Name of Innovative Program:
Bartram's Garden Community Farm
Bartram's Garden (John Bartram Association)
Name of Innovative Program Lead:
E-mail Address of Innovative Program Lead:
The Bartram’s Garden Farm is a highly successful result of a partnership that has transformed an underutilized space at historic landmark into productive use, actively engaging an underserved Southwest Philadelphia community. Re-creating the historic use of a working farm has attracted great interest from the community, including the 490-unit Bartram Village public housing next door.The Farm’s centerpiece is 2-acres of vegetable plots that engages youth from Bartram High School, 30-plot community garden, a 2500 square-foot greenhouse, and the first orchard at Bartram’s Garden since 1850 featuring 115 trees.This collaboration has modeled healthy food choices directly to more than 300 participants, produced 7,000 lbs of vegetables, engaged 25 families from the community in gardening, and trained 20 students from the local high school in urban agriculture. It has also inspired a love of nature in a community that typically does not have access to the outdoors.
Creativity and Innovation:
The Farm has a multi-faceted approach with the goal of directly modeling healthy food choices and inspiring a love of nature in an underserved community that typically does not have access to the outdoors. Our partners include UPenn’s Agatston Urban Nutrition Initiative (AUNI), Pennsylvania Horticultural Society (PHS), Philadelphia Parks and Recreation Department, and Philadelphia Orchard Project. Each partner plays indispensable and complimentary roles with the programming, operations and funding.This neighborhood based approach to improving community health directly engages local residents who do not have access to healthy nutritional choices. The Farm serves as a destination for school children and residents, engaging them in growing and harvesting produce. Additionally, through the farmers market and delivery of produce to local food cupboards as part of PHS’s City Harvest program, local residents have direct access to fresh, locally grown produce as part of their grocery supplies.
Each of the partners plays a significant leadership role at the Farm, ensuring ongoing success:
- Bartram’s Garden’s provides access to land, ongoing basic maintenance, provides an orchard caretaker and education sessions for school children.
- UNI manages the farm and provides an urban farming after-school program to 20 high school students, in which they learn how to grow and prepare healthy food, refine their life skills.
- PHS leads the nationally recognized City Harvest program that the Farm is supported by, and provides capital support for improvements and ongoing operations. They also oversee the greenhouse and distribution of seedlings and crops giving families in need fresh produce throughout Philadelphia.
- Parks and Recreation, as the municipal authority overseeing Bartram’s Garden, provides maintenance support and funding to install electricity and water.
- Philadelphia Orchard Project provides funding and technical expertise for planting the orchard.
Locally supported urban agriculture has re-emerged as a way to reduce dependency on established food systems, a World War II era ‘victory garden’ response to growing food deserts in underserved communities. The Farm successfully addresses three aspects of sustainability – economy, environment and equity.The Farm promotes entrepreneurship, providing supplemental income for the farmers. The partner working agreements are anchored in their respective missions ensuring long-term investments from each entity. Transforming a neglected, underutilized part of Bartram’s Garden and building up its ecological qualities to support food production has increased bio-diversity in the Garden. The Farm provides low-income residents with healthy organic produce to combat problems associated with inadequate nutrition such as diabetes, depression, and hunger. Direct engagement with school students and residents addresses food insecurity in an enduring way. Distributing the produce through the food cupboard system through PHS’s City Harvest has a broader impact in Southwest and West Philadelphia.
PHS’s City Harvest program is an nationally recognized urban agriculture and food security initiative, and the Bartram Farm project is a model resource center. PHS seeks to develop similar neighborhood based approaches to address food insecurity across Philadelphia. The essential elements of the Farm include access to land provided by Bartram’s Garden, expertise in urban farming brought by UNI, and a mission driven interest in urban agriculture and horticulture that PHS brings to the partnership. Each of the partners has an interest in education, an aspect that can be included through environmentally oriented training organizations. PPR provides the municipal partnership that is necessary for replicability. PHS is already planning its next neighborhood model in the Strawberry Mansion community.
The Farm successfully models food-systems change for an under-served community that transforms behavior, building deeper connections to food, through growing, harvesting, and cooking. Specific outcomes of the Farm include:
- Re-creating historic use in the Bartram spirit of discovery and inspiration through nature.
- Modeling food-systems change that promotes fundamental changes in behavior, and deeper connections to food, through growing, harvesting, and preparing healthy food within a supportive community.
- Empowering youth with peer-driven food distribution and promoting new food choices through tastings, cooking demonstrations, and recipes.
- Creating safe communities and reducing stress-related illnesses through urban green spaces.
- Growing and distributing 7,000 pounds of produce to low-income Southwest Philadelphia community residents.