By Michelle Richardson
Arts & Entertainment Writer
There hasn’t been much peace this year, but if there is one place you can find it, it’s at Stillmeadow Community Fellowship.
On Oct. 24, Stillmeadow held a grand opening ceremony for their “Peace Park” which sits on the shared nine acres of land with the church.
The church, located at 5110 Frederick Ave. in the Catonsville community of Southwest Baltimore, was established 31 years ago and was always surrounded by farmland. Recently, Pastor Michael Martin set forth to make that land available to those in the community.
“I have been Pastor here for about three years and seven or eight months,” said Martin. “My wife and I were asked to come here from Los Angeles to help refresh and renew the church.”
Pastor Martin’s wife is a Baltimore native, and they met when they both attended Morgan State University.
“When my wife and I came here, the thing we started talking about almost immediately, was stewardship. Our job, our responsibility was to enhance this building, how we could use it, and how we could open it up and make it more available to our community,” stated Pastor Martin.
Over the years, USDA, DPW and the National Forest Service got involved in the project to turn the woods into something beautiful.
“I’m a city boy so a tree to me was just a tree. Now, thanks to these folks, I know the difference between a healthy tree and a dead tree,” Pastor Martin explained.
The Peace Park will consist of a path that can be hiked, a yoga or meditation area and a garden.
The church has already planted fruit trees along the property.
“If you go along Frederick Avenue, there are about 20 trees planted: apple, pear and peach that you’re going to be able to walk by, pick a piece of fruit and walk on your way. This is free fruit for the community. This is going to start an idea going on all over the city. Free fruit for anyone who wants it,” stated McKay Jenkins, a professor at University of Delaware, who brings students down to help with the Peace Park.
“We’re serious about urban gardening and produce growing and being a community affair. We don’t plan to control everything. People can just come and plant and benefit from that” stated Pastor Martin.
Stillmeadow also provides fresh produce to those that need it. Every Thursday from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. and the last Saturday of every month, people can drive up and get fresh produce free of charge.
Community members, congregation and church staff all showed up to plant trees and watch the ribbon cutting ceremony.
Haki Ammi, an elected member of the Baltimore Democratic State Central Committee, grew up in the neighborhood and attended Beechfield Elementary School felt it was important to get involved because “Stillmeadow has been instrumental in the community and we need more green space in the city of Baltimore.”
“Even if you don’t know how to plant, there will be people here training and teaching,” Pastor Martin said.
“Our park has been ravished by the insect Emerald Ash Borer,” said Yorell Tuck, director of operations for Stillmeadow’s community project.
“We have a lot of Ash trees and this particular insect feeds on Ash so we saw that need to have the forest revitalized and if it works here, then it will be replicated around Baltimore, Maryland and the Eastern Seaboard because this insect has ravished trees everywhere.”