West Philly's urban oasis nourishes a food-insecure community

- When you think of farms in the Delaware Valley, you probably don’t think of Philadelphia. But in West Philly, there's an urban oasis at Neighborhood Foods Farms.

Three-quarters of an acre can be found down an alleyway on North 53rd Street in West Philadelphia. Nestled among the abandoned buildings and signs of urban blight, the farm now feeds an entire community. Of course, it wasn't always this way.

Rashaad Lambert was born and raised on this city block.

"The land was so full of soot and oil and dirt,” he says. "People would dump things back here."

That was before the non-profit Urban Tree Connection successfully redeveloped the space in 2009. With the support of neighbors, volunteers and partners, the non-profit turned the abandoned lot into an urban farm that produces 10,000 pounds of produce each year. The transformation was, and continues to be, meaningful in a community that experiences food insecurity and has few options for fresh produce.

"There used to be a lot of supermarkets that were closer,” Rashaad says. “But they closed over time."

So they’ve created an oasis, which families visit to get their food. Children even learn to plant and grow on their own. Nykisha hopes that what they see will place a seed in their own imagination.

The farmer’s market is open Saturdays at 10 a.m. until 2 p.m.

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