Philadelphia, PA Orchard Project (POP)
Urban agriculture can be a mechanism to spur urban renewal. With a population of over 1.5 million people, Philadelphia is emerging as a leader in implementing urban agriculture policy. The Philadelphia Orchard Project (POP) works in the City of Philadelphia to develop vacant land into orchards to reenergize blighted neighborhoods grow healthy food, green spaces and community food security.
In 2007, the Philadelphia Orchard Project was launched with a vision to transform neglected urban spaces into hubs for both community and economic development. The City of Philadelphia, in 2009, released Greenworks Philadelphia, an ambitious plan that sets 15 sustainability targets to make Philadelphia the greenest city in America by 2015. The Greenworks Target 10 pledges to bring local food within a 10-minute walk of 75 percent of Philadelphia residents by 2015. POP is one of many non-profits and organizations that is assisting the City in accomplishing these goals.
POP trains and supports community-based groups and volunteers to plant and care for the orchards. Currently POP has 32 orchards around Philadelphia, which includes 450 trees, 932 berry bushes and vines, and countless perennials. Each orchards is manged by a comunity partner organization that maintains the space and has the responsibility of deciding if the orchard is free to public harvest, or if the yields will be sold with the requirement that proceeds go to benefit low-income communities.
Fruit orchards are hearty for an urban setting, requiring less maintenance than vegetable gardens and effectively reducing the urban heat island and absorbing carbon emissions. Additional benefits of orchards in the urban environment include:
- Fruit and herbs from orchards complement annual crops already grown in Philadelphia's more than 250 active community vegetable gardens.
- Trees, berries, and herbs do require watering, weeding, and pruning; but they are less resource and labor intensive than most other crops.
- Orchards help establish agriculture as a permanent part of the city's environment, economy, and culture.
- Trees shade the city, reducing air conditioning costs and improving air quality.
- Fruit and nut trees sequester more carbon emissions than the softwood trees typically planted for carbon offsets.
The partnership between the City and POP helps to create otherwise vacant lots into vibrant spaces that foster community building, volunteerism, healthy food access and food security.
Category: Cultural and Natural Resource Assets
Issue: Urban Agriculture Ordinances
Community Type: Urban
Location: Philadelphia, PA
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