Northeast Times

Parkwood plans community garden

The Park­wood Civic As­so­ci­ation is look­ing to grow — in mem­ber­ship and by lend­ing a hand in start­ing a com­munity garden.

The civic group hasn’t con­duc­ted a mem­ber­ship drive for sev­er­al years, treas­urer Joe Mc­Carthy said after the or­gan­iz­a­tion’s March 20 meet­ing in St. An­selm’s church hall on Dunks­ferry Road.

Vice Pres­id­ent Bill Ne­veil said he’s hop­ing Park­wood res­id­ents will show up and join at the as­so­ci­ation’s next ses­sion, at 7 p.m. on Wed­nes­day, April 17. An­nu­al dues are $20.

Rita Var­ley has asked for the or­gan­iz­a­tion’s help in set­ting up a com­munity garden on Fair­mount Park prop­erty ad­ja­cent to Com­munity Col­lege of Phil­adelphia’s Town­send Road cam­pus.

The as­so­ci­ation is be­hind the idea, Mc­Carthy said, but he ad­ded that the De­part­ment of Parks and Re­cre­ation re­quires the group to carry in­sur­ance in or­der to use park land. In­sur­ance is something the civic doesn’t have, and it doesn’t have the money to pay for it either, Mc­Carthy said.

“We have $35,” he said. He re­searched costs of in­sur­ance and found out an­nu­al premi­ums were about $1,000.

Get­ting more dues-pay­ing mem­bers will help raise the in­sur­ance money, Ne­veil said.

Res­id­ents can get a lot out of join­ing the as­so­ci­ation, he said. Not only do mem­bers meet their neigh­bors and learn about com­munity is­sues and events, they also get to meet loc­al pub­lic of­fi­cials or their staffers.

Res­id­ents can, in a very real sense, talk face-to-face with the of­fice­hold­ers or pub­lic em­ploy­ees who can help them with ques­tions about gov­ern­ment ser­vices.

For ex­ample, long be­fore de­vel­op­ment work on Ben­jamin Rush State Park began late last year, state of­fi­cials gave civic as­so­ci­ation mem­bers a de­tailed run­down of the plans for the park.

Var­ley said state Rep. Ed Neilson (D-169th dist.) sug­ges­ted she ap­proach the civic as­so­ci­ation with her idea for a com­munity garden last year. After that, she said, with help from Bill Ra­pone, an aide to City Coun­cil­man Bri­an O’Neill (R-10th dist.), she got in con­tact with the De­part­ment of Parks and Re­cre­ation, which sug­ges­ted 18,000 square feet, about a half-acre, south­east of Com­munity Col­lege.

She said she en­vi­sions an or­gan­ic garden with fruit and nut trees as well as per­en­ni­als like blue­ber­ries, rasp­ber­ries, straw­ber­ries, as­paragus and rhu­barb planted along with plots for an­nu­als. No pois­ons or chem­ic­al fer­til­izers will be used, she said.

Var­ley doesn’t class her­self as a garden­er with vast ex­per­i­ence, but hopes for help from garden­ing vet­er­ans.

“I’ve got a lot to learn,” she said. 

No lease has been signed yet, Var­ley said in a March 22 phone in­ter­view, be­cause the in­sur­ance hasn’t been ob­tained.

Any­one in­ter­ested in par­ti­cip­at­ing can con­tact Var­ley at NEG­arden­Group@gmail.com ••

You can reach at jloftus@bsmphilly.com.

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