Around Broadneck: A community garden grows on Hollywood Farm

Have you heard of the new community garden in the Broadneck Area? Photos

A community garden is thriving in a half-acre corner of a 126-acre farm on the Broadneck peninsula.

Last year, Grow Annapolis, Inc. was able to lease the half-acre space Hollywood Farm, owned by Jean-Francois and Thackray Seznec to create a new community garden.

Grow Annapolis, started in 2010 by a group spearheaded by Joel Bunker, seeks to foster and sustain community gardens and urban agriculture programs. IN that year, they planted 3-by-12-foot plots, 21 total, around one side and the rear of the old Annapolis Recreation Center in downtown Annapolis.

The plots are rented, primarily, by Annapolis residents.

The Hollywood Farm garden has 35 plots, sizes ranging from 10-by-20- and 20-by-30-feet.

They are available for Anne Arundel County residents to rent by the year. This season, less than a handful remain, including two that are handicap-accessible. Lots are priced from $55 to $110, and are laid out in a shade-free field.

"We rented most of the lots very quickly this year," said Anne Van Allen, the board chairwoman of Grow Annapolis, Inc. as she waved to plot tenants Martha Chalmers of Annapolis and Severna Park resident Donna Furbish.

Van Allen learned of Hollywood Farm's availability through an acquaintance at her church, Gwen Manseau, the Seznecs' daughter. The family has been seeking ways to diversify what is grown on their farmland.

Manseau and Van Allen began talking in earnest in late 2013. After signing a lease with the organization in April 2014, the Seznecs invested in tall wire fencing around the area and brought in hydrants and hoses so the tenants could water their gardens. Volunteers helped build the garden beds over a two-day period

"No animals get in here, not even ground hogs," Chalmers said, who is renting a plot for the second year. She found out about the new gardens last August, well past harvest time for most summer vegetables. Undaunted, she put in fall vegetables, and planted leeks and scallions that wintered over.

Her rent and those of the other plot farmers help to cover rental of the land and upkeep costs.

Furbish, a new tenant this season, comes two to three times weekly to plant, weed and water her plot.

The community garden at Hollywood Farm has three separate plots that are set aside as Giving Gardens.

A portion of the vegetables planted there, Van Allen said, are donated to the Light House Shelter's Culinary Class and to its marketplace, a produce stand where proceeds are donated to the shelter. Another portion will be given to Asbury United Methodist Church on West Street for use during its Shepherd's Table, a Saturday noontime dinner for those in need of a meal.

Already sprouting from the Giving Garden's soil in neat rows are watermelon tendrils, butternut squash, tomato vines, zucchini, summer squash, collards, kale, potatoes and sweet potatoes, sweet peppers, cucumbers and green beans.

The folks who rent the plots help maintain the Giving Gardens. Some of the several dozen gardeners donate produce from their plots, too.

In partnership with the Seznecs, the group has placed a beehive nearby. More are in the works.

"People are coming here from the Broadneck area, Kent Island, Davidsonville, and downtown Annapolis," said Van Allen. "Most grow vegetables, but some grow flowers that are useful as pest repellents."

There are still a few unused areas on the site.

"A children's garden and play area is being planned," said Van Allen.

For details, Grow Annapolis' website is http://www.growannapolis.org .

Chuck Slaughter Field

Field 4 at Arnold Park is getting a name during a ceremony 2:30 p.m. Saturday. It will be called the Chuck Slaughter Field.

The field is being named to honor the memory of super-volunteer Charles "Chuck" Slaughter , who passed away Dec. 22. Late in 2013, he was diagnosed with throat cancer. Early in 2014, after the throat cancer vanished, he was diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer.

Slaughter, who was 49, coached several teams for the Broadneck Baseball and Softball Club. In recent years, he was the equipment manager and groundskeeper for the fields in eight locations used by the club.

The nonstop volunteer usually checked the fields daily before dawn, and, again, just before dusk.

According to his widow, Melanie Slaughter, two plaques honoring her husband will be unveiled. One will be attached to the field's backstop. Future plans include erecting an electronic scoreboard on the field emblazoned with his name.

Melanie teared up talking about Chuck."It's unbelievable," she said. "He touched so many people."

"The last couple days have been rough," she said. "It must be the season -- baseball was his passion." She said Mark Garrity, the Parks Administrator with the county Recreation and Parks Department and a former baseball coach, was instrumental in organizing this event.

Chuck was no stranger to cancer. His older brother, Thomas "Reds" Slaughter, passed away aboard his boat, the Second Chance, moored in Stevensville in 2010, of lung and liver cancer. Reds was 54.

Garrity recalls coaching against Slaughter – and found him to be a formidable opponent. But, Garrity said, "he was a real nice guy. Chuck was great with the kids. He had a big heart. Chuck was totally committed to the program and always went above and beyond in everything he did."

Kite festival

The fourth annual Kite Festival and Community Picnic will be taking place from noon to 4 p.m. Saturday at Broadneck Park on College Parkway. The rain date is May 17.

Several members of the Wings Over Washington Kite Club will be the event's special guests. There will be music, kite demonstrations, free kite-making kits and parachute racing on Field A, near the pirate ship in the children's playground area of the park.

The event is free.

For details, email Kara McGuirk-Allison at BAYSPlayground@gmail.com.

Send your Broadneck news and events to wwinters@capgaznews.com.

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