Breaking Ground for the South Philadelphia High School Arboretum

It’s hard to believe that it’s Spring, like, yesterday. Lucky for us, the South Philadelphia High School Arboretum is here to remind us that it won’t be gray and lifeless outside much longer as they gear up to officially break ground on Earth Day, April 22.


A few weeks back we posted about the possibility of South Philly High’s new greenery being on the roof. Well, first, there will be some changes closer to the ground – specifically, the large open spaces currently around the school’s parking lot on Broad Street. 

Last June the project won a Philly STAKE grant of $1,000 that will cover their first phase of plantings. Molly Devinney, LoMo South Philly Gardens Coordinator, tells us that the $1,000 will cover plants, temporary fencing, compost and some informational signs. To make the project even more Philly, they are using Bartram’s Garden’s native plant catalog to select what plants will be the happiest at South Philly High.

While the grant is helping with the first steps, the student-designed arboretum just closed late last week another fundraising campaign through the Recyclebank program to fund things like benches and pathways to make the garden more open to neighbors. For every 250 points donated, the project receives $1. According to the Recyclebank page, SPHS received a little over $1,700 by the time donations closed on March 15. What a great way to use your Recyclebank points that, honestly, most of us forget that they are just collecting out there on the interwebs.

So, what’s going on right now while it is still cold and gray? Biology students are evaluating soil samples that they sent to Penn State labs and studying up for the work that is ahead of them. What we can do is check out the garden’s Facebook page and mark our calendars for the ground breaking on April 22.

– Samantha Krotzer, @SamanthaKrotzer

NOTE: This post has been updated to include the information that, yes, the rooftop garden is still in the works. Thanks, Kim!

One thought on “Breaking Ground for the South Philadelphia High School Arboretum

  • March 21, 2013 at 2:07 pm

    Just to clarify, plans for a rooftop garden are still in the works! An online fundraising campaign will be launched in a few weeks to make possible a SPHS campus master plan by renowned landscape architecture firm Roofmeadow. The plan will include the rooftop farm, replacing concrete with more green features, street trees and additional enhancements to the school’s campus that will make it a model of sustainability in South Philly!

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