Baltimore Mayor Sheila Dixon will have you know her veg garden was in the works long before Michelle Obama's garden was announced – no copying! And oh, by the way, it's 2,200 square feet, twice as large as the White House garden (but who's counting?)
But here's what's really great about it: It supplied 1,500 pounds of food to Our Daily Bread in this, its first season. And its designer, Angela Treadwell-Palmer, says she spent the first year just figuring out what would grow there, so next year will be even MORE productive. All this food was grown where for decades nothing but annuals were planted and tossed, planted and tossed, and so on.
A Teaching Garden, too
Master Gardeners tend the gardens every Thursday and chat up the public as much as possible, teaching veg-gardening to workers lunching in the square (which to me looks very Tuilleries, with those cute tables on gravel. Tres charmant!).
Angela also gets her share of questions from passersby and lunching city workers. The question that blows her mind because SO many people ask it? "What's that?" pointing to not some rare variety of something but regular old CORN! (No comment.) The city hort workers who do the routine watering are also learning a lot about growing food.
More learning opportunities are provided via printed veg-growing
information available for the taking in cute mail boxes (the info on
how to cook greens is the most popular item).
There Were Concerns
Changes like this to large public spaces don't come without concerns and the City Hall project was no exception, so how'd that work out? The best news was that there's NO rodent problem. Turns out the worst pests here are regular old songbirds, who apparently really like lettuce. (As Angela said, "Even birds are eating more salads these days." )
And what about food being stolen? Just a few zucchini, some whole herbs, and more than a few tomatoes. But the culprits are probably the homeless who frequent the park after work hours – exactly the intended beneficiaries of the garden, so what the heck.
More Info and Photos
I posted a few more photos of this wonderful civic space here on my blog. And for more info about the garden visit Susan Reimer's update on her Baltimore Sun blog. Don't miss the short video with a 70-something Master Gardener who looks like Santa Claus. He points out that the meals at Our Daily Bread were previously made from processed foods, so vive la difference! (Okay, no more high school French.)