Stewardship log

3/19 Philly Food Forest- 3 hours

3/26 Bethany Beach beachgrass planting- 3 hours

4/15 Mill Creek Urban Farm- 3 hours

4/17 Philly Food Forest- 3 hours


Elevated Parks: Case Study

With the recent trend of “greening” spaces, transforming something old and unwanted into something beautiful is one trend that will hopefully stick around. Seen in the railways of New Yorks Highline, a reclaimed railway turned park, the trend is growing in popularity. Among the Highline, many other cities such as Paris and Rotterdam in the Netherlands have taken the initiative to turn old grey spaces into flourishing, useful green spaces. This case study will explore two California based projects: Park 101 in Los Angeles and the Transbay Transit Center in San Francisco.

Rottendam, The Netherlands

Both cities known for innovation, Los Angles and San Francisco have joined the new wave of urban greening to accommodate the many needs of their citizens.

Park 101:

Often referred to a “A Central Park in LA”, the proposed Park 101 system would offer a green space amidst on of the United States top polluted cities. The proposed idea for the park would transform the concrete ridden space and offer the functionality of the retail world LA loves with the green infrastructure and space humans crave. The Park 101 system would be a cap off of the 101 Freeway system would run over the top of the freeway. The new design would change the street design allowing for more space and functionality.

The Park 101 system would integrate usable space into various parts of the downtown location. The design also included adding spaces for retail usability. Park 1o1 would use currently underused space and renew the urban space so it is usable for the public. The space would also have a large parking space so citizens could park and leave their cars and walk throughout the downtown.  Also mentioned in the design is a cafe area and a play area for children.

Although development for the park has not gone underway, the City of Los Angeles has involved many citizens in the planning stages as well as developers to construct the best plan of action for Park 101. Whether Park 101 will ever come into effect, the design and outline of the space is a good model for what can be done in other spaces and cities.

Similar to the idea of Park 101 is the Transbay Transit Center. Once a bustling train station serving as many as 26 million in the 1940s every year, the Transbay Transit Center lost its supreme usability after WW2 with the rise in popularity of the automobile. Parts of the station and the tracks were removed in order to reconstitute the facility as a bus terminal. Like many other large structures in an urban area, the facility no longer serves a great purpose in the community. Thanks to hopeful individuals, planners, and designers, spaces such as this may get a major face lift.

The proposed idea for the Transbay Transit Center included retrofitting the old, outdated building and turning it into a 4.5 acre elevated park. Below the park, a new high-speed transit and rail system would be installed to not only re-purpose a currently underused space but, to encourage the use of public transportation. The green landscape is a great way to give life to an unused space while cutting down heating and cooling costs. The green roof system is been proven effective in its ability to properly insulate a building and absorb heat when needed.

Although the Transbay Transit Center project is not yet underway, developers projected the finish date for 2017.

Both of the project serve as excellent design models for re-purposing an unused space and turning it in to something beautiful, functional, and enjoyable for the pubic.


By: Danielle

Mill Creek Urban Farm and PFF!

This weekend was packed for stewardship hours!

On Friday, I had a field trip with several other classmates to Mill Creek Urban Farm in West Philly. It was a little chilly but the weather wasn’t too bad. The farm itself was bigger than I had imagined, and was built on sustainability principles. The first thing I saw when I entered the farm was the writing “This is a living house, come check it out!” Later on we found out through the farm founder Jade that the house has a green roof. The green roof not only helps absorb rain water and maintain temperature of the house but also beautifies the overall structure.

The wall of the tool shed is made of cob, a natural material consist of clay, sand, straw and water. Like the green roof, walls made out of cob help the room stay cool in the summer and warm in the winter. The farm also have a compost toilet and they use the compost for the banana tree outside the tool shed. Behind the tool shed was the bee hive area. Unfortunately the bees are not very active at the moment, otherwise I’d really love to see first hand how honey is made!

Jade explained to us that the farm holds regular farmer’s market to sell their fresh produce during working season to the surrounding neighborhood. In addition, the farm also works with local schools for after school program,etc. The Mill Creek farm really bring together the community in this sense.

For our stewardship hours at the farm, we help weeded the land that will later be used for planting vegetables. The soil was a healthy dark brown color and extremely soft. Around the farm were various fruit trees. Their branches were tied down so that they grow horizontally.

Although we didn’t get to plant the actual plant, it was still fun to work in the farm.

On Sunday I, again, biked down to South Philly to work at Philly Food Forests. The farm has changed quite a bit since my last time working there. Several lots has cleaned up significantly and ready for weeding. It was a busy work day and lots of people showed up, including some of my classmates!!

This time I help weeded one of the lots that will become a pumpkin garden.

Since PFF is working on a brand new lot that has never been planted, the soil was covered by nasty weeds and bricks from buildings that has been torn down. The soil was also not as healthy as Mill Creek’s. It was extremely packed and stuck to the roots of the weeds. You are guaranteed to hit a brick digging just few inches deep, therefore it was a lot of physical labor picking the weed and the brick.

The weeding took up a lot of time, I almost spent my whole time there weeding. It was good exercise though (and quite fulfilling), on top of the biking, that is! This time I also helped painted signs for the farm. It was a lot of fun!

Lastly, my ten hours of stewardship has come to an end. I really had a great time getting involved outside of campus. But this doesn’t mean my involvement with these organization has come to an end! I am sure I will continue working with PFF and involve with more organization that helps the city greener and more sustainable.

Tree Planting

On Friday, Sarae and I met at The Spring Gardens at North Street between 17th and 18th St, a community garden that occupies an entire block. We met the group and then split into smaller groups after a short presentation on how to plant the tree. The event was one of many tree plantings throughout Philadelphia run through the Philadelphia Horticultural Society. Before this event, I only planted small seedling trees so this was a new experience for me.

Our group, consisting of three people including myself, planted four trees throughout the Fairmount neighborhood. The trees varied in size and shape and were planted within sidewalk blocks. All of the soils varied within the different spots. We learned how to properly plant a bare root tree ( a young tree with exposed roots that needs to be transplanted into the ground). We used buckets of water once we dug out the hold, planted the tree, and added mulch. The water helped to get rid of air pockets that will help the tree grow better and increase the chances of survival. We were also told how to properly position the tree so its roots can spread out and the branches will not grow into the sidewalk where they can easily be destroyed by pedestrians. Our leader also explained to us how the tree roots often strangle the tree itself in urban spaces because the roots do not have enough space to spread out. Another group was set to tie posts around the tree for stability later in the day.

I really enjoyed this project. Our group leader was very helpful and patiently taught us the proper way to plant the tree. It was very rewarding to contribute to the neighborhood. Hopefully we can make a return visit and see our trees growing strong!


For more information on The Spring Gardens:

Visiting the Mill Creek Urban Farm

Last week, I visited the Mill Creek Urban Farm located in West Philadelphia. Despite the inclement weather, we boarded the bus in the early morning to head over to the farm.

Once we arrived, we received a tour from one of the workers there, Jo, who explained the history of the lot, the farm, and what they do there. Leased by the Philadelphia Water Department, the lot was formerly a row of homes built with poor foundations. The houses were eventually torn down in the 1970s. On the west side of the lot, a community garden was created for the local community. Until 2005, however, the other side of the lot stood bare.

 The Brown St. community garden from a previous growing season

Jo explained the mission of the farm and how mostly everything grown here goes back to the community. Throughout the growing season, the harvested crops are sold to the neighborhood residents for a reasonable price. Because there is not a supermarket or grocery store in this area, residents often rely on a corner store with little food with good nutritional value for sustenance, a sad but ever present trend within urban populations. With this fact in mind, the farm was created to provide fresh produce to the community without discrimination of financial standing.

On the tour we were shown many things that enhance the character of the farm while still keeping within sustainable practices (and also allowed to sample the just picked asparagus which was out of this world!).

Besides growing their food organically, the farm uses a composting toilet, solar, panels, sustainable building materials such as cob walls and recycled pieces to decorate. Cob is a building material (seen in the photo) and is made from clay, sand, straw, and water. Cob is not only cost effective and made with out harmful chemicals but, it is also a great for heating and cooling buildings.

We also got to see (what I thought was the coolest thing!) a green roof. Although it was only a small scale roof, it was very cool to see a green roof filled with sedum and succlents and other plants that can absorb large amount of water for period and also thrive during drier periods. This design lowers cooling and heating costs effectively and with little maintenance.

After the tour, I was so excited to finally get my hands dirty and do some work! Our group helped weed a bed that would one day produce veggies. It was hard work but it felt very rewarding after we were done.

Weeding the beds

All in all it was a great way to spend a morning and the weather held out. I really enjoyed visiting the farm and seeing urban agriculture flourishing : )


Tree Planting Stewardship Work

This past Friday, I went out to help with just one of the many tree planting events going on throughout Philadelphia over the weekend. I had planted trees just once before, when I was very young. I am lucky enough to still see them growing in my backyard at home. That kind of satisfaction is what made me want to plant trees for some of my stewardship work.

Danielle and I went to The Spring Garden at 18th and North Streets to meet with the group planting. As we arrived we were split into teams and given some basic instructions on how to plant the trees. The trees I planted on Friday were much larger than the seedlings I planted before, and required a different type of planting technique. We learned that the hole must be dug deep enough for the roots to be just under the soil, or the tree could not grow properly. The roots also needed enough soil under them so that there would be no air pockets between them. This was not always so easy to do, especially with roots growing out in so many different directions. We learned how to pack the soil in, as well as water the soil so no air pockets would be left.

We went off to four different locations to plant our four trees. Two of the trees were planted near 17th and Wallace Streets, one was at 22nd and Brandywine Streets, and yet another not very far from the art museum. Each tree, although not far from each other, was a different experience. The first tree’s soil was damp, and seemed a little heavy. It was not very difficult to plant, especially since the roots were not very wide. For the second tree, the soil was much wetter, the roots much wider, and many rocks in the soil, making it difficult to plant. For the second two trees, the soil was much dryer and made for easier planting.

Although it was difficult work, the tree planting was very rewarding. I like to be able to go and visit a tree that I know I put into the ground, hopefully for years to come. The man on our team was telling us how difficult it is to get the community involved with keeping the trees alive. They need the residents near the newly planted trees to keep them watered with many gallons each day for the first few weeks. It seems as if many people cannot be bothered by such a simple task that could help the environment of the city so much. However, it is good to know that there still are some people who are willing to put in the effort and help, especially those who take time out to plant these trees. It really is a lasting impression on the city of Philadelphia.

-Sarae Gdovin

Grant Proposal Case Study- New York High Line

On June 6th, 2009, New  York City officially opened up its highly anticipated and visionary “Midair Oasis”- The High Line (section 1). The mile-and-a-half-long elevated train track was built in the 1930s to lift freight trains 30 feet up the ground in order to improve dangerous train traffic on the ground level. The trains stopped running in 1980, and the elevated rail became home to all sorts of wild plants. In 1999, Friends of the High Line was formed in an effort to preserve the historical landmark when it was subjected to demolition. The group laid out frame work for High Line preservation and reuse and advocated for city support. In 2004, Friends of High Line teamed up with James Corner Field Operations and Diller Scofidio + Renfro to design the High Line Park.

The High Line Park runs through several neighborhoods such as the Meatpacking District and  West Chelsea. The greenery along the walkway includes species of plants that were inspired by the wild seeded landscape left after the trains stopped running. Simplistic yet modern recreation spaces are also incorporated in various spaces through out the stretched space. Public art is installed to enhance the recreation landscape and interaction between the park and the visitors. In the future, the park plans to include food service to make the visit more enjoyable and verify the functions of the park.

Ever since its opening, the High Line has attracted millions of visitors and has become a new green, and neighborhood friendly landmark. The reuse of modern industrial relic and turning it into functional and environmentally friendly park space is the perfect example of retrofitting. The High Line built upon existing architectural structure that combines the past and the present.

photo by Joel Sternfeld from the High Line Image Galleries

planting, image from the High Line Image Galleries

A much similar story to the High Line in Philadelphia is the Reading Viaduct. Over the years, various groups in the neighborhood and University from around the Philadelphia had made effort to follow the path of New York. There are talks about renovating the old viaduct to a green public space but none seems to gain enough momentum to leave the planning phase due to lack of consensus from the surrounding neighborhood.

Recently, a new project called Reading Viaduct Park – Philly’s Park In the Sky launched by Jamie Moffett seem to have taken renewed initiative to rebuild the viaduct. There was a presentation at the Flower Show to showcase the project. More information can be found on the link above. Like the page if you support the project!