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A program of the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society



or more than 30 years the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society’s Philadelphia Green program has used horticulture to build community and improve the quality of life in Philadelphia’s neighborhoods and downtown public spaces. In that time there have been significant signs of rebirth in the city, and the work of Philadelphia Green has played an important role in the environmental, social, economic, and aesthetic changes taking place. PHS’s Green City Strategy promotes a comprehensive approach to revitalizing and maintaining the city’s green infrastructure as a key element in urban renewal. Philadelphia Green puts this approach into action by partnering with local residents, community groups, government, and businesses to: • • • • • • • •

Develop and preserve community green space Plant trees Create green streetscapes Revitalize parks and public spaces Reclaim abandoned land Provide long-term landscape management Support open space planning Build community capacity

As the nation’s largest urban greening program, Philadelphia Green has expanded its strength and capacity with new partnerships and community-based initiatives, helping lead the city toward a “sustainable” future. “It’s an exciting time for us. We’ve broadened our scope while maintaining the high standards for which we’re known,” says J. Blaine Bonham Jr., executive vice president of PHS. Following are some of the program’s recent highlights.

Friendly faces and fresh produce at a community garden in Strawberry Mansion

“Philadelphia Green beautifies the city with community gardens and neighborhood parks, and it links greening to commercial and community development. Supporting Philadelphia Green is an easy way to show commitment to the environment.” -—J. William Mills III President of PNC Bank for Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey

GROWING COMMUNITY GARDENS There are more than 400 community gardens in Philadelphia, each one a treasured haven for city residents. Besides adding beauty and providing fresh food, these spaces promote health and nutrition, improve local economies, and bring neighbors together for a common interest. Capitalizing on the generous nature of community gardeners, Philadelphia Green created City Harvest in partnership with the Philadelphia Prison System, the Self Help and Resource Exchange (SHARE), and the Health Promotion Council of Southeastern Pennsylvania. City Harvest is an inspiring project that enables gardeners to share their bounty with Philadelphians in need. Inmates start vegetable seedlings that are grown to maturity at 20 community gardens, and SHARE facilitates the distribution of the produce to area food cupboards. “City Harvest feeds the mind, body and spirit. It improves access to fresh produce for low-income families and gives inmates an opportunity to contribute to society in meaningful ways,” says Philadelphia Green director Joan Reilly. The Garden Tenders training program provides Philadelphians with the knowledge and skills to create beautiful gardens on vacant lots, in parks, and at schools and churchyards. Now in its twelfth year, Garden Tenders boasts 2,000 graduates and is largely credited for the launch of nearly 100 new gardens, many of which have had great success in PHS’s City Gardens Contest. The annual competition recognizes all the tireless green thumbs who help make the city beautiful. A City Harvest garden plot and participant

TRANSFORMING NEIGHBORHOOD PARKS Philadelphia Green’s Parks Revitalization Project—a partnership with the Philadelphia Department of Recreation, the Fairmount Park Commission, and 80 neighborhood park groups—brings new life to community parks citywide. From small “pocket parks” to multi-acre sites, parks are an integral part of urban life and reflect the history and culture of their neighborhoods. Each year the Fall for Your Park event inspires hundreds of volunteers to flock to a particular park for a day of intensive renovation. Recently, 350 Philadelphians gathered at Ferko Playground and Tacony Creek Park in Juniata to plant trees, shrubs, and 500 bulbs. The volunteers also painted a mural, cleaned up trash and graffiti, and removed invasive species from a woodland trail. The annual Spring into Your Park is a citywide park-cleaning effort. In 2007 the event welcomed 500 volunteers in work-boots and jeans who collected more than 600 bags of trash and planted more than a thousand annuals and perennials in parks across the city. In 2006 and 2007, Philadelphia Green and the Philadelphia Department of Recreation coordinated the Summer in the Neighborhood series, a campaign to promote the array of events held at city parks. Highlights included concerts, family-friendly movie nights, and flea markets. “The series encouraged people to visit parks outside their neighborhood, bringing people from different walks of life together,” says Philadelphia Green senior director Mike Groman.

A concert at Gorgas Park

REVITALIZING CITY TREASURES Philadelphia Green’s expertise in landscape management can be seen at many of Center City’s other public open spaces and gateways, including Penn’s Landing, the 26th Street Gateway, John F. Kennedy Boulevard, City Hall, and the grounds of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. In the past year, Philadelphia Green’s most notable public landscape renovation was at the circle in Logan Square, located on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway between the Philadelphia Museum of Art and City Hall. Funded by The Pew Charitable Trusts and the Fairmount Park Commission, the project included the design and installation of new walkways, lush floral displays, and planting beds that ring a central lawn. Twelve new empress trees (Paulownia tomentosa), grown at Longwood Gardens, now encircle the beloved Swann Memorial Fountain in the center of the landscape. Fairmount Park executive director Mark Focht says, “We are delighted with the refurbishment of Logan Square and look forward to working with PHS on a variety of projects in the years ahead, including further landscape improvements to the Benjamin Franklin Parkway.”

Plantings at the Philadelphia Museum of Art

Over the years, Philadelphia Green has worked at a neighborhood level to develop and implement open space and greening plans, working in partnership with local organizations and community residents. Since 2006, Philadelphia Green has provided landscape management and technical support to several “special services districts,” including those located on City Line Avenue and around the city’s sports complexes.

RECLAIMING VACANT LAND AND MANAGING STORMWATER Vacant land management has been a major component of Philadelphia Green’s work for several years, and recent developments have ensured continuation of this important effort. Since 2003 more than 5 million square feet of vacant land (about 5,000 lots) have been “stabilized” with grass, trees, and fencing. Nearly 3,000 additional lots receive basic maintenance courtesy of the 12 work crews that form Philadelphia Green’s Community LandCare project. The crews consist of 70 neighborhood residents who receive steady employment and marketable landscaping training through their participation.

The landscape at Logan Square

Wayne Rahman of Universal Companies says, “Vacant land restoration sends a message of hope, enabling one generation after the next to take better care of the neighborhood and themselves.” Through a partnership between Philadelphia Green and the Philadelphia Water Department (with funding from the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection), several stabilized vacant lots are being used as stormwater management demonstration sites. Trenches, berms, and vegetation help harness rainfall on these lots, where it can absorb slowly into the ground. This approach, known as “low impact development,” seeks to detain, filter, and infiltrate rainwater through aesthetic landscaping rather than infrastructure. A clean and green vacant lot

“This partnership offers important and innovate prototypes for watershed protection by demonstrating how urban community spaces can be designed to help manage stormwater,” says Howard Neukrug, director of the Water Department’s Office of Watersheds. As a result of the model’s success, several gardens and parks have adopted similar stormwater management practices. In 2006, Philadelphia Green worked with the Water Department and two urban farmers to establish a farm in the Mill Creek section of West Philadelphia. The farm is not only a production center for fresh produce, it also helps manage stormwater by retaining off-street flow within the garden beds.

NURTURING THE NEXT GENERATION More so than ever before, young people are playing an important role in Philadelphia Green programming. Green City Youth links Philadelphia public schools with local greening activists for horticultural and community-service activities. To complement this project, PHS created the Green City Teachers program, a series of workshops and seminars that helps educators incorporate environmental issues into their curriculums. An additional youth program is Kids Grow Expo, an event held at Temple University Ambler that allows youngsters to celebrate Earth Day with activities and exhibits related to environmental awareness, such as the “Junior Flower Show.” Most recently Philadelphia Green launched the Summer Youth Environmental Stewardship Program. The program offered six weeks of paid employment to more than 40 young people who worked on improvements at parks and recreation centers throughout the city.

BRANCHING OUT Philadelphia Green is expanding its reach beyond the city limits to the surrounding region. PHS is the lead nonprofit partner in TreeVitalize, a program created by the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources in response to the rapid depletion of southeastern Pennsylvania’s tree cover. Launched in 2004, TreeVitalize is a four-year, $8 million public-private partnership that aims to plant 20,000 trees in the region, promote the benefits of trees, and encourage environmental stewardship.

A participant in the Youth Environmental Stewardship program

Photo: Joy Lawrence

Philadelphia Green is committed to addressing the consequences of deforestation, and PHS’s role in TreeVitalize offers a platform for doing so. By joining the TreeVitalize partnership, PHS can reach out to more communities and promote the value of trees on a regional level in a way that it would not be able to on its own. As part of the TreeVitalize citizen education effort, PHS offers Tree Tenders training each fall and spring in Philadelphia and the four surrounding Pennsylvania counties. To date, 2,000 people have completed the course and contributed to the 11,500-plus tally of trees planted in the region through TreeVitalize. Philadelphia Green works with Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful (KPB), an organization dedicated to the promotion and protection of the commonwealth’s natural and community environments. More than a dozen college students receive training from the Philadelphia Green staff each June as part of the KPB summer internship program. The future landscape architects and urban planners then apply their new-found knowledge to community greening projects in small cities across Pennsylvania.

TreeVitalize volunteers

SPREADING THE MESSAGE Philadelphia Green’s accomplishments are highlighted in the documentary Edens Lost & Found by Wiland-Bell Productions. The four-part PBS series showcases four U.S. cities that use greening and environmental innovation as a means toward urban rebirth. PHS and Philadelphia Green staff played a significant role in producing the segment, Philadelphia: The Holy Experiment, which was first broadcast in 2006. By raising funds, arranging logistics, and tapping its broad network of connections, the staff was an integral part of the filming process. Campbell Square

Inspired by Edens, PHS partnered with the Media & Policy Center Foundation and the University of Pennsylvania’s Penn Institute for Urban Research to host a national symposium called Growing Greener Cities. The October 2006 event brought together professionals, academics, activists, and civic leaders from across the country to discuss urban environmental issues of the 21st century. Keynote speaker Wangari Maathai was the first African woman to receive the Nobel Peace Prize, in 2004, for her contributions to sustainable development, democracy, and peace in her native Kenya. Philadelphia Green has supported GreenPlan Philadelphia, a comprehensive municipal open space plan for managing all existing and future green spaces, led by the City of Philadelphia’s Managing Director’s Office. As consultant for the community engagement phase, Philadelphia Green gathered input from more than 1,600 individuals and community groups to help ensure a plan shaped by the priorities of city residents. When complete, GreenPlan Philadelphia will help guide decision-making about the city’s open spaces, including their use, acquisition, development, funding, and management.

Edens Lost & Found is available on DVD. It can be purchased at

THANKS TO OUR FUNDERS AND PARTNERS American Supply Inc., Aqua Pennsylvania Inc.; Arcadia Foundation; Bank of America Foundation; The Barra Foundation Inc.; Berwind Corporation; Blank Rome LLP; Boeing Company, Defense & Space Group; The Burpee Foundation; CDM; Chanticleer Foundation; Citizens Bank Foundation; City of Philadelphia, Neighborhood Transformation Initiative; City of Philadelphia, Office of Housing and Community Development; The Claneil Foundation Inc.; CMS Companies; Delaware Valley Earth Force; Office of Representative Dwight Evans; Elizabeth B. Farley; Ernst & Young; The Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation; The Albert M. Greenfield Foundation; Honor Foods; Thornton D. & Elizabeth S. Hooper Foundation; Humdinger; Independence Foundation; Office of Representative Harold James; KPMG LLP; Lincoln Financial Group Foundation; The McLean Contributionship; Walter J. Miller Trust; Morgan, Lewis, & Bockius; PA Department of Community and Economic Development; PA Department of Conservation and Natural Resources; PA Department of Environmental Protection; PECO, an Exelon Company; The Pew Charitable Trusts; The Philadelphia Committee of the Garden Club of America; Philadelphia Eagles; Philadelphia Empowerment Zone; Philadelphia Water Department; Pricewaterhouse Coopers LLP; Schnader Harrison Segal & Lewis; Stradley Ronan Stevens & Young; Route Messengers; Thomas Properties Group; USDA Forest Service; US Department of Housing and Urban Development; Mr. & Mrs. Charles M. Weisman; The William Penn Foundation.

PHILADELPHIA GREEN BY THE NUMBERS 508 Street trees planted along Neighborhood Transformation Initiative commercial corridors during fall 2006 and spring 2007 2,000 Alumni of the Garden Tenders program 5,000 Annuals planted at City Hall during PHS’s City Hall in Bloom event

City Hall in Bloom

7,647 Pounds of fresh produce donated to food cupboards in the first year of the City Harvest program 10,000 Trees planted by Tree Tenders in Philadelphia and the surrounding region since 1993 5,357,409 Square feet of vacant land cleaned and greened by the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society since 2000 Kids Grow Expo

Credits: Editor, Daniel Moise; Design, Anne Vallery; Photos, Margaret Funderburg except where noted.

S 100 North 20th Street - 5th floor Philadelphia, PA 19103-1495 215-988-8800 • Fax: 215-988-8810

ince 1974, the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society’s urban greening program, Philadelphia Green®, has worked with residents, community organizations, and public and private entities to create and restore open spaces in the city’s neighborhoods, downtown area, and at its gateways. Proceeds from PHS’s Philadelphia Flower Show®, along with funding from foundations, corporations, government agencies, and individuals, help support its projects. Philadelphia Green® and Philadelphia Flower Show® are registered trademarks of the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society. ©The Pennsylvania Horticultural Society, 2007

Philadelphia Green brochure  

A brochure describing the work of the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society's Philadelphia Green program, one of the leading greening initiativ...

Philadelphia Green brochure  

A brochure describing the work of the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society's Philadelphia Green program, one of the leading greening initiativ...