Pop Farm: A Study in the Power of Volunteers
Pop Farm is a community flower and vegetable garden located just a few blocks west of the UMB BioPark. One year ago there was only endless litter and rusting junk there; now, glorious sunflowers, aromatic herbs, and huge, healthy vegetables are growing in ordered rows, providing food and color for the local community.
About a year ago, a group of volunteers from the AIA (the American Institute of Architects) donated their time to remove trash and junk from what was then an overgrown and abandoned lot that had become a community eyesore.
Late this summer, on a hot, humid August day, a second group of AIA volunteers (Baltimore Chapter and national) returned to perform maintenance and to make several improvements to what has now become a lovely community garden that serves James McHenry Elementary School and the local Poppleton neighborhood.
The 11 AIA volunteers installed a Little Free Library on a mail post that will allow nearby residents to borrow and donate books. Volunteers cut the grass, weeded, trimmed back trees and removed overgrown vegetation. They also helped paint a new, colorful sign that cheerfully announces “Pop Farm” to all visitors walking by.
For those of us repeat AIA volunteers, it was an absolute joy to witness the transformation made possible through the power of the many volunteers over the past year who have made this minor miracle possible.
You Can Help – Get Involved
But then, many hands always make for light work. UMB consists of ~12,500 people, including staff, students, and faculty. Just think of how much more could be accomplished if more of us chose to donate even four hours per year to projects like this!
Please take advantage of any one of the numerous opportunities that our Office of Community Engagement arranges throughout the year. There is no more enjoyable way to invest just a bit of your time to make a huge, measurable difference in the larger community surrounding our UMB campus.
For more info regarding community volunteer opportunities, please contact Bill Joyner at email@example.com.
Photo above, from left to right: Tim Matthews, Zevi Thomas*, Ramiro Solorzano, Mildred Hodge, Anthony Consoli*, Kathleen Lane*, Lillian Dolley, Regina Heard, and Nathan Denies*. Participants not pictured: Karen Ross, Shelita Masterson, and Bill Joyner.
Those marked with an “*” are members of the AIA Baltimore Chapter; other volunteers are members of the AIA National staff in Washington, D.C.
by Anthony Consoli
UMB Campus Architect & 2016 AIA Baltimore Chapter President