A green retreat grows in Baltimore

BLISS Meadows is a 10-acre land reclamation project that brings educational farming and equitable access to green space in northeast Baltimore.

By Kirsten Ferguson September 9, 2021
Two black women standing in a garden laughing

Founder and Executive Director Atiya Wells, a pediatric nurse, leads the effort to transform the formerly neglected land into a community garden and hub for outdoor education. After discovering the untended patch of forest in her Frankford neighborhood, Wells formed a nonprofit group, Backyard Basecamp, and launched BLISS Meadows to reclaim the tract and connect urban families — especially people of color — with nature.

With help from Baltimore Green Space, a land trust that partners with communities to preserve urban open space, Wells found and contacted the lot’s owner, persuading him to let her farm it and use it for the outdoor programming. “I think having community green space is really important,” Wells told the Bay Journal, stating a desire to instill the gardening knowledge especially needed in the city’s food deserts, where grocery shopping options are limited.

Prior to the pandemic, Backyard Basecamp crowdsourced a fundraising campaign to purchase an abandoned house on an adjoining lot for use as a year-round hub for classes. With a grant from the Chesapeake Bay Trust, Wells hired a contractor to grade the meadow to improve stormwater drainage and make space for an outdoor amphitheater. Future plans for the site include beehives, a forest school, expanded community farm production and a trail system in the park.

Learn more at backyardbasecamp.org.

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