Allison Weiss rushed over to the corner of an overgrown garden space on the Haines Street side of the old Germantown Town Hall this weekend.
“The daisies came back!” exclaimed the gardening maven and Germantown Artists Roundtable leader at Sunday’s “Art Garden” volunteer-work event.
Continuing what they started
It came more than a year after a Roundtable gardening/clean-up event that coincided with the launch of Hidden City’s temporary re-opening of Town Hall last summer.
Last year, volunteers donated plants, time and labor to fill the old Haines Street strip with plants like hasta, daisies, irises, azaleas and hydrangeas. They kept the plants watered throughout the summer and this year’s rains helped the perennials return.
Early in the afternoon, the crowd was small. Weiss (who said more people were there earlier in the day) and Germantown artist/photographer Jill Saull were at work and Germantown Town Hall Collaborative leader Charlie McGloughlin passed by.
“All of it came back, including the weeds,” Weiss said when NewsWorks stopped by to catch up with the project.
Weiss added that the site has come a long way since volunteers adopted the exterior space, which used to be littered with trash. While there still is some trash to be cleared out each time volunteers arrive, it’s improved considerably.
“The more we take care of it, the more respectful people are,” Weiss said.
Projects ongoing and new
While building’s fate remains in limbo as it awaits a buyer, the Artists Roundtable and the Town Hall Collaborative have taken an active interest in maintaining the outside of the property, with the City’s permission.
That work includes continuing an Art Garden project at the site, which already includes paintings by Germantown artist Teresita Stidem posted on the boarded-up outer windows overlooking the garden.
McGloughlin is also excited about a new opportunity for artists interested in mounting some kind of sculpture or installation in the garden space alongside the plants.
With the help of a grant from the Samuel S. Fels fund, Germantown United CDC is offering a new “Stone Soup” program that will provide up to $1,500 for artist stipends and/or materials toward community members interested in beautifying one of four Germantown sites.
The spots include Town Hall, a vacant lot on West Rockland Street, the wall of the southwest corner of Chelten Ave. and Greene St. and the parking lot entryway of the Germantown Life Enrichment Center.
Proposals are due by June 7 and GUCDC hopes to announce winners with a display of the plans at a Juneteenth table.
“It’ll be up to the stakeholders at that specific site who they want to use,” said GUCDC executive director Andy Trackman, noting that he hopes to split the original $7,500 grant between the projects selecte with an eye toward “community ownership.”
McGloughlin said the grants represent “a great opportunity” and hopes the Roundtable will be a good resource for getting local creative types thinking about what they could do in the Town Hall garden space.
While Weiss doesn’t “have preconceived ideas” for the Art Garden’s future, she’s envisioned neighboring trees hosting hanging mobiles or birdhouses.
To find out more about applying for a Stone Soup grant at any participating site, contact GUCDC at firstname.lastname@example.org. To learn more about ongoing Germatown Artists Roundtable efforts for the Art Garden, e-mail email@example.com.