We are ever grateful to all our volunteers and supporters, including POP plant donor Pamela Haines, who has generously donated hundreds of perennial flowers planted in POP orchards over the years! Chances are, if you see black-eyed susans or echinacea growing at a POP orchard site, it started its life at Pamela’s community garden.  These perennial flowers attract pollinators and other beneficial insects, making them great companion plants to fruit trees.  We asked Pamela to share her experience as a POP volunteer with us, please read below.

Brown-eyed Susans at the St James UMC Orchard in North Philly. POP Volunteer Pamela Haines has donated hundreds of perennial flowers planted at POP orchards across the city.

Did you have any experience with gardening/tree planting prior to volunteering with POP? 

I’ve been a gardener all my life.  We had a big vegetable garden when I was a child, I’ve been active in the Warrington Community Garden since the 1980’s, and I’ve supported many urban gardening initiatives here in Philadelphia over the years.  Currently I’m active with Mill Creek Farm, a small urban farm in West Philadelphia.  The board work is important, but what I love most is going out on a Saturday morning to weed and help harvest good healthy food for the neighborhood.

What has been your favorite aspect of volunteering with POP?

The main thing I do for POP is provide plants from my backyard and the community garden.  I’ve learned how to propagate red currants which is very exciting, and I always keep an eye out for new plants that spread out from my raspberry patch.  But mostly I donate flowers.  There are always black-eyed susans and echinacea volunteers coming up from seed, and I dig them out from among the vegetables and from the cracks between the bricks, pot them with soil from my compost pile, and deliver them to Phil.  I’ve probably donated 500 flowers that way over the years.  I love imagining them providing beauty and color in orchards all over the city.
Do you have any fruit trees at home?
I don’t have fruit trees in my backyard, because I know I can’t win a competition with the squirrels there.  But I do tend a big apple tree nearby.   On the alternate years when it fruits the apples fall on the sidewalk (it’s too tall for picking), so I gather them every day or two and make tons of sauce.  The apples are delicious, with hardly any blemishes or insect damage. I went to a POP grafting workshop last year, and am looking forward to taking some grafts from that tree, so I can share those good apples with lots of other people.
Any additional comments about your experience as a POP volunteer?
I’m very grateful for the existence of POP, and am glad to play my small role in supporting its work.
Interview conducted by 2016 POP Intern Eliza Norrell. 
POP plant donor Pamela Haines in her community garden.
POP plant donor Pamela Haines in her community garden.

Volunteers like Pamela 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 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.

SUPPORT US!  If you found this entry useful, informative, or inspiring, please consider a donation of any size to help POP in planting and supporting community orchards in Philadelphia: phillyorchards.org/donate.