A member of the Urban Tree Connection and neighborhood coordinator of her West Philadelphia community garden, Muneerah Harris is definitely onto something. Something smart, beautiful and always growing. She’s turned her love of gardening into an enviable fitness regimen with a lot of pluses, 9+ exactly:
- It’s an awesome workout that doesn’t feel like working out. “By the time we’ve pulled all the weeds, dug up dirt, sawed off branches, watered the garden, I’m tired. I’ve had a good workout.”
- No counting necessary. “At the gym, you could be running on the treadmill for half an hour, or lifting weights in sets. But, when you’re in a garden, you could be lifting and pulling, but you don’t count. You don’t count how many buckets of water you have to drag, how many weeds you have to bend down and pull up, how many branches you have to saw. You just get the job done. Then at the end of the day, you’re really tired, because you’ve really worked out.”
- Free vitamin D. “You can’t get Vitamin D at the gym. Sunlight is essential for that overall feeling of well-being.”
- New cool people, and music. “I’ve met some really cool people, people from here and all over the world. We have a lot of fun. The garden unites people. Everyone is on social media. People don’t talk to each other anymore. In a garden you can connect on a deeper level and make more real connections.”
- Music, yes music. “Having people around makes it easier and the time goes by quicker, especially when the music is on!” Did we mention there’s a garden DJ?
- Pleasantry. Maybe it’s because of the vitamin D, but Muneerah also says everyone is more pleasant in the garden.“Everybody’s not balled up getting mad and waiting for some equipment, because there’s always something to do. After you’re done, you want to sit down and relax together. You never find mean people around flowers.”
- New skills. “People like my friend Josephine are experts. They show us how to plant the corn and stake the flowers. Sue is also amazing. Other gardeners drop by and give us pointers.”
- Natural therapy. “I always loved to garden. It’s therapy. I come out here every day. One day I might come and water, another day I might do weeds. It depends on what’s needed. Every day, there’s something different. You never know what’s gonna pop up or who is gonna be in the garden. But you know you can come here for peace of mind.”
- Serious results, in you and your community. “You see everything you’ve planted, and that’s an awesome feeling! We share the food we grow with everyone that works in the garden as well as the community. Gardening improves the way the neighborhood looks and, at the end of the day, you have a true sense of accomplishment, and a good workout too!”
Muneerah started to garden while her kids were still young. As she explains, she didn’t like to watch a lot of television, and gardening gave her something to do. She looked around and saw her neighborhood didn’t have many flowers, so she started to plant seeds. Whichever of these 9+ reasons compel you to come out, Muneerah welcomes you to stop by “Girarden” at 42nd St. and Girard Ave., and start getting busy!