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Lifestyle B'More Green

Good day for green thumbs

Sometimes rain is perfect for a public event - when it involves growing things.

The skies dripped helpfully today as MayorStephanie Rawlings-Blakeand a gaggle of dignitaries turned out to celebrate the launch of a new community garden in West Baltimore's Upton neighborhood.

With the help of volunteers from nonprofits and financial support from the Scott's Miracle-Gro Co.. 32 vacant lots in the 500 block of Laurens Street have been cleared and prepared for raising vegetables and fruit.  The "edible garden," as it's being called, is part of the mayor's "Power in Dirt" initiative seeking to convert vacant lots into productive, community-managed open spaces.

Rawlings-Blake called the light drizzle "a divine sign" that the project would be a healthy one for the community,  which is in one of the city's "food deserts" lacking ready access to fresh produce and where nearly half of the residents live below the poverty line.

"This is a very important venture for this community," concurred Wanda Best, executive director of the Upton Planning Committee, which joined with the neighboring Druid Heights community development corporation in working on the garden.

Dozens of enthusiastic students from area schools helped plant brussels sprouts, squash and a variety of herbs and spices in a row of raised beds already set up.  Plans are to erect hoop houses for cultivating much more in a more controlled environment. 

Scott's donated $25,000 to the effort, as part of a nationwide initiative launched with the U.S. Conference of Mayors to build 1,000 gardens and green spaces throughout the United States and Canada by 2018. Read more about the project in The Baltimore Sun, a story by my colleage Susan Reimer.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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