Philadelphia’s Community Gardens
This is the time of year when neighbors are harvesting organically grown vegetables in over 400 community gardens throughout the city. They are feasting on sun-ripened strawberries, juicy tomatoes, cucumbers, squash, and fresh-picked herbs. If you are already involved in your local community garden, great! If not, we would like to introduce you to a few of the many community gardens in our city’s diverse neighborhoods.
This two-acre park in Northern Liberties has a special significance for Deborah Solo, owner of Solo Real Estate. Deborah helped establish Liberty Lands park, the only large public greenspace Northern Liberties. Currently, Liberty Lands has an entry arbor, 37 designated plots, benches, a Native American herb garden, a butterfly garden, 183 trees, a children’s playground, composting area, sculptures by neighborhood artists, and a colorful mural.
Liberty Lands is one of a series of community gardens formed from reclaimed urban land in a former industrial area. Previously, it was the site of the American Street Tannery. When plans to convert the vacant factory to loft housing did not materialize, the developer donated it to the Northern Liberties Neighbors Association in 1995.
In addition to educational workshops, the park hosts community events, including Halloween Hayrides, Welcome America Neighborhood Festival, Annual Garden Tour, Birdhouse Silent Auction, and summer outdoor movie series.
Crease St. Garden
Originally, fourteen houses stood in the area now occupied by the Crease Street Garden in Fishtown. In the mid-seventies the City demolished the houses, leaving the land vacant. For approximately 40 years, the lots were completely overgrown with bushes, weeds, and vines, and served as a dumping ground for household trash and abandoned vehicles.
In 2009 – through 2010, residents organized to clean up the lots and obtained a garden lease agreement with the City. Railroad ties from SEPTA were converted into benches and 250 feet of flower beds and raised vegetable beds turned the former eyesore into a source of communal pride. This year the Crease Street Garden has joined in partnership with the Neighborhood Gardens Trust, a recognized leader in Urban Land Preservation, to secure grants and fundraise to purchase the land the garden is on. NGT will be supporting us in securing government grants for the bulk of the purchase price, but the group needs to raise $100,000 by the end of 2021 to buy and permanently secure the future of the garden. Visit their website to learn more and donate.
Emerald Street Community Farm
Located in Kensington the Emerald Street Community Farm is a communal farming project on the corner of Emerald St and Dauphin St. Started by a group of neighbors in the Spring of 2008, they grow organic vegetables which they share with neighbors. They also have weekly kids activities: Cooking Classes, Kids Gardening and Craftivity Hour.
Emerald Street Wildflower Garden
Across the street from the Emerald Street Community Farm, you’ll also find the Emerald Wildflower Garden, a garden focused on the ecologic repair of habitat for plants, ants, birds, bees, butterflies, and the humans who are their guests. Jeff Carpineta, Realtor at Solo Real Estate has played a key role in protecting and redesigning the garden, with coaching from his mentors at Mt. Cuba Center where he studies ecological gardening.
Home to the largest concentration of trees and bird habitat in the neighborhood, the garden features over 50 species of native plants, a mural by legacy Muralist Ras Malik, a gnome house by Ed Guion, and the salvaged stoop from the beloved Rocket Cat Cafe’. Volunteers receive free training in ecological gardening as well as tools, books, plants, passes to horticulture workshops, lectures, and regional botanic gardens. The garden is available for special events upon request. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more info.
Located a 2248 Palethorp Street in Kensington, Las Parcelas community garden began with murals that recall the landscape of Puerto Rico, honor community leaders, and commemorate the passing of traditions on to a younger generation. Las Parcelas is a collection of garden spaces, founded by women in a dedicated neighborhood organization, Grupo Motivos, in collaboration with the Norris Square Neighborhood Project and the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society’s Philadelphia LandCare program.
Las Parcelas tells a story of Puerto Rican heritage as a part of American history. Economic decline and urban policies created a landscape seemingly devoid of nature and culture, and rife with racial tensions. Through gardening, Las Parcelas attempts to make a positive story of heritage and identity tangible, by displaying culture in a landscape where it was all too frequently made invisible.
A small structure known as “La Casita” (the little house) contains objects donated by older residents that are used as educational tools. There are areas for gatherings, cookouts, dancing, and crafts. It is also a place to invent new traditions for the future.
In addition to Las Parcelas, the Norris Square Neighborhood project maintains half an acre of community gardens in the area, including The Butterfly Garden, El Batey, Jardin de Paz, Raices, and Villa Africána Colobó.
East Passyunk Community Garden
East Passyunk Crossing Community Garden is a mixed-use community garden located on the campus of Neumann-Goretti High School on 10th Street between Mifflin and Morris. One of the garden’s missions is to foster partnerships with refugees who live in the neighborhood.
The community garden brings together people of different experiences and skills to contribute towards a common purpose. It promotes better physical and mental health through physical exercise and the satisfaction of work, dedication, and perseverance; and contributes to the health and well-being of local wildlife and insects.
Solo Real Estate proudly sponsors the efforts of numerous like-minded community gardens and public spaces including McMichael Playspace, Emerald Wildflower Garden, and Hancock Park. We believe Philadelphia’s urban gardens are an important resource for the community. They increase access to fresh produce, promote biodiversity, and provide recreational areas that help strengthen social connections between neighbors. To find a community garden near you, click on the community garden map compiled by the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society.