Volunteer Spotlight: Plant Donor Jeanette DiMeo

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We are eternally grateful to our volunteers and supporters, especially POP plant donor Jeanette DiMeo, who has generously donated us many fig trees that we have planted in orchards across the city! We asked Jeanette to share her experience as a volunteer with us. Read on to learn about her “Hershey bar figs.”

Q. Did you have any experience with gardening/tree planting prior to your involvement with POP?
A. I have many years experience growing tomatoes, lettuce and greens, peppers, eggplant, summer and winter squash, and pole beans of many varieties. From April to November, we are able to supply most of the vegetables for our household from our homemade raised planter beds, and winter squash lasts into February.

Q. How did you become involved with POP?
A. I discovered fig trees a few years ago . My Italian-born dad, who’s in his nineties and now lives with us, wanted to plant fig trees on his property. One tree took about three years to bear fruit, but was well worth the wait – wow- it tasted like the fig equivalent of a Hershey bar! After that taste, I was hooked! My husband Howard would cringe when I would go to a stranger’s door and ask for cuttings from the fig tree in their yard , but the owner would usually be happy to share stories about the tree’s history, and pass along some cuttings. This year, .there are already 100-plus fig trees on our property. In the fall, when [POP Program Director] Robyn Mello appears in the driveway to cart away about half of them, Howard breathes a sigh of relief!

Q. What is your favorite fruit tree or fruit, and why?
A. There is a large, old apple tree toward the back of our yard that yielded apples for 6-7 weeks last fall. Also, I attended a POP grafting workshop – lots of friendly, interesting people in attendance-where I was offered an Ashmead’s Kernel apple. Amazing apple…so we are now planting the backyard with Ashmead’s, as well as a few other heirloom apple trees.

Q. Any additional comments about your experience working with POP?
A. POP is an inspiring organization that is slowly, neighborhood by neighborhood, restoring William Penn’s original dream for Philadelphia: his desire for a “greene country town.” Planting fruit trees and shrubs in community gardens, teaching others how to harvest their own food, and beautifying neighborhoods simultaneously- it’s great!

Growing figs AND electric violins! Jeanette in her garden holding a solid-body violin she created.

Growing figs AND electric violins! Jeanette in her garden holding a solid-body violin she created.

Volunteers like Jeanette are essential to POP’s ability to plant and maintain orchards throughout Philadelphia. If you are interested in helping plant and maintain orchards in the city, please join our volunteer email list or visit our events page to sign up for an upcoming volunteer opportunity, where you can learn about planting, help your community, and connect with your neighbors! If you have fruit trees, berry bushes, or other useful plants that you would like to donate to POP, please contact Phil Forsyth at phil@phillyorchards.org.