City officials on Tuesday joined residents of Fairmount and Francisville, along with Bache-Martin Elementary School students, to celebrate the groundbreaking for Corinthian Gardens, a mixed-use community garden on Corinthian Avenue between Brown Street and Fairmount Avenue outside the Eastern State Penitentiary.
The brainchild of Friends of Eastern State Penitentiary Park, Corinthian Gardens' development began last spring with the planting of 17 fruit and nut trees for an edible forest garden, according to a release.
"Our success in turning a trash-strewn, weed-infested lot into a center for individual and community gardening efforts was no overnight achievement," Friends of Eastern State Penitentiary Park President Heidi Siegel said in a statement, thanking neighbors and city officials for nearly 20 years of support.
"First we planted trees. Then we converted an unsightly lot on Brown Street into a playground. Corinthian Gardens completes the work begun by FESPP and our neighbors to beautify the exterior of Eastern State Penitentiary."
The garden plan, which imitates the ecology of natural forests filled with a variety of plants supporting native wildlife and encouraging healthy soil systems, was created with nearby Bache-Martin Elementary students in mind.
The land will include a demonstration garden where students and staff can learn about horticulture and a natural garden play area for children up to 5 years old, as well as individual garden plots for residents and relaxation areas open to all.
Corinthian Gardens was also made possible with donations secured by City Council President Darrell Clarke, the Fairmount Community Development Corporation the Friends of Eastern State Penitentiary Park, PECO and the Subaru Foundation of America.
"Vacant land has value, and residents here saw that," Clarke said in a statement.
"I anticipate Corinthian Gardens will help bring neighbors even closer together and will be a fun learning site for the children of Bache-Martin."