Gardening and Community Building @ Guild House West

As you’ve probably noticed walking around your neighborhood, the community garden movement has exploded in recent years. With prominent examples at 10th & Federal, 21st & Fitzwater, and 47th & Warrington, these gardens give neighbors a chance to grow their own vegetables in the summertime while fostering a sense of community on the block and in the neighborhood.

The Guild House West Community Garden, a newer garden situated at the southwest corner of 12th & Brown Streets, offers a unique value to its community. Its affiliation with Guild House West, a subsidized senior housing facility, has transformed garden maintenance into an integral part of facility life. Up until three years ago, the property was home to solely residential planters, but through the work of Garden Coordinator Emily Keeler and many others, community involvement has increased dramatically.

Three years ago, the garden consisted of five garden beds and an herb circle; fast forward to today and it now houses forty-three raised garden beds and a small fruit orchard. With the support of Greener Partners, Girard College, three landscapers, and the help college interns and volunteers, the garden continues to thrive, even incorporating the participation of SOL Food students (an after school cooking/gardening program) who work with facility residents. The raised garden beds offer fresh produce to GHW residents, with students occasionally doing the cooking.

Landscaper Rania Campbell-Cobb tells us that “As the garden grows, we find that our community becomes stronger.” The gardens afford residents the opportunity to trade harvest recipes, work together and care for plants, and green their residences. A resident gardening club now implements a house-plant sharing program in addition to planning garden parties. The residents “take pride in the look of the property” Rania tells us, and their pride is displayed through their enthusiastic involvement.

If you would like the chance to get involved, volunteers are always welcome.  Contact either Rania at rcampbellcobb@frpinc.org or Emily Keeler at ekeeler@frpinc.org.

— Alex Graziano