Big changes are in the works at Bartram’s Garden, the country’s first garden and home of the largest community orchard in the city. This season, Bartram’s Garden unveiled their first major garden restoration in nearly 100 years. Construction is also underway on the Bartram’s Mile trail, which will connect the Garden to the popular Schuylkill River Trail in Center City as well as providing a new river park and bikepath in Southwest Philadelphia. Finally, after a successful five-year partnership between the Garden, the University of Pennsylvania Agatston Urban Nutrition Initiative, the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society, the City of Philadelphia’s Department of Parks and Recreation, and the Philadelphia Orchard Project, the Farm at Bartram’s Garden has entered a new phase as a neighborhood-based program to support food sovereignty and youth empowerment in Southwest Philadelphia.
To celebrate POP’s commitment to and support the Farm in its transition, please join us for our Orchard to Table Dinner at Bartram’s Garden on Tuesday, September 13.
Since its founding in 2011, the Farm has always been a hub for learning, sharing, and growth—not to mention delicious food! With support from POP, the first fruit trees were planted in the Farm’s Orchard in the fall of 2011. The Farm now hosts more than 120 fruit and nut trees, as well as extensive berry plantings. The Orchard demonstrates the breadth of what can be grown in our region, and its diversity helps illustrate John Bartram’s significant legacy as a plant collector. Plantings include heirloom varieties of apples, pears, and other common fruits; unusual fruits like medlars, jujubes, che, and shipova; and a section of native fruits including paw paws, persimmons, and American plums. The ‘Lady Petre’ pear was John Bartram’s own favorite variety and is worthy of a story of its own. Many of the orchard trees are really starting to produce, leading to bumper crops of Nanking cherries, plums, figs, and the first almonds from a POP orchard!
The Orchard is cared for by the staff, youth farmers, and volunteers of the Farm at Bartram’s Garden, with ongoing support from POP and the Garden’s horticultural staff. The fruit is harvested and distributed to the community by the Farm, supplementing the wide array of vegetables, berries, and herbs they grow. Last season, powered by 22 paid local high school interns, the Farm produced more than 12,000 pounds of food, worked alongside 45 Southwest families in the community garden, provided hands-on education for more than 9,000 schoolchildren through Bartram’s Garden programming, distributed over 80,000 vegetable transplants through the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society (PHS) City Harvest program for more than 130 farms and gardens around Philadelphia, hosted over 1,500 volunteers, and held 50 affordable weekly farmstands.
Agriculture was a vital part of life at the Bartram homestead in colonial times, and today the Farm and Orchard provide many valuable opportunities for reconnecting with and building upon this important legacy. The Farm’s mission includes hands-on opportunities for community members and youth to grow, preserve, and prepare their own food. These efforts range from sharing seedlings to providing community garden plots and tools to hosting cooking and food preparation workshops. Believing in the importance of lifelong learning and mentorship, the Farm programming includes a special focus on providing community youth with practical skills and helping them develop lifelong habits for good health and self-sufficiency. To read more about this vital program and support their current transition, please visit the Farm at Bartram’s Garden campaign page at gofundme.com/BartramsFarm.
Volunteers are welcome at the Farm and Orchard on the second Saturday of most months. Visit bartramsgarden.org for more details. All are welcome to visit and explore the Orchard, Farm, and historic garden during open hours at Bartram’s Garden from dawn to dusk, year round.
Orchard update written by Bartram’s Garden Farmer Ty Holmberg and POP’s Phil Forsyth