Renewed appreciation for green spaces

Posted 11/10/22

One of the common threads that unites our community is our beloved green spaces.

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Renewed appreciation for green spaces


One of the common threads that unites our community is our beloved green spaces. From small pocket parks and our gateway spaces to large wonders like Pastorius Park, Morris Arboretum, Wissahickon Park, the Water Tower and Woodmere Art Museum’s grounds, we have a bounty of richness in our urban village. 

While others before us set the stage with their vision of carving out these green jewels’ placement and function, oversight and growth is now with a passionate group of volunteers knitted together by the Chestnut Hill Community Association, Business Association, Conservancy and Tree Tenders. 

We operate without egos, without boundaries of institutions, in pursuit of cultivating our green spaces and leaving a legacy that will benefit others decades from now. As a hobbyist gardener, I have to pinch myself sometimes with all the masters in public park oversight, horticulture and related professions who I have the privilege of encountering.

In the last 12 to 18 months, Chestnut Hill’s Green Space Initiative has granted more than $100,000 in matching investments in our green spaces, spurring investments of nearly $300,000. Our work is long-term and legacy building. The plantings installed now take time to root and flourish. The funds raised for our projects are critical and take time to develop as well. It’s a long game and we operate on the shoulders of those before us and hope that work continues long after us. 

Here are some of our accomplishments:

Pastorius Park – We provided six matching grants for Friends of Pastorius Park, which has spurred their largest fundraising and planting efforts. This partnership has allowed FoPP to make great strides in their master plan by clearing invasives, pruning and tree removal, and new tree plantings. 

West Highland Train Station – We provided the neighborhood group with a matching grant and guidance to continue the greening of this new gem in Chestnut Hill. We continue to support the neighborhood group’s park clean-ups. 

Mermaid Park – As one of the primary funders, we provided matching grants to the business groups to clear invasives and for tree plantings to create the new park that is between Mermaid Inn and Chestnut Hill Flower & Garden.  

Germantown Avenue Business District – While pruning business district trees continues to be the responsibility of each business owner in front of their property, we pruned 43 trees during COVID times to offset this expense from business owners at this challenging time and to leverage economies of scale. 

Tree Tenders – We continue to assist the Tree Tenders with canvasing tree desert residential areas that would benefit from tree plantings and provide a grant for materials to support their annual spring and fall tree plantings. 

Water Tower – We assisted with fundraising and project assistance with the Water Tower Advisory Council’s Light Up the Tower efforts and provided an initial grant for Upper Park tree and shrub planting. We continue to support the neighborhood group’s park clean-ups. 

On the horizon, we have several projects in development that we are excited about. We are working with Winston Park near neighbors to talk about refreshing the three green areas that make up the park. Along the border of Chestnut Hill and Mt. Airy, we are working with Friends of Cresheim Trail’s new president to build a partnership for future projects. We are also working on a technology application that will tell the story of all Chestnut Hill green spaces and the work that we do.

From time to time, you might even see stories from our green ambassadors – the backyard gnomes – who break out of my garden to share their green adventures. Most recently, they visited the West Highland Train Station and Woodmere’s new garden. 

If you are interested in supporting our greening efforts, please consider a donation to the CHCA Tree Fund which provides funding for these great efforts. 

Laura Lucas, 

Chair, Green Space Initiatives Committee