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Arbor Day at Awbury Arboretum, A Great Success Thanks to Community Collaboration

May 6, 2013

“Arbor Day at Awbury Arboretum, A Great Success Thanks to Community Collaboration” was written and submitted by Branda O’Neil, Volunteer Intern at Awbury Arboretum.

Awbury Spring

PHILADELPHIA, Pennsylvania – May 3, 2013 – A collaborative Arbor Day celebration brought excitement to Germantown’s Awbury Arboretum last Saturday, April 27th.  Director of Outreach Beth Miner says “This is what I dream of Awbury being.”  The arboretum is, of course, valuable as a place of quiet and serenity, but the space is underutilized as a site for community gatherings and enjoying our neighbors.  Not so on Arbor Day!  The power of partnership among many small organizations and a huge number of volunteers made the day a great success.

Over one hundred guests strolled up the rolling lawns and into the grandeur of the historic Cope House and garden for the Saturday event.  The refurbished, wrap-around porch offered shade to tables where visitors learned about event partner My Place Germantown, a neighboring non-profit organization which provides permanent supportive housing for local homeless males.  MPG is fairly new to the community, and the day-long festivities helped raise awareness and community support for their work while offering free, family-friendly activities with a focus on gardens, growing, and green things.

Crowds were delighted by the festive accordion music, tours of Awbury’s Secret Garden, the breaking of two piñatas, and all-day flower-arranging demonstrations.   MPG hosted a raffle as well as a plant sale, for those looking to take a bit of the foliage home with them.  Young and old enjoyed food from pop-up versions of Little Jimmies Bakery Cafe, Elcy’s Café and Coffeehouse, and Zea May’s food truck.  For dessert, youth volunteers from the Grumblethorpe historic property sold hand-churned ice cream, similar to the treat they make for their farm stand and educational classes with the help of the house’s on-site ice house.

One of the day’s special events was the planting of an Education and Demonstration Food Forest in the arboretum’s “Agricultural Village.”  The Philadelphia Orchard Project partnered with Awbury, Weavers Way, Weavers Way Community Programs, and around 40 volunteers to plant an orchard of 20 fruit trees.  The project was supported by the Harlon Fund through the Philadelphia Foundationand will be augmented in the fall by the addition of berry bushes and perennials.  The food forest is a continuation of local efforts to educate community members about urban food production, the importance of healthy eating, and the joy of using our green spaces well.

Awbury and its partners are grateful for the many volunteers who offered their time and talents, including students from several Philadelphia schools.  In particular, over ten students from Dr. Michael Smith’s PR Management class at LaSalle University helped prepare the event’s marketing plan and served as volunteers for the big day.  Dr. Smith’s classes regularly execute such service-learning projects, giving students the chance to both serve Philadelphia and to experience first-hand the relationship between public relations and community building.

The Awbury staff says that more fairs, festivals, and neighborhood gatherings are to come.  Beth and her staff aim to invite one and all to at least three large-scale events a year, and Awbury offers countless other social and educational programs in the meantime.  Please visit www.awbury.org or call (215) 849-2855 for more information.

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