In the spring, the Darden Foundation and the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA) announced fifteen communities that were awarded a Grow Your Park grant. The primary goal of these grants is to benefit low-income families through the donation of locally grown fruits and vegetables. One of the grant recipients, Baltimore City Recreation and Parks (BCRP), recently held an event to celebrate and debut one of its community gardens that is having meaningful impact on the community.
BCRP’s mission is to improve the health and wellness of Baltimore through quality recreational programs, preserving its parks and natural resources, and promoting fun, active lifestyles for all ages. One of BCRP’s many programs is Baltimore City Farms, which offers garden plots for rent to Baltimore residents. Residents can grow their own vegetables, herbs and flowers in the beauty and safety of numerous parks in the city. BCRP provides on-site garden managers and experienced gardeners who help mentor novice participants. The Baltimore City Farms program began in 1978 and is still flourishing and growing today.
This week, BCRP held a ribbon-cutting ceremony to celebrate significant improvements to one of these gardens, Rockrose City Farm, made possible in part from the Grow Your Park grant. Local Darden representatives, government leaders and residents came together for this community celebration. Baltimore LongHorn Steakhouse Managing Partner Kelly Eberhart had the honor of cutting the ribbon. Recently, Rockrose City Farm got a new fence installed for its 6,000 square feet of gardening space. It also increased its number of family garden plots from 29 to 39, and even more family plots and community gardening space are planned for later this year. This year, the garden expects to yield more crops than ever before, such as potatoes, beans, broccoli, leafy greens, squash, berries, cucumbers and much more.
A portion of Rockrose City Farm’s produce will go to low-income families at no cost. The food will be distributed weekly through the Amazing Grace Lutheran Food Pantry and Moveable Feast. In addition to the production of nutritious foods, community gardens like Rockrose City Farm promote healthy lifestyles, connect people to nature, cultivate community ties, and strengthen self-sufficiency for many. The entire process from planting to harvesting helps create a more active, engaged and healthy community.
Photo credit: Gwen Burrell Chambers