Love to Garden? Try City Farms

By Bill Hamilton; photos by Don Palmer, Ron Gray, and Maria Wawer

Want to raise your own herbs and vegetables, but find the wee plot behind your house too small and the sunshine blocked by your neighbors’ lush trees and brick walls?

Baltimore City Farms, a Recreation and Parks program, may be your path to gardening bliss, offering garden plots for rent to City residents. Several Bolton Hill residents already participate, including Don Palmer, Ron Gray and Maria Wawer.


For $30 (plus a one-time application fee of $10), residents can rent a 10’ x 16’ garden plot for the growing season in one of several locations around town. Plots are fenced and in secure spots with access to water and sunshine unhindered by trees or buildings. Two adjacent plots may be had for $60. The city provides water hoses, wood chips and mulch. City farmers share community tools and wheelbarrows. Some locations have raised beds in wooden frames.  

In the 21217 zip code City Farm gardens are available at Druid Hill Park and at Bruce Street Park, in the 1300 block of N. Bruce Street. Nearly a dozen City Farm sites with 800 plots altogether are scattered in parks throughout the city.

For further information contact Harold McCray, City Farms coordinator at Recreation and Parks Department, 410-396-4850 or BCRP.CityFarms@baltimorecity.govApplications and additional information are available online.  Apply by the March 1 deadline and be ready to plant seeds and sets as soon as the weather warms up.

New Bulletin Production Team Takes the Reins

Read all about itThe Bolton Hill Bulletin’s new production team gained its sea legs in January, working well together to produce this issue. One difference you’ll see right away: a new, easier-to-navigate list format for the Bulletin Calendar, now under the charge of our new Calendar Editor, Bobbi Schilling.

Kevin Morris has joined Brian Causey to work behind the scenes on the tech aspects of our new website, as well as updating other organizational tools, like email. And our new Business Manager, Bill Hamilton, has been connecting with our sponsors to obtain their support for another year. Co-editors Jean Lee Cole and Peter Van Buren will stay on, bolstered by this additional help.

MRIA’s main website is also undergoing a much-needed redesign and update. The new site will be launched this spring and will combine content and features from the current Bulletin site with updated content similar to that on MRIA’s old site. 

The design team hopes to create an easy-to-navigate site that will provide a wealth of useful information about Bolton Hill and city living in the midtown area.

Volunteers are needed to create and update content and to manage the new website. If you’re interested in neighborhood architecture, history, local organizations, education and schools, churches, small business development, home improvement and renovation, advertising, or neighborhood governance, we may have a perfect place for you! Please email us at

And if you have pictures of neighborhood events, gatherings, or just photos of daily life in Bolton Hill, we’d love for you to submit them to the MRIA Dropbox account. Please submit high-res JPEG files, make sure you have the permission of your subjects, and include your name. 

Finally, we anticipate openings for a few additional sponsors of the site. At only $15/month ($180/year), it’s a great way to promote your business or organization to a targeted audience in midtown Baltimore. Our sponsors make the Bulletin and the new website possible. If you or someone you know would be interested in becoming a sponsor, you can find more information here. Please thank our sponsors with your support. 

Time to Renew Parking Permits

It’s time to renew your Area 3 parking permits, as all current permits will expire on March 31.

Starting February 20, you may renew your permits online at the Parking Authority website. Permits and visitors’ passes are $20 each. 

Residents who are new to the neighborhood must apply for permits in person. Find more information about residential parking permits here.

Permits can be retrieved either at the neighborhood’s community pick-up days at Memorial Episcopal Church (1406 Bolton Street—note different location this year due to renovations at Brown Memorial Episcopal Church) or at the Parking Authority. 

All residents must present current documentation when picking up permits. These documents include your current Maryland Vehicle Registration with an Area 3 address, plus one of the following that shows an Area 3 address:

  • Current driver’s license
  • Proof of residency, such as a current lease signed by all parties that is not month-to-month.
  • Proof of home ownership (settlement papers)
  • Utility bill in your name that is at least 30 days old
  • Official State ID card

If picking up permits on neighborhood pickup days:

  • You must purchase your permits online at least three days before you plan to pick up. Permits must be ordered by March 21 for the March 24 pick-up date, and by March 28 for March 31 pick-up.
  • Parking pass distribution will be on Saturday, March 24, 8 a.m.–12:30 p.m., and Saturday, March 31, 8 a.m.–1:30 p.m. at Memorial Episcopal Church. Enter the parish hall using the Lafayette Avenue side entrance. 
  • If your vehicle is registered out of state, you must register your vehicle in Maryland before being permitted to purchase a parking decal, unless you are a full-time student or a member of the military.
  • Out-of-state students and military must purchase a Non-Resident Permit from the MVA and present it at pick-up for the decal to be released.

As in years past, you will also be able to renew your MRIA community membership at the same location on those two days. A big thanks to Memorial Episcopal Church for offering their space to us this year, and to Patsy Andrews, who has organized our convenient neighborhood pickup for many years.

You can also obtain your permits at the Parking Authority Office, 200 W. Lombard Street, Suite B, 21201. Office hours are 8 a.m.–5 p.m., Monday through Friday. The office also will be open on Saturday, March 17 from 9 am–1 p.m., and open late on Tuesday, March 27, until 8 pm. TIP: you can park for free at the Arena Garage (entrance at 99 S. Howard St.) with validation from the Parking Authority Office.

In addition to credit cards, the Parking Authority also accepts checks and money orders made out to the Director of Finance. Cash is not accepted.

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact the Parking Authority at or 443-573-2800, extensions 819 or 863. You may also contact your Area 3 representative, Patsy Andrews, by email at

News Briefs

North Avenue RisingNorth Avenue Rising

The City of Baltimore, MDOT and MTA have begun the planning phase for a $26 million enhancement project to improve the North Avenue corridor. Funded by several federal, state, and local transportation grants, the project will involve bike boulevards and facilities, upgrades to the Penn-North Metro station, streetscape work including bus lanes and shelters, improved lighting, and more.

Based on approximately 500 responses to their fall survey, the design team has developed initial concepts for the project design. Community Manager Anthony Brown invites residents to participate in a series of workshops where they will share these ideas and seek additional community input.

All workshops run from 4-7 p.m. 

  • Mon. Feb. 5 – Enoch Pratt Library, Walbrook Branch
  • Tues. Feb. 6 – Enoch Pratt Library, Penn Ave Branch
  • Wed. Feb. 7 – Baltimore City Public Schools headquarters,  200 E North Ave., first-floor board room
  • Thurs. Feb. 8 – Harford Heights Elementary

For more information, go to

Science Fair Needs Volunteer Judges

Mount Royal Elementary/Middle School (121 McMechen St.) is seeking volunteers to help judge student projects at the annual science fair to be held on Tuesday, March 6

Volunteers are asked to arrive at 4:30 p.m. for a judges’ orientation meeting and will score projects from 5–6:30 p.m. Judges should have some connection to a STEM field (engineers, doctors, nurses, graduate students, teachers, professors, etc.). 

Interested volunteers should contact Justin Kuk at

MRIA Endorses Greenway Trails NetworkMRIA Joins the Baltimore Greenways Trail Coalition

Avery Harmon from Rails-to-Trails Conservancy presented information about the Baltimore Greenway Trails Coalition (BGTC) at January’s MRIA meeting. The Coalition supports the creation of a network of trails—not bike lanes—that would connect 50 neighborhoods throughout Baltimore. A 35-mile trail loop would connect and expand the existing Gwynn Falls Parkway, Jones Falls, and Herring Run Trails. Priorities of the group include ensuring the trail does not lead to gentrification, and that residents in all city neighborhoods have access to the trial.

The BGTC projects that this project can be completed in 5-7 years at a cost of approximately $25 million. They hope to send designs to city government by early 2018 to obtain additional funding.

To support this effort, the Coalition seeks to create regional work groups, one in each quadrant of the city. They welcome anyone interested to volunteer.

The Department of Planning, Blue Water Baltimore, Bikemore Baltimore, and the Gwynn Falls Home Owners Association all support the project, but the Coalition needs more grassroots and community input. This support will help them obtain additional funding for the trails.

MRIA unanimously voted to to join the Coalition. Individuals can join as well.

Statement of Support for the Red Line

At December’s MRIA meeting, Sam Jordan, president of the Baltimore Transit Equity Coalition (BTEC), gave a presentation about the benefits of the Red Line, which would connect West and East Baltimore through downtown.

Sam explained that Governor Hogan canceled the Red Line in June 2015 without adequately analyzing the fiscal impact of this cancellation or researching how it would impact the community. The BTEC is acting on Hogan to complete the Red Line.

When the governor cancelled the Red Line project, it was fully funded with $2.9 billion in investments from federal, state, county and city sources. The state legislature also had approved it. The Governor’s administration gave $900 million back to the federal government and diverted the majority of the state-approved funds for road improvements in rural Maryland.

The many economic benefits of the Red Line include:

  • 10,000 jobs during the construction phase.
  • Creating opportunities for transit-oriented development along its 14.2-mile route and around its 19 planned stations, with an estimated $2.5 billion in new investments and another 3,000 jobs.
  • Providing a long-needed east-west transit “spine” that will give order to the LINK bus system and connect north-south rail routes.
  • Dramatically reducing commute times, thus providing access to 250,000 additional jobs in the region within 45 minutes. Currently, two of three jobs in Baltimore cannot be reached within 90 minutes using public transportation.
  • Having a projected number of 50,000 daily riders by 2035, and up to 40,000 in the intervening years.

The BTEC is focused on showing Annapolis that Baltimore wants to complete this project. This is especially important as the governor has proposed a $9 billion plan to widen several highways and include a toll lanes.

At January’s meeting, the MRIA Board voted to approve this letter of support for the BTEC.

New MRIA Board Member

Susan Dumont of the 1300 block of Park Avenue volunteered to fill one of the vacancies on the MRIA Board; the Board voted to accept her self-nomination at January’s MRIA meeting. Welcome to our newest Board member.

Snow Faces

One sunny, but very cold morning in January, we were greeted by a whole caravan of new faces that kept popping-up all around the neighborhood.

Thank you to the anonymous artist(s) for making us smile.

MICA Welcomes Puerto Rican Students After Hurricanes

The Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) is sponsoring five students from Puerto Rico for the spring 2018 semester, covering the students’ tuition and housing costs, as well as providing support to cover meals. 

The education of these students of Puerto Rico’s School of Visual Arts and Design (Escuela de Artes Plásticas y Diseño de Puerto Rico), a public art college in San Juan accredited by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD), was interrupted by the devastation of Hurricanes Irma and Maria last year. These hurricanes caused widespread infrastructure damage throughout the island and temporarily closed the school.

Escuela de Artes Plásticas y Diseño de Puerto Rico
Escuela de Artes Plásticas y Diseño de Puerto Rico.

While the school rebuilds—it plans to reopen later in 2018—MICA and other member institutions of the Association of Independent Colleges of Art & Design (AICAD) banded together to provide students of the School of Visual Arts and Design a chance to continue their art and design educations without further delay.

The students, already on the MICA campus, have diverse majors that include painting, printmaking, animation and digital art. They will be fully integrated into student life at MICA, and will receive mentorship from MICA graduate students.

“What’s most important is for these students to be able to continue their educations uninterrupted here at MICA and in Baltimore. We are incredibly grateful to be able to host them, and are working to make them feel at home here while they restart their studies,” said David Bogen, MICA’s vice president for academic affairs and provost.

Chili Fundraiser February 7

Bowl of ChiliWhy not enjoy a great bowl of beans while supporting a very special educational program?

Wednesday February 7, from 5–8 p.m., the PTO of Mt. Royal Elementary/Middle School hosts their third annual Northbay Chili Fundraiser in the school’s cafeteria. All funds collected help subsidize the spring field trip to Northbay Adventure camp for the 6th grade class. 

About 100 students have signed up to attend this week-long outdoor educational program focusing on environmental science and character education. This will be the school’s 12th year participating in the program. 

All field trips have costs, particularly a week-long one. In prior years, Mt. Royal school had the budget to pay for transportation and part of the tuition cost, with parents contributing substantially to the $225 per student that covers lodging, meals, activities, and materials for the week.

Due to continuing budget challenges, the PTO is seeking community support to assist in funding this valuable educational opportunity. So, come for the food and stay to learn more about the experience that Northbay has provided students. Details below:

  • When: Wednesday, February 7, 5–8 p.m., Mt. Royal school cafeteria
  • Cost: $10 (kids under 12 eat free); $1 drinks and baked goods, and $1 raffle tickets to win prizes from local merchants and restaurants.
  • Tickets: Buy online or in person at the school during school drop-off, 7:45–8 a.m.
  • Questions? Contact PTO President, Kimberly Canale at

If you can’t attend, but would still like to support the students, make a donation online.

You can also sign up to volunteer at their Sign-up Genie site. Any way you get involved with this event will help make a difference for Mt. Royal students.

Bolton Hill Nursery Seeks Festival Grant Applications

Pie in the face
Belle Hardware’s Mickey Fried gets it.

Combine a gorgeous fall afternoon, great organizing by the Bolton Hill Nursery staff, and Louie Wilder’s last year at the helm, and what do you get? A super-successful Festival on the Hill 2017.

After paying all the bills, BHN has roughly $10,000.00 to distribute in grants—nearly $5,000 more than last year! The school is now seeking grant applications.

Any nonprofit serving the 21217 zip code is invited to apply; the application deadline is March 9. Grants are awarded to special projects that either wouldn’t happen at all or would be greatly diminished without the funds. Grants are awarded May 1; the maximum award is $1,000.

Consult the Bolton Hill Nursery website for grant application information and further details.

Past recipients include Corpus Christi Church, Dance Happens, Mt. Royal Elementary/Middle School PTO, the Mt. Royal Elementary/Middle School Garden, the Memorial Episcopal Rectory teaching garden, Samaritan Community, Rutter Mill Park Association, Midtown Academy, and the Brown Memorial tutoring program.

A Valentine’s Day Menu from Linda

By Linda Rittlemann

Looking to warm things up on those cold February nights? Dinner for two with a nice bottle of pinot noir, perhaps?

Here’s an elegant, easy menu you can do on a weeknight for Valentine’s Day with just a little advance planning. Why not eat in? Goodness knows, it will probably be less hassle and more than eating out on one of the busiest restaurant nights of the year.

So—stay home. Put on some great music, and cook together!


Can be prepared in 45 minutes or less (adapted from Epicurious)



  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 3 large shallots, finely chopped (about 1/2 cup)
  • 3 tablespoon good balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 cup fine fresh bread crumbs
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme leaves or 2 teaspoons dried thyme, or herbs de Provence, crumbled


  • a frenched rack of lamb (8 ribs) at room temperature, trimmed of as much fat as possible, well-seasoned with salt and pepper
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard, or more to taste


  • Preheat oven to 400°F.
  • In a small skillet heat oil and butter over moderate heat until foaming. Cook shallots with salt and pepper to taste, stirring, until golden, about 5 minutes. 
  • Add vinegar and boil until liquid is evaporated. 
  • Remove skillet from heat and stir in bread crumbs, thyme, and salt and pepper to taste.

Can be made one day ahead. Bring to room temperature before proceeding.

  • Season lamb with salt and pepper and arrange, rib side down, in a small roasting pan. Spread meat side with a thin coating of mustard and evenly pat on crumb mixture. 
  • Roast lamb in middle of oven until a meat thermometer registers 130°F. for medium-rare, 25 to 30 minutes. 
  • Cover lamb with foil and let rest at least 10 minutes.
  • Slice lamb into chops between the rib bones and serve.

NOTE: Using a meat thermometer helps, preferably one with a cable probe. Just insert the probe lengthwise into the thickest part of the roast, taking care not to hit any bone. It will ensure your meat is cooked perfectly, and it makes for hands-off cooking.


I happen to adore a good risotto with a nice piece of roast lamb. If you have an Instant Pot or other pressure cooker, you can make this risotto recipe while the lamb is roasting. A green salad with sliced pears, hazelnuts, dried cranberries, and some crumbled Gorgonzola or bleu cheese would be great. Use your favorite dressing.

Wines: Pinot noir is the way to go with this. Its bright, fruity notes and acidity are the perfect balance for the richness of the lamb. Pinots from Oregon’s Willamette Valley are a great choice. Try the David Hill Winery Estate pinot noir, or one from Westrey Oracle Vineyard. You’ll get lots of pomegranate, cherry, and vanilla notes, along with a nice forest earthiness and mineral flavor to balance it out with the meat. I have found both at The Wine Source in Hampden.

I’ll leave dessert up to you. Just remember, unwrap it slowly and savor it. Linger over it. Whatever it might be.

Tree Bark Talk

By Sarah Lord

When the leaves are gone, identifying trees can be difficult. While damaged bark hurts most trees, or is a symptom that pests have the upper hand, exfoliant bark peels and sheds naturally. It is abandoned skin as the tree grows.

Can you identify these mottled-bark Bolton Hill trees? 

Our Crape Myrtles (1) are small, multi-stemmed summer ornamentals. The Chinese elm (2) is medium-sized; its cousin the Japanese Zelcova (3) grows 70-80 feet in height. Sycamores (4) in the wild can reach 100 feet.

This time of year we are grateful to the exfoliants, which add winter interest to our streets.