Cleaning & Greening

Join the Rose Street Community Garden!

By Jennifer Kunze

What is the Rose Street Community Garden? It is a Community Managed Open Space at the 600 block of North Rose Street, a place to grow fruits and vegetables, both on your own and with friends, a member of the Community Greening Resource Network, which provides gardeners with free seeds, plants, classes, and other resources for growing food in Baltimore City, an opportunity to adopt your own garden box and a fun place to spend your time!

What can be grown at the Rose Street Community Garden?

  • greens
  • tomatoes
  • cucumbers
  • pumpkins
  • grapes
  • strawberries
  • carrots
  • almost any fruit or vegetable you like!

How can you join the Rose Street Community Garden?

  1. Contact Jennifer by calling 410-563-9743, emailing, or visiting the Center for Grace-Full Living at 2424 McElderry Street.
  2. Choose a plot at the garden, plant your seeds, care for it throughout the growing season, and attend Community Gardening Days monthly.
  3. Enjoy the fruits (and vegetables) of your labor!

Baltimore Tree Trust Arbor Day Celebration

By Amanda Cunningham

On Friday, April 24, at 4 p.m. the Baltimore Tree Trust invites the residents of McElderry Park to attend a very special Arbor Day at Prince of Peace Church. Join us as we plant the final two street trees to complete our Trees for Public Health project. Celebrate the doubling of the local tree canopy!! Celebrate the beatification of the neighborhood with new London planes, lindens, oaks, and so many other shade-giving trees. Celebrate what we have accomplished, all working together-- greening 48 square blocks with 450 additional trees. We could not have done it without all the residents, our wonderful local partners, the hundreds of volunteers pitching in year after year, and our numerous generous funders.

Kudos to Warren Street, longtime Greening Committee Chair for the McElderry Park Community Association, who walked out of his N. Montford Street florist shop and home in 2010 and wondered, “Where did all the trees go?” Then, being an activist, Mr. Street conducted a block-by-block survey of empty tree pits. Soon thereafter, Pastor Gary Dittman of Amazing Grace Lutheran Church met Jill Jonnes and Amanda Cunningham, who had just formed the Baltimore Tree Trust. He knew Mr. Street wanted trees; the Tree Trust was looking for barren blocks to green up. Recalls Warren, “One day the Baltimore Tree Trust showed up at my door.” He had long worked with Beth Myers-Edwards of Banner Neighborhoods Community Corporation, and they, too, became vital partners, as did Sarah Lord, president of the Baltimore Forestry Board.

In January of 2011, the Baltimore Tree Trust held the first of many Working Group meetings with residents and local organizations. Arbor Day 2011 served as the official launch for the Tree Trust’s first Trees for Public Health initiative.  The fifth-graders of William Paca Elementary School joined neighbors, politicians, and the Tree Trust and Forestry Board to plant the first eight trees with Charlie Murphy of TreeBaltimore and Erik Dihle, our Chief City Arborist.

That first summer, Sarah Lord and Zoe Clarkwest hit the streets with the first youth Green Team to complete an i-Tree Streets inventory. That original data on the existing 450 trees (a meager 13 percent tree canopy) has guided all the planting.

Since the fall of 2012, Amanda Cunningham, certified arborist and the Tree Trust’s Director of Programs, had led the way! Each autumn and each spring for the past three years, she has organized multiple volunteer plantings. Year by year, we moved from block to block, creating new tree pits (15,000 sq.-feet of concrete removed!!), expanding old pits, getting old stumps and dead trees removed, planting young trees, and transforming McElderry Park into a more healthful place to live.  Prince of Peace Church has been a more recent but always hospitable partner, offering a gathering place for staging many of our plantings.

We look back fondly and with gratitude at the many fun tree planting days when neighbors big and small turned out to work with volunteers from Coppin State Nursing, the Bloomberg School of Public Health, Towson U. fraternities, Johns Hopkins nursing, the GIVE program, Goucher College, Ayers Saint Gross landscape architects, and TreeKeepers, to name just a few. In a matter of hours, yet another grey city block bloomed with new arboreal life!

At the request of the Tree Trust, the Bartlett Tree Company provided crews of arborists at no cost to prune all 24 mature lindens that shade Library Square. The men and trucks arrived one morning in early April of 2013, climbed high up into the canopy, and after a day of clearing out dead wood, the lindens looked beautiful. Soon, Adirondack chairs came out, along with new strings of lights, and residents enjoyed cool evenings in their park.

Each summer since 2012, the Tree Trust has partnered with Banner Neighborhoods to field a local Youthworks Green Team to care for all those young lindens, London Plane, maples, hornbeams, and other hardy species. Coach Waverly Carter ran a good program, and we’re happy to see a number of those young people returning for their third summer! “Residents appreciated our work,” wrote one crew leader, “and thanked us with compliments and gave us water, Gatorade and even Rita’s ice cream!”

In 2014, the kids of Banner’s After School Art Club joined with the Tree Trust to celebrate Arbor Day in an outdoor spray-painting workshop, directed by artist Ada Pinkston. This was our second Arbor Day with Ada. In 2013, she organized a whirlwind paper bird’s nest crafts event with the tots of Dynamic Deliverance Daycare.

As we finish up our work in McElderry Park, the Tree Trust takes pride in planting and growing healthy trees. We have always engaged a paid watering service in hot months, to make sure our street trees thrive. Last summer, with help from Baltimore Station men, we fielded our own watering truck, as we will do again this summer and next. We are proud of how few of our trees have died –  27  (1/3 due to vandalism).  We have quickly replaced them. We look forward to this spring, to see what a difference all those properly watered trees are making!

And, so please do come celebrate Arbor Day on Friday April 24, 4:00 p.m. at Prince of Peace Church.

Illegal Trash Dumping in Our Neighborhood

by Melissa Canady

There has been a tremendous amount of illegal trash dumping in our neighborhood especially down by the Amazing Grace Church in the back alley of the 2400 block of McElderry Street . We have a lot of new neighbors who have moved in the neighborhood. They keep putting their trash down by the church every trash day. I have taken it upon myself to go around to the Community Center and ask Mr. Glenn the President for some handouts. He gave me these handouts and I passed them out to the neighbors and they continue to dump their trash down the alley. We don’t have an active Block Captain on our block to go door to door and give out Welcome Packets to these neighbors. I have done all I could do I have called downtown no results have been made. So I am making it public knowledge so that we may resolve this problem as a community. the rats are starting to come back. I would be willing to do my part but we need the whole community to come out to help out. Please, if you would like to help out, go around to the community center to voice your concerns.

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Planting Pollinators and Saving Stormwater: Gardening and Greening Projects This Year


By Jennifer Kunze

At the Amazing Port Street Commons, we’re just entering the fall growing season, when some plants are finishing their maturation process and others are just beginning.  The pumpkins are turning orange, the corn is turning brown, and new beds of winter crops like kale, radishes, beets, and snow peas are just beginning to peek above the ground.

As we look toward the winter, it’s not too soon to think about next spring – especially because of some exciting projects now being planned.  Residents, churches, and partners in the McElderry Park have been collaborating on ways to improve the environment in McElderry Park, particularly our land and water use, gardening and planting, and the sustainability and health of the neighborhood.  As a part of that campaign, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation has awarded these partners a grant to implement greening projects that will foster greater environmental awareness and a stewardship ethic within our community.  Project locations include Amazing Grace Lutheran Church, Prince of Peace Baptist church, and – with your participation – potentially even your own home.  The project’s two partners, Blue Water Baltimore and the National Wildlife Federation, will focus on two related goals: increasing native wildlife habitat and decreasing polluted runoff.

Rainwater Conservation

The city of Baltimore, including McElderry Park, was built on marshes, grassland, rivers, and forests.  Harris Creek once ran through McElderry Park, connecting Clifton Park with the Canton waterfront and providing both habitat for wildlife and resources for Baltimore’s residents.  Gradually put into pipes under our streets in the early 1900s, the watershed is now entirely underground – the storm drains and stormwater pipes leading to the Canton outfall are all that is left.  When rain falls in McElderry Park, it flows into those storm drains and directly to the Inner Harbor at the outfall in Canton, carrying trash, oil, and other pollution with it.  Excessive rainfall can put a lot of stress on the system, contributing to flooding, infrastructure damage, and even sewer overflows.  Fortunately, there are ways of collecting and storing rainwater where it falls, allowing us to use it in McElderry Park and preventing the issues that run-off creates.  Blue Water Baltimore is a local organization with a mission “to restore the quality of Baltimore’s rivers, streams and harbor to foster a healthy environment, a strong economy, and thriving communities.”  Blue Water Baltimore will work with local residents at partner locations to install a wide range of stormwater mitigation practices to improve the neighborhood, including:

  • replacing 1200 square feet of road and 400 square feet of sidewalk in the Amazing Port Street Commons (600 North Port Street) with pervious pavement, designed to allow rainwater to soak through it into the ground.
  • installing 300-gallon cisterns to capture the rainwater that falls on the roof of Amazing Grace Lutheran Church before it enters the storm drain, allowing gardeners to water plants in the Amazing Port Street Commons during dry spells.
  • building a 1200-square-foot bioretention system at Prince of Peast Baptist Church, intercepting rainwater that falls on its parking lot in a rain garden designed to allow it to soak slowly into the ground.
  • installing a combined 300-gallon cistern and 110-square-foot rain garden to capture stormwater from adjacent rowhomes at the intersection of Jefferson Street and Port Street.

Native Wildlife Habitat

The marshes, grassland, rivers, and forests that once covered Baltimore historically supported native wildlife, including orioles, sparrows, and millions of other migrating birds flying north and south along the Atlantic coast.  With the growth of the city, those habitats were replaced with concrete, and those animals were pushed farther and farther away from their previous homes.  It is possible, however, to support beneficial local wildlife within the city, beautifying the neighborhood and increasing the diversity of life in our neighborhood.  Plantings of certain native flowers and shrubs can provide the four factors native wildlife, like butterflies and birds, needs to thrive: food, water, cover, and places to raise young. By creating both large habitats in the neighborhood’s green spaces and community gardens, and small habitats in your own backyard, we can beautify the neighborhood and make it more healthy for people, plants, and animals alike.  The National Wildlife Federation, a national organization that works “to inspire Americans to protect wildlife for our children’s future,” will work with partner locations and individual residents to implement projects that will become part of a network of oases for urban and suburban wildlife spanning Baltimore City, including:

  • designing and planting a 200-square-foot pollinator garden in the Amazing Port Street Commons.
  • planting 16 native trees on the grounds of Prince of Peace Baptist Church.
  • planting additional street trees near project sites, by the Baltimore Tree Trust (which has planted 251 street trees in McElderry Park in the past two years).
  • supporting up to 20 homes in McElderry Park in completing native habitat plantings and becoming certified as Community Wildlife Habitats.  Participants will receive education about urban wildlife and stormwater issues, consultations on design of their garden spaces, and $400 vouchers to Herring Run Nursery to support their planting projects.

This program is an exciting opportunity to beautify our neighborhood, make it more sustainable, and educate our children about the natural environment; to make it successful, we need your help!  If you have any questions or comments about this program – especially if you are interested in making your property a Community Wildlife Habitat or becoming a part of the planning team for the projects centered at Amazing Grace and the Amazing Port Street Commons – please contact Jennifer Kunze at the Center for Grace-full Living at Amazing Grace Lutheran Church at 410-563-9743 or  Together, we can seize this opportunity to make McElderry Park a cleaner, greener, and healthier place.

Goucher Connects Day of Service in McElderry Park

On Friday, August 22nd, a group of freshman students from Goucher College visited McElderry Park for the afternoon. The group participated in partnership with the Baltimore Tree Trust, the McElderry Park Community Association and the Amazing Grace Lutheran Church to help clean the neighborhood. Students cleared overgrown lots, picked up trash, stenciled storm drains, and planted trees throughout McElderry Park. Check out some of the days’ highlights with these photographs by Rob Ferrell.

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