Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Project Every Block

How many vegetable gardens are there in Rodgers Forge? Herb gardens? Fruit Trees? Nut Trees? How many compost piles do we have here? Or what about worm bins?

The first project of the Farm Initiative is Project Every Block which will document every garden in the Forge. Do we already have a garden on every block? Maybe we do. If so, we'd like to know. If we do not, then we'll promote that as our first project--to establish a vegetable garden on every block of the Forge!

To that end, Project Every Block encourages anyone who has wanted to start a vegetable garden to do so. In most cases, a homeowner or renter will be gardening in their own yards. In some instances, though, someone has the time and desire to garden, but not the space, while others have the space and the desire to have a garden but not the time. In this case, we encourage cooperation between neighbors to expand our garden capacity. As we know of a few instances where this is occuring, we will get photos and details and report back soon.

Using Google Maps we will track our progress by landmarking each garden in the Forge. The Farm Map is at the top of the navigation bar on the right side of this page. Click on the blue pins and the address and details of that location's garden will be displayed. We can even post pictures of the garden with the landmark details.

If you have a garden, a fruit or nut tree, a compost pile or worm bin, please contact us here at with your details and we will update the map. Please attach any photos you may have. The more detail the better.

The Farm Initiative

My name is Joe Hamilton and I am a seven-year resident of Rodgers Forge, a neighborhood in Baltimore County, Maryland. Located south of Towson, Rodgers Forge is a fantastic rowhouse community of 1777 homes and 505 apartment units. The local schools are excellent (if overcrowded, but that is getting resolved) and the community spirit is strong. Because of the superior schools and neighborhood involvement, Rodgers Forge attracts young families, and the sidewalks and alleys always have playing children. Like the neighborhoods many of us remember from our youth, Rodgers Forge is made up of families who care about each other.

In conversations with my neighbors over the past year, the topics of food, climate, and energy have repeatedly come up. How do we really know what chemicals are in the foods we buy? Will food prices continue to rise as droughts worsen? How will oil prices affect our food supply? The urgency of food safety, climate change and resource depletion are real and discouraging. What can one person do that really makes a difference?

Yet after talking with neighbors, reading up on the issues, and beginning to garden, I've become encouraged. The challenges are daunting, but there are concrete steps we can take that make a difference. Most important, many people around me feel the way I do. Thinking that I am just "one person" trying to make a difference is a mistake. I am part of a larger community that is trying to make a difference, and the large numbers and creativity of people working together can affect significant change.

The efforts that my neighbors and I have begun in gardening and composting, sharing articles and ideas, and sharing time together has changed the way I see my future and the future of Rodgers Forge. The creativity, commitment and pride that has characterized Rodgers Forge for decades are the very attributes that are necessary to meet the many challenges we face.

This blog was born from these ideas. It will focus on our neighborhood's vegetable gardens, a powerful and concrete step we can take in response to the environmental and social challenges raised above.

The blog will primarily document the vegetable gardens of the neighborhood and related activities, but it will also encourage greater participation in vegetable gardening, including connecting neighbors together for collaborative efforts of various kinds. Lastly, the blog will try to be a resource for information and activities in the area around food, climate, and energy issues.

One last point, on the name. The Rodgers Forge Farm Initiative uses the the word "farm" for two reasons. First, it narrows the focus to edible gardens, excluding flower gardens. Second, it evokes something much larger than a "mere" rowhome garden. The "farm" is the collective effort of the whole Forge to grow more of its own food. Each plot may be minimal, but combined they would represent a decent amount of land under cultivation--together, they would be a farm. We would be farmers.

The following posts will introduce Project Every Block and the Farm map, the first goal of the initative. Please join us. Contact me at