how to adapt

Adopting a vacant lot can improve living conditions in your neighborhood. Studies show that urban greening and gardening can play a significant role in revitalizing communities and reducing the impacts of poverty. Since Power in Dirt started in 2011, more than 1100 lots have been adopted, totaling 49 acres. Nine of these acres are growing food. Communities with adopted lots have seen a 35 percent overall reduction in service requests to clean up trash. Green spaces also help decrease air and water pollution. You and your neighbors can create a space that beautifies the neighborhood and helps Baltimore become a safer, more productive place for everyone.

Baltimore CityView shows availability of City-owned vacant lots and other established green spaces. For instructions on how to view the map of available lots.

Only City-owned vacant lots are available for adoption. However, many privately-owned vacant lots are in need of improvements as well. If you and your community find that the lots in your neighborhood are privately owned, please email Parks & People Foundation for basic information about steps that can be taken to legally access a privately-owned vacant lot.

Submitting an adoption application is the first step to obtaining an adoption agreement that provides permission to legally access a lot. The Community Law Center has broken down the agreement to make it easy for you to understand what it means.

First-time adoption agreements are for one year. Agreement renewals can last up to five years.

As long as it benefits your community, the creative options are endless: a clean and mowed green space, a flower garden, a vegetable garden, a chess park, mobile art. If you can dream it, you can start it.

A few limitations exist. For instance, license agreements do not permit you to install:

• a permanent structure
• parking
• a dog park
• playground equipment or a pool

Parks & People’s Community Greening Coordinator can answer any questions about what you can do on an adopted lot and guide you to the resources that can help make your dream reality.

Water access may be available through an active water meter pit near your lot. Through Power in Dirt, vacant lot stewards may access water for their adopted lot during the standard garden season (March 1 to November 30) for a flat annual rate of $120. Water access must be renewed each year.

Some groups stewarding adopted lots have put a great deal of time, energy, and resources into making a site a vibrant and unique space in their neighborhoods, and they seek to retain the space for community use in the future. Your hard work can be rewarded: if you and your community have maintained your lot for five years, you may be eligible to apply to have it protected as a land trust site through Baltimore Green Space.