Friday, June 9, 2017

Neighborhood Gardens Trust Community Gardens Day June 17 In Philadelphia

The Neighborhood Gardens Trust, Philadelphia’s largest land trust, will host Community Gardens Day on June 17, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. (Rain date: June 18). The citywide celebration spotlights the benefits of the shared growing spaces for Philadelphia neighborhoods and the importance of preserving the gardens.
“We are celebrating Philadelphia’s rich history of community gardening, the burgeoning interest in urban agriculture, and efforts to keep these shared growing spaces blooming in the future,” said NGT Executive Director Jenny Greenberg. “For more than 40 years, city residents have worked together to reclaim abandoned land and cultivate hundreds of vibrant community gardens. These gardens benefit the health and well-being of Philadelphia’s residents, its environment, and its economy.”
The risk of losing some of these gardens has intensified in recent months, Greenberg added. “It’s clear that the pressure of development has increased in many parts of the city, and we need to take proactive steps to preserve community gardens for the next generation.”
Opening Celebration
The kick-off event for Community Gardens Day will be held at Las Parcelas, a garden in the Norris Square neighborhood that exemplifies the power of gardens to transform neighborhoods.
Festivities will begin at 10 a.m., with a performance of live drumming by Los Bomberos de la Calle, food, and remarks by NGT leaders; Matt Rader, President of the PA Horticultural Society; Councilwoman Maria Quinones-Sanchez; and Justin Trezza, Executive Director of the Norris Square Neighborhood Project.
The event at Las Parcelas will mark a bright future for the Norris Square gardens. This summer, the Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority will transfer Las Parcelas to NSNP, and NGT will place a conservation easement on the land to guarantee its permanent future as community-managed open space.
For over 30 years, the NSNP has operated culturally themed gardens, each representing a unique element of the Boricua or Latino experience and culture. In the early 1980s, NSNP and a local women’s collective, Grupo Motivos, began to occupy empty lots that had been sites of open-air drug markets.
Through strong partnerships, the women and NSNP transformed vacant lands into what are now six culturally themed gardens and outdoor spaces. NSNP’s cultural gardens weave ancestry, plants, migration and cooking together by each illuminating one root of Puerto Rican heritage – indigenous Taino, European, and West African.
Along with murals and dwellings specific to each culture, the plants grown in each space tell stories of the places they originated.
The opening event at Las Parcelas will spotlight recent achievements led by NGT to protect and support community gardens throughout the city.
NGT took a leadership role in the effort to create a discount on the Philadelphia Water Department’s stormwater management fee for qualifying properties operated as community gardens.
Compelled by the testimony of gardeners describing how they manage stormwater onsite and provide other benefits to the community, the Philadelphia Water, Sewer and Stormwater Rate Board approved a 100 percent special discount for community gardens effective January 1.
Tours and Activities
More than 50 community gardens will participate in Community Gardens Day, offering tours, garden advice, yoga, art shows, and children’s activities.
The day will include a trolley tour of the gardens and works by Mural Arts Philadelphia; a bike tour hosted by NGT and the Sierra Club, ending at the PHS Pop Up Garden at uCity Square, 36th and Filbert Streets; a walking tour of gardens in South Philadelphia; and two self-guided tours of gardens in West Philadelphia and Northern Liberties.
For more information and to register for the tours, visit NGT’s Community Gardens Day webpage.

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