NIAF News Releases



Contact:   Elissa Ruffino (NIAF) 202/939-3106 or

(WASHINGTON, D.C. -- March 28, 2007) “Gardens of Hope,” an urban gardening program in Baltimore, Md., sponsored by the National Italian American Foundation (NIAF) and the Upton Planning Committee (UPC), has been partially destroyed by a private contracting company. While working on an adjacent building renovation, the Gardens of Hope were used as a parking lot for a contractor’s truck. The fencing surrounding the gardens has also been ruined.

“The Foundation’s goal to bring the benefit of urban gardening to those in need is in serious jeopardy. These gardens stimulate social interaction, encourage self-reliance, beautify neighborhoods, produce nutritious food, reduce family budgets and create opportunities for education and recreation," NIAF Chairman Dr. A. Kenneth Ciongoli said.

The Gardens of Hope project began in 1997 to benefit the underprivileged, homeless, and those in inner-city shelters in the Upton neighborhood. Gardens of Hope spans one city block and is located at the 1200 block of Shields Place. One of the garden’s partners for the past two years, “Plant a Row for the Hungry,” has received more than 5,000 pounds of produce from the Gardens of Hope. Area elementary schools plan to use this project to enhance their science and social studies curriculums.

The history of Gardens of Hope dates back almost 20 years. In 1987, Ms. Gloria Luster started these gardens to help revitalize the community. The garden is made up of many plots, each assigned to a single person or group with the understanding that they will maintain the plot and donate a portion of their harvests to a local soup kitchen, food bank, or shelter.

Gardens of Hope is in jeopardy, NIAF and UPC are accepting contributions to rebuild the gardens. Please visit

The National Italian American Foundation (NIAF) is a non-profit, non-partisan foundation dedicated to promoting the contributions of Italian Americans. The Foundation has a wide-range of programs that provide scholarships and cultural grants, conferences and seminars. Visit our website at

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