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Baltimore Department of Planning, Office of Sustainability. 2015. Green pattern book: using vacant land to create greener neighborhoods in Baltimore. NRS-INF-32-15. Newtown Square, PA: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Northern Research Station. 109 p.


Baltimore's Green Registry - publicly accessible, interactive map that allows City agencies, NGOs, community-based organizations, and individual residents to register and map their own greening activities on vacant land

Green Pattern Book & Green Registry

[photo:] The Sunflower Village community garden on N. Carey Street was created by the Franklin Square Community Association.  Photo by Mark Cameron.In 2013, Baltimore had 14,000 vacant lots and 16,000 abandoned houses. Over the next ten years, 4,000 of these abandoned houses will be demolished as part of the City’s effort to eliminate blight. While these vacant properties can be a problem, they also offer an opportunity to create greener neighborhoods that improve the quality of life for current residents while attracting new people to Baltimore. In this sense, vacant land is an asset that can help grow the City to be resilient, sustainable, and competitive in the 21st century.

The solution for Baltimore’s chronically vacant lots and structures begins with a vision for a citywide program to transform many of Baltimore’s most blighted areas into an integrated network of green spaces, including parks and squares, rain gardens, urban farms, forests and community gardens. These green amenities have the ability to multi-task by providing economic, social, and environmental benefits to the City and its residents.

The Green Pattern Book

[image:] Cover of Green Pattern BookThe Green Pattern Book is a tool created as part of the Growing Green Initiative of the Baltimore Office of Sustainability. The book is used to guide the greening of vacant land by City agencies, NGOs, community-based organizations, and individual residents. The Green Pattern Book can spur creative ideas while also managing expectations and helping different groups that work with vacant lots understand how they can effectively partner with each other. The Green Pattern Book features eight green project types or patterns.  The patterns include:

  • Clean and Green –temporary greened spaces meant as a short-term holding strategy for future redevelopment, whether as new development or one of the other green patterns.
  • Urban Agriculture – land leased to urban farmers to grow food commercially.
  • Community-Managed Open Space – Vacant lots maintained by a community, non-profit, or more than one household used for vegetable gardens, orchards, pocket parks and small recreational spaces.
  • Stormwater Management –Land used to reduce runoff, filter stormwater, and decrease impervious surfaces in order to meet Baltimore’s requirements for improving water quality of our streams and harbors.
  • Green Parking – Land that can accommodate neighborhood parking needs while keeping greening and stormwater considerations in mind.
  • Urban Forest and Buffer – Trees planted on vacant lots, buffers along railroads and highways, and existing forest patches.
  • Neighborhood Park – Permanent public spaces that can be developed for passive and/or active recreation.
  • Mixed Greens – Land that can combine a combination of the patterns described above to achieve a greater number of goals.

The Green Registry

Mapping sites that show characteristics of the eight patterns is an essential tool for coordinating efforts and collectively achieving the vision defined by neighborhoods. The Green Registry is a publicly accessible, interactive map that allows City agencies, NGOs, community-based organizations, and individual residents to register and map their own greening activities on vacant land. The publicly available tool will inform policymaking and individual greening efforts and enhance the connectivity of Baltimore’s environmental stewardship network. In 2013, the Baltimore Neighborhood Indicators Alliance (BNIA-JFI) piloted the Green Registry map using the pattern community-managed open space.  In 2014 BNIA-JFI added a second element for stormwater management. Future iterations of the map will include components of the remaining six green patterns.