Compost club, vertical gardens bring more green to Fishtown

A trel­lis of hops will spring from this bed to bring some more green to East Kens­ing­ton.

With last year’s launch of the New Kens­ing­ton Com­munity De­vel­op­ment Corp.’s Sus­tain­able 19125 ini­ti­at­ive, the or­gan­iz­a­tion made a pro­nounced state­ment that this com­munity cares about the en­vir­on­ment and would sup­port and in­vest in neigh­bor­hood green­ing.

 And, since then, thanks to the con­tinu­ing ef­forts of res­id­ents, NK­CDC or­gan­izers and vo­lun­teers from throughout the area, Sus­tain­able 19125 has made a vis­ible im­pact on the neigh­bor­hood.

The ini­ti­at­ive lumbered ever for­ward last week when res­id­ents at­ten­ded the first meet­ing of the new Com­post Coop, a col­lab­or­a­tion between the NK­CDC and Philly Com­post that al­lows loc­als to com­post re­fuse as a com­munity and use the res­ult­ing nu­tri­ent rich soil in their home gar­dens, com­munity gar­dens and oth­er areas.

“This is a high tech tub,” said Toby Alt­man, Com­post Coop pro­ject co­ordin­at­or for the NK­CDC, as he un­veiled the large, three cu­bic yard ca­pa­city com­post bin, donated to the pro­ject by Philly Com­post.

The elec­tric powered tub — which Alt­man said or­gan­izers are hop­ing to soon hook up to sol­ar power to make the tub “car­bon neut­ral,” — breaks down vari­ous house­hold waste and yard debris to cre­ate com­post that is high in nu­tri­ents and great for garden­ing.

“This is ac­tu­ally a very ef­fi­cient way to com­post,” he said.

Also at last Thursday’s un­veil­ing, a group of neigh­bors work­ing to build sev­er­al ver­tic­al gar­dens in Kens­ing­ton and Fishtown met to dis­cuss their pro­ject.

Tom Potts, neigh­bor­hood ad­vis­ory com­mit­tee dir­ect­or for the NK­CDC, joined a num­ber of vo­lun­teers at a sem­in­ar held in Ken­tucky last Oc­to­ber, and the idea for the ver­tic­al gar­dens grew out of that gath­er­ing.

Held by the Com­munity Lead­er­ship In­sti­tute — a pro­gram presen­ted by Neigh­bor­Works Amer­ica, a na­tion­al com­munity de­vel­op­ment cor­por­a­tion based in Wash­ing­ton, D.C. — Potts said that as part of the four day pro­gram, the NK­CDC ob­tained a $2,000 grant to be used for com­munity green­ing.

Those funds will be used to cre­ate a series of ver­tic­al gar­dens throughout the com­munity.

“I wanted to make sure the whole com­munity got in­volved,” he said.

So far, Potts and a num­ber of vo­lun­teers have three ver­tic­al gar­dens planned in the area.

Two of these gar­dens will be flowers. One flower garden will be at Fishtown Jew­el­ers, 1615 Frank­ford Ave., and an­oth­er will be on Eileen’s Hair Salon, at 2574 Mem­ph­is St.

“I vo­lun­teered for the same reas­on every­one else does,” said Eileen Spross, own­er of Eileen’s Hair Salon, when asked her reas­on for par­ti­cip­at­ing in the ver­tic­al garden pro­gram. “I want to make the neigh­bor­hood more beau­ti­ful.”

The gar­dens are in­ten­ded save space when grow­ing in tight urb­an en­vir­on­ments.

The third garden, to be grown at 1900 Hunt­ing­ton St., will be hops, which will — when fully grown — be col­lec­ted and used in Phil­adelphia Brew­ing Com­pany’s small batch of the “Har­vest from the Hood,” an Amer­ic­an pale ale made with hops grown in the city.

“These gar­dens will en­hance the beauty of a house and pre­vent van­dal­ism (on the walls where they grow),” said Mark McGee, a vo­lun­teer with the pro­gram and reg­u­lar tender of the orch­ard at Liv­ing­ston Street and Susque­hanna Av­en­ue.

“We are mak­ing everything from scratch. Flower boxes and everything else like that,” he said.

McGee was joined by fel­low vo­lun­teers, Maur­een Burke and Holly Lo­gan as the group dis­cussed plans for the gar­dens.

“We came to the con­clu­sion that this would be really good for the neigh­bor­hood,” said Lo­gan. “To be a part of this is really a gift.”

The gar­dens are ex­pec­ted to be in place and flower­ing by mid Ju­ly, but gar­dens alone aren’t the end of the pro­ject.

 Potts said that the vo­lun­teers will be work­ing with stu­dents in area schools to teach urb­an garden­ing and sus­tain­able land use to the next gen­er­a­tion of garden­ers.

Stu­dents, he said, would be in­vited along to help plant the gar­dens and clean and green the areas where the ver­tic­al gar­dens will be planted.

“There’s def­in­itely an edu­ca­tion­al ele­ment to this,” said Potts.


Join­ing the Com­post Coop

Want to be a part of the new Com­post Coop? It’s easy to sign up for mem­ber­ship. An­nu­al mem­ber­ships run $25 for work­ing mem­bers and $50 for non-work­ing mem­bers. Coop mem­bers can bring a wide se­lec­tion of items to be com­pos­ted and can get com­post in re­turn. For more in­form­a­tion, check out The Com­post Coop on Face­book or send an email to­


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