Do you need a burst of spring while winter swipes at us for a few more weeks? Visitors from the Philadelphia region and from around the world visit during the PHS Philadelphia Flower Show. The scent of fresh-grown flowers and the potpourri of color is always a reminder that spring is less than three weeks away. Granted, the winter months here have been kind to us in the Philadelphia region. For those who are buried under feet of snow and ice, please enjoy just a tiny piece of this year’s show with a theme from the Brits – “Brilliant.”
Camden’s reputation for being among the most violent city’s in the nation overshadows the many good organizations and people who work tirelessly to improve the poor and often overlooked city.
In the gray of winter, leaders of the Camden Children’s Garden have been notified that they will have to vacate the site adjacent to the Adventure Aquarium by March 31st. The Garden’s web site indicates the site was to reopen full-time March 30th. The fight is underway to save The Children’s Garden and the program that has helped provide more than 2-million pounds of fresh fruits and vegetables for a city that has just one supermarket located a long bus-ride away for many residents.
Please read a message from a friend of mine – Mark Doorley – president of Camden’s Center for Environmental Transformation and give thought to the plight of The Camden Children’s Garden.
This is an emergency call for action to support a sister non-profit in the city of Camden that is dedicated to environmental justice and food justice. Two weeks ago the Camden Children’s Garden (CCG) received a letter from the State of New Jersey asking that most of their six acre site be vacated by March 31st. Without even talking to the CCG’s staff, the State wants the organization to continue its work of supporting the many community gardens throughout the City. This will not be possible with what the State has in mind for the CCG. It will be reduced to a rather small greenhouse and some office space, losing its much larger greenhouse facility as well as the meeting spaces where workshops are conducted for Camden gardeners year round. Why does the State want to shut down this gem on the waterfront? To make way for a more “glitzy” destination spot, to join the Susquehanna Center and the Aquarium, making this a “destination” spot. This is an outgrowth of a tired economic development plan which claims that if you make “glitzy” destination places, you will attract more people to Camden and those people will spend money in Camden. The glaring flaw with this analysis is that the people come into Camden, closing their eyes til they get to their “glitzy” destination, and they spend their money at these destinations, and that money ends up, in the case of the Aquarium and the new development under discussion, in the pockets of an Alabama-based entertainment company.
The Camden Children’s Garden serves almost every school in Camden, through summer programs and support for school garden programs. Children from throughout the area visit the Camden Children’s Garden for their many activities. The 50,000 seedlings grown by the CCG have brought to harvest 2.1 million pounds of produce for the people of Camden. It is a place where the children of Camden, particularly, can learn about science and nutrition, in a safe and inviting place. In my opinion, this is the kind of “glitz” we want on our waterfront.
There is reason to believe that the State’s move will not stand up under judicial review. There are now over 6,000 people who have joined the Save the Camden Children’s Garden Facebook page, and legislators are working behind the scenes to resolve this problem.
How can we help?
1. Donate to a legal defense fund; information to make tax-deductible donations can be found at the following link: http://camdenchildrensgarden.wordpress.com/legal-fund/
2. Sign the petition to save the Children’s Garden, which can be found at the following link: http://www.thepetitionsite.com/558/352/791/save-the-camden-childrens-garden/
3. Come out on Tuesday, February 12, 2013 to support CCG. Attend a press conference at the Garden on Tuesday at 4 PM. It is very important that children who have visited and benefited from the CCG be present at this event. Following the press conference, we will be marching to City Hall to make a presentation and plea to save the Garden to City Council. At the press conference, there will be hot chocolate for children to enjoy! More information on this effort can be found at the following link: http://camdenchildrensgarden.files.wordpress.com/2013/01/press-release-state-eviction-statement-for-email-rev2-6-131.pdf.
4. Join the Facebook page of Save the Camden Children’s Garden and invite your friends to do the same.
President, Board of Trustees
The Center for Environmental Transformation
1729 Ferry Avenue, Camden, NJ 08104
It hasn’t been this cold in the Philadelphia region for about four years – and I don’t like it. Thinking about baseball might be where I normally wander off to – but this time, I’m thinking about April 27, 2013. The Cherry Hill Art Blooms Earth Festival takes place at historic Croft Farm ( 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. – rain or shine). This is the fourth year Sustainable Cherry Hill is collaborating with Cherry Hill Township to put on this free event. We are also collaborating with the Cherry Hill School District to encourage as many of the district’s 17 schools – and any other schools throughout the South Jersey area – to participate. We’re welcoming creative art, science, math or any school project related to the earth and sustainability to be on display at the festival. The event is taking place rain or shine. We have an extremely creative media specialist – Ramona Bregatta – helping coordinate activities from within the schools. We’re talking about a fashion show with students wearing gently used clothing purchased on a budget at Goodwill or a store such as Plato’s Closet (Maple Shade). Or perhaps a fashion show with clothing made from found items – ‘Trashin’ Fashin’ was the title tossed around at our planning meeting.
We are welcoming ‘green crafters’ – artists who are making items that are from materials sourced locally – or at least in the USA; we welcome businesses that focus on sustainable or resource-saving practices. We’ll have a recycling area – still under discussion; our Gardening Task Force is working on its second plant exchange that will be bigger this year; the township will bring in compost so people can pick up plants along with a few shovels of compost for the garden. Springdale Farms is a return participant; Chimp Ade (benefits the Jane Goodall Foundation) and J-Dogs are scheduled to provide delicious – and healthy – food selections. It looks as though we will have a great moon bounce for the kids – always popular along with other activities that are family friendly which will go along with Mayor Chuck Cahn’s focus on the township’s wellness program.
We’ll have two entertainment stages with student groups performing throughout the day. Also, the local DG Band (easy listening) is scheduled to sing original tunes. All this happens as the township’s week-long Art Blooms event gets underway in the Croft Farm Art Center. Local and regional artists will have beautiful works on display in competition and art-for-purchase.
To really warm everyone up and promote healthy and safe biking, the second Family Fun Bike Ride pedals off from Challenge Grove just across from Croft Farm at about 9 a.m. that morning. Sustainable Cherry Hill’s Way to Go Task Force is working with the township and police department on finalizing the route. It will be an easy ride to encourage all ages to participate.
If you are in the South Jersey-Philadelphia area and want to keep up with the plans for the Art Blooms Earth Festival, April 27th, go to www.sustainablecherryhill.org and click on ‘Earth Festival.’ You can also send in the information form below and I will send you information if you are interested in being a vendor, green crafter, food vendor, student entertainment group or you have a display appropriate for the family-friendly earth festival.
And…since Sustainable Cherry Hill is a 501C3 non-profit organization and any funds we raise goes back into education and outreach, we are welcoming sponsors for our event. I can also send you the information about that when you fill out the contact form.
As I write this, I can feel the warm, power of the sun that (hopefully) will be shining on that Saturday. We have a lot of planning to do – and it’s so exciting to be part of this engaging – and free event that brings several thousand people out to historic Croft Farm.
We’re getting close to turning the corner in this ferocious winter. I feel it in my bones. Daylight is still hanging on after 5:45 p.m. Woo-hoo! Pitchers and catchers reported last week (there was definitely some extra pep in my step) and full squad practices are getting underway in Clearwater.
The more than 30 inches of snow from the past few weeks is melting away. Isn’t that huge, gray glob of mess at every corner and in every parking lot disgusting? My son said he wants to start a pool – choose a mound of snow and choose a date when you think the last of that stuff will be gone. I suggested if he does start a pool, any proceeds should go to charity (never say I promoted gambling). Now, the highways are opening up with those craters we un-affectionately call potholes. The contracting and expanding of the roadway, plus the plowing, the salt and sand and pooling of water all leads to these craters that shake our vehicles down to the frame. Why is it that we have a hard time spotting those things before our tire mercilessly goes “splat” into oblivion? Part of the problem is staying out of the way of every other driver who is trying to avoid hitting the pothole that you will hit while you stay out of their way.
Meantime, a brilliant site is blooming on our kitchen window sill. An Amaryllis given to us a couple of years ago sprouted from a seemingly barren pot of soil into this gorgeous, off-pink bloom. Today, we have three blooms on the plant. I know the blooms won’t last a week, but it sure is lovely to see. What actually worked with getting this plant to bloom started last fall. I read somewhere to lay the plant on its side outside and don’t water it. I brought the plant in a few weeks later. It clearly didn’t bloom in time for Christmas, but at this point in winter, I’m appreciating the effort this plant needs!
The cardinals around our house have been foraging for food. I was on the phone in my home office this afternoon and saw another gorgeous sight. A bright, red cardinal landed at the top of the pear tree outside my window and was pecking away at the buds that sprouted in the past few days. The contrast between the grayness of the area and this scarlet bird was stunning.
For now, we cope with whatever winter has left for us. We can dream of spring and vegetable gardens, the far off summer vacation being planned and, yes, ladies and gentleman, for me, baseball.