At the intersection of 11th and York streets sits a new farm run by North Philadelphia high school students and Temple University undergrads. The group has dubbed itself the Philadelphia Urban Creators (PUC), and is utilizing urban agriculture as a gateway to youth empowerment and community revitalization.
The idea for PUC took root in January 2010, when 30 Temple students traveled to Our School at Blair Grocery (OSBG), a sustainability education center in New Orleans that empowers teens to address food scarcity and social justice issues. Farming and community organizing were highlights of the trip, and the group returned in April with high school students from North Philadelphia. That summer, the students joined forces with two other youth-led organizations—New York 2 New Orleans Coalition and Youth Coalition 4 Community Action—to shuttle more than 500 teens to OSBG.
“We brought high school students along to get them fired up and passionate about urban farming, to show them how urban farming connects to their lives and how it could transform their lives,” says Emily Kinsel, PUC’s farm manager and a student at Temple University.
In the fall, PUC approached the Village of Arts and Humanities, a revitalization agency in the city’s Fairhill section, and were awarded land for their own farming venture. Work began with building compost bins and clearing the jungle-like land. Once the ground warmed in the spring, trenches were dug to plant an array of vegetables, including the kale, arugula and beets that have just begun to sprout.
“We basically want to create an urban farm that has an educational component, so there would be farming and food produced for the neighborhood, but there would also be classes on community organizing and food justice for the youth in the neighborhood,” says Kinsel. “We want something that will still grow after the Temple and high school students graduate and move on with their lives.”
Presently, the students are considering plans for a farmstand in the parking lot adjacent to their farm, as well as collaborations with local farmers markets and restaurants.
To learn more or to join one of PUC’s work days, visit phillyurbancreators.org