After spending the past 5 years in Tel Aviv, several months ago my instincts told me that it was time to return to my hometown of Philadelphia this spring.
I wasn’t quite sure why but over time it became clear that my inner motivation for going was a deep desire for planning a community garden.
My dream location for it? West Philly. This section of Philadelphia, where The University of Pennsylvania and Drexel University are located, is filled with a vibrancy, richness, and diversity that I crave.
It is also an area that is in dire need of economic repair. As a matter of fact, it is one of the 5 U.S. Cities that is part of Obama’s Promise Zone Initiative.
For me, it is a ‘soulful’ place where I have always felt at home and been involved with and developed several community programs over the past 25 years.
How to make it happen?
First, I put my intention out to the universe and just sat with it for a few weeks. I knew that the answer would come to me if I had patience. It did.
I decided to make a phone call to a friend who is deeply involved in the community. He put me in touch with a friend who just happens to be involved in community gardens in West Philly. And voila.
Within a few days, I was connected with Lombard Central Presbyterian Church in the heart of West Philadelphia. Because everything fell into place so easily (including being able to book my dog sitter for 2 months), I knew that my return to Philly and my yearning for planning a community garden was ‘meant to be’
I have taken it on faith that the church community wants a garden and will become active (and eventually take charge) in the cleaning up, digging, planting and maintaining once I arrive. All evidence points in that direction based on the e-mails that have been going back and forth.
Students from Drexel University are involved in running the daily soup kitchen and have told me that the chef would love fresh veggies from the garden. They have already planned an April clean up of the ‘garden area’ which is a good first step.
As I’ve been mulling over the photos sent to me and dreaming about possibilities without ever having seen the land or even have a scaled drawing or plot plan, I had an idea.
Actually, it’s an experiment. And it involves you.
I think it would be great fun if all of you helped me plan the garden.
What I mean by that is that every time I write a post or a few thoughts either here, on FB, Google+ or Pinterest and tell you what is happening, I would love it if you would respond with input, ideas, suggestions, and questions.
I want to make it clear up front that there is ABSOLUTELY no idea that is too ‘stupid’ or ‘inconsequential’. Consider your chiming in as a ‘brainstorming’ session, especially in the initial stages.
All thoughts and ideas will be considered and appreciated.
As of now, all I have are the photos to share with you. I have no plot plan or sketch so I am ‘guestimating’ the direction of the sun/shade.
The photos are in no particular order.
This is what I have been told thus far about the garden.
1. The only sunny location is where the raised bed containers are lined up. The rest of the lot is shaded by overgrown neighboring trees and the overhang of the building.
2. The only access to the garden is through the church’s back exit (which is illegal). Notice the condition of it.
Access through the street has been denied with a fence and lock due to the incidence of crime in the area.
3. There is no outdoor water source. Yep. I spoke with an architect who said he thought putting outdoor faucets could be done but he’s concerned about the fragility of the indoor plumbing which has not been touched for the past 40 + years.
Things we’ve already put into play.
1. Getting some large rain barrels from the city.
2. Sourcing out inexpensive mulch and compost through Philadelphia’s Fairmount Park Recycling Center. A big thank you to Sally McCabe for turning me onto that.
3. ‘Product Donations’ from gardening companies. With just a mention on FB and/or a quick note, I have received offers for products from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds, Renee’s Garden, Authentic Haven Brand Natural Brew and Peace Tree Farm.
Oh yes, if you wondered why I posted a photo of Chanticleer Garden’s cutting and veggie gardens, it’s because I’m a dreamer.
I believe that LCPC Community Garden is going to be unique and represent the heart of that community. BUT it never hurts to have a vision of beauty and bounty in your head and heart as you dance your way through the creative process.
You will find photos and updates on any news about the garden at:
If you have any photos you want to share on twitter that you think might be helpful, always add the hashtag #LCPC Community Garden.
Please join in the fun! Your input will help turn this neglected area into a magnificent community garden that will help not only the church community and its soup kitchen but the entire neighborhood as well.