Grow Annapolis Kicks off Gardening Season with Orientation and Work Party
The event highlights the growing popularity of urban agriculture.
Cloudy skies, drizzling rain, and cool temperatures didn’t dampen the City Dock Community Garden Work Party and Orientation hosted by Grow Annapolis on Saturday, April 2.
“Last year was so hot,” said volunteer garden coordinator Cathy Umphrey. “For people who worked here last year, the cold is probably pleasant.”
Dozens of gardeners, many of whom live in apartments and condominiums with minimal yard space, came together to sip coffee, socialize, and get their hands dirty.
The event kicked off at 9 a.m., when folks arrived to sign in and pick up a handbook. Then people divided into two groups: one group began preparing the site of the Annapolis Elementary School garden, and the other group worked the City Dock community garden, located at 9 St. Mary’s Street.
Colleen Hooker, a Grow Annapolis volunteer who lives in Annapolis and works at Annapolis High School, cheerfully helped people sign in.
When asked about what her favorite thing about the City Dock garden was, she replied, “You mean in addition to the fresh vegetables? Meeting new people I’ve never met before.” She added during a pause between gardeners checking in that she was pleased by the fact that “the city of Annapolis has rallied around this.”
Gardeners were a mix of newbies and people who returned after gardening at City Dock last year.
Kristina Korona explained why she came back this year: “Last year was great. Everyone was so friendly, and I like working with innovative people. I grew peppers, those did well, and tomatoes, jalapenos, chives, basil, lots of herbs. Last summer I came by every couple of days to water, though ideally when it’s really hot you’d come every day.”
Many of the people preparing their individual plots for planting were new to gardening, and Cathy Umphrey was on hand to give them advice. As a master gardener and the Director of Horticulture at the London Town Foundation, Inc., she made for a great teacher, and she’ll be on hand on future Saturdays to provide guidance.
She explained that “today is the start, people are preparing the existing beds and making new ones. We encourage people to grow food that’s organic.”
Annapolis resident Teresa Crane has started seeds at home that she’ll eventually transfer to her plot: “green pepper, cabbage, onions, tomatoes, lettuce.” She gestured to the fence and added, “Pea vines will go there because they can grow up the side of the fence. Our squash died last year, so I may not try that again.”
Grow Annapolis Founder and Executive Director, Joel Bunker said the community garden was years in the making, and that it got started in “conversations in the community, in cafes and in people’s homes. We started meeting weekly and looking at locations. We ended up getting an okay for downtown. This location has water access, and it’s very visible. It’s very much a community effort. For example, there were donations for a beautiful cedar fence.”
He counts the writings of Wendell Berry as one of the things that inspires him to keep open space available and to work toward community building.
“I’m interested in accessibility, in getting to know your neighbors,” he said.
He’s not the only one.
“There is a ton of demand for this. People want to see community gardens in their schools and neighborhoods. We’re raising funds for another piece of land. We’re hoping to have more plots next year,” Bunker added.
You can stay up to date on the accomplishments of Grow Annapolis on facebook.