This spring, it has felt wonderful to resume public in-person events, as vaccination rates continue to increase and public health recommendations have allowed for these types of gatherings to resume. This spring, in addition to a number of plantings, training sessions, and orchard work days, POP held two community events: an open house & plant sale at the POP Learning Orchard at The Woodlands in May 2021, and Strawberry Day in June 2021, held at Historic Strawberry Mansion. These days were beautifully photographed by volunteer Tirzah Vogels; we hope you enjoy viewing the photos below. To find out about future events be sure to join POP’s volunteer & events email list by signing up here.

On May 22, 2021, enthusiastic gardeners arrived ready to buy perennial plants from POP’s nursery, with additional herbs, flowers, and annual vegetables available for purchase from Lunaria Gardens. Guests included POP supporters and volunteers, and visitors to The Woodlands who just happened to be passing by. Admission was free, but there was the option to make a donation and receive a jar of honey from Instar Apiaries: we appreciate this sweet support of POP through their donation of honey earlier this spring.

Clockwise from top left: Robin eggs in nest; young woman stands at table with POP merchandise; fresh summer squash plants were given away; POP Orchard director Alkebu-Lan in front of plant sales; peach tree with fresh fruit growing; two people browsing plants growing in the Learning Orchard. Photo credit: Tirzah Vogels.

Site tours were given by POP staff to orient attendees to the Learning Orchard, which includes perennial and annual crop plantings, an edible plant nursery, and solar system that powers the nursery irrigation and is fully off-grid. Thank you to local elected officials who came to visit the open house, including 3rd District Councilmember Jamie Gauthier, State Representative Regina Young of PA’s 185th District, and a representative of the office of Councilmember Katherine Gilmore Richardson.

Strawberry Day took place in East Fairmount Park, with a volunteer planting and mulching event in the morning outside Woodford Mansion at the new Fair-Amount Food Forest, and afternoon events taking place at Historic Strawberry Mansion. The strawberry beds were absolutely bursting with ripe fragrant berries, and event attendees picked at least 37 pounds of fresh organic fruit: we say at least, because we’re sure quite a few were tempted to pop some berries right from the plant into their mouths! The strawberry beds also needed to be thinned, and many took home plants to plant at home: though they will do better when planted in the ground, strawberries can also be grown in pots and planters. Consider yourself warned, though: as former orchard apprentice Garrison Hines (who’s now gardening on his own at North Roots Farm) said, once you’ve tasted a freshly-picked strawberry, it’s hard to imagine buying a pack from the store every again!

With the help of a couple of orchard ladders, attendees were also able to test their fear of heights, harvesting around 5 pounds of fruit from a yellow cherry tree, which had a much more robust harvest than the neighboring red sweet cherry tree.

Clockwise from top left: Strawberries being picked by a man and small child; Historic Strawberry care-taker Eric holding a bag of strawberry plants; tie-dye shirt hanging up to dry; boy holding up new piece of tie-dye cloth; freshly picked strawberries; girl holding up a freshly picked strawberry from her basket. Photo credit: Tirzah Vogels.

Nyambi Royster of Nyambi Naturals led guests (and more than one member of the POP team!) of all ages in a creative tie dye activity, using natural dyes derived from the turmeric and indigo plants. Using simple tools like rubber bands, wax string, marbles, and cotton cloths, Strawberry Day attendees were able to fold and tie cloth to create beautiful patterns using nothing more than plants to transform fabric squares into works of art. Did you miss this event but still want to visit East Fairmount Park? Consider taking the walking tour created last year by POP outreach & communications intern Ngoc Pham to learn a little more about the orchards and other natural sites as well as the history of this neighborhood:

This blog post was written by POP co-executive director Kim Jordan.

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