Food for the soul and body!

Hello all,

My name is Charmaine Richardson (AKA Ole Richardson) – I’m a counselor at Marian House, a healing community for women and their children who need housing and support services to transition into independent lives.

Marian House has been a BJP partner since the garden opened in 2012 and the photos in the video below help show what a fun journey it’s been participating with the BJP Community. In 2011, Ann Beckemeyer from the JHU Public Health Studies Program came to us to see if we would be interested to participate in the garden.  The BJP is a great way for JHU and community organizations to partner up. Marian House is just a few blocks from the garden, so our members enjoyed spending time planting, watering, and harvesting throughout the growing season. In addition, we were able to rectify an old garden directly behind Marian House that houses tomatoes, strawberries, cabbages, other veggies of choice.

Check out this fantastic video documenting the Marian House/PHS BJP Partnership:

Moms and kids learned an appreciation for fresh veggies and about healthy food options – many had never seen food growing while others had gardened before and could recommend techniques. The kids especially enjoyed building a scarecrow named “Billy.” You can see him in the garden today faithfully keeping watch over our wonderful garden. We’ve had a great two years and look forward to spring!

All the best,

Ole Richardson

Last Work Day of the Semester!

Thanks to Hopkins Farmhands and others who came out to help us build a stellar squash/potato bed today! I should have gotten a picture of the final product because it came out great. Looking forward to seeing more photos in the spring-thanks to all for a great season at the BJP and keep in touch! 



All are invited to the 4th Annual 100 Mile Meal

In the context of other national and local Food Day events, undergraduates, graduate students, faculty, staff and Baltimore community members are invited to celebrate the signing of the Real Food Campus Commitment by President Ron Daniels during the 4th annual 100 Mile Meal.

The 100 Mile Meal will feature an all-local (sourced from within 100 miles) and sustainable meal cooked entirely by members of Real Food Hopkins. By signing the Real Food Campus Commitment, President Daniels will add the Homewood campus of Johns Hopkins to the growing list of universities around America that have pledged to purchase at least 20% “real” food (defined as local/community-based, ecologically-grown, humanely raised, and fair trade) by 2020.

After dinner, a guest panel will discuss how the Real Food Campus Commitment will impact consumers of campus food, food service workers, and local producers.

Food will be sourced from the Blue Jay’s Perch Community Garden and other local producers. Poultry, vegetarian and vegan options will be available.

For off-campus visitors, please see for information about construction and parking

Facebook Event:

Friday, November 1 from 5:30 – 7:30 PM
Cost: $5 (pay at the door, JCash accepted)
Please RSVP by Monday, October 28:
Seats are limited to the first 160 guests

A special thanks to JHU Dining and Bon Appétit Management Company for their support during this year’s 100 Mile Meal.

For more information about the commitment:

To see other Food Day events:

*REAL FOOD HOPKINS is a student-run chapter of the national Real Food Challenge movement ( that is committed to bringing local, sustainable, humane, and fair food to the Johns Hopkins campus and surrounding Baltimore area through organizing food advocacy and awareness events, cooperating with the larger food movement, maintaining a sustainable campus garden, promoting community-based learning about food and where it comes from, and donating fresh produce acquired to organizations that feed the local hungry. For more information, contact or visit

Fall Harvest Party!

It was so fun to see so many folks- old and new gardeners, undergrads, kids- come out to the fall harvest over the weekend to share in some potluck dishes and great conversation. Despite a tangle with some poison oak, we all enjoyed some yummy homemade quinoa, chard, guacamole, and more! Steve’s handcrafted brew, Charmaine’s homemade scarecrow, and some flower picking added to the excitement. Thanks to everyone who participated in spite of the ninety degree weather!

Now that fall seems to be here to stay, we are beginning to wind down the plots and the communal rows. Check out our calendar for upcoming workdays (please note: if it is raining, we will NOT have our workday) to help us out!


From the BJP to our bellies… it’s jam time!

What does one do with a garden overflowing with basil and peppers? Make pesto and jam, of course!

Last Tuesday, September 24, master gardener Ms. Victoria Day and her husband Michael returned to the Charles Commons Kitchen to join Real Food Hopkins students in a “Jam Session.” After her wonderful cooking demo last year, we were excited to see what she could cook up for us this time around!

Ms. Victoria decided how to show us how to make some “out-of-this-world awesome” (– Margaret Keener, JHU ’14) basil, strawberry-raspberry, and stone fruit pepper jams, along with simple pesto. Complete with some fresh-from-the-farmers’-market baguettes, the evening’s offerings couldn’t have tasted better.

Collaborative cooking lessons are one of the best opportunities to share local food wisdom and experience beyond the garden. We thank Ms. Victoria and Michael for their dedication and commitment to spreading the joys that come with gardening, cooking, and food preparation. We look forward to learning even more from you in the future!

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Just another volunteer day…

Hi there! It’s been a while since we’ve posted an update here on the BJP blog, so we wanted to drop in to say we’ve just been busy harvesting tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, and basil galore and recruiting new volunteers to help us out.

Please join us on our of our upcoming volunteer days or at our Fall Harvest Party/Potluck next Saturday!

  • Saturday, September 28: 1 – 3 PM. Volunteer Day.
  • Saturday, October 5: noon – 2 PM. Fall Harvest Celebration!!! (We’ll provide burgers and buns, please bring a side dish to share)
  • Saturday, October 12: 1 – 3 PM. Volunteer Day.
  • Saturday, October 19: noon – 3 PM. President’s Day of Service Volunteer Day.

Thanks, The BJP

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A Tribute to a BJP Pioneer, Real Food “Mom,” and All-Around Hopkins Food Hero!

It all started with this email over two years ago…

From: Wei-ting Chen <>

Date: February 3, 2011 12:08:40 PM EST

Subject: Feb 9: Homewood screenings of food system documentaries


The Graduate Environmental Network, the Graduate Representative Organization and the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future are screening two short documentaries on the food system, one focuses on Baltimore while the other contrasts various meat production methods. The screenings will take place on Wednesday, Feb 9 at the Arellano Theater in Levering Hall. Doors open at 5:45 PM, screenings begin at 6. The films will last approximately an hour in total, followed by an hour of Q & A with the producers and filmmakers.   Refreshments will be served immediately following the Q&A. We are reaching out to all Homewood faculty and student groups that may be interested in the topics and help promote the event.  A flier is attached.

Thank you in advance for helping us spread the word. 


Wei-ting Chen

Graduate Student, Sociology

Graduate Environmental Network

…and a unique graduate student who was actually interested in working with our undergraduate student group, Real Food Hopkins, after meeting me at that momentous movie screening in February 2011. And when I say work, I mean, show up at all of our somewhat disorganized and almost entirely freshman-led (aka we had no idea what we were doing) meetings, offering helpful organizing and strategic advice from day one.

From: Wei-ting Chen <>

Date: February 17, 2011 3:53:55 PM EST

To: Raychel Santo <>

Subject: Re: Meeting tonight: Note one-time location change

Hi Raychel,

It is really unfortunate that I have to miss the meeting again this week, but I am going to the meeting with Ian and Larry.  So I will learn more about the garden today.

I do have a few questions for RFC: Do you think it will be divided into plots or will it be set up in rows?  Would RFC entertain the idea of having group-sponsored plots? I think some graduate students may be really interested in that. I used to live on an agricultural campus, and  I have seen friendly small vegetable gardening competitions where different groups take up responsibilities for maintaining their plots, and that actually led to a really well-maintained garden. However, this doesn’t mean that some plots will become neglected, once people become involved with community gardens, they always end up sharing responsibilities and efforts.

Also, I suspect that many members of the JHU community (particularly graduate students, faculty and staff) don’t really participate in the Homewood campus ‘food system,’ do we know what the ‘state of campus dining’ is as it pertains to the entire Homewood community? If not, would it be worthwhile to create a survey(unless this is what the Real Food Calculator does)? I would be happy to work with folks on that.

These are two ideas that came up in a discussion between GrEN members, so I thought I would bring them up with you/RFC crew.



2000+ (no kidding!!!) emails, later, I sit here reflecting on everything that has happened since these initial exchanges, and all I can say is wow.

Without Wei-ting, there would be no BJP. Yes, a group of five of us spearheaded the official launch of our garden. However, prior to receiving the current parcel of land on which the BJP rests, we had to demonstrate that our group would be able to upkeep (to Hopkins beautification committee standards) the garden throughout the growing season. As none of us students were here that first summer (or even the next, in fact), Wei-ting nearly single-handedly kept our smaller original garden alive in our absence, thereby earning us the respect of JHU admins.

Even if we had somehow secured this plot of land on our own, we would never have been able to attain the level of interdisciplinary, community-wide support without Wei-ting’s incredible networking ability and visionary motivation. Wei-ting has pushed us to new heights throughout the way, a fact that surely led us to earn the Baltimore City Master Gardeners’ Best New Community Garden Award last year and the JHU Office of Sustainability’s Three-Legged Stool Award this past spring.

Without Wei-ting, our three-year-strong 100 Mile Meal may have been a one-time failure. How else would a bunch of naïve 19 year olds – mostly vegetarians – figured out how to source our first entirely-local, chicken-containing three-course meal for 85 people and proceed to cook it in a one-range kitchen? Did I mention that this all occurred DURING exam season? (Wei-ting received the affectionate title of “Real Food Mom” after she led that hectic cooking spree to success).

Wei-ting has stuck with us while we went through many garden leadership transitions over the years – both at an administrative and student level. She suffered the scrutiny of her dissertation advisor after spending an exorbitant amount of her time occupied by garden-related meetings, phone calls, and (endless!) emails. She put up with frustrating legal, financial, administrative, and logistical hurdles to getting the garden started and keep it functioning. She came with the practical knowledge of how to actually grow food, which many of us who were involved admittedly knew nothing about beforehand. Moreover, Wei-ting fueled our potluck garden-planning sessions with delicious homemade dishes while serving as a pseudo-counselor listening to complaints about our trivial undergrad problems (from organic chemistry midterms and kitchen-less-dorm rooms to postgrad plans and senioritis). Overall, Wei-ting contributed AT LEAST 15-20 hrs/week on the garden over the past two years!

And remember… she did all of this for FREE!

As an ultimate testament to her behind-the-scenes work, I was only able to find a few pictures with Wei-ting in them among all of our garden/Real Food pictures throughout the years. (She was usually the one documenting our triumphs with her handy iPhone!)

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A shout-out also goes to Baptiste for letting us borrow Wei-ting on so many weekday evenings and weekend mornings/afternoons for all of our garden efforts. We are glad you joined us in helping bring the BJP to life!

On behalf of everyone who has benefited from all of your hard work in helping us get to where we are today, THANK YOU! We wish you and Baptiste the best in Atlanta!



p.s. To all of you who would like to help us celebrate Wei-ting and Baptiste’s departure, please come out to the garden picnic party this Sunday, July 21 at 4:30 PM in the garden! Bring a dish to share and a friendly mood, as we say goodbye to some of our garden’s best volunteers.