PHILADELPHIA – The University of Pennsylvania’s Netter Center for Community Partnerships, through its Agatston Urban Nutrition Initiative, the school-based program that encourages West Philadelphia students to grow, cook, consume and sell healthy foods, is holding a harvest festival to celebrate the first anniversary of its Community Farm and Food Resource Center at Bartram’s Garden.
The event will be held from 1 to 4 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 3, to commemorate the strides the Community Farm and Food Resource Center made during its first year in operation and to recognize the partners’ contributions and collaboration. The community is invited to join in the many planned activities, including manning the cider press, garlic planting, youth-led farm tours, cooking demonstrations, face painting and games for youngsters. Bartram’s Garden is located at 54th Street and Lindbergh Boulevard.
“Come on out to our farm in the city to celebrate how far we’ve come in just one year,” Tyler Holmberg, coordinator of the project, said. “We’ll have lots of family-friendly events with farming and food demonstrations led by West Philly youth.”
The CFFRC broken ground a year ago on Oct. 27, a joint project of the Netter Center for Community Partnership’s AUNI program at Penn, the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society, the City of Philadelphia's Department of Parks and Recreation and Bartram’s Garden. The 3.5-acre farm is located in the southern portion of Bartram’s Garden and has reactivated the site’s agricultural heritage. It features a crop field where local students raise annual vegetables for sale, an orchard of fruit trees, a perennial berry patch and a new greenhouse to start organic seedlings.
The CFFRC’s goal is to work with the community to recognize and obtain the tools of self-reliance and health by providing access to local, organic, affordable, nutritious and culturally relevant food and a space where community members can maintain their own individual garden plots.
A greenhouse at the Community Farm and Resource Center has been instrumental in supporting gardening and urban agriculture throughout the city. With leadership from the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society’s City Harvest program, more than 60,000 seedlings were grown and distributed to promote local, organic food production.
“The greenhouse has increased our capacity to assist community gardens and urban farmers to grow tens of thousands of pounds of vegetables and fruit for Philadelphians who might not have had access to it otherwise,” Drew Becher, president of PHS, said. “The strength of the project lies in the power of this remarkable partnership.”
“The people of Southwest Philadelphia have a wealth of knowledge and practices around food that I think can be a great starting point for talking about what it takes to become whole and healthy as a community,” Chris Bolden Newsome, farm coordinator, said. “They bring it from Africa, the Caribbean, the American Deep South and from their own current lives.
“I hope that our work at the farm and community garden helps people to pull that out by sharing foodways, gardening experience and general life knowledge,” she said. “I believe Southwest Philly is ready to grow its own, and at Harvest Fest we want to highlight that.”
“In just one year, the project has made an incredibly positive impact in our local community and has engaged youth as leaders,” Maitreyi Roy, executive director of Bartram’s Garden, said. “The farm has added a new dimension to the rich history of our site and its success is a testament our strong partnership.”
Holmberg said that in addition to the festival activities, every week the farm hosts a youth-led farm stand, the only one in the neighborhood.