Hereford aids in creation of Baltimore community garden


Anthony Mikalauskas (left) and Alex Smith (right) pose in front of Hereford’s greenhouse, holding a small portion of the plants donated by Hereford’s Garden Club.

Kay Duncan, Reporter

Following Hereford’s annual Spring Plant Sale, Garden Club partnered with CEO of Division Street Landscaping, Alex Smith to find a worthwhile use for any leftover plants. Hereford’s partnership with Smith has allowed for the remaining plants to find a new home in the heart of Baltimore city, becoming a part of an open-access community garden in an area where people often don’t have access to fresh vegetables. 

Club advisor Anthony Mikalauskas had previously partnered with Martha Pindale, Executive Director of The American Landscape Institute, a non-profit horticulture organization, to find garden projects in need of plants; this year, Pindale directed Hereford toward Smith’s organization. 

Division Street Landscaping started within the prison system, where Alex Smith discovered his green thumb. During his thirty-year sentence, Smith and a group of like-minded individuals petitioned their warden for permission to start a horticulture program that has now spread to other Maryland facilities. After serving fifteen years, Smith was released and continued his horticultural work.  

Smith created the Urban Roots Apprenticeship at the Baltimore Tree Trust where he served as the Director of Operations for five years. He then founded Division Street Landscaping, a business entirely staffed by ex-offenders. 

Smith has previously started a community garden in the Matthew Henson community in Baltimore, so this project will not be a new endeavor. 

“He had a need for the plants, and I liked what he was doing,” Mikalauskas said. “We made an appointment for him to come up and grab all those plants and hopefully they’ll get put to good use.” 

In 2022, Smith was a part of a 16-week beautification initiative in Baltimore where he and other volunteers planted shrubs, picked weeds, and collected litter. One site the volunteers focused on was the neighborhood Thurgood Marshall grew up in, an area that was astonishingly ill-maintained.  

It’s rare that a school gets the opportunity to reach outside its community to lend a helping hand; through this partnership, Hereford was able to make an impact on the streets of Baltimore. While this was Hereford’s first year partnering with Division Street Landscaping, Mikalauskas hopes for this exchange to continue in the future.