Plants sprout at the community vegetable garden at the Nicholas and Athena Karabots Pediatric Care Center. Cars honk, tires squeal and the El rattles, but those city sounds can’t diminish the serenity found in The Garden at the Nicholas and Athena Karabots Pediatric Care Center, part of the CHOP Care Network.
The lush oasis at 48th and Market streets in West Philadelphia is the product of thriving collaborations and partnerships.
The dream of a community garden was pushed into reality with the help of volunteers from the Credit Union National Association (CUNA), the Pennsylvania Credit Union Association, RealClearPolitics and the Democratic National Convention Committee.
In conjunction with the 2016 Democratic National Convention, held in Philadelphia, the groups took on the project. The effort represented a tradition of credit unions honoring cities that host national party conventions with “leavebehind” projects that serve local communities long after the conventions have left town.
The Youth Advisory Council (YAC), a group of tweens and teens that advises on projects across Children’s Hospital, provided input on the design and programming ideas. Then YAC members came to The Garden in the spring and dug in the dirt, planting an entire bed of tomato plants.
In all, more than 300 volunteers spent time in The Garden and filled the 1,200 square feet of raised beds with about 500 plants.
The property also boasts a 10-tree fruit orchard that will produce apples and other delicious fruits for years to come.
What we grow
Purple sweet potatoes
Help with day-to-day operations
Neighborhood families enjoy the Books and Cooks story time. A flourishing relationship with The Enterprise Center (TEC), which provides business education and economic development opportunities to high-potential minority entrepreneurs, accounts for the day-to-day garden operations. One fulltime farmer and two interns from TEC manage upkeep, harvesting and distribution of surplus produce.
In 2016, about 1,000 pounds of produce was harvested from The Garden. Some of the bounty was used for activities at the center; the rest was shared with families that are part of CHOP’s Healthy Weight Program and Early Head Start, a comprehensive early childhood development and family support program based at Karabots.
In addition to offering a tranquil place to relax before and after appointments, The Garden hosts a variety of educational programming and community events. A favorite activity is CHOP’s Books and Cooks series, which features story hours for children and healthy food preparation demonstrations using produce from The Garden.