Philly’s Greensgrow Farms readies for westward expansion

Greensgrow Farms is planting more permanent roots in West Philly.

Come Friday, the urban agriculture and community education nonprofit will open the gates to its new location, 5123 Baltimore Ave., ahead of its formal grand opening celebration on Sept. 8.

This week, Greensgrow closed its temporary West Philly spot down the street at 4912 Baltimore Ave., which it used for three years as a retail center and hub for gardening advice until the group could finalizeits new lot.

To Ryan Kuck, project director for Greensgrow West and a 10-year veteran with the organization, the need for a permanent West Philly location came from the community’s culture and history.

“In West Philly, [there’s] a tremendous gardening community that’s been out here for generations,” Kuck, 35, said. “You have a lot of gardeners from the south who were gardening on vacant lots, and you have a lot of history being lost, from developers taking lots, seeing people age out, to seeing the transition over generations.”

“There was an unmet need for helping these people that are already doing this work,” said Kuck, adding that Greensgrow West’s permanent location further down Baltimore Avenue will provide resources and aid in crossing a generational gap in knowledge.

In addition to its plant and flower sales, Greensgrow West also plansto implement community education classes on the many facets of gardening, and will also run a chicken coop, after-school activitiesfor children and will continue its SNAP Box program, a farmshare box that provides ACCESS Card recipients with five to eight produce items.​

Lee Baldwin, retail manager for Greensgrow West, said the move farther west will allow the nonprofit to perform more of the duties it’s dedicated to.

“The day we moved into 4912 [Baltimore Ave.], it was too small for us.We knew that, and we were forced to be a very small garden center, when we really wanted to be an extension of Greensgrow proper,” Baldwin said, referencing Greensgrow’s flagship location in Kensington.

Baldwin said the team was constantly playing “plant tetris” at its first West Philly location, but with it’s new location, which is about twice as large, the team will be able to focus on growing and providing resources to the community.

Ultimately, the hope is toengage with new community members and create a space where all feel welcome, a vision Greensgrow’s late founder Mary Seton Corboyworked for up until her passingthis weekend.

“[Mary’s]essence was about this idea that everyone feels welcome, and everyone has something that they get from coming, that they appreciate,” Kuck said. “This idea to make this someething that invites a whole new group of people into the Greensgrow family was really exciting to her.

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