Tree rescue!

Thanks to the generosity of Cloverly Park's friends, we will be able to move ahead and contract for the professional tree work need for the park's katsura and pawlonia. Many, many thanks to those who made contributions.

Before the arborist begins the work, our next step is to clear the large area under the katsura of the growth that is robbing this shallow-rooted tree of moisture.

We will meet at 9:30am on Saturday, July 29, and would hope to finish by 11:30am. (The more hands we have the sooner we will finish.) All ages and abilities welcome: we will be pulling plants and bagging them up for Parks & Rec to compost.

If you can join us, please let us know by Tuesday July 25.

In the garden, in the park

We have news from the community garden and an urgent need from the park.

First, the news. The Old Tennis Court Farm community garden is open! The property owner agreed to an interim lease with Neighborhood Gardens Trust, and thanks to the tremendous effort of the gardeners, park neighbors, and volunteers who cleared more than 20 months of overgrowth in just a couple weeks, there will be a 2017 harvest. (There are a few plots left; those interested should go to www.oldtennsicourtfarm.org). In the meantime, the purchase process is moving along, with the environmental assessments and survey now complete.

Now, the need. Two of Cloverly Park's beautiful old trees, the soaring katsura (near the School House Lane steps) and the enormous pawlonia, urgently need some professional care that Parks & Recreation cannot provide at this time (see the dedicated page with photos). We have found a trusted arborist who has given us a very, very reasonable proposal for the work. However, we need to raise $1,500 to ensure that these treasures get the timely and special care they need. We also need to clear the growth around the katsura.

Can we pull together to help give Cloverly's trees this urgent TLC?
    •    To contribute, please use this form and mark the "tree campaign" box.
    •    If you would be willing to come out to the park for a couple hours to help clear vegetation around the katsura, please let us know via email to cloverlypark@yahoo.com

While new vegetable plots and towering old trees may seem disparate topics, what joins them is gratitude. We thank the many people who came out for the Cloverly’s spring Love Your Park service day and so generously gave of their time: park neighbors and gardeners, a group of men from the Drexel University chapter of Pi Kappa Alpha, and middle-school students and teachers from Fitler School.  And we are so grateful to Natural Lands Trust and Neighborhood Gardens Trust, our partners in the Old Tennis Court Protection Project, for everything they are doing to effect the purchase of the Old Tennis Court Farm site.

 

 

The Old Tennis Court Farm is Open for the Summer 2017 Season!

We have wonderful news to share:  Germantown Friends School, the current owner of the Old Tennis Court Farm property and our partner Neighborhood Gardens Trust, have entered into a license agreement allowing the Old Tennis Court Farm to operate once again.  This means that while the sale process from GFS to Natural Lands Trust continues, the garden will function.
But first, we need to clear away nearly 20 months of overgrowth, rev up the solar-powered pump and irrigation system, and make some repairs.
And for that we need YOU.
You can help four ways:
1. Come out to the garden and help clear the plots and the surrounding area.
Our first service day will be Saturday, May 20, from 9am to 2pm. We will host a day of reclamation work as part of Cloverly Park’s Love Your Park day of service. Whether you can help for one hour or three, please join us.
2. Purchase perennials at the Friends of Cloverly Park Plant Sale on Saturday, May 20, from 12 noon to 3pm.
3. Contribute to the Old Tennis Court Farm Protection Project as we complete the purchase and begin to address deferred maintenance at the site. Go to www.friendsofcloverlypark.org
4.  Become a member of the Old Tennis Court Farm gardener community.  More information at:  www.oldtenniscourtfarm.org

 

One (big) step closer: Update on the Old Tennis Court Farm Protection Project

On schedule, at the close of 2016, the Old Tennis Court Farm Protection Project met an important first milestone in the acquisition of the land at 5407 Wissahickon Avenue: while fund-raising continues toward the community match goal of $75,000 toward purchase and post-purchase site improvements, the purchase process can now begin.
 
Funds have been raised to begin the purchase process. Contributors to date include individuals, community organizations, private philanthropies, corporate donors, and the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development, Commonwealth Financing Authority, via the Greenways, Trails and Recreation program.
 
The Old Tennis Court Farm is now under agreement with Natural Lands Trust for acquisition. It is planned that in early 2017 Natural Lands Trust will purchase the property from Germantown Friends School and soon thereafter transfer the land to the City of Philadelphia Department of Parks & Recreation as an addition to Cloverly Park. During its ownership by Natural Lands Trust and, in time, the City, the garden will be leased to Neighborhood Gardens Trust, a role that NGT already fills for other gardens under city ownership, providing insurance coverage and other resources for these community gardens.
 
Efforts are underway to open the garden in April 2017. Pending approval by the owner, while the purchase is being finalized, the Old Tennis Court Farm Protection Project would have access to the site in order to prepare for a full 2017 growing season.
   
There is still much work ahead to complete the acquisition and reopen the garden, but we have reached this important first milestone because of the many people who have already given their support—in so many varied forms—to this project. We are deeply grateful for the generosity and enthusiasm that so many have already have contributed.
 
One important form of support is communicating to the broader public about the effort. We appreciate the interest of the local press, park advocacy groups, and the environmental community, most recently via an article by Mike Weilbacher, executive director of the Schuylkill Center for Environmental Education. (Read Mike’s article here.)

We look forward to keeping you updated on our progress toward the goal of acquiring the site, reactivating the Old Tennis Court Farm, and maintaining it as productive public greenspace.

 

Falling in Love (with your park)

Many thanks to those friends and neighbors who came out for the fall Love Your Park service day on Saturday!

Among them were our newest neighbors, Charter Court's new owners and management team, who joined long-time employees and residents to work alongside us.

Fueled by hot cider, coffee, and donuts provided by Charter Court, we planted daffodil and crocus bulbs around the dogwood trees along Wissahickon Avenue, cleared the "Pathway" garden of weeds and overgrowth, removed vines and other invasives from the entire south border of the park, tended the trees, removed storm debris and litter, made some repairs, and raked up leaves. The enormous amount of organic matter that was assembled will come back to us as mulch, thanks to the special pick-up that Parks & Recreation ran on Saturday.

Weekends are precious time for family, friends, chores, and worship, and we appreciate those who make the effort to come out on these special service days, when having many hands makes certain tasks easier, even possible.

But keeping Cloverly's two acres beautiful requires near-daily attention. We know there are many who, as a matter of course, pick up trash and litter in and around the park, move fallen branches to the main entrance for pick-up, or even tend a section of the gardens.

Thank you to all who help keep Cloverly a beautiful neighborhood asset.

Within reach!

Through the Greenways, Trails and Recreation Program, the PA Department of Community and Economic Development has awarded our partner, Natural Lands Trust, a grant of $225,000 in support of the purchase of the site at 5407 Wissahickon Avenue.

This award, along with the tremendous generosity of the community, which to date has committed more than $40,000 in outright gifts and pledges, puts the purchase and preservation of the site of the Old Tennis Court Farm within reach!

You can help close the gap of $12,000 to meet the full purchase price of $277,000:

For more about the state award, see the press release from the office of Rep. Rosita Youngblood, who championed our cause.

 

Common Ground

When Chestnut Hill Local writer Stacia Friedman interviewed us about our efforts to acquire and preserve the Old Tennis Court Farm, she was struck by the way that the garden drew members of a very diverse community.

Over the years it was in operation, we met not only immediate neighbors from the West Chelten and Queen Lane neighborhoods in Germantown and East Falls, but gardeners from East Germantown and Mt. Airy, even Center City and South Philadelphia.

We were different colors and different ages. We had different levels of incomes. Different genders. Different orientations. Some of us wished our jobs didn’t consume so much of our time and energy. Others wished they had a job to go to. We went to different churches—or maybe no church at all. We had different ideas about the world, and vastly different experiences had formed us.

But we had, as it turned out, common ground.

Whether we knew a lot about gardening or were new to dirt, trowels, and weeds, whether we needed to put food on our own tables or hoped to put food on the tables of others, we all wanted to grow that food.

And over each season, as we nurtured our seedlings, prayed for rain, cursed the weeds, and harvested our carrots, kale, zucchini, and beets, we began to find the similarities behind the identity labels that tell such an incomplete story: Our concerns for our aging and ailing parents. Our deep love for our spouses and partners, children and grandchildren, nieces and nephews, siblings and friends. Our hopes for this city that is long on potential and always seems just another reach away from meeting it.

We found that you can grow community in a garden.

See Stacia Friedman’s article at http://www.chestnuthilllocal.com/2016/08/04/green-germantown-neighbors-rally-save-urban-farm/

See also our article in the East Falls Local: http://www.eastfallslocal.com/northwest-residents-hope-to-preserve-community-garden/

Help purchase and preserve this vital community resource. Donate online or mail a check.

New Territory

As visitors to this site can no doubt tell, the big news from the Friends of Cloverly Park is the Old Tennis Court Farm Protection Project. This is new territory for us. We have never undertaken any fundraising of this magnitude. But this is an extraordinary situation: Germantown Friends School has offered the community the opportunity to purchase and preserve forever a 0.65-acre parcel of land adjacent to the park.

If Cloverly’s neighbors and friends can raise sufficient funds to effect the purchase, we can bring back the Old Tennis Court Farm, the thriving community garden that operated on the site from 2009 to 2015.

Once again, the neighborhood would have a place for community members to raise fresh, organic fruits and vegetables for their own tables, their friends and families’ tables, and those of the community’s food-security programs.

The purchase price of the parcel is $277,000. We are working with Natural Lands Trust, which is seeking public funds for a portion of the cost. We have set a goal of raising least $75,000 from the community. Each gift, whether $5 or $500, will be important because it will have come from you, the community.

We have just begun getting the word out about the project, and we hope you will help us in doing so. And if you have ideas or suggestions for fundraising, please contact us.