Joe O’Connor and the Harford Road Green Team

| Community Projects, Member Spotlight

by Lauren Matthews ✎

When people think of road medians, they often think of a barren space littered with trash and weeds. Thanks to the efforts of our member Joe O’Connor and the Harford Road Green Team, the Harford Road median in Lauraville is now a thriving ecosystem full of native plants. Joe organized a group of neighbors and community members to form the volunteer group, the Harford Road Green Team. The group’s goal is to beautify the Lauraville neighborhood using native plants. 

Members of the planting team transforming the median.

“We started out just doing litter cleanups and there was room to just keep going with the idea, Joe said. “There are all these little things we can do that will be better practices for our environment, such as native plant gardening.” 

After an extensive planning process, native plants were planted in the spring of 2023. Green Team member Nicole Hartig put together the plant design for the project. The project was funded by Hamilton-Lauraville Main Street, as well as funds raised by the group. Volunteers planned, planted and are now maintaining the median. The group has also been involved in other community beautification efforts, such as trash clean-ups and weeding of community spaces.

Joe and the Harford Road Green Team group engaged with local business owners to extend the project from the Harford Road median to the sidewalk. The group used remaining funds from the project to fill 50 planters in front of local businesses with native plants. Many local business owners were excited to learn about native plants and to help with the care of the planters. 

A riot of yellow and orange from butterflyweed and rudbeckia brighten up the median.

In this project, community gardening with native plants served not only to engage and beautify the community, but also to create a native plant corridor connecting local green spaces. Joe hopes the beautification efforts can spread to other areas and native plants can become a welcome addition to medians and community spaces throughout Baltimore city. 

Joe putting final touches on the roadside planters

“I’m talking with people in the city right now to try to do the other medians we have. I think [the city has] like 20 medians,” Joe said. “The idea is not only for Baltimore City to reduce their carbon footprint but to reduce their costs. Not only do we have an opportunity to beautify our main thoroughfare, we can also reduce the costs for the city in terms of maintenance by promoting plants that are beneficial to the wildlife in the area. If it is successful here, then that will be like a pilot for the rest of the city.” 

When is his not busy planting native plants, Joe is a real estate professional working out of Long & Foster’s Baltimore Regional Center and specializes in helping people buy and sell homes that feature native plant landscaping. He has first-hand experience that homes with well designed native gardens can increase value to the home. 

To learn more about the Harford Road Green Team, visit their Facebook group. ❀