Thanks to the partnership of our amazing supporters, 2014 has been an incredible year for Urban Tree Connection. We ramped up farm production; reached hundreds of kids and adults with our educational programs; partnered with several churches on gardening, farmers market, and wellness programs; and began work on the transformation of a public housing development in the city of Chester. We have ambitious goals for 2015 -- expanding our teen apprenticeship program, continuing the work we've begun in Chester, and starting production on almost 4 new acres of land in West Philadelphia, among others -- but we need your support. Please consider going to our Donation Page now to make this exciting work possible. Thank you for your support!
On Halloween afternoon, neighbors from Haddington celebrated the closing of the programs season at the Pearl Street gardens. Kids took tours of the garden shed (haunted by a mixture of neighbors, UTC staff, and critters), dressed up with face painting and a costume swap, and all shared a potluck feast. Especially delicious were the nine sweet potato pies cooked by Pearl Street VeggieKids with sweet potatoes grown in their own garden. About 25 parents and neighbors from Pearl St. and surrounding gardens cooked, donated food and helped host the event. It was an amazing show of community leadership and pride for the children's garden programs!
On October 25th, kids from the Pearl Street, Memorial, and Ward AME garden programs visited Milky Way Farms, a 4th generation family-run dairy farm just outside the city in Chester Springs. UTC program staff, teen apprentices, and a few dedicated neighbors led the trip. Kids got to see animals, picnicked by the cow pasture, ate ice-cream from the homemade creamery (from those dairy cows!), and took a tractor ride to pick pumpkins from the field.
On the last Saturday of summer, a sound crew rolled through, lights went up, and the Memorial Garden transformed into a beautiful concert space. Neighbors brought over chairs or sat out on porches, and kids gathered to listen to the African drumming group and two singers. Aissia Richardson, coordinator of the first Philadelphia Home Grown Music Festival, joined as MC for the last of eleven concerts in gardens across the city. We can't wait to partner again next year!
On Sunday, September 14 UTC staff and teens set up and ran a pop-up market at Sharon Baptist Church. Organized and led by Dori Buttz, UTC's Market Manager and farm team member, the set up happened early in the morning, offered a large and beautiful variety of fresh fruits and vegetables, some of which were grown at UTC farm sites. Jeff Daniels was there with wife, Patricia, offering colorful tomatoes and eggplants from the raised bed church garden, newly built on the Sharon Baptist grounds. Church members from two services came to check out the offerings and with UTC teen market assistants helping with tally sheets, they filled bags and queued up to pay at the check out table. It was a great success!
The Chester Housing Authority has asked Urban Tree Connection to transform 3.5 acres of underutilized open space at the 250-unit Ruth Bennett Housing Complex into a series of vegetable production beds, orchards, and edible gardens. We are excited and honored to have been selected for this cutting-edge initiative. With the help of Bennett residents and dedicated volunteers, UTC staff are making terrific progress on the first phase of the transformation. The entire project will take three years and all the skills of the UTC team as we engage community members, train residents to help run the farm, and implement programs for children and teens. Watch for our progress and let us know if you would like to help.