By Mary Maushard
Tucked in a former vacant lot atop a hill overlooking the community of Curtis Bay and the Patapsco River sits the Filbert Street Community Garden. This one-acre lot provides green space to South Baltimore’s urban and industrial landscape.
Community members grow flowers and vegetables there, keep bees and foster a habitat for ducks, geese, chickens and even two dwarf goats.
Dedicated volunteers have run the garden since 2010 as a place to nurture crops and experience the tranquility a garden offers. The plot is also an outdoor classroom for those unfamiliar with how vegetables are grown and where eggs and honey come from.
The Baltimore Port Alliance (BPA) Environmental Committee, which has been looking for ways to expand its community outreach, recently had an opportunity to help the Filbert Street Community Garden get a jump on the growing season.
The garden’s steward, Rodette Jones, identified the need to move a large quantity of mulch inside the garden fence along a row of raised beds.
One early spring Saturday, about 40 BPA volunteers, along with the garden’s stewards and community members, dug in to move the mulch and some dirt into a raised bed for growing vegetables and flowers, turn over planting beds and plant some early crops.
In a few hours, the group accomplished what would have taken one person 90 hours, estimated Mr. Charles, the garden’s animal caretaker.
“The chicks, ducks, Billy goats, bees and staff at the Filbert Street Community Garden can look forward to a great gardening season,” said Jones.
“I would like to . . . express thanks from the entire Filbert Street Garden staff for the tireless effort that your organization provided and the high degree of interest your organization showed toward the preservation of the Filbert Street Community Garden green space. Your efforts greatly assisted in maintaining the garden for another gardening season.”
During the cleanup, Marvin Hayes, Program Manager for the Baltimore Compost Collective, talked about his program, a service that collects food scraps from residences in the Curtis Bay, Federal Hill, Riverside Park and Locust Point neighborhoods and composts the material at the garden.
The collective also operates a youth entrepreneurship program that employs teenagers and trains them in workforce skills through guided, hands-on experience managing a small-scale composting operation. The compost they create goes into the Filbert Street garden.
“On behalf of the Baltimore Port Alliance, I’d like to share a sincere thank you to the volunteers who turned out on their Saturday morning to assist the Filbert Street Community Garden,” said Rupert Denney, Co-Chair of the BPA’s Environment Committee and General Manager of C. Steinweg. “It was especially gratifying to see so many kids turn out with their parents — hopefully we can continue to engage the next generation and make these events truly a family outing.”
Volunteers were from the Maryland Department of Transportation Maryland Port Administration (MDOT MPA), Ports America Chesapeake, Vane Brothers, John S. Connor, Inc., BalTerm, C. Steinweg, Maritime Applied Physics Corporation, EcoLogix Group and Pride International.
“Accomplishments at the Port of Baltimore are closely aligned with the stewardship of Maryland’s natural resources and the well-being of neighboring communities. MDOT MPA is committed to being a good neighbor to all the communities that surround our terminal operations,” said Bill Richardson, Co-Chair of the Baltimore Port Alliance and MDOT MPA’s General Manager, Safety, Environment & Risk Management.