Students about to enter their first year at Jefferson University Medical School volunteered at Jefferson Square to remove overgrown plants, and in the process were introduced not only to their neighbors and fellow students, but also to the green spaces of Philadelphia.
A dozen or so students, organized through PHS’s Green Machine initiative, cleared the canvas in Jefferson Square by removing overgrown evergreens and thorny roses. They pulled out big weeds from soil, put down cardboard to cut off weeds’ access to nutrients and sun, and then added wood chips on top to prevent wind blown weeds from taking root.
“It’s always nice to see people meeting each other for the first time, knowing they’ll be together for the next number of years,” said Nic Esposito of PHS. Tentative at first, the volunteers were a well-oiled machine by the third or fourth garden bed. “It was clear they were medical students from their orderly, systematic approach to their work,” Nic said.
It happened to be “old timer’s day” at Jefferson Square, when people who once lived in the neighborhood visited with current residents for a picnic. It was a great opportunity for the students to meet the people who use the park, and for them to better understand what’s involved in its maintenance. Now that the canvas is set, the next step will be for PHS to present a drawn plan (with plant list) to the residents for approval.
“The students who volunteered in the park were a pleasure to be with,” said Mike Toklish, president of the Friends of Jefferson Square Park. “They were all interested in the park’s horticulture and its history. They did an outstanding job with our ‘sheet mulching’ project, and completed eight large flower beds. We hope to see them back in the park soon—but this time to enjoy it!”