For Viking Mill, Little Berlin and Emerald St. Urban Farm (Patrick Dunn’s project, the same guy behind Marathon Farm), a vacant lot in East Kensington is a place of possibilities, not a space for dead grass and remnants of its prior occupant. These three organizations are collaborating in an effort to create an edible landscape constructed and maintained as a creative community art space called the Fair Grounds Project near York and Boston Streets. It is their hope that this fresh start to an empty space will become a hot spot where visitors can literally pick their own harvest, shop at flea markets and enjoy community events like outdoor films and dinners.
The plan for this urban garden includes a pick-your-own blueberry, raspberry and strawberry patch; herb spiral; a custom iron gate by welding artist Bill Capozzoli; hops-vine lattices; the Soil Kitchen windmill (generously donated by the Kitchen); and a giant, elevated honeycomb in Fibonacci sequence by artist Scott Bickmore. Eickmore will be building this center piece to remind people of the importance of bees in our food supplies and the problem of the disappearing swarms.
“This project is a marriage of art and food, says Kelani Nichole, a member of Little Berlin. “There will be temporary art installations that will address ideas about sustainability and locally sourced food, too.” Little Berlin currently runs a gallery that doesn’t get their artists as much attention as they’d like, and they view this Fair Grounds Project as a huge opportunity to get more people to see the artwork that is out there. Viking Mills, the old textile mill that has been converted to artists lofts, owns the lots for this project, which they’ve donated for four years to these organizations, free of charge, just to see something positive and well-maintained happen with the land. “With Viking nearby,” says Nichole, “there is a huge community of support here, and Fair Grounds will hopefully become a place for our community to come together and create something.” Fair Grounds plans on holding film screenings, lecture series and occasional dinners with Emerald St. Urban Farm in the future.
The organizations are currently looking for volunteer help in the form of urban landscapers and architects, community organizers and artists. This Saturday at 2pm (on Spring Clean-up Day) the Fair Grounds Project Kickoff event will take place, allowing the community to check out the space and enjoy snacks and family activities to raise money for the garden. This is a great project that has the potential to bring Philly something we’ve never had before, and push the boundaries of a community garden. If you’d like to help make this project a reality, join the mailing list to stay updated when they’re ready to reopen funding later in the summer!