“The Rachael Ray Show” is coming to Philadelphia Tuesday, and leaving behind a garden.
Last week the producers of the lifestyle talk show had an urban garden built at the corner of Wharton Street and East Passyunk Avenue. In just five days, 16 raised beds, a vertical flowerbed, 2,869-gallon rainwater cisterns, and an iron fence were thrown up across the street from Pat’s Steaks. The garden will serve as a backdrop for the taping of a one-day grilling contest hosted by Rachael Ray.
“The Rachael Ray Show” gets good numbers in the Philadelphia market, so the show’s producers chose South Philly as the site of the amateur contest. It is a ticketed event.
After the taping is over and the TV trucks drive away, the community garden will remain.
“It’s one thing to build a community garden, it’s something completely different for a community garden to sustain itself,” said Dean Hill, a landscape architect based in Orlando, Florida, hired by the show to design the garden. “We want to make sure this thing is successful today, tomorrow, next year, the following year.”
The garden’s afterlife will be managed by the Camden City Garden Club, which operates the Camden Children’s Garden and many urban gardens on vacant lots in Camden.
“We don’t have the money to buy potting soil as they did, and the lumber that they did,” said director Michael Devlin. “This is a little more high-end than the gardens we build on the vacant lots in Camden. A lot of our gardeners here will be a little envious of it. In a positive way. But we do the best we can with the grant money we have.”
Devlin is looking for residents in the South Philadelphia neighborhood to maintain the garden, and use the raised beds to grow produce. He says he has an agreement with both “The Rachael Ray Show” and the Olivieri family, who own the lot, that guarantees a garden on the site for at least two years.