The Phoenix Reporter and Item (http://www.phoenixvillenews.com)

Community garden in Phoenixville aims to unite, educate residents


By Virginia Lindak, Journal Register News Service

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

PHOENIXVILLE — Residents without yards that want to use their “green thumbs” now have a place to go.
Seventh Wonder, a local environmental nonprofit group, opened its community garden on April 6 at Reservoir Park. A picnic style event was held during the grand opening celebration.
Located on a quarter acre of the park, across from Friendship Field, the garden features 16 different garden plots, run by volunteers from the community. Local people interested in gardening, were able to sign up for a plot and can grow vegetables, flowers and plants.
Seventh Wonder co-founder Jessica Sanchez said she hoped the garden would give people in Phoenixville access to gardening who may not have a yard.
“The goal is to bring community members together over something positive,” said Sanchez. “We’re passionate gardeners.There’s nothing like this in Phoenixville. They’re (community gardens) all over in Philadelphia and we just thought there are so many houses around this area without yards.”
Sanchez said they want the project to be educational as well.
“We have several teachers working with us, or people with experience teaching, and we eventually want to have kids brought in and teach them how to plant their own food,” she said.
Sanchez said she hopes the garden will help unify members of the community who may not otherwise meet.
“Not many people go out and meet their neighbors anymore,” Sanchez said.“That’s what our hope is for this whole thing, just kind of encouraging people to get out and build something together. It gives us some pride in this area and strengthens that sense of community that you don’t find that much anymore.”
Seventh Wonder will up keeping two of the garden plots. Some of the vegetables grown in their plots will be donated to the Chester County Food Bank, as well as other Phoenixville area groups like the senior center.
Shauna Sanchez, also a Seventh Wonder co-founder, said they’ve been working on the project since last year, when they received the open land from the borough. “We went to borough council and asked them and they said absolutely, take part of Reservoir Park,” said Sanchez. “They basically gave us all this land and told us we could do what we wanted with it. They were really trustworthy.”
The group which formed in 2011, began work on the community garden last summer and gathered materials through the winter months. Sanchez said Seventh Wonder has plans to expand the garden to include more plots.
“We’re going to expand this all out as supplies last,” said Sanchez. “One of the unique things about the garden is that we’re building it all out of repurposed and recycled materials. Everything was donated to us from construction sites, or people building houses, and random Craigslist posts with people wanting to get rid of cinder blocks or pavers.”
Currently all 16 plots have been assigned to community members. Volunteers and interested people can sign up on the waiting list. More information is available on Seventh Wonder’s Facebook page.
Follow The Phoenix-Reporter-Item on Twitter, PhxvilleNews, or like us on Facebook, www.facebook.com/phoenixnewspaper1.