Memorial Mural: Greensgrow, St. Anne’s and Portside Arts Partner to Honor Late Community Leader
For the past 20 years, Greensgrow Farms has served the Olde Richmond neighborhood and its surrounding communities, providing fresh produce and community outreach. Last Saturday, Greensgrow partnered with St. Anne’s Senior Citizen Center and the Portside Arts Center to honor the woman who introduced that vision.
Greensgrow Executive Director Ryan Kuck and others commemorated Greensgrow founder Mary Seton Corboy, who died last year of cancer, by unveiling the last of four murals painted on the western side of St. Anne’s. Portside Arts offered the services of eight to 12 year olds, who worked with seniors at St. Anne’s to design the panels.
Kuck said the murals are a product of strong community collaboration and hopes those who pass by observe and live by Stenton’s quote on the mural revealed Saturday: “It’s about creating a community space,” he said, “ … an oasis in a world of concrete.”
He added that Corboy always made sure Greensgrow was accessible to other organizations and the community — ideas he tries to follow as the new executive director.
“I think what [made] Mary great was being present,” he said. “She was a neighbor first and a leader second, I think in a lot of ways … making sure Greensgrow always stays accessible and relevant to the people immediately around us.”
Portside Arts Mobile Director Sarah Damiano said kids from Portside started to think about designs for the murals last summer. When she called Greensgrow and St. Anne’s, both acknowledged the need to beautify the window panes on the western side of the building.
The theme of the four murals signify stages of growth on the farm, which was inspired by Portside’s visit to Greensgrow last summer and observing how the urban farm works. After some preliminary sketches by Portside’s artists and then collaboration with those at the senior center, the actual painting process started.
Damiano said this collaboration between senior citizens and young children was the best part of the process.
“I think the most wonderful thing about it was seeing the dialogue about the community,” she said. “Both parties had this really deep connection to the community, with very different viewpoints … [Greensgrow] was something they could both connect to and rally around.”
Along with the murals, Greensgrow announced the creation of Mary’s Community Fund, which means five percent of sales last weekend will help assist community-led beautification and greening projects.
Nora Corboy, one of Mary’s sisters, was proud to see the community work together to honor and continue Mary’s work.
“It’s incredible,” said Nora, 55. “It’s sad because Mary’s gone, yet this was her vision all along and Greensgrow is carrying it through… we’re just so grateful the community has embraced it as they have.”
She added that the community fund and other partnerships will mean Mary’s vision will continue to spread further into the surrounding neighborhoods.
Karen Rouse, St. Anne’s mural coordinator and Center Manager for the past four years, said the murals helped liven that side of the building.
“This project was something that was just so Mary, and we’re glad we could finally do it,” Rouse said. “I hope Mary is happily looking down on it now.” •