Mrs. Woody's Garden Story


Mrs. Woody’s Community Garden preserves the sharing ethic of the garden’s founder along with her name. The garden began as a project of Mrs. Woody, a gardener who combined keen intuition for growing with an altruistic approach to the harvest since she started in the late twentieth century. Historically, Mrs. Woody grew strawberries, tomatoes, cucumbers, beans, okra, squash, peppers, and collards for her own family—storing much of the produce in a six-foot freezer—but also for her neighborhood. “She gave away, like, bunches of collards every year, and she grew a lot of collards. I found out after she died that she didn’t even like collards,” recalls Marquita Heard, garden coordinator and an avid student of Mrs. Woody’s. Though Mrs. Woody preferred mustard greens, Heard explains, she grew collards for other people, and freely gave her produce to anyone who asked. Mrs. Woody’s resourcefulness and altruism even went hand-in-hand when she grew cucumbers along the side of the garden’s chain-link fence, “so if you were walking along, you could rip ‘em off” for a snack, Heard details. Though Mrs. Woody has since passed, her spirit lives on in the work of Heard and other gardeners supported by the East Park Revitalization Alliance, who continue Woody’s commitment to a bounty for all.

Story contributed by Joe M.

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Mrs. Woodys Community Garden Philadelphia, PA 062014.jpg

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“Mrs. Woody's Garden Story,” Community of Gardens, accessed March 4, 2024, https:/​/​communityofgardens.​si.​edu/​items/​show/​12442.​
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