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Community Rallying To Save Decades Old West Philly Garden

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Caretakers of a community garden in West Philadelphia are taking it to the mats this weekend in an effort to save their beloved greenspace from developers.

“That’s where we have the farm stand, there’s the spices, the herbs,” says John Lindsay, during a tour of the Wiota Street Community Garden he started in 1984.

Back then it was a vacant trash strewn lot. Today it’s a place where vegetables and flowers grow and the community comes together every Sunday to sell their wares.

“We have a ball, we hang around people comes and buys their stuff,” Lindsay says. “We have a guy that is in charge of the okra, a guy in charge of the spices.”

John Lindsay is one of the founders of Wiota Street Community Garden. (Credit: Cherri Gregg)

John Lindsay is one of the founders of Wiota Street Community Garden. (Credit: Cherri Gregg)

In 2014, the garden caretakers worked with Councilwoman Janie Blackwell to postpone the sale of the garden. But Lindsay believes the 11,000 square foot lot, owned by the Redevelopment Authority, is in danger once more. He fears a developer has a deal to build twelve homes on his beloved green space:

“I’ve heard rumors that Blackwell’s office won’t substantiate that there’s another deal cooking.”

Councilwoman Blackwell’s office did not respond to requests for comment. Lindsay says he and his neighbors are throwing a rally Sunday at 4 p.m. He expects it to be big:

“I got port-a-potties, a band. I sent out 200 invitations.”

He says the goal is to let the city know what the community wants:

“They want greenspace, we want to get as many people as we can to come out and make that statement.”

The Following statement is from the Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority:

“The property has not been sold. There is developer interest in this property, but for reasons of confidentiality PRA does not give out information on the number of interested developers or the nature of developer proposals that are still under review. All development proposals are reviewed in accordance with the City’s Land Disposition Policy.”

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