Heard of “NIMBY?” What about “YIMBY?”
April 22nd, 2011 - By Therese Madden
In West Philadelphia’s Belmont neighborhood that means “Yes In My Backyard!” Find out how one organization is networking an affordable local food system by building a network of vegetable gardens.
All this Earth Day talk, what about the people who spend their time digging in it?
In the Belmont neighborhood of West Philadelphia, Suzanna Urminska and her soon to be husband, Ryan Kuck take a break from a morning of planting to say hello to their two chickens, who they simply call “the ladies.” As Suzanna explains, even the chickens have jobs around here, “they lay eggs for us, and they turn our compost and they provide us with manure that we use in the garden.” Almost like they know it’s time to work, the chickens flap away.
And it’s a good thing, Ryan and Suzanna are pretty busy themselves. In addition to regular jobs, they have created a network of backyard gardens in their neighborhood. Meaning they grow food in other people’s yards. All with permission of course. Ryan explains, “we go in we’ll build a garden for homeowner or long term renter. They agree to let us use their water, so we are not trucking buckets of water all around the neighborhood. And, we use their land, we use their sun, we use their personal space and then they get to share in the bounty of having fresh local food. And it allows us to be able to grow more food than we can just on our own piece of property.”
They are growing in 6 backyards this year, including their own. Working under the name “Preston’s Paradise,” this is an all volunteer community project. The households who lend out their backyards receive a box of fresh food every week. Suzanna explains, “when people get their basket of vegetables, it’s actually produce that’s been picked from all the various gardens, so one garden may have mostly broccoli and onions cause that’s what makes sense for that space and that sun exposure. But ultimately, they are going to be able to get a wide variety of vegetables, and in time fruits and berries, gleaned from all the different places.”
There’s also plenty of extra. During the growing season, the couple runs a weekly mobile farm stand, selling their organic produce at affordable prices, from the neighbors, right back to the neighbors, now that’s local.
The Belmont neighborhood does have a long tradition of people growing and sharing food. The Preston’s Paradise folk like to call it Edible Belmont. They have a goal to some day have a community food project on every block of the 30 block neighborhood.
MORE FROM FIT: The Belmont neighborhood has a long tradition of people growing and sharing food. Including 76-year-old Clarence Lunsford (pictured). Lunsford gives away a good portion of the food he grows to his neighbors.
Here’s a map of Edible Belmont and all of the community food projects in the neighborhood.
View Edible Belmont in a larger map