Hello supporters of urban ag and Philly Rooted. Actually, we’re sad to admit that we don’t have many big things planned for 2012, at least not on the Philly Rooted end of things. Erica has been busy heading up the tree campaign for The Department of Parks and Rec while also overseeing the management of the Woodlands Community Garden. And Nic is busy with the new book company he founded called The Head and The Hand Press while also helping his wonderful wife-to-be Elissa grow at the farm project she started 3 years ago, Emerald St. Urban Farm.
So there are a lot of things going on in both of our lives. It seems like a long time ago that we had to write the previous blog post about ending our relationship with Walnut Hill. But we didn’t want to leave something so negative as our parting words on this blog. The farm is still growing and doing good things. It’s a legacy that we are very proud of. So we’d like to look forward with a positive view. Every day there are amazing things happening in this city around urban agriculture and sustainability. And we’re excited to still be a part of it.
So we don’t know where Philly Rooted will be going in the future. But we do know that wherever takes us, it will be right there with the progress that Philly is making. But we will say that we’re going to put our heads together and see how Philly Rooted fits into it all. Please stay tuned for what’s coming next.
Here’s to another great season.
-Erica and Nic
We are incredibly sad to inform you that Philly Rooted will no longer be involved with the Walnut Hill Community Farm in West Philadelphia. As many of you know, since 2009 we have designed, built and managed the Walnut Hill Community Farm and Grower’s Cooperative, in partnership with The Enterprise Center CDC. Philly Rooted has engaged many partners and community members and provided locally grown, healthy food to the Walnut Hill community, in addition to part time jobs for local residents. As many of you also know, we developed this project in a volunteer capacity while juggling our jobs and lives. Although we had at many points asked for compensation for our work from The Enterprise Center, we were told that was not feasible. Regardless, we continued to build this project and came to the realization that building this project and supporting the community was going to be a labor of love.
With this in mind, we have been developing strategies to move on to other projects by passing this farm on to someone who could manage the land and continue the experiment of entrepreneurial urban agriculture that we conceived there. However, our plans were drastically altered when we learned this week that The Enterprise Center has offered employment to one of our volunteers to manage the Walnut Hill Community Farm, without our input. This bizarre move on their part removes us from the decision-making process and ignores our partnership, institutional knowledge and ethic of cooperative labor on this piece of land.
In light of this development, we are stepping down from all of our involvement with the Walnut Hill Community Farm. This decision causes us an immense amount of pain, but we continue to be excited about our work growing and greening the City of Philadelphia. We plan to continue this work, so stay tuned to to find out what’s next for Philly Rooted.
Check us out on WHYY. Therese Madden did a great story on the farm. Click on the link below to be taken to the audio page.
So after months and months of ordering parts, rewiring the system, fitting new pipes and tweaking the design, we have finally got our water system to work. For those of you who have missed the other blog posts, we are catching water from Septa’s 46th St. station roof. With the help of their union, they refitted pipes that now run into an 1100 gallon cistern on the site of The Walnut Hill Community Farm. The cistern is then connected to a pipe system that Philly Rooted designed. The pipes run into a mechanical water pump that is hooked up to a car battery, via a power inverter, which is powered by a 15 volt solar panel. The water is then pumped up onto our site through an irrigation line.
Now, the water pressure was now as powerful as I waould have liked, but it was still an amazing feeling holding a hose that is dispensing water from a completely closed system using %100 renewable resources. It was a very exciting day at the farm. If you’re interested in how we are doing this, then please come out to the farm (4610 Market St) on Saturday June 18th at 12 PM as Nic will be giving a demo on the system for the Sustainable Saturday’s Series put on by the UCD. Hope to see you all there.
Nic and Erica
This past Sunday Philly Rooted and The Philadelphia Orchard Project, with the help of our orchard sponsor The Fruit Guys, planted our Orchard at the Walnut Hill Community Farm. We were a little bummed to have had to switch the workday from the original date due to rain, especially because no rain came, but we still drew a great group of volunteers who were flexible and made it out. Here’s a few of those great people.
They worked very hard to plant plums, peaches, asian pears and a whole host of perennial beds that now border our orchard and create a lush walk way between our forth coming park and our growing space. We hope beds like this one will welcome anyone who wants to enjoy this beautiful space we continue to create.
As we’ve come to realize here at Philly Rooted through all of organizing and projects, it takes time to truly be rooted in the great neighborhoods of Philadelphia to keep them growing in the most sustainable way possible. So there is no better way to practice this patience than to plant an orchard. For although our saplings are only this big right now.
We look forward to the day when they begin to bear fruit and when one more community in Philadelphia has the opportunity to indulge in the great pastime of picking summer fruit. So please check out this site from time to time and watch as we grow.
Nic and Erica
Follow the link to see Mike Solomonov, from Philly’s Zahav restaurant, making matzoh for Passover with “Farmer Nic!”
This past Saturday we officially opened the Walnut Hill Farm for the season. It’s become a tradition to plan the garden opening on the same day as Philly’s Spring Clean Up, which has become the largest single day city-wide clean up in the country. And what a great tradition. It’s chance for us to get all of these great volunteers.
They cleaned out the trash that collected in the adjacent vacant space near the farm and filled the space with wood chips to hopefully deter people from littering. They also built a few more raised beds in our hoop house and most importantly, they helped our new team of growers get the spring plants in the ground. We’re extremely proud of the cooperative team we’ve put together and couldn’t think of a better way to introduce them to the great energy we cultivate at the farm than by introducing them to all of the community volunteers who have helped make this farm become a reality.
One of the most special guests who welcomed our new growers was Mayor Nutter.
On his visit he spoke with our new grower Cameron Taylor who described to the Mayor the crops we were planting for the Spring. The Mayor’s appearance was special for everyone, but it was even more special for Philly Rooted and the Enterprise Center. The Mayor stopped by during last year’s Spring Clean Up to watch us break ground to turn this trash filled, vacant lot into a farm and community garden. To see him come back a year later and be so impressed by how much the space has transformed was truly an honor. It was also a great moment to reflect on all of the work we did this year and put into perspective everything that we’ve accomplished on the site. And it made us all realize the power of what people can do when they work together to better a community by creating green space and growing food. And from the way the Mayor got his hands dirty, we hope that he feels the same way.
So here’s to another great season at the Walnut Hill Community Farm. If you’d like to get involved, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.