Urban Farming Flourishes In Philadelphia

Urban farming in Philadelphia is increasing sustainability options for city dwellers. A new zoning code established in 2012 replaced a 50-year-old law that did not favor metropolitan agricultural initiatives. Philadelphia Bill 120917 limited urban gardening and farming in specific city districts.

The new urban farming zoning codes in Philly reportedly both protect and promote gardening, market farming, and animal husbandry, Arch Daily reports. There are approximately 40,000 lots in the city not being utilized. About 30,000 of those lots are privately owned. Community gardens and urban farms now encompass 353 lots in the Pennsylvania metropolitan area, according to The Stranger. Some city farming estimates put the gardening and farming lot usage figures as high as 753.

The leaps and bounds supporters of Philadelphia urban farming has achieved occurred without governmental intervention. The push to create healthier and more sustainable living has turned vacant properties into edible paradises in Philly.

Design Philadelphia’s “Not a Vacant Lot” program and the Redevelopment Authority are credited with spurring the greening of dilapidated lots throughout the city. Philly has a long history of vacant lot farming, according to Grist. The Vacant Lot Cultivation Commission formed in the late 19th century to deal with some of the same concerns that residents are still dealing with today.

In 1943 the city created what is now known as the W.B. Saul High School of Agricultural Sciences. The 150-acre facility is reportedly the largest agricultural high school in the United States. During the 90s, community gardens programs designed to help thwart urban flight reportedly faltered when support from the local government was withdrawn.

Mayor Michael Nutter instituted an array of food-focused initiatives and developed a Philadelphia Food Charter to put agricultural issues in the spotlight.

Do you think urban farming will increase in popularity across the country?