Based in Baltimore, Maryland, Friends of Great Kids Farm is built on the former grounds of a foster home and school for disadvantaged African-American boys developed in the 1910s. The land was later purchased by by Baltimore City Public Schools (BCPS) in the 1950s and fell into disrepair. In 2008, the property was identified as a potential site for a farm, and a number of BCPS staff and other volunteers helped to develop The Friends of Great Kids Farm into what it is today. In 2011 it was set up as a not-for-profit foundation, and the farm continues to serve the Baltimore community as both a working farm and provider of food sold to local schools and restaurants, as well as an education center for local children.
In 2014 The FruitGuys Community Fund awarded the 33-acre farm a $5,000 grant to plant a low-maintenance nursery orchard, schoolyard-growable fruit trees, brambles, vines, and shrubs in order to supply current and future school garden sites with stock for planting.
The Friends of Great Kids Farm expanded their orchard space with another 98 fruit trees and shrubs which were specifically chosen for their low maintenance needs and pest resistant properties. The fruit from this orchard has been integrated into lessons for students on school visits to the farm.
The Orchard Summit which will be held in June, hosted at Great Kids Farm in partnership with the Baltimore Orchard Project will use the new orchard space to educate students from schools in the surrounding area on tree care, maintenance, and identification.
“We designed the orchard, created swales to capture rainwater, staked locations for 98 fruit trees and shrubs, amended soil, and planted 54 trees. The preparation and planting of the orchard was a deeply engaging learning experience for our high school interns, who worked with our farmer on plant selection, and traveled to the nursery to pick up a large order of trees.
They had the opportunity to taste many of the fruits that will be produced by the orchard at the nursery, some of which were completely unfamiliar. Since then, many have expressed interest in learning more about fruit production and adding fruit to our farm-to-school program.” –- Chrissa Carlson, Executive Director
WHAT’S NEXT FOR FRIENDS OF GREAT KIDS FARM
After a few years of growth, they plan to take tree cuttings to propagate and to start or expand orchards at other Baltimore City Schools. As the trees continue to mature, more and more fruit will be available to contribute to tasting lessons and other educational events. The fruit will also be used within the Baltimore School System helping 85,000 students. So, the $5,000 grant continues to have lasting effects for many years to come in Baltimore.