Thomas Paine Plaza to Become 2,000-Square-Foot Urban Garden

The plaza's frequent protesters and skateboarders (and its giant chess pieces) might have to relocate – the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society plans to build a farm next summer.

thomas paine plaza

Image via Google Maps

Thomas Paine Plaza is getting a major makeover.

Next summer, the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society will transform the plaza into a temporary 2,000-square-foot urban garden, thanks to a $300,000 grant from the Pew Center for Arts & Heritage. 

PHS plans to plant a “Farm for the City,” where they hope to attract visitors with gardening workshops, large-scale community dinners, poetry and storytelling performances and interactive panel discussions held throughout the summer.

The plaza, located outside the Municipal Services Building, is a popular protest and skateboarding site, just steps from Dilworth Park and City Hall. It’s currently home to “Your Move,” a 20-year-old art installation featuring massive dominoes, chess, bingo and parcheesi pieces.

PHS wants to use the garden – and its location in a heavily trafficked public space – to encourage conversations about food access, urban agriculture and community revitalization.

The “farm” will be equipped with raised garden beds, which will grow an estimated 1,000 pounds of produce over the course of four months. Produce will be donated to Broad Street Ministry, a nearby community service organization dedicated to serving the homeless.

“We are extremely grateful to The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage for supporting the creation of this extraordinary project,” PHS President Matt Rader said in a statement. “We hope it will bring together Philadelphians from diverse backgrounds and points of view to work toward food security for everyone. We also believe it will demonstrate the power of horticulture to transform communities and lives.”

The garden at Thomas Paine Plaza will open in the summer of 2018 and close in the fall.

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