A garden grows in Sandtown-Winchester
Tubman House offers free fruits and vegetables to the community
Around the corner from the Freddie Gray mural at N. Mount and Presbury St. and across the street from Gilmor Homes public housing project, rows of vacant houses once stood. Now, dozens of residents of Sandtown-Winchester gather there every Sunday. The series of vacant houses set for demolition at and around 1618 Presbury St. were torn down so that the Tubman House—a neighborhood organization named after Maryland’s iconic abolistionist—can provide free produce to the community from its own garden.
The making of the Tubman House Garden
Nearly 15 residents showed up on a recent cloudy Tuesday and left with smiles and bags full of fruits and vegetables — ranging from kale to oranges to cucumbers. They didn’t have to worry about paying for the produce and they could trust where they were getting it from, after all, most of them had watched it grow.
The Tubman House, an organization formed in 2016, serves as a resource for the Sandtown-Winchester community and its surrounding neighborhoods. Founder Dominique Stevenson started the garden as a way to provide the community with locally grown fruits and vegetables at no cost.
Founder Dominique Stevenson
Stevenson was working with men in prison before she started Tubman House. Most days, they walked around the neighborhood, handing out bagged lunches mostly to children and adults to curb the problem of hunger within the food dessert community. She said that most of the men that she worked with felt a sense of remorse.
“A lot of them wanted to do something that was redemptive, they felt like they had taken from the community and they wanted to figure out a way to give back.”
One man in particular, who had grown up in the neighborhood, identified the location across the street from Gilmor Homes. That’s when Tubman House president Eddie Conway, who also worked at Gilmor, got involved.
A hen house overlooks one of the garden plots at Tubman House Farms, a community garden in the Sandtown Winchester neighborhood.