Philadelphia (November, 2009) The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) has awarded PHS a $300,000 grant to expand its innovative urban food growing program, City Harvest, across Philadelphia over the next three years.
The funding, to be matched by public and private donations, will be used to create a new initiative to encourage more local gardeners to grow produce that benefits local food cupboards and sell their produce for supplemental income.
“We are thrilled with the opportunity to take urban food production to the next level in the city,” said Joan Reilly, Senior Director of PHS’s acclaimed urban revitalization program, Philadelphia Green. “This new effort, dubbed the PHS Community Growers Alliance, will allow PHS and its partners to increase the amount of locally grown produce in Philadelphia and allow community gardeners the opportunity to earn supplemental income while growing and distributing healthy food.”
The initiative, which will start this month, aligns with some of the goals within the City’s “Greenworks” Plan. That plan calls for bringing local food within 10 minutes of 75 percent of residents and creating an additional 86 fresh food outlets by 2015.
The PHS Community Growers Alliance includes the development of green resource centers and new farmers markets. The green resource centers will allow partners to propagate seeds and distribute plants and materials to gardeners and community members. The first of three resource centers, which will also hold education workshops on gardening and cooking fresh vegetables, will be established at Weavers Way Co-op Farm in northwest Philadelphia.
Gardening partners who have had experience in community vegetable gardening are now being selected by PHS for this year’s 15 Community Growers Alliance spots. A total of 65 sites will be created or selected over the three years of the grant. Growers will receive lumber to create six 4’ by 8’ raised beds, soil, seeds, plants, tools and organic pest control, plus seedlings grown at the green resource centers. Participants will be required to attend five community education workshops on sustainable food production and marketing. They will also be required to volunteer six hours of their time back to the program.
A portion of the produce will be donated to food cupboards and pantries through City Harvest, which is a program of PHS that partners with the Philadelphia Prison System, SHARE, the Health Promotion Council, and Weavers Way Co-Op to supply fresh organic produce to families in need. Over the last four years, City Harvest has donated more than 51,000 pounds of organic produce, and this year reached an estimated 900 families a week over the course of the growing season.
Participants in the Alliance, estimated to each produce another 500 pounds of food, will also have the opportunity to sell their produce at area farmers markets, directly to nearby restaurants and to Weavers Way Co-op.
PHS, long considered the nation’s leading authority on urban revitalization through its acclaimed Philadelphia Green program, has been responsible for restoring hundreds of neighborhood parks, community gardens, and revitalizing acres of derelict vacant land. Today, Philadelphia Green is nurturing the next generation of environmental stewards, building partnerships and providing guidance and greening innovations to address the region’s growing needs. For more information, please visit PHSonline.org
Laura Beitman Hoover, APR
Senior Public Relations Coordinator
The Pennsylvania Horticultural Society
100 N. 20th Street, 5th Floor
Philadelphia, PA 19103-1495