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Sun-Kissed Acres: Growing Beauty, Stories of a Garden in a School Community

snatarajan's picture

This project is based on the way urban gardens have made Millcreek a better community. We asked the people in the community their opinions about the beauty of nature in their neighborhoods and created a documentary. We need people who are willing to work and dedicate time to care for the garden to make it a more colorful and welcoming place. We hope to inspire more youth to better engage in their communities and become active agents of positive change.

Who: We are three students, one from Bryn Mawr College and two from Parkway West High School

What: Growing out of our experiences in an environmental studies course last spring, we worked together to envision and design an urban garden in the Mill Creek Community of West Philadelphia.  We met throughout the summer to weed, compost, and plant the garden.   throughout this process we were able to make meaningful connections with people in the community which we were then able to create a documentary that talked about what beauty means to different people in the area. 

How: To plant the garden we had to figure out our access to resources.  Our biggest connection was the Urban Nutrition Initiative.  We were able to use extra plants from their greenhouses and leftover compost.  But luckily, whoever was working on the garden before us had done a great job setting the groundwork so we had more to work with than we anticipated at first. 

To connect with community members and to honor their oral histories, we met with different members of the community and tried to get an idea what beauty, nature, and community meant to them.  Through this, it was our goal to foster and facilitate that idea of beauty in our garden so that it wouldn't be an imposition but instead an outgrowth.  We learned that our work was a way to honor people that worked before us. They had created something that people in the community enjoyed and it became our job to bring it back.

Related Links

Where we started- finding our roots in the Millcreek community:

Vlogs documenting our experiences:

Our experiences through pictures, videos...and some words: 


Jeddy Wise's picture

Ladies this is awesome!

Ladies this is awesome! Where did you get the idea from? I just like what you are doing. I like the fact that you are working out to bringing a health and beautiful environment without the use of in organic materials.

snatarajan's picture

Thanks for your support!

Thanks so much! We knew that we wanted to create an urban student-run garden that could act as a site of experiential learning for students in an environmental science class; however, we also wanted to ensure that this garden was integrated into the community. To honor the history of the area and the people who live(d) there, we hoped to capture oral histories and visions of beauty of people in the Millcreek, so that we could fosters those visions of beauty in the garden. We ultimately pieced together these stories to create our documentary.

We're currently working on collaborating with a middle school to begin an after-school gardening club for both middle and high school students in the area.  

alesnick's picture

Thank you!

I add my thanks, Samyuktha, Kyndall, and Angel, and speak for my class when I say that we are deeply appreciative for all you taught us and for all you have accomplished and are accomplishing through this inspiring, multi-faceted project.  You are awesome!

I hope we will continue learning together for a long time to come.

dcenteio's picture

I really appreciated you

I really appreciated you ladies being here today! Learning and listening about your experiences with cultivating the garden and the greater messages you took from this project were very inspiring. It helped me to grasp a fuller and more empathetic view of what is important to people. I had trouble relating to my father and others who valued plants and gardening until I actually realized that it was not just the garden but it was the emotions behind having something that you can call yours, watching it grow, and the sense of pride when it succeeds and you can stand back and say I did that and it was great! Kendall and Angel are very bright and intellectual ladies and I enjoyed having them come visit!