Tertulias Herb Garden won a $600 grant at our June 23, 2013 event
Tertulias Herb Garden

1. Describe the project a STAKE grant would help you accomplish.
We are excited to create a medicinal herb garden on 2nd and Susquehanna Streets. We envision a healing oasis, where people enter heavy with life’s challenges, and upon being in the garden, they gain motivation to imagine their own dreams for the space. Our focus is traditional Puerto Rican medicinal herbs, already familiar to many neighbors. We will host tea days, herb walks, and sell herbs on site. The garden will include hammocks and benches for people to rest and share stories. Community health workers will be available to consult neighbors about health issues and make references for other services.

2. How will you use the grant toward the realization of your project? $800 is your imaginary budget.
$250 for compost delivery to amend existing soil. $250 for stipends to pay neighbors to build benches and kiosks. $100 for garden tools. $100 to purchase seedlings and potting soil. $100 for program materials (journals for notes on medicinal herbs, t-shirts to unify participants, and cups for tea days).

3. A little about yourself and what led you to your current creative goals. This may include a previous project of yours, ways it both succeeded and failed (this can be entirely unrelated to your proposal):?
Iris brings twenty-five years of experience gardening and motivating people to use community spaces as their own to tell stories, cook, dance, sing and become free of anxiety. In the 1980’s Iris organized Grupo Motivos, a collective of Puerto Rican women who cooked food for community organizations and built Norris Square Neighborhood Projects’ cultural gardens. Marian Dalke is a gardener and educator called to support community-led projects that unite cultural traditions and care of the natural world. Marian is a novice herbalist who is eager to learn from and build on existing herbal knowledge in the Norris Square community.

4. Why is this project important? How will it benefit the community?
Like many neighborhoods in Philadelphia, Norris Square copes with many forms of violence and trauma. The garden will primarily be a space to rest and recover from trauma by creating an opportunity to share life’s ups and downs in a colorful, friendly, family-oriented environment. Growing and selling herbs comes secondary to the emotional healing provided by the space. Even so, it will strengthen cultural knowledge of herbalism, which is frequently lost through immigration to cities. Knowledge of how to grow, harvest, and use medicinal plants, instead of relying to pharmaceuticals and emergency rooms is yet another means towards community sovereignty.