Farming in Philadelphia? It’s Not As Crazy As You Think

By Randy LoBasso
Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 2 | Posted Mar. 31, 2010

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Time to put those thrift-shop overalls to use, Young Artist!

Fairmount Park has just opened up 10 half-acre plots of farmable, nutrient-rich land in Manatawna Farm up in Roxborough. Turns out, M. Nutt has been listening to your threats of just getting out of Fishtown/West Philly and cultivating your own food in Montana. And he wants you to stick around – because hey, he’d miss you (and he needs you around for gentrification purposes).

Within a year of his election, our good mayor set many, many goals for the City of Brotherly Love. One of those goals – making us the “Greenest City in America,” as chronicled in today's PW – involved his initiative and sustainability plans, the Philadelphia Food Charter and Greenworks Philadelphia. The first is intended to open up more city-owned property for urban agriculture and the second set a goal of 12 commercial agriculture projects to be erected within Philly by 2015.

And urban farming up in the Borough seeks to be a means to both those ends.

According to the Fairmount Park website’s Request for Information for Management of Operation of Commercial, Chemical-Free Farming at Manatawna Farm:

“The City is instituting a pilot program to offer farmers or teams of farmers the opportunity to operate and manage sub-acre commercial, chemical-free farming plots for the purposes of fostering sustainable, urban agricultural businesses in Philadelphia and enhancing the direct, locally grown market of produce for the citizens of Philadelphia. Specifically, the institution of commercial, chemical-free agriculture at Manatawna Farm is intended to maximize the potential use of the property, demonstrate the viability and sustainability of commercial farming businesses in Philadelphia, and support efforts to bring local produce to Philadelphians and surrounding communities.”

The city is essentially offering participants to get land-grant funded plots in Roxborough for commercial farming. Participants need to submit an application (found on by April 12, and, if, selected, pay $500 for a 1-year lease of land, beginning June 1, 2010. The land already offers irrigation and watering hookups, fencing, a post-harvesting station, and toilet. Besides that, it’s all up to you. Once selected you can use your land any way you want. The possibilities for sustainable profit are basically limitless (assuming you know what the hell you’re doing.)

Don’t mind the dreariness and rain we’re getting this week. Summer will be here soon and for some people, that means one thing: Farmer’s markets. Do you want to be a farmer or a buyer this year? Because your bike tattoo, while establishing your place within the whole bike/vegan/artist culture thing, has got nothing on some down-home organic growing.

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1. Sasha Swayze Dews said... on Apr 1, 2010 at 11:46AM

“Thanks for the great coverage. I am the intern working on the project and I just wanted to clarify a couple of things. The April 12th deadline is only for the RFI (request for information). A subsequent RFP (request for proposal) will be issued. You do not need to submit a RFI to submit a RFP. Only submitted RFP's will be used in the selection process. The second point I want to clarify is that the infrastructure mentioned in the article is accurately listed but that these are planned improvements. The City has the grant money to add these components to the project but they have not yet been implemented. Thanks for your interest, and we welcome all comments and questions.”

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2. Farmer Pages said... on Aug 5, 2010 at 02:15PM

“Interesting concept. The more the merrier, right?”


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