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In West Philadelphia, Urban Tree Connection partners directly with community members to reclaim vacant land and convert it into welcoming public spaces that bring people together. Our accomplishments include the development of a 3/4 acre urban farm plus additional spaces for community gardens, and perennial gardens that produce edible crops and enliven the local ecology.

At Urban Tree Connection, we see these physical transformations as a platform for community building and leadership development. We provide resources and support for residents in West Philadelphia to work together to make healthy, local food accessible in their neighborhoods, as well as to promote social and economic justice.

We offer farming, arts, health, and wellness programming for residents of all ages. This includes experiential education programs for children ages 5 - 13 at two community garden sites; a youth urban-farming apprenticeship program for high school aged youth; gardening and health and wellness workshops, garden plots, and workshare opportunities at our farm and markets.

Our current menu of programs includes:

Urban Farming and Gardening

In 2009, UTC and three block captains founded Neighborhood Foods Farm (NF) as a positive solution to food insecurity and the growing number of abandoned lots in the neighborhood. After significant remediation, NF is now a fully functioning ¾ acre farm. We have also developed a community-based micro-farm in collaboration with First African Presbyterian Church, and 27 other vacant lots have been converted into pocket parks, communal growing plots, and educational spaces. Together, these sites comprise a neighborhood food system that annually raises over 10,000 pounds of sustainably grown produce. We offer volunteer and apprenticeship opportunities at our farms, and host farm tours through the growing season.

Community-Led Farm Stands

Our produce is distributed through community-led farm markets in locations where residents have limited or no access to healthy produce. We engage customers with limited incomes, offering them produce at an affordable price, encouraging the use of subsidized payments like EBT/Access and Senior vouchers. All of our farm stands are managed by neighborhood residents, and we provide workforce development training so Stand Managers can learn how to run a farm stand, handle food safely, and build a customer base.

Community Education Programs

Rooted in popular education methodologies, our education programs promote health, wellness, and leadership development. Youth programs include children’s garden education at our Pearl Street and Memorial Children’s Gardens and a paid Teen Apprenticeship where youth gain skills and mentorship in the areas of farming, leadership development, and food justice. For adults and families, we host monthly workshops and provide technical assistance and resources to local community gardeners. All community members are welcome to participate in our work-share program, where they volunteer at the farm or market in exchange for a share in the week’s harvest.

Urban Tree Connection has also incubated Neighborhood Foods Coop, a community-led initiative of local residents who helped found Neighborhood Foods Farm and other community gardens. The group meets monthly to share resources, host community events, and run the Neighborhood Foods farm stand.