As the end of 2018 approaches, Hansberry Garden has a lot of news to share! Thanks to generous gifts from our friends and supporters, the garden has undergone a great deal of change since this time last year, as we have completed most of the second phase of our master land-use plan. Now a group of enthusiastic new leaders is considering how best to to share our space with the community in 2019.
Building, Equipping, and Preparing
Hansberry Garden doubled as a construction site for much of the year. Over the course of 2018, the property was transformed by these improvements:
Generous funding from an anonymous donor enabled us to fulfill a longstanding plan to shape a natural basin in an underused corner of the garden into an amphitheater, using earth and stone from the house that once stood on the property.
To discourage the aggressive weeds that had colonized the space during several years of disuse, we covered the ground of the amphitheater with black plastic to “solarize” it for the whole season. We are eager to remove the plastic when spring arrives!
The same donor funded the construction of a wooden pergola which can serve as a performance and teaching space at the focal point of the amphitheater; a grant from the Weavers Way Environment Committee bought lumber for the project.
Two solar panels, the gift of renewable-power evangelist Rob Smith, were mounted on the pergola. With further help and support from Rob, we connected the panels to the apparatus that converts their output into a usable form. Now our solar installation can power our electric mower and other equipment.
Volunteers from the Mural Arts Program’s Restorative Justice Project built us a lovely new shed where we are now storing our hospitality supplies. We were delighted to form a partnership with this program, which gives formerly incarcerated individuals opportunities to learn new skills and contribute to communities affected by crime through neighborhood projects. Our new shed will help us host more community events.
Another anonymous donor funded a working stainless-steel restaurant sink. Our helpful neighbor Ray Maldonado of Streamline Plumbing installed the sink on the deck next to the shed, enabling better preparation of produce donations to the City Harvest program.
Led by Landscape Chair Chris Mendel, we built four tables with wire-mesh shelves to equip the greenhouse that we constructed from a kit in the summer of 2017. Learning as we went, we used the greenhouse to foster many of the seedlings that sold at our annual plant sale in May, after starting them under grow lights at members’ homes and the Germantown Life Enrichment Center.
Working With Growth
Gardening during all the construction activity this summer was challenging, but our gardeners rose to the occasion, with a healthy turnout for monthly “Tend the Garden Days,” potluck dinners, and special projects — even when the weather was (as it often was this rainy summer) less than ideal.
Planting and Tending
During 2018, Hansberry Garden provided space where 35 Southwest Germantown households cultivated countless varieties of vegetables, herbs, and flowers in an environment free of synthetic fertilizers and pesticides, experiencing the satisfaction of bringing life from the soil.
We organized volunteers to pick up trash at the Philadelphia Streets Department’s Spring Cleanup and to grow, harvest, and deliver 175 pounds of produce to the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society’s City Harvest Program, which shares the food with Philadelphians in need. We opened our garden to local school groups, and we shared responsibility for routine maintenance of our common space.
Once a month, we met in the garden for a potluck dinner to which we welcomed friends and neighbors who joined us in celebrating our garden’s bounty with food, conversation, laughter, and song.
New Members Step Up
Although we lost a few highly esteemed members who have moved away from Germantown or on to new projects, we are ending the year with a larger board of directors, welcoming some former members and some brand-new ones to this body of dedicated volunteers.
Planning for a Busy 2019
With rejuvenated leadership, Hansberry Garden looks forward to an eventful 2019. Keep an eye open for news of concerts, workshops, and other events as we take the wrapper off our new amphitheater and learn more about how to use our solar-energy resources and our greenhouse. Thanks to all the donors, garden members, and volunteers who have made our growth possible!
Our Wish List
Our fundraising and development goals for the upcoming season focus on helping us share our newly improved space with the Southwest Germantown community and our friends beyond its borders. On our list:
- Grading and creation of paths to make our amphitheater wheelchair accessible
- Creation of a drainage system for the amphitheater
- Seed-starting soil and equipment
- Insulation and heat sinks to extend the growing season in our greenhouse
- A trellis or roof to cover our deck
- Plenty of audience members and participants for next year’s concerts, workshops, and social activities!
We are optimistic about our prospects for a fruitful 2019, but we depend on your support. You can make an online donation through the button below.
Checks can be addressed to
Hansberry Garden and Nature Center
PO Box 44137
Philadelphia, PA 19144
Season’s Greetings and Happy New Year to all!