PHILADELPHIA – The public is invited to the groundbreaking ceremony for the Community Farm and Food Resource Center at Bartram’s Garden at 4 p.m., Thursday, Oct. 27. The event is designed to showcase the role such a project can play in developing a healthier community.
By next growing season, the 3.5-acre farm and resource center will be home to a crop field where students will raise annual vegetables, a community garden with individual plots residents can tend themselves, an orchard of 50 fruit trees, a 1,000-foot-long perennial berry patch and a new greenhouse to start organic seedlings.
The ceremony will be held at the site of the CFFRC, located in the southwest quadrant of Bartram’s Garden, a public garden and National Historic Landmark at 54th Street and Lindbergh Boulevard, and will offer youth-led farm tours, garlic planting and community garden sign-up, followed by a reception with locally sourced refreshments. Community members are to share brief remarks.
The Agatston Urban Nutrition Initiative, a program of the Netter Center for Community Partnership at the University of Pennsylvania, in partnership with the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society, Bartram’s Garden and Philadelphia Parks & Recreation, is hosting this event to celebrate the creation of CFFRC and to recognize the contributions and collaboration of all partners.
The CFFRC’s goal is to increase the community’s access to local, organic, affordable, nutritious and culturally relevant food and to provide a space for everyone to develop a relationship with the land. UNI plans to expand its youth development program by hiring 12 Bartram High School students to plant, grow, harvest and sell the produce. The Horticulture Society will provide seedlings, resources and supplies to urban growers, and Bartram’s Garden will enhance its youth-programming component and implement the orchard project, which is part of the long-term master plan at Bartram’s.
The one-acre crop field will be installed on the site of an underutilized ball field. The greenhouse and attached equipment storage shed will replace an older pair of tennis courts. The community garden, orchard and berry patch are planned for fallow fields, bringing them back to life.
Future plans call for replacing a gravel parking lot with a food-education center, complete with a kitchen and classroom space and a packing shed/walk-in cooler/wash station for pre-sale vegetable preparation and a brick oven for baking. All programs are designed to engage interested Southwest Philadelphia residents in healthy cooking and gardening.
UNI and Penn student volunteer groups are providing much of the manpower, and the Horticulture Society will fund the start-up costs, building construction and general consulting. The Society, in collaboration with the City of Philadelphia, has designated the project as one of the organization’s three green resource centers, all funded through a $300,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture that has enabled the expansion of the Society’s innovative urban food program, City Harvest, across Philadelphia.
The City has provided a $30,000 donation to fund site approval, water-line installation for irrigation and electric lines to the site.
The John Bartram Association, which manages Bartram’s Garden in cooperation with the City’s Department of Parks and Recreation, will contribute in-kind management of the land, including shared equipment use and help with construction and maintenance.
The Dolfinger-McMahon Foundation has provided $10,000 for the farm, and the orchard will benefit from a donation of 25 trees from the Four Seasons Hotel Philadelphia. An anonymous gift in memory of Margery B. George and another from the S.L. Gimbel Foundation have also been received.
Those who wish to speak at the event or to confirm attendance should call 518-304-3402 or email Tyholmberg@gmail.com by Oct. 24.