Awbury Arboretum: A haven of nature, art and community


With its rich history, diverse landscape and a new executive director committed to community engagement, Philadelphia's Awbury Arboretum is bursting with an exciting lineup of events and activities designed to engage visitors of all ages this spring and summer. 

Art will mix with food, in a series of events that includes an art installation by local artist Tom Judd, a Mother’s Day tile making workshop and the seasonal opening of the always popular farmer’s market, with its farm-fresh produce and artisan goods.

"We’re really excited about the farmer’s market,” said new executive director Sara Stevenson. “It’s every Sunday from 1-5 at the Farm at Awbury, and it’s full of vendors from Northwest Philadelphia with local produce and goods.”

Local artist Tom Judd's thought-provoking collages and mixed media installations "Garden of the Mind" opens on May 4. Drawing inspiration from Mr. Rogers' quote, "You can grow ideas in the garden of your mind," Judd's exhibition encourages visitors to contemplate their thoughts within the context of a garden.

Judd's artistic journey began in Salt Lake City and continued in Philadelphia, where he studied under renowned artists such as Rafael Ferrer, Bob Kulicke, and Larry Day. His work has been featured in prestigious galleries and museums across the nation. 

On May 6, bird enthusiasts will flock to the Spring Bird Walk, for a guided tour of Awbury's diverse avian inhabitants. With more than 150 species recorded at the Arboretum, this event is perfect for birders of all skill levels.

The walk will begin at 7:30 a.m. and conclude around 9:30 am, with participants meeting at the Ardleigh Street entrance. Binoculars will be available to borrow, but attendees are encouraged to bring their own if possible.

Celebrate Mother's Day on May 14th with a unique Tile Workshop, where participants can create their own ceramic round tile inspired by Awbury's Year of Trees. Led by Karen Singer, MFA, this hands-on workshop requires no prior experience and offers a chance to create a lasting memory. The workshop will take place at The Farm at Awbury, with registration limited to 20 participants.

There also will be a series of family-friendly activities, wellness events, workshops and demonstrations on the first Sunday of every month. 

Spanning 56 acres, Awbury Arboretum offers something for everyone, from working gardens and beekeeping guilds to weaving and hands-on educational programs. There are picturesque landscapes, featuring wide-open meadows, a stream bed that was once part of the Wingohocking Creek, and 16 acres of shared farmland. One of its most popular attractions is The Philly Goat Project, launched in 2017 by Karen Krivit and Lily Sage, which has captivated visitors with its innovative and engaging approach to urban agriculture.

Awbury partners with various community organizations, including The Pennsylvania Horticultural Society and Weavers Way's Food Moxie, which  manage working gardens and employ full-time seasonal workers who farm and sell produce. The Philadelphia Guild of Handweavers and the Philadelphia Beekeepers Guild are also both based at Awbury, which contributes to its diverse and dynamic community.

The arboretum is free of charge and open to everyone, and very accessible. The Washington Lane SEPTA train stop is located right on its doorstep. 

Stevenson brings a background in education and passion for gardening to her new job at Awbury. After a year-long internship at Morris Arboretum, a master's degree in public horticulture, and experience working at the Mt. Cuba Center and Cornell University's Cornell Atkinson Center for Sustainability, Stevenson has been at the helm at Awbury since early this year. 

Her vision, she said, is for the Arboretum to continue its role as a focal point for the community, and for learning about the invaluable experiences that nature has to offer. 

From the Farm Market and art exhibitions to guided bird walks and Mother's Day tile workshops, there is something for everyone to enjoy at Awbury.