North Philadelphia’s quintessential “undefined exhibition space” Little Berlin has been busy breaking ground on their newest project, the Little Berlin Fairgrounds, located just adjacent to their Viking Mill building in East Kensington. The Fairgrounds are one of the Knight Arts Challenge 2012 winners, and the Berliners are currently working to match the grant.
Since its inception, Little Berlin has been situated in the former industrial area of Kensington, surrounded by old warehouses and empty lots. One such lot actually belongs to the venue and has been part of the to-do list since the get go. Original plans for the location included and orchard or elaborate garden, but such tree-planting endeavors generally have very slow turnaround times of a decade or more. No one was particularly willing to commit to the project, and with a lack of funding, the Berliners put the project to rest with hopes of returning to it when the time was right.
Angela McQuillan, one of the members of the collective was intrigued by the project and saw the potential in a large outdoor space. She took the initiative to find potential grants and applied to a number of places, including the Knight Foundation. With the news that they had landed a Knight Arts Challenge grant, the project has since gotten back into full swing.
As part of their mission, Little Berlin is always conscious of giving back to the community. Since the lot is already used by the surrounding residents for dog walking and other activities, they aim to keep it accessible, while simultaneously refurbishing it.
With the help of Sol Food Mobile Farm, the lot now has a vegetable garden complete with tomatoes, peppers, watermelon, kale, collards and basil. July also included a sculpture installation by Jaime Alvarez and Vale Bruck. The materials for the raised garden beds and the installation were reclaimed materials from the Arden Theater’s production of “Charlotte’s Web,” courtesy The Resource Exchange.
The formerly barren lot outside of Little Berlin is shaping up, but to really make it work, they need your help too! They are accepting proposals to use the space on a constant basis and are open to all manner of diverse programming. Donations for funds to match their grant are also greatly appreciated. Contact the Berliners at firstname.lastname@example.org with proposals or for more information.
Little Berlin is located at 2430 Coral St., Philadelphia; email@example.com; littleberlin.org