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Planting Event Launches Baltimore Natural Dyes Initiative

On April 25, volunteers and partners planted 765 Black-Eyed Susans at the Parks and People Foundation 9-acre LEED Platinum headquarters and campus in west Baltimore.  The event was a milestone in the Baltimore Natural Dyes Initiative, a multi-agency pilot project to create the area’s first natural dye farm and processing site. The initiative will support urban farming, economic opportunities, community redevelopment, international relations, and the arts in Maryland.

Group photo in front of gardenThe project will employ two part-time farmers and provide raw materials and educational opportunities for college students at the Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA).  Annually, the initiative will introduce and engage more than 500 Baltimore City youth and countless visitors to the project through Parks and People educational programs. High school interns enrolled in Parks and People’s Branches program will help the farmers plant and maintain the farm as an introduction to careers in agriculture.

The funding partners, providing a combined $300,000 to support the pilot project, include the Maryland Department of Commerce through the Maryland State Arts Council, theVolunteers planting the garden Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development (providing $100,000 through the Baltimore Regional Neighborhood Initiative), the Maryland Agricultural and Resource-Based Industry Development Corp. (MARBIDCO), and the Baltimore Development Corp. Additional key partners include the Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA), which is developing a curriculum to teach and better understand the natural dyeing process, promote the benefits of natural dyes, and engage those that may be interested in using the dyes for artistic or commercial applications as well as the Parks and People Foundation, which is serving as the host site for the farming operation.

The Baltimore Natural Dyes Initiative is a result of Governor Hogan’s trade mission to Asia and a subsequent visit to South Korea by First Lady Yumi Hogan. The First Lady was inspired to pilot the initiative after touring the Natural Dyeing Cultural Center in South Korea. Parks and People has agreed to serve as host site for the farm, and coordinate partners and activities from March 2019 through September 2020.