Down Jamestown Avenue in Manayunk PA, an eye-catching structure exhibits the perfect balance of industrial architecture and natural beauty. This complex is known as the Philadelphia Horticultural Society’s Pop-Up Garden at Manayunk. This is also where INDIE Congress is eager to gather for a portion of our 2021 Philadelphia Confab on July 13!
In anticipation of ILC’s Confab, we took the time to speak to Cristina Tessaro, the Associate Director of PHS Pop-Up Gardens. She credits the garden's distinct look to the high level of horticulture PHS provides as well as their ability to revitalize unused unique spaces.
The Manayunk Pop-Up Garden was once a shed where trains dumped excess coal. At that time, surrounding neighbors would use the shed’s coal to heat their homes. The history of the shed as a place where neighbors came to obtain warmth parallels the communal warmth the garden provides in the modern-day; Obviously not from coal, but gathering, food & beverage, and natural connection.
The Pop-Up Garden prospers from community engagement; Cristina explained that community engagement can start over a year before building a garden. PHS does so by conducting community meetings to ensure neighbor's voices are heard. Cristina is so dedicated to providing open lines of communication with the neighbors that she'll go as far as handing out her personal phone number to those with questions.
During Cristina's time working on the gardens, she has been able to make positive infrastructural changes. She makes sure the atmosphere of the garden directly communicates what PHS is all about: Horticulture. Cristina facilitated the creation of a fully functional community garden within Manayunk's Pop-Up Garden. The City Harvest Program makes it possible for the food that is grown in this garden to be donated to local community centers.
PHS plays a large part in maintaining the beauty of Philadelphia. Not only do they hold fun, community-oriented gardens throughout the city, but PHS also has a Public Landscapes Department that maintains and contributes to some of Philly's favorite spots such as Logan Circle, the Rodin Museum, Azalea Garden, Spruce Street Harbor Park, and the Navy Yard. The same horticulturalists on the public landscapes team design, install, and maintain all the plant materials within the Pop-Up Gardens.
Cristina gave us the insider scoop about further ambitions for the gardens. PHS is currently looking to set up a garden by Drexel University, in addition to their already thriving Manayunk and South Street locations. PHS's unique ability to take a location that was once a vacant eyesore and create something fresh and dynamic will only benefit the city of Philadelphia for many summers to come.
For more information regarding the PHS's contribution to Philadelphia please visit their website: https://phsonline.org/