February 10, 2020
Scott Peterson, Director of Communications, Office of Public Information, 202-277-9412
Anna Hunter, Department of Recreation & Parks, 410-313-4686
ELLICOTT CITY, MD – Howard County Executive Calvin Ball joined the Department of Recreation & Parks and the Columbia Gardeners today to break ground on four new garden plots within the Long Reach Garden. The community garden was last significantly expanded in 2010.The garden currently contains 125 full plots, ten 20 x 12.5 half plots and five wheelchair-accessible raised beds. Photos of the event can be found here.
“Despite having more than 600 garden plots across Howard County, there is a high demand from residents to have more access to community gardens,” said Howard County Executive Calvin Ball. “This is the first time in 10 years that we’ve been able to open new plots, which will help reduce the wait times for residents and provide more space for residents to grow their own produce and enjoy the simple pleasures of gardening.”
Long Reach Garden is one of three sites maintained by local nonprofit Columbia Gardeners, which are co-owned by Howard County Recreation & Parks (HCRP) and the Exelon Corporation. For this expansion effort, the Department of Recreation and Parks assisted with the establishment of the plots by staking locations, soil tilling, clearing a buffer around the plots, and the installation of fencing around new plots.
“When the County Executive asked us to meet with Columbia Gardeners about potential new plot sites, it quickly became clear that Long Reach would be the ideal location for expansion,” said Howard County Recreation & Parks Director Raul Delerme. “With these four garden plots, even more members of our local community have the opportunity to grow their own fresh produce or flowers.”
Howard County's garden plots were first established in 1977 for use by residents who lacked the space or right conditions to garden at home. Community garden plots have been shown to benefit the environment by restoring oxygen to the air, reducing air pollution (planting versus mowing right-of-ways), and filtering rainwater to keep groundwater cleaner. Long Reach Community Garden has a long-standing partnership with the Howard County Food Bank, and uses some of their plots to grow fresh produce to be donated.
The expansion is another step towards the Long Reach Rising revitalization project to maintain, repair, and beautify the Village Center and surrounding area. In the 2012 Long Reach Village Center master plan, creating a sustainable community space that valued native plantings and green areas was a priority. Recent additions to Long Reach include the African Art Museum of Maryland, new artist’s studio space through the Howard County Arts Council, and popular tie-dye studio Roll Up N Dye, creating a hub for the creative arts, education, and economic empowerment.
"I am thrilled that the Long Reach Village Center will expand its garden plots,” said Opel Jones, District 2 Councilmember. “This meets a community need expressed by the residents. "
“The County’s work to provide these additional garden plots for residents to grow their own fresh produce will help reduce the wait for plots at Columbia Gardeners' Long Reach site,” said Betty Miller, President of the Columbia Gardeners.
Founded in 1974, Columbia Gardeners is a Howard County-based nonprofit that maintains over 600 garden plots available to the public through their Long Reach, Elkhorn and West Side locations. Applicants are placed at one of the three garden sites in Columbia based on proximity to their home address as vacancies arise.
To apply for a garden plot, visit https://www.columbiagardeners.com/.