This summer, shoppers at Weavers Way Ambler have had the chance to buy native perennial plants for their home gardens grown by LandHealth Institute, a nonprofit based in the West Parkside neighborhood of West Philly. The plants range from summer standbys like black-eyed Susan to less well-known natives such as anise-scented goldenrod.
The Institute’s motto is “Put Nature Back,” and one of our programs is the upkeep of a nursery established on formerly vacant industrial land. In most years, a significant amount of the labor at the nursery is provided by participants in programs for people with intellectual disabilities. These volunteers from SpARC Services in Hunting Park get vital community interaction, learn about caring for plants, and also participate in nature-based art experiences. Both the plants and the people working with them are aspects of the land revitalization in LandHealth’s mission.
The Weavers Way/LandHealth partnership is based on a common concern about making use of products that are both good for people and for the natural environment that sustains us. LandHealth plants are adapted to our local environment and usually have fewer problems with pests. This means less need for maintenance, and eliminates the need for artificial pesticides or fertilizers. Locally-adapted plants are also excellent hosts for beneficial insects, including pollinators.
As summer progresses, fall-flowering native plants such New England aster will be part of the mix at the Ambler store. We’re hoping that locally grown native plants from LandHealth will be available at the Mt. Airy and Chestnut Hill stores soon.
Taisia Osipova is the marketing and communications lead for the LandHealth Institute.