By Marion McParland
While the Philadelphia Flower Show may be one of the first connections you make with PHS, did you know that it is PHS’s largest fundraiser to support our many important year-round initiatives? These include programs that create healthy living environments, increase access to fresh food, and expand economic opportunity throughout the region. This month, PHS Harvest, an initiative to grow, share, and donate food to help fight food insecurity launches as PHS prepares to open the Philadelphia Flower Show, June 5-13, at FDR Park in South Philadelphia. Together, these two major events will touch the lives of tens of thousands of people through the power of horticulture.
PHS created Harvest in May 2020 in response to the region’s escalated need for fresh food during the pandemic. With the help of gardeners, donors, sponsors, and food banks, a total of 44,000 pounds of freshly grown, organic produce was shared with families in need. In addition, more than 10,400 people came together — growing, sharing, donating — to make the success of this new program possible.
Building on last year’s momentum and success, this year’s Harvest will expand the reach and influence of this crucial venture that directly addresses food insecurity in the Greater Philadelphia region. Currently, 16.4% of households in our region are lacking access to fresh, healthy food. This number has only increased due to COVID-19.
This type of initiative calls on the collective power of gardeners from across the Greater Philadelphia region. “We are asking our community to join us in the efforts to learn to grow produce, and to share their harvest to make fresh and healthy food more accessible to neighbors across the region,” says Nancy Boutté Finn, PHS Chief Development Officer.
The initiative will be bolstered this year with a major sponsorship from Whole Foods Market — an organization whose purpose is to nourish the people and the planet. We are also excited to welcome returning Harvest participants, including Sean and Stacey McNicholl of GreenHorn Gardens in Drexel Hill, who were thrilled to learn that Harvest was returning in 2021. The McNicholls are already gearing up for their biggest growing season yet. “The fruits of our labor will be shared with friends, neighbors, local food banks, and community centers. PHS’s Harvest initiative is so important in inspiring people to grow, share, and care about our neighbors, the community, and our planet,” says McNicholl.
When you sign up to be a part of Harvest, PHS will provide you with virtual resources on food growing and harvesting. These include guides, checklists, ongoing webinars, and a listing of local retailers and nurseries to purchase supplies and tools. Other resources include access to a network of distribution agencies and partners to collect and share produce with local food banks.
For the first time ever, you can experience the Philadelphia Flower Show outdoors! “HABITAT: Nature’s Masterpiece” will take place Saturday, June 5 through Sunday, June 13, at FDR Park in South Philadelphia. The perfect setting for you to immerse yourself in this year’s theme, the Show will be set on 15 acres of open space, with the park’s gentle hills, huge shade trees, and inviting pathways around Meadow Lake.
Not only will the natural beauty of this setting surround you, but you can take in all the sites at this registered historical district designed by the famed architects who designed NYC’s Central Park, the Olmsted Brothers. This setting creates the perfect canvas for you to explore the work of 29 world-class floral and landscape designers. Divided into three distinct Districts — Design, Plant, and Gardening — the Show is filled with inspiring designs and hands-on gardening knowledge for you to take home and put in motion.
New Flower Show landscape exhibitor, Donald Pell, of Donald Pell Gardens in Phoenixville, PA, is excited about the opportunity to design outdoors for the Flower Show. “I create designs that work well with nature and natural sunlight to achieve maximum beauty with minimal maintenance,” he says. “I jumped on the theme of habitat.” Pell loves working with low-maintenance native plants to create landscapes where his clients can experience the calm of nature. “This is the perfect time of year to work outdoors, in nature — it’s a big positive for me,” says Pell.
Stretch Your Legs, and Your Mind
As part of this year’s open-air experience, you’re invited to stroll through the Show on an Early Morning Tour (reserved in advance), enjoy a Park Picnic with a pre-ordered lunch for two, or have some hands-on fun at a Potting Party hosted by designer Tu Bloom. Don’t miss Butterflies Live! — in a natural, fresh-air setting for the first time! In addition, this year’s Marketplace will offer shoppers in-season plants, garden décor, jewelry, food, and other hand-crafted items.
Learn from the Pros
Get all your questions answered in the Gardeners Green area of the Show where you’ll have the opportunity to speak with experts. PHS hopes you will leave the Show inspired and ready to try planting flowers or growing vegetables on your own with more knowledge, more confidence, and our resources to guide you.
There is ample opportunity for you to learn more about gardening at this year’s Flower Show. If you are inspired to try it for yourself when you get home, consider pledging to grow, share, or donate your crops to Harvest. Start small, with a raised bed, or go all out! PHS is here to support you on your gardening and growing journey. With your support, we can build a healthier, more livable environment for all.