Solar Power, No Charge

Green Mountain Energy's Sun Club "flipped the switch" on its largest solar installation in Philadelphia at Greensgrow Farms on Earth Day. | Photos courtesy of newsworksGreen Mountain Energy donates solar panels
to community organizations

The large wooden stand high above the heads of customers picking through vegetables at Greensgrow Farms in North Philadelphia does more than just shield the sun while they shop—it’s pulling solar power, too. Equipped with 16 solar panels, the array provides the urban farm with clean, renewable energy. All told, the 5,000 kilowatt hours of power the solar array is expected to produce every year could save the organization about $1,000.

But Greensgrow Farms could not have done it alone. The nonprofit recently received a $20,000 grant from Sun Club, Green Mountain Energy’s program that provides solar panels and power systems for local organizations looking to better their communities. While the Texas-based company has been selling renewable energy since 1997, it expanded its operations to the Philadelphia area in 2012 and began looking for community organizations to offer funding for solar projects. The company now serves customers in Texas, Illinois, Maryland, New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania in markets where customers have the power to choose their electricity provider.

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New Guide to Center City Gardens

Since the early 1800s, the Pennsylvania Horticulture Society (PHS) has played a leading role in the creation, growth and management of Philadelphia’s green spaces, and they are now excited to present the first walking guide to Center City gardens and parks. As of next month, the colorful map will be available in hotels, SEPTA stations, museums, and other attractions throughout the city. An expanded version of the map is also available on PHS’s website and includes the backgrounds and histories of the sites, what to look for at the locations, and other points of interest along the way. The guide also explains the role of PHS at many of the sites.

“The idea for the guide came from PHS President Drew Becher, who realized both visitors to the city and longtime residents would benefit from a map that lifted up Philadelphia’s most treasured public spaces and some of the hidden gems of the urban landscape,” said Alan Jaffe, PHS’s Director of Communcations. “While brochures about the historical and commercial attractions of the city are readily available, a guide dedicated to our outdoor assets had not been compiled – until now.”

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Summer Bloom: PHS Pop Up Garden Sprouts in Rittenhouse Square

Photo Credit: Amanda Stillwell

What was once a vacant lot on the northwest corner of Rittenhouse Square is now the home of the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society's (PHS) latest pop up garden. 

After last year’s successful Pop Up Garden at 20th and Market Streets, PHS decided to make the project annual. This year, the garden occupies the former site of the Rittenhouse Eric Theater, which was lost in a fire in 1994.

The garden was completely designed and constructed in only two weeks, thanks to the many helping hands of PHS and various local businesses. Aside from the plants, a large picnic bench, built and donated by two PHS volunteers, is the lot's main attraction. The sitting area is coupled with bold chairs, painted by the Mural Arts Program and decorative walls recycled from the PHS Flower Show.

Like last year, the garden will once again benefit City Harvest, a PHS program that brings fresh produce to Philadelphians through community gardens. 

In conjunction with their goal to “bring everyone to the table,” PHS is creating a tablecloth that will be displayed at the close of the garden. Visitors are asked to snap a picture or two during their time at the garden to be included in the patchwork (for a $5 donation to City Harvest).

The public garden space will be open until mid-October, with regular community programs, including PHS talks every Thursday evening, children’s programs from the Academy of Natural Sciences and much more.

Garden Hours:

Tuesdays through Fridays, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. 
Thursday evenings from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.
The second Saturday of each month from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Stay up-to-date on what’s going on at the lot at PHSonline.org.

Put It In Your Pocket: How the garden at Southwest Philly’s Mitten cooperative house became the neighborhood-magnet Pocket Farm

"Kids will knock on our door and ask for collards for their grandmum,” says Emily Wren, one of six members of Mitten, a cooperative house of twentysomething coeds that runs an urban farming venture in Southwest Philadelphia known as Pocket Farm. What began three years ago as a household garden to grow food for Mitten and a neighboring house has quite literally blossomed into a community effort. When neighbors began noticing the vibrant colors and scents of fresh veggies, requests for produce and farming education began pouring in.

The garden needed to grow, and fast.

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Full Spectrum: The Greenhouse Projects exhibit combines historical science with modern growing methods in a high-tech eco-structure

Peeking out between the colonial brick buildings on South 5th Street, a 52-foot, ribcage-like structure is a stranger amidst the relics of Old City. Neon orange, green and blue plastic panels, as well as plant life, stick out from all angles. The structure is a greenhouse and part of “The Greenhouse Projects,” a special exhibit at the American Philosophical Society (APS) Museum.
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News: Harvest Time

With help from a USDA grant, PHS Launches the Community Grower’s Alliance
by Lee Stabert

The Pennsylvania Horticultural Society has been awarded a $300,000 grant from the USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture. Over the three-year lifespan of the grant, PHS will use the money to expand City Harvest, its expansive urban food growing program, through the creation of the Community Grower’s Alliance. 

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