot spaces, and they are just the beginning of what can be done. What are your ideas?

A Rain Garden is a garden that is designed to catch the water from stormwater runoff and manipulate it so that it is absorbed into the ground rather than redirected to stormdrains. Plants and flowers may be planted around the rain garden so that all water redirected to this area will be nourishment for water-needy plants. On vacant lots the soil is oftentimes so compacted that water simply runs off the surface as if it were concrete. This reduces the amount of pervious - or absorbable - surfaces in an area. The more pervious surfaces you have, the more water is absorbed into the ground, filtering out chemicals and pollutants and replenishing our healthy groundwater source. The more water runs off into storm drains and the street the more likely it is to catch trash and pollutants en route to our greater body of water - the Chesapeake Bay. 

A Sedum Berm (or Sedum Rock, or Berm Rock Garden) is essentially a rock garden. The "berm" implies that it is raised above the rest of the garden - for sedums, or plants that are drought-resistant (do not like wet soil), and for improved drainage throughout your garden. Rocks are placed among the soil in the raised mound with vegetation planted betwixt and between; the rocks are both decorative and practical additions to a garden. The interspersed rocks help water drain into the soil, as well as provide decorative places for people to sit! Check out How to Build a Rock Garden and How to Design a Berm.

A very popular item - the vegetable garden! Vacant lot soil often has poisonous lead in it. We don't want to plant our fruits and vegetable plants in lead contaminated soil as it will transmit the lead into the food we eat! In order to bypass this toxic salad, we make a raised bed. Raised beds, as you can see in the above image, are literally on top of the ground soil. You can make a raised bed out of repurposed weather-resistant wood, or any kind of wood that you weatherize in some way so it lasts longer from the elements. Put some nutrient-rich top soil in your raised bed and ta-da! You have a mini soil plot with absolutely no lead in it, ready to hold delicious vegetable-bearing plants in it. Tomatoes, potatoes, green beans, okra, peppers, radishes, squash, cucumbers, spinach, kale, lettuce, onions, lima beans, carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, you name it!

Usually less desirable because they take a few years to bear the fruit of your labor - fruit orchards are nevertheless a beautiful contribution to a neighborhood as well as a wonderful source of fresh fruit! Trees are very fragile in the first two years of their life - they need a lot of water as they plant their roots. After the first few years they begin to show that fruit for which they were planted...but they aren't truly safe until the 5-year mark. (Check out some tree planting tips Here.) After 5 years if the tree is still healthy you will start getting tons of apples, or pears, or peaches, oh my! People often don't think to plant fruit trees because they can take so long to give you fruit, but think of how wonderful it will be in a couple of years to have fresh apples every day, or be able to make batches of peach preserves for christmas presents, or bake apple pies! Not to mention they are beautiful, and provide wonderful hot summer shade. And, you can often get free trees from our very own Tree Baltimore.

Butterfly gardens have plants and flowers planted in them that attract butterflies. The butterflies are attracted by the particular nectars of the plant or flower that feeds them. Did you know that the monarch butterfly species migrates as far as Mexico? These gardens give them some delicious food on their path! Asters, Black-Eyed Susans, Daylilies, Lavendar, Hibiscus, and Lilac are just some of the (also gorgeous) flowers that butterflies enjoy feasting on. Check out other butterfly garden plants Here

So, what are your ideas? Let us know!


Power in Dirt is a Baltimore City Mayoral Initiative empowering Baltimore City communities and residents to adopt city-owned vacant lots and turn them into community managed green and open spaces. to look at a list of city-owned vacant lots listed by neighborhood as well as applications for adopting a vacant lot or getting access to water for a lot you already maintain.  

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Meet Our Team - Anna! Coordinator for Southwest Baltimore

Anna E. Evans-Goldstein coordinates for Power in Dirt in Southwest Baltimore. She is stationed at Bon Secours Community Works and serves the neighborhoods of Sandtown-Winchester, Harlem Park, Rosemont Homeowners Tenants, Shiply Hill, Booth-Boyd, Mill Hill, Carrollton Ridge, New Southwest Mt. Clare, Union Square, Franklin Square, Hollins Market, and Poppleton. You can reach her at (410) 362-3185 or

Anna grew up in Baltimore, MD. She grew up going to neighborhood association meetings with her Mother, who was the President of their neighborhood group for as long as Anna can remember. These community meetings paved the way for her to be interested in community development. She went to college in Portland, Oregon, where everything is green and plants grow without much help in the constantly wet Pacific Northwest. Returning to Baltimore at the beginning of 2011, Anna is excited to bring her love of green things together with her love for Baltimore and building strong and healthy communities. Her favorite plants are aloe vera and any medicinal herbs. She loves free information, sharing, and yoga.


Power in Dirt is a Baltimore City Mayoral initiative building capacity in Baltimore City neighborhoods for community groups and residents to adopt city-owned vacant lots and turn them into community managed green and open spaces. You can find out more about this program and look at a comprehensive list of all city-owned vacant lots available for adoption at 

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Meet the Power in Dirt Team - Maria!

Meet the Power in Dirt Coordinator for Northwest Baltimore - Maria! Maria coordinates for Park Heights, Towanda Grantley and Greenspring. You can contact her at Park Heights Renaissance (PHR) at (410) 664 - 4890 or

Maria Vasquez is a recent new comer to Baltimore, MD.  She recently graduated with a B.A. in History and a B.S. in Public Policy concentrated in Planning and Economic Development from Georgia State University.

Maria’s interests lie in helping underrepresented, blighted communities due to her unique upbringing. She and her family, originally from Peru, came to the U.S. in 1991 to escape terrorism. Growing up Maria remembers seeing her parents struggle to find employment, maintain a household, and provide a decent environment for her and her brother to be raised in. Unlike her peers in school, she spent her time after school helping her parents clean office buildings so that her family could afford to live in an area that provided good public schools and services.

Today, now a young professional, Maria still identifies with the struggle many Baltimore City residents face trying to provide their children with positive opportunities in life.  She sees Park Heights, with all of its assets like Druid Hill Park, Cylburn Arboretum, and Pimlico Race Course, as a community with so much potential.  As one of the community coordinators for Power in Dirt, she is ready to take on the challenge of revitalizing Park Heights and invites community members to contact her if they are thinking about adopting a lot in the area!

Please contact Maria if you live in Northwest Baltimore and are interested in adopting a vacant lot!

Power in Dirt is a Baltimore City Mayoral Initiative that aims to build capacity in Baltimore City communities to adopt city-owned vacant lots and turn them into community managed green and open spaces. We are interested in all things green and growing in Baltimore City. Do you have a community garden or park on a vacant lot that you and your neighbors started? Do you have a particularly troublesome vacant lot in your neighborhood? Contact us! Let us know your thoughts, feedback, and questions at any time! General questions go to: or visit to find the closest Power in Dirt Coordinator for your neighborhood!

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Meet the Power in Dirt team - GIGI!

Meet the Power in Dirt Coordinator for East Baltimore - Galadriel Rosen or, Gigi! Gigi coordinates for Broadway East, Greenmount West, Barclay, Oliver, Biddle Street, Middle East, and Milton Montford. You can contact her at HEBCAC at (410) 528 2800 x 126

Galadriel Rosen (Gigi) is an artist, a self proclaimed plant nerd, and becomes quite merry when striking up conversations ~ How lovely to find a practice that combines all three! She attended MICA in 2004, Concordia University 2006 and graduated with a degree in Studio Art. She has just spent the last two years digging in the dirt to develop common Greenspace on vacant lots with the Community Lot Team of Civic Works, Inc. She is excited to continue working with dirt and green spaces with Power in Dirt!

More to come! Contact Gigi if you are located in East Baltimore and are interested in adopting a vacant lot and turning it into a green and open space for your community.


If you're just hearing about it for the first time, Power in Dirt is a new Mayoral initiative empowering communities to adopt city-owned vacant lots and turn them into community organized green and open spaces! It is part of the stepUP! Baltimore Campaign making Baltimore City a recognized City of Service. We have revamped the Adopt-a-Lot process, making it easier to find and adopt a vacant lot. We are also offering water access at a reduced rate! Just think what your community can do with an adopted vacant lot!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Bon Secours of Maryland Foundation's Clean and Green Team

Across Baltimore City there is a green movement that is just starting to take it's baby steps. For several years there have been groups from the public to private sector that are starting to work in the area of environmental awareness and promotion in the Baltimore area. Urban greening is not a new thing, and some may say that Baltimore is late to the game. But we have made up for our late start with enthusiasm, and large strides have been made to jump start the Green movement in Baltimore! (Check out all of our Partner organizations links to the right to get an idea of what people are doing, they're great!)

(OROSW Garden Club Garden, right next to Bon Secours of Maryland Foundation at Fulton and Fayette Streets)

The Clean and Green team is a part of Bon Secours of Maryland Foundation (soon to be Bon Secours Civil Works!) located in Franklin Square in Southwest Baltimore. At the corner of Fayette and Fulton, Bon Secours' Foundation Center is situated in the heart of West and Southwest Baltimore - a strategic place to reach out and help the communities that have often been left behind where other parts of the city have received attention.

Clean and Green is a part of Bon Secours' Housing and Neighborhood Revitalization Department. It is a program designed to teach green job development skills as well as provide free cleanup and beautification services to West Baltimore neighborhoods. The Clean and Green team is made up of a handful of adults that are hired for on-the-job training in green landscaping. They have six months to learn how to use the tools and go out into the field and clean lots, plant trees, pick up trash, weed, etc. As part of their training each individual gives at least three presentations about some aspect of green landscaping that he or she has learned while working for Clean and Green. Clean and Green teaches people valuable job development skills as well as necessary services to the Southwest Baltimore neighborhoods they work in.

During the summer, youth employees join the Clean and Green team for a period of six weeks. The youth work alongside their adult counterparts, learning about green landscaping and what it means to give back to their communities. Today was the Clean and Green student appreciation event marking the end of their six week work commitment. Each of the five students briefly presented what he or she learned during their six weeks to the Bon Secours Foundation Center staff. They expressed an array of knowledge they had acquired about landscaping, as well as their emotional reactions to the work they were doing.

Did you know that to kill the weeds coming through the cracks in the sidewalk you must pull the weed out from the root and then spray the spot with a solution of salt and vinegar? Or, did you know that in West Baltimore the hardiness zone is 7-8, and that you should plant Native plants according to this hardiness zone? Did you know there are alternative, environmentally safe cleaning products that you can make with ingredients you can find in your own kitchen? Well, they did!

One student expressed that he was surprised at how much effect just a few hours of work can do. Another said that he was transformed by the experience and does not feel as shy. The girl in the group said she had to get used to the jokes made by all the boys - but that by the end of the experience they were all really close.

Tony Goff, the Bon Secours staff member in charge of the Clean and Green team, congratulated the students on their work and brought to everyone's attention the effect the young people had on the community. He mentioned the daily praise and thanks the Clean and Green team received from residents witnessing the work they were doing. He explained that sometimes, they were helping the community without even realizing it. The group had be approached a few times by drug dealers who emptied the contents of their trash bags to look for a particular piece of trash the C&G team had picked up that was in fact the stash spot for drugs. Because in some areas there is so much trash on the street, a stray potato chip bag is a perfect spot to hide drugs where they will not be seen, and without even knowing it the Clean and Green team would throw these away with all the other trash. As time went on, Tony said when the Clean and Green team approached an area where drug dealing was occurring, the dealers would pick up their operation and take it somewhere else.

Urban greening is not just about growing plants or turning pavement into grass. It is a movement, it is an effect, it is something that changes people and areas. Baltimore's burgeoning greening movement is a movement towards something very positive for each community that participates and for the city as a whole. Let's move towards a healthier, safer, cleaner, greener city!

Stay Green!

Anna, Power in Dirt

Monday, August 15, 2011

Great Gardeners in Baltimore City

Baltimore City is home to its very own Master Gardener program. The Baltimore City Master Gardener program aims to educate city residents on safe and sustainable greening practices as well as produce expert gardeners. People who are interested in knowing more about gardening first apply to become a Master Gardener. They must learn all of the important practices and aspects of effective and productive gardening through the courses and material put out by the Baltimore City Master Gardeners. In order to become a Master Gardener (MG) the trainees must complete 40 hours of community service, pass an exam and complete a training program. 

The Baltimore City Master Gardener program is very active in Baltimore promoting greening and healthy living through plants and gardening. They recently held two events which were a complete success! 

Every year the Baltimore City Master Gardeners hold a City Farms Supper for all MG members. People bring dishes they have made with materials from their gardens and everyone feasts on delicious, organic, local and sustainable goodies. There is also a judging of various fruits and vegetables that people grow - awards are given for best squash, best tomatoes, best peppers - you name it! They even had a "craziest garden hat" contest, and several raffle ticket prizes. There were representatives from gardens all across the city, including Duncan Street Miracle Garden, Park Heights Rennaissance Urban Garden, and Our Community Garden. 

And, even though the skies decided to open and let loose a downpour this past weekend (which made all our gardens and green areas very happy!) the Baltimore City Master Gardeners along with CGRN and The Parks and People Foundation put on their second annual Charm City Bike Tour, and it was a success despite the rain! The tour was supposed to start at 2 - and the bus that was organized took off diligently to begin touring gardens. All of the brave bikers huddled under a tent with all their gear and helmets on, singing rain songs to ask the rain to hold off for just a little bit. With smiles on their faces they all laughed at their situation - a bunch of gardeners couldn't be mad that it was raining, could they? Gardeners love rain! So, while it postponed the bike tour, it was good for their plants back at home, and eventually the party which was to be held at 5 was relocated to the Parks and People building and everyone celebrated.

The 2nd annual Charm City Bike Tour was of West Baltimore gardens this year. Gardens in West Baltimore include: Whitelock Community Farm, Our Community Garden, Reservoir Hill Community Garden, AFYA - Park Heights Community Health Alliance, Mt. Wahler Vegetable Garden, Newinton Ave Community Garden, Cordelia Haywood Cuthbert Community Garden, Park Heights Rennaissance Urban Garden, Baltimore Free Farm, Lennox Street Garden, Roosevelt Park City Farm, and Druid Hill City Farm. I bet you didn't know there were so many!

If you've never seen any of these gardens I suggest you hop on a bike, put on your walking shoes, take a bus, or get in a car, and go look at some of them. They are inspirational! They show what can be done within the boundaries of an urban area that is still an oasis of greenery and nature. And if you've never heard of them before, look into the Baltimore City Master Gardener program! You too can have the expert knowledge of a Master Gardener, and aid your fellow urban citizens on how to create beautiful gardens and grow delicious vegetables within city limits. 

Stay Green!

Power in Dirt, Anna

Do you have an urban gardening experience you'd like to share? Are you thinking about adopting a city-owned vacant lot to turn into a green space? Are there vacant lots in your area you'd like to do something about? 
I encourage you to visit the Power in Dirt website at to look into creating your own community managed green and open space in your neighborhood. There are so many possibilities! 


Hello everyone! Welcome to the new Power in Dirt blog! The Baltimore City Mayor's Office kicked off its new Power in Dirt initiative last Saturday, August 6, with success! 

The Power in Dirt initiative launched with the revitalization of three vacant lots in different parts of the city. Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake announced the Power in Dirt initiative from one of the sites amongst a group of excited volunteers. Power in Dirt was born from the realization that green spaces accomplish so much in our neighborhoods. A green space can cause "crime reduction, improved physical and mental health, improved nutrition, increased property values, and stronger ecosystems." In an effort to respond to this understanding, Baltimore City got to work on a plan that would encourage residents to create green spaces all over the city. On August 6 we launched the event, kicking off a wonderful greening movement starting in Baltimore!

The launch included lots at N Madeira, North Ave, and N Carey Street. Volunteers from the neighborhood and partner organizations came out and picked up shovels, hoes, and rakes and got working! 

We got great help from our partners Civic Works and Blue Water Baltimore designing and implementing beautiful new green spaces where these vacant lots used to be. For example, at 220 N Carey street in Franklin Square, we installed a Rain Garden!

A Rain Garden is meant to capture rain water and absorb it into the soil before it runs off into storm drains and through city streets, collecting pollutants as it goes. Rain gardens help the environment by increasing the amount of water that eventually goes into our groundwater (where we get the water we drink!) and decreasing the amount of pollution in our waterways. A more healthy Baltimore!

Vacant lots are usually seen as a negative element to our neighborhoods. But, if we think of these vacant lots as places for potential green spaces, we can all make Baltimore a beautiful, green, city! I encourage you to talk with your neighbors, go to your neighborhood association meetings, talk with your church communities, and organize a dedicated group to adopt a vacant lot and turn it into something beautiful - or volunteer with someone who is! A green space is not just a beautiful thing to behold - it is a community, it is a learning experience for children, it means healthy living and healthy eating, and it makes everyone who comes in contact with it happy. 

Visit the Power in Dirt website : and learn how you can contribute to the greening and beautification of your neighborhoods!


If you're just hearing about it for the first time, Power in Dirt is a new Mayoral initiative empowering communities to adopt city-owned vacant lots and turn them into community organized green and open spaces! It is part of the stepUP! Baltimore Campaign making Baltimore City a recognized City of Service. We have revamped the Adopt-a-Lot process, making it easier to find and adopt a vacant lot. We are also offering water access at a reduced rate! Just think what your community can do with an adopted vacant lot!