IGNITE Spring 2019 - Page 4

How did you get the idea for a community garden? Stacey: Sean and I have our own urban agriculture company, GreenHorn Gardens, where we build edible gardens in homeowners’ backyards. We both live in Upper Darby and decided to set up a meeting with Pastor David, who is the Executive Director of the Upper Darby Community Outreach Corporation. The three of us got to talking and someone asked, “Why isn’t there a community garden in our neighborhood?” We couldn’t figure it out. So Pastor David reached out to Bonner & Prendie President Dr. John Cooke, with whom he previously worked on service projects in the community. After that initial meeting, they were both very excited. Where did you get funding? Sean: A lot of it was grassroots fundraising with the help of community volunteers. Jeremy Sirkin, a Bonner & Prendie alumni, and owner of Executive Tree Care, donated over 80 yards of wood chips for the garden’s base foundation. Then Sal Sciarrino and the team at Go Ape Treeline Adventure donated 30 yards of soil and service hours. Community involvement and partnerships were really key. Stacey: For this upcoming season, we have built a designated plot to rent to community members. That will help sustain funding and build upon the sense of community that this project promotes. Were there any hiccups along the way? Sean: There were these big trees near our plot, and when we started, we didn’t think twice about them. We were lucky to have Jeremy our tree expert warn us that they were black walnut trees and their roots produce a chemical called juglone, which is toxic to plants within a 70-ft radius. We had to put a 16-inch wood-chip barrier to protect the crops. It could’ve gone badly. You have to remember, you’re in the hands of Mother Nature out there. How much produce do you, well… produce? Sean: Last year we ended up with a combined 1,500 pounds of tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, micro greens and other vegetables. But we were still planting in early July and we grew a lot of light produce. With the space that we have now (160 x 60) we are expecting 3,000 pounds. What do you do with all that food? Sean: We split donations between St. Vincent DePaul Food Pantry located at Blessed Virgin Mary in Darby and the Upper Darby Food Bank. A lot of the Bonner and Prendie students went to elementary and middle school at Blessed Virgin Mary, so it’s a great way to give back and hopefully promote the love of gardening early in their lives.