Greetings from Baltimore, MD! Summer weather is in full tilt here and we are having a great (and extremely hot) trip so far. We have met wonderful people, had incredible food, seen inspiring agriculture projects and gotten our hands dirty in the garden all week. So far during our tour we have traveled from the fertile valleys of western North Carolina (Hickory Nut Gap Farm, Long Branch and the Green River Preserve) to the beautiful mountains of southwest Virginia to the sunny harbors of the Mid-Atlantic. Here in Baltimore we have worked with the Jewish Museum of Maryland and Kayam Farms so far. It has been an awesome week here in the city and we are looking forward to a few more days here in the Inner Harbor.
For the past few days, we have worked out of a “home base”, where we have parked the bus each day and become connected with the surrounding neighborhood. This “home base” for us has been The Jewish Museum of Maryland (on the corner of Watson and Lloyd Street, near the Inner Harbor and Little Italy). The first night of our stay the Museum invited us to a “meet and greet” event, to both welcome us into the neighborhood and also as part of their celebration of Shabat (the end of the Jewish Sabbath day). A large group gathered that evening for songs and food, followed by a proper southern “Hodown” or musical jam session of banjo, harmonica and guitar music. The tunes were accompanied by multiple friends and neighbors playing spoons, pots, pans, jars and plastic cups! The whole evening made us feel right at home at the Museum and Synagogue. It was a blast!
The following day was also packed with new faces and experiences. The museum hosted a “Community Day” event for us that allowed for both a bus Expo and a tour of the historic Synagogue complex next door. The whole day rooted us in the community and history of the surrounding city blocks. We met tons of local residents during our bus tours and everyone was really excited about our projects in town. Talks were given by our crew about: vermacomposting (the process of composting with worms), alternative fuels, designing home gardens and planting in greenhouse environments. This week alone we have been able to harvest tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers and herbs from our bus greenhouse! It was great to have those tangible products of growth to show off at our event. Inside the museum that day we also helped with a butter-making workshop and a jam-making workshop (using fresh
strawberries and blueberries). It was a great day of both growing and eating!
Following the Community Day on Sunday, we had an entire week to look forward to of meeting neighbors, working in the garden and sprucing up the bus. At the beginning of this week we explored the city and located building materials for the Exeter Garden site in our neighborhood. We were also able to visit the Visionary Art Museum along the Baltimore Harbor. The Visionary hosts exhibits of contemporary artists who use recycled, reclaimed and found objects in a variety of their pieces. It was an inspiring visit and gave us a lot of great ideas for future outdoor designs. Later in the week, we spent a full day at Kayam Farm at the Pearlstone Retreat Center. The plot is a five acre teaching farm at the north end of Baltimore County.
As a Jewish farm, interns and staff members alike spend time during the day farming and studying Jewish farming methods, based in the Torah. It was an eye opening experience for our crew to see agriculture through a new historical lens- one based in both sustainability and religious heritage. As a fully organic farm, Kayam has a lot to offer and even more to teach! We spent the morning weeding and harvesting spring veggies and spent the afternoon touring visitors thought the bus. The Kayam Farm folks were gracious enough to teach us how to grind our own wheat flour, how to organically control a variety of pests and bless us with bags of freshly picked veggies and herbs for our own kitchen.
We hope to stay in touch with many of the friends we have made here in the Jewish community of Baltimore.