One of our stops this past weekend in Philadelphia was at Woodford Mansion. While we were treated to a tour of the house (more on that later), an army of volunteers (primarily children) were busy in the garden with shovels and spades. I was delighted to discover that they were part of the Philadelphia Orchard Project, which is dedicated to planting fruit trees in primarily low-income areas of the city. Upon closer investigation I was amazed to find the garden home to a bountiful patch of strawberries and a myriad of young fruit trees.
So why Woodford? Built 1756-1758 as the summer retreat of a wealthy Philadelphia merchant, William Coleman, the house was once surrounded by a substantial garden and orchard. In the late 19th century the house was incorporated into Fairmount Park, and its environs changed dramatically. Set on the fringe of the park, the house is now bordered by a pretty rough neighborhood. Working in conjunction with the Park Commission, which owns the house, the Orchard Project is bringing the gardens back to life ~ if not with strict historical accuracy, then at least in spirit.
I am so happy to see more and more green projects like this taking hold in the cities. Incidentally, some of these have been quietly growing for years!
UPDATE: And if you haven't already, you must read about this historic orchard reborn ~ congratulations Dilettante!