Mill Creek Urban Farm- 3 hours
City Wide Tree Planting- 4 1/2 hours
Temple Community Gardens Groundbreaking day- 3 hours
A lot of hard work and effort put in for a great semester!
WIth the last weekend of the semester, it came time to wrap up the last of my stewardship work. I decided to do this work with Temple Community Gardens because of its convenient location right on campus. This past Sunday they held a ground breaking day at their new garden location at Broad and Norris streets. It’s a great location that I think will draw many more volunteers because it is so easily accessible.
The first surprising part about the day was walking out of my dorm to see the Broad Street Run going on!
After watching the runners and cheering them on for a few moments, I headed down the few blocks to the new garden location. As I arrived there were only a few people starting to work, but as the day went on more and more joined. The goals of the day were to do some much needed weeding to the space, spread mulch, and start building the raised beds for the plants. It was amazing to see how quickly it was all getting done!
For my time there I did weeding for part of the space. A lot of weeding was done, but the space was so unkept that it needed even more. However, with a great group working together like Temple Community Gardens I’m sure it will be done in no time.
At last, my stewardship work has come to an end. I’ve had a great time getting out into the community and taking my class room work to the next level. It was hard work, but in the end it was well worth it!
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.
Retrofitting is a fairly new procedure in green developments. It involves adding new technology to improve the energy efficiency of different things. It has been seen throughout the country in many different projects. From converted railroad tracks in New York City, to the possible green roof of the Empire State Building, retrofitting is being utilized more and more. In one big way, it has been used to make homes more energy efficient as well as cut many costs.
Using retrofitting can even help bring a community together, such as what happened with the group Retrofit Philly. The organization held a contest for a block in Philadelphia to be retrofit with green roofing, the “Coolest Block Contest”. Members from many different communitties throughout Philly got together to sign petitions and register to win. The winning block was 1200 Wolf Street. Each of the homes that signed the petition were fitted with “cool roofs”. These roofs help to reflect the sun, instead of absorbing it, therefore keeping the home cooler. This contest was no small effort. It was sponsored by the City of Philadelphia, The Energy Coordinating Agency of Philadelphia, and the Dow Building and Construction business group. In ending the contest, the winning group not only benefited from the new roofing, but also received a block party to celebrate. Seeing how important it is to have the community involved in evolving green cities, this project does that in an enormous way. It is the way to branch out green initiatives to future generations (Retrofit Philly, 2010).
There are more programs like the Retrofit Philly going on throughout the country. In New York, individuals are taking the green initiative into their own hands and retrofitting their homes using money from the Green Jobs/Green NY program.
This program will not only help to cut costs and make many homes more energy efficient, but it will also help to create jobs for the contractors doing this green construction. In January 2011 alone, more than 800 homes were retrofitting through the program (Dodge 2011).
With these and other initiatives, people are slowly working together to create more energy efficient environments. It is so important to get community involvement when doing projects such as this in order to create a sense of unity in such an important concept. Not many other urban greening projects have that same unity. Many others are just large corporations trying to be environmentally friendly. While this is not a bad thing, it is disconnected from many people. I feel that it is better to keep a strong grassroots initiative, which is why these case studies can be a great start to a grant project.
Retrofit Philly. “Coolest Block Contest” http://www.retrofitphilly.com/owners/index.htm
Dodge, Darren. “New Yorkers Retrofitting Homes Through Energy Efficiency Program” March 10, 2011. http://www.wbng.com/news/state/New-Yorkers-Retrofitting-Homes-Through-Energy-Efficiency-Program-117741258.html
This morning I attended the trip to the Mill Creek Urban Farm in West Philly. The day started fairly early, and the weather wasn’t looking the greatest. Either way, I was excited to finally begin work for my stewardship project.
We met and Bess drove a few of us over to the farm. Upon arriving, we got a tour from Jo, one of the farms main opperators. She explained so much about her work with the farm and what the farm means to the community. The farm began as a block of houses that were built on the Mill Creek. The houses began to sink because of the unstable sewers underneath them. Eventually the houses were torn down, and a vacant lot remained. On one side of the lot, there was a community garden for people in the area. This was important to the community, and Jo and others knew that when they proposed the farm to city officials. They were given the land that was transformed from a garbage filled vacant lot, to a beautiful urban farm.
Although some people may see bees as a pest, they are very beneficial to an urban farm. This farm has two different types of hives, a more traditional hive as well as a flat pack bee hive. Along with plant pollination, the honey is collected and sold to the community. I also learned that eating the honey from bees that pollinated plants you are allergic to, could actually help relieve those allergies!
As we continued the tour of the farm, we saw that the roof of the small building on the site was transformed into a green roof. Jo explained how the plants were able to sustain a more dry or mountain climate, like a cactus, to live on the roof. But the plants became very efficient for heating and cooling purposes. It might not seem like much, with just a few plants and rocks, but it really could make a difference in energy use.
We spent the rest of the day working in the farm itself. We helped to get the beds ready for planting of the next crops. It was a lot of hard work, but the group of us managed to get a great amount of work done. The weeding we did will be really beneficial to the plants that will grow there in the future.
The farm now helps so many people in the community. Twice a week throughout the summer and until Thanksgiving, the farm sells their produce at the farm as well as at a local farmers market. There is no grocery store in the neighborhood, so the people don’t have many options when it comes to receiving fresh fruits and vegetables. The farm is working hard to change that. It was really fulfilling to be able to help out such a great initiative that is really changing the community and even Philly as a whole to live healthier lives.
The new wave of “green” living has brought about so many positive changes to the environment. This is especially so in urban areas. The once grey landscapes are slowly turning into beautiful and resourceful places once again. Much of this is from the help of urban agriculture. However, the helpful farming does not come without negatives of its own, one of the most harmful being garden pests.
As one of the main influences of these up and coming green changes, urban agriculture and community gardening had made a large impact already. It has influenced so many positive changes, from teaching others how to garden their own food, to city restaurants starting their own gardens in order to serve the freshest food possible to customers. More and more people are becoming a part of this important trend. In doing so they are not only helping themselves to fresher, organic foods at a lower cost, but they are also helping the community to become an overall healthier environment.
However, as with all positive impacts, there also come negative issues. There are still the natural farming problems affecting urban agriculture. One of the main problems is pests. There are harmful insects and beetles that infect gardens and could potentially destroy crops. One of the common pests is the Mexican bean beetle.
The Mexican bean beetle is a member of the ladybug family and attacks many different bean plants such as lima beans, soybeans, and other varieties. Being as it is the Mexican bean beetle, it was originally found in Mexico and the southwestern United States, but because it is such an invasive creature, in recent years it has been found throughout the country, even here in the northeast (Horticulture 2006).
The beetle is often confused with a ladybug later in its lifespan. However, it begins as small yellow larvae on the underside of leaves. The females lay these eggs as often as every two weeks, so a large infestation could happen quickly (Horticulture 2006). Mid-spring is when they begin to emerge for feeding, and continue throughout the summer. They eat leaves of bean plants in a way called windowpaning. This creates a skeleton of the leaf and greatly hinders plant growth. The beetle can even move on to feed from stems and just developing bean pods (Country Living Gardener 2004).
Although the Mexican bean beetle is such a harmful pest, it can still be organically eradicated. In order to first get rid of the beetle, a farmer must crush the eggs that have been laid on the underside of leaves. This prevents any more growth and reproduction. This must be done quickly because the eggs can hatch in anywhere from five to fourteen days. The adult beetles as well as the larvae must be hand picked from the plants themselves. This is more difficult because the beetles must then be put into a container of soapy water to drown them (Horticulture 2006).
There are still other ways to be rid of the bean beetles, or prevent them altogether. Crops that are harvested early in the spring season can be free from beetles because the beetles have not emerged yet (Country Living Gardener 2004). There are also natural insects that prevent the beetles. Certain wasps and stinkbugs are natural enemies and keep the beetles away (Horticulture 2006). Insecticides may be used, but should be avoided when keeping with an organic garden.
Urban agriculture is such a helpful part of greening cities that such pests should not be an issue to keep people away from gardening. The farms and gardens can be beneficial in so many ways that the good will out weigh the bad. It is better to be helping yourself and the community to live healthier lifestyles, than to worry about a few garden pests.
Horticulture; Jun/Jul2006, Vol. 103 Issue 5, p18-18
Country Living Gardener; Summer2004, Vol. 12 Issue 2, p45-45
For my Stewardship Project I plan to work mostly with Temple Community Gardens, along with a few day clean ups to work towards my 10 hours.
Temple Community Gardens:
Wednesday, March 23 and March 30. April 6, April 13, and April 20.
4pm Homework help at Penrose Playground
5pm Gardening lesson at Penrose Playground
If I am unable to make it to one of these events, I plan to do the Love Your Park! event in Philadelphia on April 16.
Mar 19th: Philly Food Forests
Mar 26th: Beach Grass Planting with Pat
Apr 16th: Tree Planting with Lemon Ridge Tree Tenders (city wide tree planting)
Apr 17th: Philly Food Forests
similar schedule with Danielle with some possible changes.