CommUnity Garden @ The Creek

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Interview Credit: Isabella Ntigbu, 2023-2024 Penn Medicine Center for Health Justice Medical Student Fellow/University of Pennsylvania Medical Student

Situated in the Mill Creek neighborhood of West Philadelphia, the CommUnity Garden @ The Creek is a collaborative, multipurpose public space that utilizes the frameworks of horticulture, education, art, and environmental wellness to promote community upliftment. The organization’s mission is centered on fostering intergenerational relationships, practicing creativity, and stewarding growth for members in order to create a lasting legacy for the community.

After a series of meetings and discussions led by community leaders, stakeholders, and residents ranging in age from 7-77, the CommUnity Garden was officially developed. In this design process, the core values and goals for the Garden were established. This includes:

  • Providing a space that expands curiosity
  • Building meaningful connections across generations and with the Earth
  • Increasing the accessibility of public greenspace and fresh produce in West Philadelphia
  • Honoring the history of the Mill Creek neighborhood and watershed
  • Nurturing youth leadership, civic engagement, and environmental stewardship
  • Providing a space for communities to gather, relax, and feel a sense of calmness
  • An outdoor classroom for environmental education, literacy, mindfulness, and the arts
  • Supporting physical, mental and spiritual wellness
  • Providing a space that can connect and unify surrounding West Philly neighborhoods

The formation of these organizational pillars embodies the investment of all involved personnel, residents and stakeholders alike, who wanted the Garden to reflect the spirit of the communities that it serves. Overall, the CommUnity Garden @ The Creek team believes that the most impactful outcomes are achieved when “people come together across differences and work towards a common goal.”

This year promises some exciting endeavors for the Garden, including its expansion, which offers a walking labyrinth, memorial garden orchard, and rain collection system that will aid in the ability to grow more fresh produce and herbs. They also look forward to hosting youth-centered programming that will introduce elementary and middle school aged students to urban gardening, and plan to collaborate with other community based organizations this summer and fall to facilitate more intergenerational events. Additionally, the organization has been working in tandem with the Alain Locke School and MIT University to conduct community-centered historical research, in respect to one of the Garden’s pillars, which is to “honor the history, culture, and legacy of the Mill Creek community and watershed.” Therefore, this past spring, 8th grade students from Alain Locke collaborated with MIT graduate students to delve into the rich, comprehensive history of the Mill Creek community. Together, they compiled their findings into a project proposal, aiming to present how such history can be honored not only at the CommUnity Garden, but throughout the entire Mill Creek area.

The CommUnity Garden @ The Creek shows deep appreciation for Deeply Rooted’s support “in bringing to life the latent potential of this empty lot” through the Community Green Grant award. They state that the grant has “expanded our garden beds to grow more fresh produce with our community, has installed an off-grid water collection system, and has been hosting gardening programs for several groups of youth in our neighborhood.” More importantly, they emphasize how Deeply Rooted as a whole plays a pivotal role in “helping to connect sacred spaces throughout our community.”

The Garden’s insightful perspective reiterates the paramount role Deeply Rooted and the Community Green Grant awards serve in making community beautification and wellness in Philadelphia the norm, rather than an afterthought.

The pioneering efforts of the CommUnity Garden @ The Creek cannot be ignored, and we look forward to witnessing the upcoming ventures of this remarkable organization.

Stay in Touch with The CommUnity Garden @ The Creek:

Email: cutatthecreek@gmail.com

Website: www.communitygardenatthecreek.org

Instagram: @communitygardenatthecreek

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