Greensgrow Coming to Baltimore Avenue

In West Philly, the site where a fire took a neighborhood favorite on Christmas Eve in 2012 will become the newest site for Greensgrow, an organization dedicated to increasing healthy and fresh produce options in underserved urban areas.

Beginning in April, Greensgrow will take over the former site of Elena's Soul at 4912 Baltimore Ave., which has remained vacant since the building was demolished following the fire, the West Philly Local reported. The site will operate as an urban farm growing small plant starts and trees; there will also be workshops and a small farmer's market, according to the WPL.

The vacant lot

Greensgrow will fit a need that community members have already voiced. This summer, interested neighbors hosted community meetings to collect input and discuss the possibility of opening a Greesngrow location at the vacant triangular parcel at 51st & Baltimore. That possibility became strained earlier this year, when issues surfaced between the City, eminent domain, and the owners of vacant, bruised buildings along the 5000 block of Baltimore.

According to the WPL, owner Algernong Allen signed a contract that gives Greensgrow the site rent-free for the first year, though it will pay operating costs and taxes.

Looking toward 48th St.

It's wonderful to see that this community institution will take root, so to speak, at 4812 Baltimore Ave. next month. It's also great to see Allen's foresight and real investment in the community by not jumping right into a development deal and possibly selling the lot. Instead, he plans to revisit whether rebuilding is a feasible option a couple of years from now. Next door, Cedar Park Cafe, also damaged by the fire, has since reopened. Gary's Nails has not. Perhaps the new bustle from Greensgrow will result in that business reopening soon. Or another one might take its place instead, we'll just have to see how it plays out.