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 ••