Philadelphia, PA (May 2, 2016) – West Philadelphia is at risk of losing another community garden this month. On May 26, one of two properties that make up the St. Bernard Community Garden will go up for sheriff’s sale. If the sale goes through, the land would be seized from the gardeners and potentially developed.
The property at 1008 S. St. Bernard Street was put up for sale without notice by Linebarger, a private tax collection agency. Gardeners are now scrambling to postpone the sale so that the newly formed Philadelphia Land Bank can absorb the plot into its inventory and ensure that this garden can continue to be used as a place for growing food and gathering community for years to come. Gardeners are calling on Councilwoman Jannie Blackwell to advocate for the postponement of the sheriff’s sale.
Transformed from a vacant lot to a vibrant green space in the late 1980’s, the garden represents a valuable asset to the community. Today more than 50 gardeners use the garden’s 47 plots. “The St Bernard St Garden is a green focal point for the neighborhood, providing fresh, organic vegetables to those in the area,” says Jeff Knightly, a long-time gardener and neighbor of St. Bernard. “As a member of the block, it is positive gathering place for people to come and share something basic to our existence, the growing of food.”
This is the second threat to St. Bernard. The first was in 2012 when the 1010 S. St. Bernard Street property went up for sheriff’s sale. That plot was returned to the city’s inventory thanks to quick mobilization of the garden’s advocates and a last-minute bid by Councilwoman Blackwell. The plot at 1010 S. St. Bernard Street is now owned by the Neighborhood Gardens Trust, an organization that acquires and preserves community gardens in the city.
This is not an isolated incident. Holly Street Neighbors Community Garden in Powelton Village is also up for sheriff’s sale on May 26. In addition, hundreds of gardens around the city have a tenuous hold on their land, particularly in areas in which property values are rapidly increasing.
“The Land Bank will ultimately be the tool we need to preserve garden and farm spaces in the city, particularly longstanding spaces that serve as community anchors,” says Amy Laura Cahn, director of the Garden Legal Justice Initiative of the Public Interest Law Center. “Meanwhile, we need to ensure that the communities who have invested their time and energy in these gardens over the years don’t lose out to other interests.”
This year Saint Bernard Community Garden will be taking part in the Neighborhood Garden Trust’s Community Gardens day! We will be one of 45 gardens across Philadelphia that will be participating. It’s a day to celebrate urban greenspace, and a chance to get a peek at fun gardens around the city. All Gardens will be open between the hours of 10 a.m. and 3 p.m.
At our garden we’re planning a workday from 10:00-12:00 and then we’ll light up the barbecue and celebrate the garden from 12:00-3:00. Members from the garden will be on hand to give tours and information about this beautiful spot. The address is 1010 S. Saint Bernard St.(very close to 49th & Springfield Ave.) St. Bernard runs like a numbered street between 49th & 50th. Here’s a link to a map that lists our garden and all the other stops on the tour.
The garden cat hopes to see you there!
It’s Spring and although only one flower is blooming in the garden, things are moving along and we have a few updates for 2014.
The biggest news is that we have been accepted into the Neighborhood Garden Trust and 1010 St. Bernard is almost under their control and should be totally situated by the Summer. We are still working to get the second property, 1008 S St. Bernard secured.
2014 Garden Work Day Schedule
- April 15th, 10am – 12pm
- May 10th, 2pm – 4pm
- June 14th, 10am – 12pm
- July 14th, 6pm – 8pm
- August 20th, 6pm – 8pm
- September 21st, 10am – 12pm
- October 18th, HARVEST PARTY – time TBA
A huge thanks to the great crew that came out on Sunday for our May workday. We got so much done! Thanks to Hamidah for leading the day. Here’s some of what we did:
- If you have a bed along the fence you will be pleased to see that a huge section of vine has been removed.
- If you have a bed near the driveway you will be pleased to see that the dead tree has come down & sunshine now abounds.
- Lots of weeding was accomplished along the common paths, driveway, compost area, and the front hill leading to the sidewalk.
- A bed has been cleared and marked for City Harvest, top soil will be added soon & planting will be underway soon.
There are beautiful photos and interesting tidbits throughout. Here are a few lines from the start:
In West Philly, Saint Bernard Street is less a street name than a collective noun.
It is the designation given to six discrete segments of pavement, all between 49th and 50th Street yet strewn across more than two miles of urban grid. Perhaps because of its fragmented nature, St. Bernard has left relatively little imprint upon the written (and digital) records of a city suffused with history and with people and organizations who labor to document it.
But let us consider just its longest segment–the three blocks of South St. Bernard Street bounded by Florence and Chester Avenues, in the neighborhood of Cedar Park–and inquire: what can the Web tell us about it?
The full article by Bradley Peniston can be found here: A Short History of A Short Street.