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!