Community Spotlights

What happens to all of those leaves raked during Love Your Park?

by Melissa Romero on October 28, 2019

During the Love Your Park Fall Service Day, volunteers gather in Philly’s parks across the city to collect litter, plant bulbs and trees, and rake leaves – tons of them. At last year’s Love Your Park Fall Service Day, volunteers collected over 3,400 bags of leaves! But aside from providing a good workout, are there any other benefits to raking leaves?

Yes, says Lindsey Walker, Stewardship Coordinator for Fairmount Park Conservancy. While fallen leaves can act as natural mulch for your trees and provide habitat for certain critters during the winter, collecting leaves from Philly’s parks has its benefits, too. 

Collecting leaves keeps them out of landfills.
In general, tons of millions of leaves get dumped into landfills each year – but not the 28 tons of leaves collected during Love Your Park Fall Service Day. Instead, those bags of leaves are picked up by the City of Philadelphia and delivered to the Fairmount Park Organic Recycling Center, where the leaves are then turned into screened leaf compost. Philly residents can then retrieve up to 30 gallons of this compost or other organic materials for free! 

The leaves help Philly’s park gardens grow.

In a sort of circle-of-life moment, the leaves that become leaf compost also return to Philly’s parks in the spring, where the compost is used to enrich the soils in garden and planting beds. This type of compost made from leaves and herbivore manure provides nutrients for parks’ bulbs and plants to grow in the spring. 

Want to do some good for your Philly park? Volunteer for Love Your Park Fall Service Day on November 9th! A full map of participating parks is below.