We arrived here in Philadelphia yesterday, July 11th, just hours before a righteous thunderstorm that we’d been warned about on the road. We booked it all the way from the heart of Amish country, Kirksville, PA, where we stayed a night in the mansion of the Herr’s Potato Chip heiress, after striking up a conversation in a pizza restaurant while escaping another afternoon storm.
But that’s getting ahead of ourselves… Rolling through wafts of humid pollution in between Washington and Baltimore, we only got lost a few times thanks to WABA’s solid cue sheets. It was blazing hot that day, and little did we know it would only get hotter and more humid the farther north we traveled.Baltimore was great. After staying several days with really the best group of people we could ever have imagined, and visiting innovative projects and gardens in one jam-packed weekend with two wonderful film-makers in tow, we felt pretty spoiled that everything worked out so well.
We met with Peter Babcox, the founder of Pocket Gardens – who treated us to breakfast at a diner in the Remington neighborhood where his project is run out of a church. He described the project, as “painting or sculpting with flowers” and gave us a tour of the areas many colorful public flower boxes that are all cared for by Baltimore youth. A profile of Peter and Pocket gardens will soon be found at our Ethnographies! section of our blog.
Then we joined a group of gardeners for a cook-out in the Mid-East neighborhood. Nick and Scott and others started tilling and planting in a vacant lot that is the size of a city block, and were soon joined by Mac, a neighborhood resident who we had a chance to talk to on film about his love for growing food. Their garden has no name and no official rules. It is not technically legal either and they are just now deciding what to do with all the vegetables and where to distribute them. We shared an afternoon harvesting vegetables and sharing a great meal. Ethnography coming soon….
There is a lot to be said about the situation in Baltimore concerning access to fresh food. As Mac shared, there are huge parts of the city without any grocery stores at all, let alone organic, fresh, local, etc.
The last official site visit in Baltimore was to a City Farm in Leakin Park, which is a program of the Department of Parks and Rec. There are seven such official community gardens in the city, maintained by Coleen, who had a lot to share about how the program functioned and the social benefits to the people involved.
More to come from our Philly adventures! Thanks for tuning in…
community garden in Mid-East Baltimore