Melinda Briceno-Keith and Kevin Keith aren't so secret about their garden. In fact, the Lyceum Avenue residents want the whole neighborhood to join in, and reap the benefits of their backyard.
For the second year, the Keiths invite the Roxborough community to cultivate their own green patches at 429 Lyceum Ave.
"It's such a humongous property, we have to prioritize how we fix it up. There's so much yard and it gets full sun. So we thought for a while of a way to get yard work done that also benefits everyone," Briceno-Keith said.
Its owners refer to it as Stonetower Mansion, for its recognizable Victorian design. The property offers 10 garden plots, which measure 10-feet-by-10-feet each.
The Keiths posted information on Philadelphia Speaks in 2011 and got several eager neighbors willing to use the space.
"We've met some really nice people. Our immediate neighbors took a plot, and people from Leverington have come over with baby... so have some college students," she said.
Each plot carried something unique. Some people sought to grow wildflowers, others chose produce. With the food surplus, the gardeners began giving produce away.
"Last year we grew enough food to feed 50 families. We have a free basket out front for people to take food," she said, adding they also offer free composting.
The garden marks another community achievement put forth by neighbors. Residents often gather for potluck dinners, and the with a grant to fix up Lyceum Avenue houses, one that Keiths are attempting to receive.
In return for the space, the Keith have four requests:
- (1) Turn over the soil;
- (2) Organically fertilize the soil;
- (3) Maintain a water barrel (nothing fancy—a plastic garbage can with a screen and lid will do); and
- (4) Contribute an herb to the community herb garden
For 2012, Stonetower Mansion again seeks people. With the early warm season, Briceno-Keith said people already began planting. Some people moved away, but several people returned.
"How can you turn down a free vegetable plot if you have a green thumb?"
If interested, reach out via email—Melinda.Briceno.Keith@gmail.com or KevinHanhKeith@gmail.com. View the complete description on Philadelphia Speaks.