Q. Does PHS offer free soil and plants for neighborhood gardens?
PHS does not offer free soil or plants for neighborhood gardens. The person who directed you to PHS may have been thinking of the Garden Tenders program offered by PHS. PHS Garden Tenders is a training course for those interested in starting community gardens on vacant lots, in parks, around schools and churches, or other locations. You and your neighbors are strongly encouraged to join Garden Tenders and be in a network of other community gardeners in Philadelphia. See the Garden Tenders page on our web site for details.
Here is information on finding free or inexpensive gardening material:
Compost, mulch, wood chips, manure
Philadelphia's Organic Recycling Center is located at 3870 Ford Road, Philadelphia, PA 19131 (215-685-0108). For residents of Philadelphia. There is no charge for small amounts of materials (up to a 30 gal. can). Residents who wish to obtain more than the free allotment must purchase the materials.
Seed Savers Exchange gives free seed to community and educational groups . Non-profits, schools, community gardens, and other educational programs in the U.S. are eligible. In exchange, participants are asked to pass it on -- by teaching children to grow healthy food, by saving seeds for next year's garden, or by delivering produce to a local food pantry. Details at Seed Savers Exchange web site.
There are numerous plant sales in the Philadelphia area. These are organized by local plant societies and garden clubs and are a great way to obtain plants. Sometimes plant sales are listed in the PHS blog. Produce Junction stores sell plants. Also try the “big box” stores – Lowes and Home Depot for lower cost plants.
Pots and other gardening equipment
Why not become a member of PHS? We have a plant dividend (free plants) in the Fall open to members as well as year round opportunities to learn about gardening, including access to our library at 20th and Arch Streets and free or discounted programming for members.