Thursday, January 10, 2013

Gather Baltimore

I'm a plant killer.  The above is just one example of the tragedies plants endure under my care.  When I was in college, Planty also survived a hurricane in a flooded garage, and I once left him outside in a snowstorm. He miraculously made it through the ledge-jumping tragedy, only to later reach a tragic end due to a lack of sunlight in my old apartment.  My mother attempted to revive him, to no avail, and so he ended his four years on this planet.  She graciously gave me one of her geranium's offspring, and thus Planty Jr was born.  Planty Jr does best here in Baltimore when I forget to water him, which I do often.  He keeps company with Unnamed Bushy Green Thing on my bookshelf, who also doesn't seem to mind that I ignore him quite often.  They entertain one another.

I kill plants, but I love plants.  It really is quite unfortunate.  More than looking at plants, I love to eat plants.  I have no yard, and the closest thing I have to outdoor space is half a fire escape I share with my neighbors.  Except, my neighbors have a proper door out onto the fire escape and I have to climb over my bed and through my window onto mine.  No plants live out there - they'd die (I already inadvertently killed a friend's plant out there).  I wish that I not only were better with plants, but that I could sow seeds properly and grow myself some grub.  Cultivating produce ensures a wonderful combination of food with the outdoors - two of my favorite things.  Imagine my excitement at recieving the following message on Facebook last week: "wanna go pick some veggies for charity?"

And so I spent my Saturday gleaning vegetables with two of my favorite people in this city, and some complete strangers that included the hula hoop guy from the market. We were picking with the great folks of Gather Baltimore, one of the newest fellowships of the Open Society Institute - Baltimore.  Gather Baltimore came into being around 2008, when Arthur Morgan began noticing how much food went to waste at the end of the day at the market downtown.  He now makes the rounds to collect unsold produce that may not be in pristine condition, but is still wholly edible, and makes it available to those in financial distress in the community.

Now that the market is in it's off-season (I blinked back tears and have found temporary solace at the Waverly market on Saturdays), Gather Baltimore gleans veggies from local farms and sends them out.  This week, I helped out Gather Baltimore at Zahradka Farm in Essex, and had a lovely time.  I was able to get my dose of vitamin D, chat with other volunteers about their favorite thing to do with an excess of turnips (Consensus says: stretch your mashed potatoes), and get down and dirty cutting some kale, mustard greens, and unearthing a plethora of turnips.  I was able to get outdoor exposure, something I crave on the weekends, pretend like I grew all these things on my own, and spend time with awesome people for an even better cause.

So you're new to Bmore.  Why not stick around a little later after the market and help pack up some excess produce, or lend a hand on a day of veggie gleaning?  Fill some empty stomachs, prevent waste, and meet incredible, selfless people all in one fell swoop!

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