Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens Plants Our City Green with Homegrown
Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens has expanded its green footprint over the years far beyond the conservatory itself with education and outreach programs. Now, for the fourth year, Phipps is planting raised bed gardens in the backyards of Homewood residents through their Homegrown program. “We started in 2013 and had ten families participate,” says Gabe Tilove, adult education coordinator for Phipps and overseer of Homegrown. “In 2014, we added 20 more and an additional 60 in 2015.” This spring, they installed their 100th garden in the Homewood region, a “food desert” based on the lack of immediate grocery stores available and economic barriers to fresh produce. “Fresh produce can be a little more expensive and isn’t as calorie-dense as other options,” Tilove explains. But Homegrown fills that void, providing the resources needed to pluck ripe tomatoes, peppers, green beans, and herbs (a few of the options available) from their backyards, and even checking in frequently over the first two years to ensure success. Residents have really taken to the program, sharing with their neighbors and encouraging even more participation through word of mouth. “The response has been really positive,” says Tilove. “Some people came as already experienced gardeners, others are new growers. A lot find it relaxing and enjoyable and like teaching their kids.” Plus, every fall, Phipps distributes daffodil bulbs to participants, contributing more than 2,500 blooms over the last three years and fully growing the relationship between Phipps and Homewood.
Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens, 1 Schenley Drive, Oakland. 412.622.6914. phipps.conservatory.org.