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I would frequently birdwatch there because it was a mature forest full of native hardwoods and flowering shrubs that attracted literally dozens of bird species on their way to John Heinz. I also studied under a local herbalist, David Jefferies. He would often use the space as a living classroom to teach me and others about edible and medicinal plants and mushrooms. The space was so biodiverse and healthy we once foraged a 20lbs hen of the woods edible mushroom, and every square yard had at least five or six different useful plants. For close to 100 years that part of West Philly has been studied by amateur mycologists, herbalists, and ornithologists due to the richness of the land. Our communities have suffered an invaluable loss due to the clear-cutting here. It was like a living classroom back there that was free and open to the public. The people using that green space very closely mirrored the demographics of Philadelphia, which is amazing to see as a Black person who is into the outdoors.
- Rochelle Maurer
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