Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Easton Community Gardens Win Pennsylvania Horticultural Society Award

By Christina Georgiou

Second from left, Sophia Feller, who manages the West Ward Neighborhood
Partnership's community garden program, celebrates with Barbara DeStafano,
Elinor Levy, Yvonne Tugya, Lynn Holden, Joanne Czeck, Scott Slingerland,
and Lexy Rodriguez Tuesday afternoon at Daddy's Place in Easton. The
group had planned to accept the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society’s
Community Greening Award yesterday in a ceremony at the
Pennsylvania Governor's Mansion in Harrisburg, but cancelled their trip
due to the snowy weather.
Easton's community gardens and urban farm, programs run by the West Ward Neighborhood Partnership (WWNP), have been very popular and were an integral part of the city's experimental "Veggie Van" program this summer. And now, the program has received recognition outside the City of Easton as well.

Beating out 89 other nominees, the program was awarded Pennsylvania Horticultural Society’s Community Greening Award yesterday in a ceremony at the Pennsylvania Governor's Mansion, presented Susan Corbett and horticultural society president Drew Becher.

But, while WWNP staff, along with about a dozen volunteers, partners, and friends had planned to attend the ceremony to receive the award personally, snowy weather on Tuesday made the group decide to forgo the trip.

So instead, a number of those involved with the city gardening effort gathered at Daddy's Place, next door to WWNP offices, to celebrate the recognition yesterday afternoon.

Despite missing out on the chance to accept the recognition personally, community garden manager Sophia Feller said the honor means a lot to her and all the others involved in the community garden plots.

"It is wonderful for WWNP to be recognized by PHS for all the hard work, sweat, and...tears put into the community garden program over the past five years," she said in an email. "This award is for all of us, because it took every single volunteer and partner working together for a greener and kinder community to make the gardens and the urban farm grow as well as they have."

The award-winning project started with four urban community garden projects in 2008 and 2009 and has expanded to 13 gardens, an urban farm, a small greenhouse, and two summer garden programs for kids.  Free garden classes are offered each spring as well.

WWNP community garden mascot Rosa the Rabbit was also
present for the celebration.
Urban gardening initiative partners include the Easton Area Community Center, The School of Natural Learning, Spring Garden Children’s Center, Penn State Master Gardeners, HUD Senior Housing, Easton Area Neighborhood Centers, The Kellyn Foundation, Lafayette College, and The City of Easton that collectively bring a wide range of garden programing and education to West Ward residents. The community gardens were made possible by a grant from the Wells Fargo Regional Foundation.

In recognition of the honor, Easton City Council is expected to present a congratulatory citation to WWNP this evening at its December 11 meeting.

The WWNP was created by the Community Action Committee of the Lehigh Valley in 2005 to improve the quality of life for the densely populated West Ward.


  1. Congratulations to all on a job well done!

  2. Sorry I missed the celebration. Thanks for your time and commitment to this project!