Rebel Gardeners

August 5, 2011

Meet the Rebel Gardeners.

Tough on dirt; soft on vegetables. All kinds of vegetables. Fruit too.

At their farm stand at Clark Park on S. 43rd Street in West Philly, there’s an ever surprising array of goodies that evolves over the hot summer. Beets, carrots,  tomatoes, squash, eggplant, various greens, peaches and, of course, hot peppers. Indeed four kinds of hot peppers were on hand this past week, including Poblano, Jalapeño, Habanero and long Chili peppers!

Unquestionable team spirit is smartly announced by their hot yellow polo shirts and their energy as they promote their business cards — handmade constructions that tout their website and the vegetable du jour, garnished with a recipe and home-grown seeds.

So who are these Rebel Gardeners?   

They’re a gregarious group of 8th graders from (can’t make this up) Pepper Middle School, located in Philadelphia’s Eastwick neighborhood.

Last year, the school kids were studying nutrition, science and sustainability when they learned about the impending fate of their nearby neighbor, the Eastwick Community Garden. The seven-acre garden, much-loved and tended to by community residents for almost 40 years, could soon become a parking lot as it’s in the pathway of an expansion of the Philadelphia Airport.

Determined to preserve and pass on their collective knowledge, the community gardeners began mentoring the young students, who made frequent field trips to the Eastwick garden. This year, faced with lessening chances of the community garden surviving, the young group decided to build a garden at the school so that even more students would learn what they were learning.

The Pepper Middle School garden project was created by the Agatston Urban Nutrition Initiative and with Eat.Right.Now. The nutrition initiative is slated to expand to other schools in the school district next year.

Meanwhile, the kids have written First Lady Michelle Obama to tell her about themselves and about the plight of their friends’ garden.

After all, they’re Rebel Gardeners!

To learn more about the Pepper Middle School program, check their website at or write them at

Anita Mc Kelvey © 2011-2016 The Philadelphia Pepper Project


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