Behind the Eastport Firehouse in Annapolis, a new garden is introducing local families to the joys of growing fruits and vegetables.
“More and more people are interested in growing their own food,” says Anne Van Allen, chair of Grow Annapolis, the non-profit organization that created the garden. “Community gardens not only teach about agriculture, but they [also] establish a gathering place.”
Founded in 2010, Grow Annapolis was established with the mission of fostering and sustaining community gardens. They use only organic gardening techniques and charge nominal fees ranging from $55-$110 per season for area residents to adopt a plot.
Six years ago, Grow Annapolis volunteers planted their first community garden near City Dock, and it quickly became a thriving success. This past fall, the city sold the land to a developer so the organization had to look for a new space.
“City Dock was a very active community garden, so we hoped to find something similar nearby,” Van Allen says.
The city of Annapolis offered the space behind the Eastport Firehouse just a few blocks away, and this spring 22 new beds were planted, all of which have been rented to members of the local community.
“We had a great response to the new garden and we are excited to see it take off,” Van Allen says. “Even the firehouse has adopted two plots to grow their own food.”
In addition to the Eastport garden, Grow Annapolis leases a half-acre garden on the grounds of Hollywood Farm, in the Broadneck area of Annapolis. Area gardeners rent the majority of the 35 beds, but a few are set aside for giving back to the community.
“Some of our beds are what we call ‘giving gardens,’ where we grow food specifically to donate to needy organizations,” Van Allen says.
The harvest is donated to several local organizations including the Asbury United Methodist Church in Annapolis for its “Shepherd’s Table,” a weekly meal for the hungry.
Grow Annapolis plans to expand the Hollywood Farm space, and perhaps one day add a children’s garden.
“We have a lot of families get involved — kids particularly love to take ownership of what they’ve planted,” Van Allen says. “When you see the joy on a child’s face as they carry a huge pumpkin or watermelon they’ve grown themselves … it’s priceless.”
To get involved with Grow Annapolis or find out more about adopting a garden plot, visit growannapolis.org.
By Katie Riley