Pennsylvania Horticultural Society Lands on Fast Company’s List of Innovative Companies


Colocasia esculenta Pharoahs Mask PA Hort Society Web

Colocasia esculenta ‘Pharoah’s Mask’; Photo: Pennsylvania Horticultural Society

The Pennsylvania Horticultural Society (PHS) was recently named to Fast Company’s prestigious list of the World’s Most Innovative Companies of 2024.

This year’s list shines a spotlight on businesses that are shaping industry and culture through their innovations. These organizations are setting new standards and achieving remarkable milestones in all sectors of the economy. Alongside the World’s 50 Most Innovative Companies, Fast Company recognizes 606 organizations across 58 sectors and regions.

“I am honored to have the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society recognized on this prestigious list alongside so many impressive organizations driving impact and innovation within their fields. We hope to leverage this incredible accolade to further expand our impact using horticulture to advance health and well-being,” says PHS President, Matt Rader. “We act to fulfill our belief that gardens, trees, and great horticulture are must-have elements for every neighborhood in a thriving, equitable city and region. PHS invites everyone to embrace gardening as their superpower to transform our society and environment, a concept we call ‘Gardening for the Greater Good,’.”

In 2023, the work of PHS’s programs directly engaged more than 300,000 people in the Philadelphia region with program impacts being felt by 1.14 million Philadelphia residents who live within a 5-minute walking distance of a PHS project. This work is made possible by time, money, and passion invested by PHS’s members, volunteers, sponsors, donors, foundation, and government partners as well as the proceeds of PHS’s Pop Up Gardens and the Philadelphia Flower Show. Below are highlights of PHS’s recent work that was recognized by Fast Company.

Learning Opportunity: University of Florida Greenhouse Training Courses Kick Off June 3

Creating Economic Opportunity

PHS Workforce Development provides hands-on work experience, training, education, job placement, and ongoing support for returning citizens and those with barriers to employment in seeking green industry jobs. In 2023, the program graduated more than 50 participants with most graduates garnering permanent employment with one of PHS’s employment partners. Through PHS’s Same Day Work and Pay program, PHS has created 9,000+ daily jobs, offering people the opportunity to clean and green their community while benefiting from additional social support services. PHS’s LandCare program helped create business growth opportunities for women and minority led contractors and community organizations who partnered to help clean and green vacant land. In addition, the PHS Philadelphia Flower Show created opportunities for under-represented leaders in horticulture to reach national audiences including the acclaimed Black Girl Florist Collective.

Forging Health Research Partnerships

PHS partnered with the University of Pennsylvania to launch a $10 million research project in 2023 to study the effects of its nature-based programs to mitigate crime and promote positive public health outcomes in urban neighborhoods. This research program is focused on studying nature-based impacts in 60 low-income communities.

Restoring Philadelphia’s Tree Canopy

In 2023, PHS was the lead partner for the innovative development and implementation of the City of Philadelphia’s first ever Philly Tree Plan, an ambitious 10-year plan to restore urban tree canopy in the city. In September 2023, The Philly Tree Plan was awarded $12 million to enact numerous projects to help build tree canopy in Philadelphia’s lowest canopy neighborhoods. PHS will establish and house the Philly Tree Coalition, which will tie the partners together in a formal joint venture to raise awareness and funds needed to fully implement the Philly Tree Plan. PHS will lead initiatives to help restore tree canopy in seven designated high-priority areas.

Enacting Place-Based Greening Efforts to Build Communities

2023 also marked the first year of PHS’s “Love Where You Live” program through which north Philadelphia’s Nicetown and Tioga residents articulated a green vision for their neighborhood which experiences below-average incomes and health outcomes. Residents established specific neighborhood priorities to address concerns surrounding trash and litter, access to fresh, healthy food, crime, and job opportunities.

PHS employed a “Green Team” to articulate horticulturally driven strategies to achieve residents’ aspirations for the neighborhood guided by community input. In the program’s first year, PHS cleaned and greened 580,000 square feet of vacant land, planted 178 trees, provided 31 residents with gardening kits to participate in a Front Garden Challenge, created 31 new raised beds at 5 community gardens, created 1,120 daily green jobs, and concluded a 2-week paid workforce development bootcamp for residents.

These mission-driven programs continue to see significant growth and expansion annually, allowing PHS to advance its impact and innovation throughout the Philadelphia region.

The World’s Most Innovative Companies stands as Fast Company’s hallmark franchise and one of its most anticipated editorial efforts of the year. Fast Company’s editors and writers identified the companies driving progress around the world and across industries, evaluating thousands of submissions through a competitive application process. The result is a globe-spanning guide to innovation today, from early-stage startups to some of the most valuable companies in the world. Fast Company’s Most Innovative Companies package is available online, as well as in-app form via iTunes. The hashtag is #FCMostInnovative.

“Our list of the Most Innovative Companies is both a comprehensive look at the innovation economy and a snapshot of the business trends that defined the year,” says Fast Company editor-in-chief Brendan Vaughan. “We saw extraordinary innovation across the board in 2023, but we also saw a handful of clear patterns: the growing footprint and impact of AI, the triumphant return of live events, and great leaps forward in climate tech. We face daunting challenges on many fronts, but the solutions we celebrate in MIC give me plenty of hope about the future.”

Fast Company will host the Most Innovative Companies Summit and Gala on May 16. The summit features a morning and afternoon of inspiring content, followed by a creative black-tie gala.



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