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#RedSparkGives – Why We Loved Volunteering at Bartram’s Garden

Helen Keller once said, “Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.” This statement certainly rang true as some of our Red Spark family spent their morning volunteering at the beautiful Bartram’s Garden.

Purchased by John Bartram in 1728 and driven by his passion for nature and scientific inquiry, Bartram’s Garden quickly became the most-varied collection of North American plants in the world. In fact, his innovative collection became so popular that even British patrons would seek out his plants, leading King George III to name him the “Royal Botanist” in 1765.

Today, the garden is preserved as a 45 acre National Historic Landmark, operated by the John Bartram Association in cooperation with Philly Parks & Rec. Whether it be for an outside event, or as a learning opportunity in their living laboratory, Bartram’s Garden has been a prominent destination in the Philly community for 124 years.

Upon arrival at Bartram’s, we were greeted by the Land Manager Todd and his supportive team of gardeners who told us we would be helping them pull weeds and lay fresh sod to prepare the grounds for their upcoming Twilight in the Garden Benefit on October 5th, 2017. From there, we went straight to work.

As we approached the plot of land we would be working on, we knew we had our work cut out for us. What laid before us was a dirt and hay covered landscape with weeds sprouting out wherever they could, and our job was to make it a beautiful patch of green grass. Although we knew it was going to be hard work, we came ready to be agile and #GSD.

The first step of the transformation was to pull every pesky weed that had overtaken our patch of land. This proved to be a much tougher job than it looked. Between the deep-rooted weeds that refused to come out and the hot sun beating down on us, most people would have thrown in the towel and gone home. At Red Spark, that just isn’t our style.

Although we had a slow start, we came together as a supportive team and provided help wherever it was needed. From carrying heavy rolls of sod back and forth across the dirt to cleaning up the pulled weeds, our passionate and agile volunteers gave every task their 100% and soon, we were staring back at a beautiful, grass-covered landscape.

“The best part of this project was the instant gratification of being able to take a step back and see the land go from yellow and dried to green and lush,” says Controller Michele Fike, “A view of the city’s skyline and the river in the background reminds you that you are in the city and makes you appreciate your efforts even more.”

Many others, like Software Engineer Erik Abi-Khattar, also appreciated how tactile the project was, “I really enjoyed discovering a new neighborhood and getting hands-on in the dirt to achieve something tangible.”

Our passionate Red Spark team has never been one to give up easily, even if the project is a little outside of our comfort zones. “It’s easy to throw your spare change into a collection box or write a check to fund the efforts of others — staring at a large, barren dirt yard then weeding it with your own hands, carrying roll after roll of heavy sod across it and aligning them perfectly is not easy,” says Software Engineer Alex Moser.

Without our help, it would have taken the Bartram’s crew at least two days to complete the project. But after three hours of hard work and determination, we were all able to take a step back and appreciate what we had done.

Abi-Khattar put it best when asked to describe how he felt once we had finished the project, “Sweaty and accomplished.” Although by the end of the day we were covered in dirt and exhausted, we were proud and excited to have completed such an amazing project together as a team.

Want to join our supportive and passionate team? Head to our careers page to check out our current job listings!

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