This June, Philadelphia Parks & Recreation’s Organic Recycling Center will receive the Toro Urban Park Innovation Award. The Toro Company sponsors the award in partnership with City Parks Alliance. The award recognizes innovation in park management and practices. It also comes with a $50,000 grant. The award will be presented at Greater & Greener 2022. This is the City Parks Alliance’s biennial international parks conference. This year, the conference takes place in Philadelphia from June 18 to June 21, 2022. Parks & Rec and the Fairmount Park Conservancy are partners in this event. Greater & Greener is designed to have a positive impact on the host cities. The Toro Urban Park Innovation Award will help to ensure that Philadelphia enjoys a lasting, tangible impact for years to come.
Fairmount Park Organic Recycling Center

The Organic Recycling Center has operated in West Fairmount Park for 40 years. It takes organic waste and processes it into usable materials. The Center processes over 6,000 tons of organic waste each year. One of the biggest challenges facing the Center is the number of large trees it receives. Parks & Rec’s tree crews remove many dead or dying trees from city streets, parks, and forests each year. These are all brought to the Center. The amount of wood waste has increased significantly in recent years. This is due to climate change, storm impact, aging trees, and the removal of invasive species.

Turning Trees into Treasure

To reduce wood waste, Parks & Rec created a temporary lumberyard. Here, the wood from these trees is turned into useable lumber. This lumber is then used at Parks & Rec sites as part of the “Neighborhood Wood” initiative. Projects included new bookshelves, cubbies, garden beds, benches, footbridges, and more. Youth-driven organizations helped complete many of these projects. These include PowerCorpsPHL and Tiny WPA.

An Innovative Solution to a Challenge

But the Center’s lumberyard faces a challenge. The milling equipment is exposed to the elements. This causes it to break down, slowing operations. The wood planks milled at the lumberyard are keptoutside with limited cover. This can make the wood unusable.

The $50,000 grant from The Toro Company will allow Parks & Rec to create an organization and storage system. With the funds, Parks & Rec will build a new pole barn at the Organic Recycling Center.

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Author: Michael Muldoon, Parks & Recreation, City of Philadelphia
Image: City of Philadelphia