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Baltimore Field Station

Green Street Academy

Through multiple USDA Agencies, including the USDA Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, the Forest Service, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, and the  Natural Resource Conservation Service  several school projects and activities are being supported at  Green Street Academy which are currently  being coordinated by the USDA Forest Service Baltimore Field Station, in Baltimore City, Maryland.


[photo:] Students plant a tree in GReen Street Academy community orchard.On April 2016, Green Street Academy established a community orchard on the campus grounds of Green Street Academy and the Baltimore City Recreation and Parks (BCRP) property known as Daisy Fields and Hilton Park, with funds from the USDA Forest Service, Northern Research Station, Region 9 Youth Engagement Grant. The sites are located in the Southwest Section of Baltimore City, Maryland and are adjacent to the Gywnns Falls Trail, which is a part of the National Parks Service and the Baltimore National Heritage Area. The sites will be utilized in developing a “landscape of learning” to engage educate and train the students and the general public in the best community forest practices and management in the great outdoors and will be developed into a fully functional food forest that will serve the needs of the school and the community and improve the biodiversity of species. Green Street Academy sits in the heart of the Allendale Neighborhood. The Allendale has been designated as a food desert with low income census tracts. The neighborhood is 98.9% African American; 86% of its students receive free or reduced cost meals, and the unemployment rate is 18%. By establishing the GSA Community Orchard on the school’s grounds this proposed project will maximize the ability of Green Street Academy and their partners to meaningfully engage all segments of the Allendale community.

Students designed the orchard and planted fruit trees with the assistance of volunteers from the USDA Forest Service Baltimore Field Station and Exelon Energy. The community orchard will provide students with skills, training opportunities, certifications in storm water management, orchard maintenance and landscape architecture. A chapter of the Future Farmers of America has been chartered at Green Street Academy and the students will develop business enterprises (Farmer's Market and Bee Keeping) that would be of great economic benefit in providing jobs as well as critical resources for a community. The students will be engaged on a daily basis with extracurricular outdoor experiences and to improve community stewardship and promote ecological literacy in the community. Overall, the GSA Community Orchard will also serve as a demonstration site that can be replicated throughout Baltimore.


Joseph Coston and his urban agriculture/biology teacher, Ms. Tanya Montgomery.Joseph Coston, a junior attending Green Street Academy, has dreams of becoming a becoming a veterinarian and was encouraged by his Urban Agriculture/ Biology teacher, Ms. Tanya Montgomery, to apply for the program. Given his outstanding academic record and his essay that accompanied his application package, Joseph was accepted into the program along with 20 other students, from across the United States. The Ag-Discovery Program provided classroom instruction, experiential learning, field trips and hands-on activities, as the students received mentoring and guidance from undergraduate students, graduate students, and from industry, STEM and Agricultural professionals. As a result of participating the Ag-Discovery Program, Joseph has plans to attend University of Maryland Eastern Shore, and major in Animal Science. And upon receiving his Bachelors of Science degree in Animal Science, Joseph also plans to pursue a Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine at Michigan State University or Tuskegee University. The Ag-Discovery Program has certainly played a large role in helping Joseph realizing his dream of becoming a veterinarian for farm animals and/or exotic animals and establishing his practice in the state of Maryland.


The USDA APHIS Ag-Discovery Program has proven to be one of the best outreach vehicles in developing self-esteem, instilling a strong work ethic and building leadership and teamwork skills in students who would not have the opportunity to do so, otherwise. The main impact  of this program  is that it provides insights for students as they seek to pursue academic degrees in the STEM Fields and agricultural and environmental sciences or seek to pursue job opportunities with other local, state and federal agencies. The investment in such a special program will ultimately pay dividends to the USDA as the organization continues to strive for an inclusive and diverse workforce.


In July 2016, USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service sponsored the Ag-Discovery Program that was hosted at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore, in Princess Anne, Maryland. The two week program introduced high school students who have an interest in careers in animal management, plant biotechnology, plant microbiology, water quality, food safety, nutrient management, horticulture, and natural resources sciences, with specific emphasis on issues facing the Mid-Atlantic United States.


[photo:] Aquaculture and aquaponics laboratory at Green Street Academy.In August 2016, Green Street Academy installed the Aquaculture and Aquaponics Laboratory that will serve as an outdoor living classroom, with hanging gardens in the atrium and a closed loop system to link aquaculture and aquaponics practices.  Funding for this project was proved by the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service. As a part of the school’s curriculum, which is also grounded in a desire to prepare students for jobs in the 21st century workforce and green economy, the students of Green Street Academy have been actively involved in growing vegetables and raising fish that are being sold locally to restaurants and specialty gourmet markets in Baltimore City.  One of the school’s biggest clients is Chef Spike Gjerde, the owner of the farm to table restaurant, Woodberry Kitchen. Chef Gjerde was the 2015 recipient of the James Beard award for "Best Chef: Mid Atlantic," one of 10 regional chef categories in the prestigious culinary awards competition. Chef Gjerde gives much of his success at Woodberry Kitchen to the local produce and fish from Green Street Academy. This partnership truly can be described as a “full circle” moment that has allowed the school to be a part of the community  and economic development in Baltimore.


In September 2016, National Wildlife Federation awarded Green Street Academy with the Schoolyard Habitats in Baltimore City (MD) Grant, in the amount of $268,425.00. As a part of the its global climate change and green school Initiatives, The National Wildlife Federation will install a large-scale demonstration schoolyard habitat at Green Street Academy, an 8-acre campus uniquely situated in southwest Baltimore, Maryland near Gwynns Falls. Project will design and install multiple stormwater-focused best management practices at Green Street Academy and nine additional schools, creating a network of schoolyard habitats throughout Baltimore. Beyond the practices themselves, project will engage a cohort of 20 teachers and 10 facilities managers at a series of workshops where participants will learn the need for and benefits of taking action to improve habitat and water quality. The project will remove 16,600 square feet of parking lot and transform approximately 3,600 square feet of compacted urban fill or compacted turf into pollinator habitat.


In spring of 2017, the U.S. Forest Service engaged Green Street Academy seventh graders on a project entitled From Street to Stream to Harbor: Cleaning, Greening, and Learning about Baltimore’s Waterways through Art and Science. The project involved the development an arts and science-based curriculum to learn about the ways that our waterways are connected. In particular, the curriculum used trash as a medium to explore hydrologic connectivity. The students investigated the ways that litter in the streets leads to trash accumulation near storm drains, how this flows into streams and riparian areas, and eventually into the Baltimore’s Inner Harbor and Chesapeake Bay. The students learned about the effects of trash on ecosystems and the ways that each resident can make a difference in keeping Baltimore’s streets green and its waterways clean; the valuable role that trees and green spaces play in helping to absorb, filter, and clean stormwater; and how planting trees in a city can help improve water quality and reduce the risk of flooding. The project relates strongly to the U.S. Department of Agriculture effort to strengthen the stewardship of private lands through technology and research. Students photo-documented their experiences throughout the curriculum; the resulting series of photographs has been turned into an art exhibit currently on display at the Green Street Academy. These photos capture the students’ experiences learning how our forests and waterways are connected, from street to stream to harbor.

Last Modified: February 1, 2018