Urban Waters: Philadelphians Show GSI Love

Julie Slavet
Dec 3, 2013

Philadelphians are known for enjoying a day out in their community park helping to tidy up or plant trees. Through the Urban Waters training program, these community members can give back, while taking their skills to the next level. Green Infrastructure Skills Training: Building Capacity and Supporting Watershed Improvements in the Tookany/Tacony Frankford Watershed program provides community members with Green Stormwater Infrastructure (GSI) maintenance skills.

GSI Training in Vernon Park
PHS’s Emma Melvin in the Vernon Park rain garden.

Due to her extensive experience, Emma Melvin of the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society (and TTF Board Member) installing and maintaining over 60 rain gardens, understands the common challenges of GSI.  On November 16th, she shared her expertise with community members interested in learning more about GSI and maintenance. Rain gardens are one of the most effective practices, so TTF was happy to host this training around our world famous Vernon Park Rain Garden!

The workshop began with an indoor informational session at the Black Writer’s Museum in the Vernon House. There, the Friends of Vernon Park, Vernon House caretakers, Philadelphia Water Department Rain Check assessors, University of Pennsylvania Graduate Students, New Kensington CDC members and others gathered to learn and share their experiences.

Next, they ventured out into Vernon Park to look at rain garden maintenance issues. Participants learned about redesigning gardens based on reading patterns water flow patterns. They picked up tools and cleared sediment from pipes, while checking on the condition of the garden. Following the lead of PHS professionals, they placed new plants in appropriate places based on rain garden conditions. Native plants like Wild Ginger, Blue Lobelia, Purple Coneflower and Ironweed were added to the rain garden. Thank you to Pinelands Nursery for donating these plants!

GSI Training in Vernon Park

Residents shared their particular interests in managing stormwater. Many discovered that GSI features were located nearby and left the workshop to investigate! Participants also took a tour of the rare books and original carvings in the Black Writer’s Museum.

When the workshop was over, the rain garden was healthier, GSI awareness was raised, and people had learned both about Germantown and events in Tacony Creek Park.

For information on the next GSI workshop, contact Alex at cooper@ttfwatershed.org.

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