August 11, 2016
By Walter Bowne It's time to escape. There's no need to shower. I'll be drenched soon enough, especially in the humidity. I slip into the dawn with stained, faded blue jeans and a long-sleeved shirt. Freebie Shoprite gloves, caked in dry mud, flap in my back pocket as I try to discover the location of some happy wren. Dirt from the previous day still stains my fingertips. That's something that eternally abides - the dirt. By the time I encroach on the fields at Barclay Farms, the dimmer switch of the sun slowly reveals the reds and the yellows and the oranges of the sunflowers that grow with an abundance in this garden oasis of Cherry Hill.
June 22, 2016 |
An East Camden community garden called Resilient Roots is helping nourish a neighborhood - and connect communities, cultures, and generations. "Taro, turmeric, lemongrass, ginger, and four different kinds of mint," says Lan Dinh, walking me through the rows, raised beds, and containers of lush crops on what had been a trash-strewn vacant lot at 29th and Cramer. "We have Asian squashes, gourds, bitter melons, and long beans," she says. "Edible chrysanthemum, sweet potato greens - we eat the greens - and Vietnamese corn.
June 22, 2016 |
Water, sunlight, and construction nails have been showering the plants at one of Center City's most popular community gardens. Among the blooming flowers, tomatoes, and herbs is the occasional two–by–four sticking out of a plot of soil. So far, the nails and other construction detritus has resulted in closures, meetings, special committees, and input from a lawyer. On Monday, after another meeting, a solution was reached. It involves a task force. The problem began when Dranoff Properties and contractor Intech began construction of One Riverside, a 22-story residential tower at 210 S. 25th St. The Schuylkill River Park Community Garden is its immediate neighbor to the south.
December 6, 2015 |
PAT WALDER, who has lived on her East Kensington block for 50 years, was delighted when the Arcadia Commons community association bought two vacant lots last year, removed the trash, built concrete raised garden beds and created a green mini-park for neighborhood families. But last month, Walder woke up one morning to discover that a developer, excavating a foundation on the adjacent lot, had crossed the property line, dug deep into Arcadia Commons, undermined one of its raised concrete garden beds and left that bed half-suspended over the edge of the pit. Walder, 70, who has "watched over my neighborhood for decades," was angry that an illegal excavation turned the kids' park on Kern Street near Huntingdon into a kids' hazard.
June 26, 2015 |
IT WAS 2011. Outside City Hall were rows of tents where many flavors of political persuasion could be found - anarchists, communists, Democratic socialists, libertarians. This was Occupy Philadelphia, or, as Dusty Hinz remembers it, a "great coming-out party for the general left. " Amid the monthslong protests, a splinter group of twentysomethings formed with a plan to sustain the protests' energy in a way that would bring real change to city neighborhoods. Dubbed Occupy Vacant Land, the group of guerrilla gardeners squatted on dozens of vacant, garbage-strewn properties.
April 27, 2015 |
A chilly Saturday did little to stop the march of progress at Bryn Gweled Homesteads in Upper Southampton. There was a crowd at the tai chi class in the community center. Upstairs, Bill Dockhorn, his wife, Carol Wengert, and Jerry Smith sifted through 75 years of documents. Bart DeCorte worked in the community garden. Louise Kidder was off to her kitchen to make sourdough bread to be served later with jam made from the 60 quarts of blueberries her husband, Bob, picks each year in their yard.
January 10, 2015 |
Nic Esposito is at once a romantic and a realist, and both inform his passions: farming, telling stories, and advocating for fresh, local food for all. Now, with Kensington Homestead , his second book and first attempt at nonfiction, Esposito, 32, is emerging as a literary voice for the wildly vibrant farm community in Philadelphia. His 14-essay collection chronicles the joys and frustrations of growing crops in uber-urban East Kensington, where the forces of gentrification press relentlessly through the swirl of entrenched poverty.
October 25, 2014 |
Four decades after settling in West Philadelphia, John Lindsay still speaks bluntly in the Yankee rhythms of his native Boston. After he got wind that a developer was eyeing his community garden at Powelton Avenue and Wiota Street, Lindsay responded by erecting a small billboard under one of his ornamental pear trees. "Jannie Blackwell wants 12 houses built here," it declares. For good measure, he includes a link to his "Save the Wiota St. Garden" Facebook page. The story is a bit more complex than his message suggests, but there is no doubt Lindsay's sign calling out Blackwell, West Philadelphia's powerful Council rep, distills the painful choice being confronted by comeback neighborhoods around the city: gardens or housing?
October 5, 2014 |
Tears trickled from Rashida Ali-Campbell's eyes Friday morning as she watched volunteers turn old tires and empty beer cans into a haven for the have-nots in her West Philadelphia neighborhood. "Have you ever wanted something so much?" she asked. "So many people are helping make this dream come true. This is what I have prayed for. " Tires stuffed with hundreds of pounds of dirt will form walls. Old oven doors will serve as roof shingles. When she is done with what used to be a warehouse at 675 N. 41st Street, it will be a studio with a garden adorned with fruit trees and vegetables.
July 11, 2014 |
Among the favorite tokens that the Rev. William "Jud" Weiksnar will take with him from his time in Camden is a collage of a small girl standing atop a mound of grass, created with shattered glass and litter cleared from Von Nieda Park. The "trash art" was one of the few remaining items in Weiksnar's parish office Tuesday as he packed up to move after nine years as pastor of St. Anthony of Padua Church. The image, created seven years ago by then-third grade student Soledad Velazquez, shows the girl and a godlike figure holding hands beneath an apple tree.