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Press Release

Independence Blue Cross Sponsors Garden at 20th & Market, Opening Today, 3 pm

From vacant lot to thriving vegetables, greenery and healthy living programs!

Philadelphia, PA - June 13, 2011 - An empty lot, rare in the center of Philadelphia's business district, has suddenly transformed from grass and weeds to 32,000 square feet of produce, flowers, and trees. At a 3 p.m. press conference today onsite, the garden will officially open and 10,000 ladybugs will be released to help control insect pests in the garden's crops.

Today, the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society (PHS), Independence Blue Cross (IBC), and Brandywine Realty Trust introduce "PHS Pops Up" at 20th and Market Streets, a showcase for PHS's community greening program and for IBC's commitment to the health of our community.

"Independence Blue Cross is excited to partner with the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society on this project that combines greening and improving the community's health in a unique way," said Daniel J. Hilferty, president and CEO of IBC. "The pop up garden beautifies this Market Street corner and offers an original way for thousands of workers, residents, students, and families to learn more about nutrition and a healthy lifestyle. We hope people take advantage of this fun and engaging garden and incorporate what they learn into their everyday lives."

"This unique garden project brings together an amazing team of corporate partners, great chefs, landscape architects, academics, and urban farmers," said PHS President Drew Becher. "Our goal is to engage residents and visitors in the beauty and impact of community gardens, and inspire them to support programs that build healthy communities."

At the pop-up garden, PHS is growing vegetables, herbs, grains, and uniquely manicured topiaries to garner support and awareness for its City Harvest program, which provides fresh produce for underserved residents.

The garden will be open to the public every Wednesday and Thursday from noon to 2 p.m. throughout the summer and early fall, when free, on-site programming will include horticultural workshops on container gardening, cut flowers, organic pest control and other topics. Tours, special events and family programs are also planned at the garden throughout the summer and early fall. A complete listing of activities is available at PHSonline.org.

The pop up garden is aligned with IBC's Healthy Steps social media campaign, which aims to share easy, practical steps to help people on the path to a healthier lifestyle. Gardening is a physical fitness activity that yields good air quality as well as healthy fruits, vegetables, and grains for nutritious meals. Healthy Steps is designed to help you make healthy changes that will last a lifetime - one step at a time. Watch for information about Healthy Steps activities in the garden, coming soon.

Joining the garden project are six of Philadelphia's well-known chefs - Daniel Stern of R2L, Guillermo Tellez of Square 1682, Chris Scarduzio of Table 31, Michael Schulson of Sampan, Marcie Turney of Barbuzzo, and Lynn Rinaldi of Paradiso - who will create special dishes using the garden's bounty and donate proceeds back to City Harvest.

The transformed landscape includes an herb and vegetable production area, beds of zinnias, sunflowers, cleome and cosmos, a stand of blue spruce, whimsical topiaries, and patches of found art from the site's excavation. A meadow of red clover, grasses, grains and corn are planned. Standouts among the plants will be winners of the PHS Gold Medal Award, which are specially chosen for their aesthetic appeal and hardy nature.

The garden brings together the nonprofit and corporate sectors for an extraordinary collaboration. Visitors will be greeted at the main entrance on Market Street by a structure that recently appeared in the Philadelphia International Flower Show.  "Ecolibrium," an exhibit of sustainable building and gardening, was created by Temple University Ambler and combines classic French garden components and art with sustainable design.

IBC's Blue Crew volunteers will assist PHS in ongoing efforts to maintain the garden and sustain its beauty throughout the season. PHS encourages members of the community who have an interest in gardening to inquire about how they can get involved with PHS's volunteer gardening efforts.

The garden will be dismantled in late October, but will bloom again next spring in a new location.

About Independence Blue Cross
Independence Blue Cross is a leading health insurer in Southeastern Pennsylvania. IBC and its affiliates provide coverage to nearly 3.1 million people. For 73 years, Independence Blue Cross has offered high-quality health care coverage tailored to meet the changing needs of members, employers, and health care professionals. Independence Blue Cross is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, an association of independent Blue Cross and Blue Shield plans.

About PHS
The Pennsylvania Horticultural Society, a nonprofit organization founded in 1827, motivates and inspires people to improve the quality of life and build healthier communities through horticulture. Membership dues, donations and ticket sales from the Philadelphia International Flower Show make PHS programs possible. Membership in PHS includes free tickets to the Flower Show and other benefits.

Visit the Garden

The "PHS Pops Up" garden is open to the public Wednesdays and Thursdays, 12 – 2 p.m., through October. Visit PHS to learn more about the garden and other free, ongoing events.

Visit PHS

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