Archive for July, 2011

Libby Goldstein Honored as Mother of Philadelphia’s Community Gardens

Sunday, July 3rd, 2011

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SWQV Gardeners submitted a petition to City Council to declare June 21, 2011 “Libby Goldstein Day” –

Dear Councilman DiCicco:

The 72 members of the historic Southwark Queen Village Community Garden, (SWQV), are writing to request your help in securing a Mayoral Proclamation naming June 21, 2011, “Libby Goldstein Day.” There is no better example of committed citizen activist –- with a green thumb –- than she.

Libby Goldstein is recognized citywide as the mother of Philadelphia’s 1200 community gardens:

• In 1975, Libby Goldstein enlisted the support of the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society and had 16 families gardening a vacant lot at 2nd and Catherine by summer.

• In 1976, Libby Goldstein organized Queen Village neighbors to clear a a larger plot, the site of the razed Henry Berk School yard on Christian between 3rd and 4th Streets, and turn it into the beautiful, productive and arguably best example of William Penn’s utopian “green country towne” it is today. (The garden “would dress up the route to Old Swede’s Church for passing Bicentennial celebrants,” she promised the politicians and stakeholders she learned to persuade.)

• In 1977, Libby Goldstein got Penn State University’s Extension Program to host gardening workshops and a demonstration plot at the garden, and became the first coordinator of Penn State‘s Urban Gardening Program.

• Between 1983 and 1987, Libby Goldstein helped create more than 100 community vegetable gardens in the city’s Latino neighborhoods, and began the long, complex process of getting SWQV and other gardens deeded to the City of Philadelphia in perpetuity for “recreational gardening,” new legal coinage.

• When fledgling gardens exploded in flowers and ripe tomatoes, unexpectedly making their neighborhoods targets for take over and development, Libby Goldstein wrangled local, state and national legislators, brought together neighborhood associations, and sought assistance from The Trust for Public Land. Her organizing led to a non-profit dedicated to preserving Philadelphia’s community gardens, the Neighborhood Gardens Association/A Philadelphia Land Trust, on whose board she served many years.

• In 2011, community gardens are a given in Philadelphia – each of them a seed Libby Goldstein sowed.

Libby Goldstein has been a pioneer of the urban gardening movement nationally, a stalwart of organic gardening principles locally, and a fountain of information and help to beginning would-be city gardeners who seek methods and soil to provide their families fresh produce and community roots. She is also a cherished member emerita of the Southwark Queen Village Community Garden. For any one of these accomplishments she deserves recognition by the City of Philadelphia. Billy Penn would be proud.

Click here for video clip: “Reading the Proclamation”

Click here for video clip: “Libby Judging Cherry Cake the Best