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From Farm… to Sidewalk

July 15th, 2011 - By Therese Madden

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Here the footprint from farm to consumer is just that — a few steps! This urban farm offers a weekly stand in West Philadelphia bringing just-picked vegetables to a neighborhood that previously had few choices for fresh produce.


Photos by Jessica Kourkounis

Moving to a new neighborhood is much more than dragging your furniture to yet another house. It often takes a while if you want to feel like part of the community. Here’s some advice from West Philadelphia resident, Andrew Olson, “I always say there is nothing like planting a garden or planting a farm to get to know your neighbors, especially when you are renting. Renters have the reputation of not really caring about the community.”

Andrew Olson and Neal Santos bag some produce for a customer

And that’s just what Olson has done. He’s built a small farm, Farm51, on the lot next to his apartment at 51st and Chester. The once junk covered piece of land is now bursting with collard greens, cucumbers, kale, even flowers. Once a week, Olson and his partner, Neal Santos sell their produce at a farm stand on site. They set up by the sidewalk, and keep the prices deliberately low, “I can’t believe that the prices are so affordable,” says Amirah Niam who just bought a bunch of vegetables, she spent about $3. “This is the freshest vegetables we’ve ever had. To have carrots just pulled from the ground to have for dinner, thats awesome right?”

Plus, there’s only one supermarket close by and according to Niam, it leaves something to be desired, “even the supermarket that is in this area, the produce isn’t really
good produce. So, this is truly a food desert, so its wonderful what they are doing just bringing fresh food here.” And that’s the point. Farm51 is a member of the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society’s City Harvest Grower’s Alliance. The program encourages community members to grow food in neighborhoods that are lacking options, plus it provides tools and guidance.

There is a hope that for some growers this could be a way to make extra money, but as Neal Santos explains this isn’t why they do it, “I love the neighborhood. I love the people around the neighborhood, there’s a spirit amongst the neighbors, feels good to contribute and also belong.”

“And it’s beautiful, it’s like a paradise in the hood,” says Sasha Jones, she lives in the row home next door to Farm51, stopping by for some purple carrots, she offers her opinion. “I love what they do with the neighborhood, as you can see there is a lot of trash around and they just make it look really beautiful, and I love the fact that they welcome all the neighborhood kids in there no matter how old they are, and my son comes over here almost everyday so…”

But what about those purple carrots she just bought? “Yeah, I’m gonna taste one right now… *crunch*… hmmmm… they’re delicious.”

Check out our first story on Farm 51 >>


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Photo by Flicker user Chiot's Run / CC BY-NC 2.0

Move Over, Kale Chips! Kale Buds Are Here

By Lari Robling - April 18th, 2012

High Tunnel farming caught my eye because its extended growing season adds to the amount of local produce we get. While farm manager Aviva Asher was tidying up the winter crop to make way for spring, I discovered another benefit of local growing: use what you’ve got.

More wisdom »

December 2014
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Your body needs help when it's time to quit. SmokeFree Philly is a program of the Philadelphia Department of Public Health that offers support and tools to help smokers quit. The goal of SmokeFree Philly is to: help people to quit smoking, stop people from starting to use tobacco, and reduce heart disease, cancer and other illnesses caused by smoking.

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Philly Food Bucks are coupons that help ACCESS/food stamp customers save money on fruits and vegetables. Philly Food Bucks can be redeemed for $2 worth of fruits and vegetables for every $5 spent in ACCESS/food stamps at a participating farmers' market. Learn more about Philly Food Bucks at the Philadelphia Department of Public Health's recently expanded web site Food Fit Now also accepted at the West Oak Lane Weaver's Way Food Coop.