Glenwood Green Acres
18th Street & Glenwood Avenue, North Central Philadelphia
"I knew I needed a hobby to keep me busy and get me out of the house, and here was this big eyesore across the street—the perfect place to start a garden."— James Taylor (on his "second career" as a community gardener)
Regarded as one of Philadelphia's largest and most dynamic community gardens, Glenwood Green Acres can be found in North Central Philadelphia's Susquehanna neighborhood. In 1984, a fire caused an entire complex of warehouses to be demolished along the 1800 block of Glenwood, and the residents across the street soon imagined starting a garden on this four-acre site.
At first, Philadelphia Green was concerned that this large tract of land was simply too much for the group to handle, and initially supplied only enough materials for a three-house lot. But by the garden's third season, nearly 90 plots were flourishing. Philadelphia Green has since provided fencing, a watering system, a trellis, patio, benches, additional plant material, and technical support.
In 1990, the slope along 18th Street was transformed into a hillside garden, set among boulders and overlooked by a pergola. In 1997, the Neighborhood Gardens Association/A Philadelphia Land Trust (NGA) preserved the garden as permanent open space by purchasing the property from the City's Sheriff Sale. In exchange for NGA's taking care of the site's legal aspects, the residents need only continue what they have been doing all of these years—nurturing an active garden.
Glenwood Green Acres has won numerous prizes in the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society's City Gardens Contest. The garden serves as a destination for Philadelphia Green-sponsored tours and as a location for horticultural workshops. It has hosted intergenerational projects on the heritage of southern agriculture, as crops of tobacco, cotton, and peanuts are still grown there.
My friend Tom has a small garden here.