Wednesday, April 29, 2009

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

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