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NEWS (more or less) from Southwark/Queen Village CommunityGarden

  • Subject: [cg] NEWS (more or less) from Southwark/Queen Village CommunityGarden
  • From: "Libby J. Goldstein"
  • Date: Fri, 15 Sep 2006 14:43:41 -0400

NEWS from

PHILA. PA 19147


celebrating 30 years of growing together with an open house. Everyone
is invited to tour the garden and share light refreshments from 11 AM
to 2 PM on Saturday, September 30.

Weve invited all of our many supporters from Mayor Street and Governor
Rendell to Senator Specter and members of city council and the
Pennsylvania legislature. (We wouldnt be here were it not for them.)
Visitors might even be able to  grab them for a  brief private

Come see our orchard, bee hives, fruits, flowers, herbs and vegetables,
our high tech watering system and the solar array. The solar panels
power night lights and the construction tools weve used to build a
grape arbor and gazebo. When were not using the electricity, it goes
back to PECO, and we get actual money for it.

The irrigation and solar systems were funded by NEIGHBORHOOD GARDENS
ASSOCIATION/ A PHILADELPHIA LAND TRUST, our landlord since we became a
permanent garden site in the 80s.

The open house will be followed by our 30th annual barbecue. Real food
prepared by the gardeners for only $10 for grown-ups and $5 for kids
under 12. Besides a roast pig and other food for carnivores, there will
be lots of vegetarian dishes; so all eaters are welcome.


1976, the community garden committee of the Queen Village Neighbors
Association, began turning the vacant lot at 311-33 Christian Street
(formerly the Henry Berk elementary school) into a garden as part of
the neighborhood's celebration of the Bicentennial.  We have been
cultivating our "interim use" garden, celebrated by Isaiah Zagar's
largest mural so far, for 25 years!

1977 the garden became one of Penn State Urban Gardening Program's
demonstration sites, a locale for recycling, food production and
preservation and nutrition programs .

At the behest of the Hon. H.J. Cianfrani, Jr., the Philadelphia Housing
Authority removed yards of concrete from the back and sides of the
garden making room for twenty more families and for "The First
Community Orchard (We Think) in the Whole United States". Seventy-four
Queen, seniors and families from all walks of garden on the site.

In the early eighties, Conrad Weiler, then president of QVNA, suggested
that we begin looking into permanent site acquisition.  We called in
the Trust for Public Lands, a contact that led to an on-going
relationship among TPL, the gardeners, the Urban Gardening Program and
Philadelphia Green which resulted in the formation of the Neighborhood
Gardening Association/A Philadelphia Land Trust in 1986.

1983 , ownership of the site reverted to the Federal Government and it
became 'excess property'. The gardeners and QVNA met with various
federal agencies in The Hon. Thomas Foglietta's Washington office to
determine how best to preserve the garden. As a result, the Urban
Gardening Program, the gardeners and the City of Philadelphia began
working with the National Park Service to have the site turned over to
the City as a park and recreation area "in perpetuity". In 1985, the
City leased the garden from National Park Service for ten years. It was
a compromise between the Reagan Administration, which preferred to sell
surplus sites, and the intense interest in acquiring the site of Mayor
Goode, the Hon. James J. Tayoun, The Hon. Arlen Specter, Mr. Foglietta
and Governor Thornburgh among others.  Mayor Goode announced his
acceptance and support of a Municipal Food and Agriculture Policy,
developed by the Food & Agriculture Task Force at the Southwark/Queen
Village Garden during the lease signing ceremony in 1985.

1991, Mayor Goode decided to ask that the garden be given to the City
for permanent use as a gardening park. His request was supported by
Governor Casey, Senator Wofford, Senator Specter, Mr. Foglietta and
Council members Cohen, Ortiz and Specter among others. General Services
Administration and National Park Service decided to deed the garden to
the City under P.L. 450 in view of the "excellent stewardship"
exhibited by the City and the Gardeners.  It will be used for
recreation (and gardening) in perpetuity. The park is managed as a
gardening park by the Neighborhood Gardens Association/a Philadelphia
Land Trust and the gardeners.

1993, we installed a new storage shed with assistance from Mellon Bank,
Queen Village Recycling fund, Philadelphia Green and the Hon. Babette
Josephs, our state legislator.

1996 ,Isaiah Zagar, renowned muralist and one of the originators of the
SOUTH STREET RENAISSANCE,  helped us celebrate our 20th YEAR with a
commemorative wall on the west side of the garden. The first sections
were finished in October, 1996. We raised over $2300 from friends like
PNC Bank, Essene Natural Foods Store, David Haas and Mellon Bank so
Isaiah could finish the wall (all 5 stories) before the first frost of

The new millenium has seen many physical improvements to the garden
funded in large part by  The Neighborhood Gardens Association/a
Philadelphia Land Trust. Our old lattice fence has been replaced by
lovely metal fence, and we finally have a water line right into the
garden as well as an excellent system for filling barrels and
irrigating the "public" areas. In addition, the gardeners designed and
built a new summer house and grape arbor with assistance from Home


_	Southwark/Queen Village Community Garden is special. Queen Village
has experienced substantial rehabilitation and gentrification since the
late 1960's. The garden is one of the first places where older African
American and ethnic residents worked side by side with the new 'young
professionals' and remains a focus for the love and work of all the
neighborhood. It provides not only food, but spiritual nourishment to
all of us. It is one of the finest jewels in the Queen's green crown.
It will remain as long as Queen Villagers want to garden.

_	Southwark/Queen Village gardeners produced nearly $29,000 worth of
vegetables, herbs and fruit in 2000  according to a formula provided by
the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The average gardener produced $414
worth of food for family and neighbors. Some 91% of Philadelphia's
gardeners, including those at Southwark/Queen Village, gave surplus
food and flowers to friends, neighbors and groups that feed hungry
people. At Southwark/Queen Village, we estimate that 255 families in
the neighborhood share our harvest. We've  donated  our surplus to
Philabundance and are now working with the Pa. Horticultural Society's
Share the Harvest Program to produce food especially for the seniors at
Riverside Homes.

	We have also qualified as a wildlife sanctuary. While the
corn-stealing raccoons have not been seen in a while, numbers of birds
and butterflies visit, nest and feed in the garden.

_	In addition to 67 garden plots  worked by 74 gardeners, the garden
has flower beds, a wide variety of irises, an herb garden, a grape
arbor, an orchard and berry patches.

_	The Garden has 168 feet of frontage on Christian Street, one of
Philadelphia's major east-west thoroughfares and a gateway to the
Waterfront Development District. It is the last open space of its size
(over 18,000 square feet) in the neighborhood.

The American Community Gardening Association listserve is only one of ACGA's services to community gardeners. To learn more about the ACGA and to find out how to join, please go to

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