Farmer Philly? Vacant lots targeted as crop sites

    Philadelphians who live near one of the city’s many vacant lots, may be surprised to learn who their new neighbors might be. About a dozen farmers have expressed interest in a city pilot project to grow crops on empty city land.

    Philadelphians who live near one of the city’s many vacant lots, may be surprised to learn who their new neighbors might be. About a dozen farmers have expressed interest in a city pilot project to grow crops on empty city land. WHYY’s Elizabeth Fiedler reports.

    Script:
    The city is trying to find a way to make better use of its vacant land. Redevelopment Authority Executive Director Terry Gillen says there are a bunch of possible sites for the urban farm pilot project ranging in size from about a third of an acre to three acres. She says the farmers will lease the land for free, then build temporary greenhouses. Gillen says the fact that farmers will be growing fruits and vegetables in a greenhouse instead of the ground, is an important part of the deal.

    Gillen: “In many cases we’re going to put these in a neighborhood that might be ripe for development in three or five years. It’s not ripe for development now. This will enable us to actually move the whole farming operation when we need the parcel of land.”

    Gillen says the farmers will be taxed as business owners.

    Listen:
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    [audio: reports20090303farm.mp3]

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