When the Emerald Street Park received a grant earlier this month from the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society, the emphasis was put more on its value than the actual dollar amount.
“The project’s worth is not something you can put a price tag on because it’s about education and influence in a community,” Tammy Leigh DeMent, program manager for sustainable communities, said.
The Green Machine, named after Scooby Doo’s Mystery Machine, is the technical-assistance grant given by the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society to nine parks in Philadelphia. Donated by Subaru, the flower-embellished van is used by program leaders to drive from park to park with tools and supplies needed to make each park greener.
“The things that we really look at are the impact on the neighborhood, the need of the park and commitment of the friends group.” DeMent said. “Emerald Street Park has a lot of that happening. It’s a smallish park that with a little bit of help can make a really big impact in the neighborhood.”
The grant, in the form of mobile gardening instruction, is more than a one-time assessment. After evaluating the planting beds in the park, the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society’s Landscapes Design team develops a new scheme with the friends group before installing plants. After the project is completed, a maintenance plan is provided to make the effects last longer than one season.
“It’s going to be through the whole summer. It just started last week when we had our first workshop,” Katrina Rakowski, the founder of Friends of Emerald Park, said. “We are going to be doing events and clean-ups and more workshops throughout the course of the year up until November.”
The next workshop on April 16 will be about sheet mulching and the next field trip will be to Chanticleer Garden in Wayne, Pennsylvania.
With clean-ups planned and seeds soon to be planted, Rakowski said she hopes the redesigning will create a safer-feeling environment and will detract negative activity surrounding the park.
“I think that projects like Emerald Street Park help neighborhoods transform themselves,” DeMent said. “People start thinking about their neighborhood in a different way…There’s more respect, there’s more curiosity and there’s just more hope.”
For a list of upcoming events and to get involved, click here to visit Friends of Emerald Park’s website.