PHS Pops Up Garden turned vacant lot into a productive landscape

This summer the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society (PHS) transformed a long-vacant lot at 20th and Market streets into a lively, green space filled with raised beds filled with vegetables, native plants, and wildflowers. Bravo* goes to the PHS Pops Up Garden, for temporarily beautifying a previously vacant lot, engaging Philadelphians in conversation about urban agriculture, food security, and ecology.

At first glance, the PHS Pops Up garden was a success because it took a dead spot amid the glass and concrete of Market Street, and made it live. But the garden came with a mission to raise awareness about City Harvest, a program combating hunger and food insecurity run by PHS in partnership with Weavers Way Co-op and Farm, the Philadelphia Prison System, the Health Promotion Council of Southeastern PA, and the SHARE food distribution network. More than 45 Philly community gardens participate in City Harvest by donating fresh food grown in Philadelphia neighborhoods to neighbors in need. Six Philadelphia chefs created dishes using produce from the PHS Pops Up Garden, and donated a portion of their proceeds back to City Harvest.

Over the course of the growing season, PHS Pops Up Garden hosted 30 programs and kid activities, tai chi and yoga classes, a movie night, block party, and some 6,000 visitors. As promised, the PHS Pops Up Garden will close at the end of October, but not without a party and volunteer day.

Even though the garden is about to disappear as quickly as it popped-up, I’d like to think the garden’s imprint is more lasting. PHS pulled off a delicate thing. By drawing people into the unexpected oasis on Market Street, PHS helped spark casual conversation about sustainability and raised the profile of City Harvest, which provides 1.000 Philly families fresh, local produce every week during the growing season. Thanks, PHS for helping Philly eat its vegetables with a spoonful of honey.

PHS Pops Up Garden by the numbers:

  • 600 pounds of food produced
  • 6,000 visitors
  • 150 volunteers
  • 6 chefs
  • 10,000 ladybugs released in June
  • 150,000 honeybees kept in 3 hives

To celebrate its summer at the corner of 20th and Market, PHS put together this time-lapse, time-capsule of its PHS Pops Up Garden.

You dig?

On Monday, October 24, from 11am-2pm, PHS will throw a National Food Day party in the garden, and on Saturday October 29 volunteers will dismantle the garden. If you’re interested in volunteering you can sign up online. Volunteers can bring home all of the plans they can carry, so bring empty containers.

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JoAnn Greco was on hand for the garden’s grand opening in June. [PHS “Pops Up” at 20th and Market, June 13, PlanPhilly] *Bravo is an Eyes on the Street feature that takes a moment to applaud the people and places making Philadelphia great.

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