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Press Release

Public Invited to Celebrate Pops Up Garden's Season of Success at 20th & Market Streets

IBC sponsored the garden oasis with Pennsylvania Horticultural Society

Philadelphia, PA - October 24, 2011 - The temporary garden oasis, transformed from a vacant lot at 20th and Market Streets, will be the backdrop for a closing celebration today from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. The final festival in the Pops Up Garden will mark the success of the project with music, refreshments, special remarks, and information booths from Independence Blue Cross (IBC) and other organizations and institutions that sponsored and participated in garden activities throughout the summer and fall.

The ceremony also coincides with the national observance of Food Day, which promotes the importance of increasing access to healthy foods and efforts like PHS's City Harvest, which has grown more than 120,000 pounds of vegetables in 45 community gardens around the city.

"The Pops Up Garden brought together an amazing array of partners, gardeners, volunteers and visitors. It achieved its goal of showcasing PHS programs such as City Harvest, but it went far beyond our expectations and produced many surprises and unexpected rewards," said PHS President Drew Becher.

"Independence Blue Cross was thrilled to partner with PHS on the Pops Up Garden that helped beautify Center City this summer," said Chris Cashman, executive vice president and president of commercial markets for IBC. "The garden oasis has presented unique opportunities for our associates, our members, and the community as a whole. Our Blue Crew volunteers helped maintain the garden, while our associates and thousands of others enjoyed lunchtime walks there, and our wellness team provided three nutrition education seminars and six standing yoga sessions in the garden. These sessions were free, open to the public, and attended by employees of many of our customer employers who are located within blocks of the garden."

More than 6,000 visitors attended the programs and events, which included 30 gardening and children's presentations, tai chi, yoga and nutrition classes, class trips, a block party, a movie night, and countless lunch visits by Center City residents and workers. Operating the garden involved 150 volunteers who provided tours and information about the garden and PHS programs. The garden opened June 13 with the release of 10,000 ladybugs, and later became home to 150,000 honeybees who took up residence in three hives.

To view a time-lapse video of the garden's creation, click here.

Creation of the garden and use of the site was made possible through the generosity of Brandywine Realty Trust and Independence Blue Cross, with funding from the William Penn Foundation. Over the course of several weeks in the spring, PHS landscape architects and other staff designed and constructed the planting beds which grew 600 pounds of vegetables, herbs, grains and flowers on the longtime vacant lot. Six of Philadelphia's well-known chefs created special dishes using the garden's bounty, with a portion of the proceeds going back to the PHS City Harvest program.

The landscape at 20th and Market Streets, covering nearly 32,000 square feet, included a stand of blue spruce, whimsical topiaries, PHS Gold Medal plants, which are chosen for their beauty and hardy nature, and an exhibit from the 2011 Philadelphia International Flower Show created by Temple University Ambler staff and students, which included a water garden, solar-powered fountain, and green roof.

Nearly everything in the Pops Up Garden, including the garden sink that will be repurposed at another garden, will be relocated, reused, or recycled. Plants, materials and topiaries will be transplanted in community gardens and go to City Harvest sites throughout the city.

About Independence Blue Cross
Independence Blue Cross is a leading health insurer in southeastern Pennsylvania. Nationwide, Independence Blue Cross 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's HMO and PPO health care plans have consistently received the highest ratings from the National Committee for Quality Assurance. Independence Blue Cross is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. More information about Independence Blue Cross is available at www.ibx.com.

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