Community Gardens of the DMV: Columbia Gardeners

By Johnny Moseman

Ever since the 1960s, Columbia, MD, has had their own set of community gardens that foster and inspire leadership, committed memberships, and thousands of hours of hard work.
Starting in 1968, Columbia activist Evelyn Haynes persuaded Columbia developer James Rouse to donate land for for community gardening. Initially, 30 people gardened on land that is now the Columbia Mall.
In 1974, word had spread and soon 1,000 families rented garden plots to use. This was when the term “Columbia Gardeners” (CG) was coined and they began to campaign to keep the plots permanently.
Howard County’s first permanent garden came in 1977 at the Elkhorn Branch Community Garden on Oakland Mills Road. Two more permanent gardens were added in 1988; one in Long Reach and the other on Martin Road. Both of these sites added raised beds for physically-challenged gardeners.
In 2010, 100 plots were added to these gardens through cooperation with the Howard County Department of Recreation and Parks.
Today, there are over 600 plots across the three garden sites.
Gardeners within CG have a very diverse background and range from novice gardeners to expert gardeners, representing countries all over the world as well as those from cities to those that grew up on farms.
Each site offers garden plots that are approximately 20 by 25 feet, access to these plots by common pathways, centrally located water supplies, common compost bins, wood chips, parking, a locking entrance gate, and picnic tables.

Gardeners are then responsible for any work that needs to be done on their individual plot and they can grow whatever fruits, vegetables, or flowers they please in those plots.
CG’s mission is to provide safe and affordable garden space to community residents, be a knowledge-sharing resource for healthy, sustainable gardening practices, partner with other groups and communities to enhance gardening opportunities.
They hold a variety of social and educational events from April through October, including talks by Master Gardeners, talks by regional gardening experts, seed exchanges, garden work days, bird walks, butterfly walks, plant diagnostic workshops, garden tours, and picnics.
All information regarding Columbia Gardeners or future events they are holding can be found at or their Facebook page.

About the Author: Johnny Moseman is a senior multi-platform journalism major at the University of Maryland from Columbia, MD. He is an editorial intern at Washington Gardener this spring semester.

Photo Source: Columbia Gardeners

The Community Gardens of the DMV blog series is profiling community gardens across the DC-MD-VA region. If you have a community garden you would like profiled, please leave a comment below and let us know how to reach you.

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