Organic URban Farms
OURfarms is our newest project in harvesting unused green space in the city for agriculture. So far we’ve worked almost exclusively with vacant lots, which are still abundant, but that model is becoming more unsustainable as the city moves to full valuation of all land and the economy improves. It’s hard to invest lots of time and money preparing land for food to have it taken away without warning by the city or developers. In the interest of stability in our neighborhood food supply, we’re partnering with homeowners that have unused yard space that would be interested in sharing a portion of that land for food production.
For 2010, we began with 7 pilot backyard farms in the Belmont/Mantua sections of Philadelphia. At each site, OURfarms workers built and maintained raised bed food plots in the homeowner’s yard. The beds was farmed using intensive organic methods and the homeowner received a share of the produce. Any surplus outside of the homeowner’s share went to supply the moble Farmstand in the neighborhood. The project was a great success, and in 2011 we'll be opening up the opportunity to 5 more households with appropriate growing space.
With the right practices, it’s possible to grow a significant amount of food in a small space, and raised beds allow us to build our own soil mixes to ensure adequate fertility and separation from possible contaminants. And by working with homeowners we avoid sudden eviction. As a partner with OURfarms, homeowners have access to individualized trainings in small scale food production, as well as access to the full range of workshops hosted at Preston’s Paradise. It is our goal that all participating homeowners will be able to take over full maintenance of their backyard farm within 3 years of installation.
OURfarms is the first stage of Edible Belmont, our community initiative announced in 2011, building food security on every block.
Let us know if you want to be part of it all!