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The Flower Show

PHS Builds Community Garden with Bensalem Parish

June 13, 2019

leaf icon community gardens

David Cheng, Communications Manager
Pennsylvania Horticultural Society
[email protected] | 215-988-1631

Collaboration with Catholic Social Services Provides Opportunities for Immigrant Families 

[Philadelphia - June 13, 2019]  – The Pennsylvania Horticultural Society, in partnership with Catholic Social Services of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, will celebrate the opening of the Our Lady of Fatima Community Garden in Bensalem, Pa., with a ceremony on June 15 at 10 a.m. With major support from CSS and a PHS member, the formerly barren, 10,000-square-foot lot has been replaced by a bountiful garden, which will provide local families with beds to grow fresh food and add greenery to a central gathering space for the community. 

“Community gardens are vibrant, dynamic spaces that provide significant impacts on health, increase access to fresh food, and build deeper connections between neighbors. We were honored to work closely with the families of Saint Charles Borromeo Parish at Our Lady of Fatima grounds to create a garden that best serves their needs while bringing the powerful benefits of gardening to the entire community,” said Matt Rader, PHS President. “This partnership with Catholic Social Services is an inspiring example of PHS’s work to garden for the greater good, and we look forward to future opportunities for collaboration.” 

The large-scale gardening project was inspired by Jacki Delaney’s spring 2018 visit to Our Lady of Fatima, which serves a large community of Central American immigrants, many of whom grew up gardening with their families before settling in the Bensalem area. A CSS Board member and longtime PHS supporter, Mrs. Delaney learned of the Latino community’s desire to start a community garden and knew a collaboration between the two organizations would make it possible. 

“Working with the community for over a year to make the vision of this garden space a reality has been a joy. I am grateful to Jim Amato, Jacki Delaney, and Ed Lis for trusting me to lead this endeavor as well as our friends at PHS, the pastor and parishioners of Saint Charles Borromeo, and our AmeriCorps Vista volunteers,” said Estela ReyesBugg, CSS’ Administrator of Volunteer and Parish Community Relations. “Through this space, the Church has provided individuals with a sense of pride, friendship, a natural sanctuary, and built a community within a community.” 

PHS led the design, development, and construction of the project over the course of spring 2019. Participating gardeners worked with Justin Trezza, PHS Director of Garden Programs, on the construction of the garden, including a shed, 44 eight-by-eight-foot garden beds, a composting space, and fencing. Garden beds were planted with corn, beans, squash, peppers, and other seedlings provided by PHS City Harvest, a program supporting local growers who offer produce to high-need neighborhoods. A PHS Garden Tenders class taught by Sally McCabe, Associate Director of Community Education, was translated into Spanish for the gardeners. 

In addition to the new community garden, the site currently hosts games for a large local soccer league and food vendors every Sunday. Plans for the lively communal space include adding picnic tables and a gazebo. 

Our Lady of Fatima invites the public to celebrate the opening of the garden on June 15 with a blessing and ribbon-cutting ceremony. The program includes an opening prayer from Most Reverend Edward M. Deliman, Auxiliary Bishop of Philadelphia, performances by both an English and Spanish choir, and remarks from Jacki Delaney, Matt Rader, and James Amato, Secretary for Catholic Human Services in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. 

For more information about PHS’s initiatives or to learn how to partner with PHS on creating a community garden, please visit phsonline.org. 

About PHS

The Pennsylvania Horticultural Society, an internationally recognized nonprofit organization founded in 1827, advances the well-being of the Philadelphia region by creating healthier living environments, building deeper connections between people, and increasing access to fresh food and economic opportunity. Fueled by a diverse community of supporters, PHS delivers impact through initiatives in more than 250 neighborhoods, an expansive network of public gardens and landscapes, and the nation’s signature gardening event, the Philadelphia Flower Show. PHS invites everyone to garden for the greater good as a participant, member, donor, or volunteer.