Growing up in Philadelphia, if my family wanted to visit a farm or an orchard to pick our own fruits and vegetables, we had to get in the car for a long ride. In more recent years, however, there has been a push to provide more green spaces and more community gardens and orchards that would help provide healthier food options to urban neighborhoods, especially those where food scarcity is a serious issue. Since 2007, the Philadelphia Orchard Project (POP) has been working with community-based groups and volunteers to plan and plant orchards in the city.
On Saturday, June 28 from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m., the Friends of Philadelphia Orchard Project and Sedgley Woods are holding a fundraiser to support the work POP has been doing. At this family-friendly event, you are invited to come learn how to putt, and drive discs from golfers of Sedgley Woods in East Fairmount Park. Tickets start at $15 and include a free POP pint glass. Children under the age of 12 are free.
The money raised will allow POP to continue its work planting orchards in vacant lots, community gardens, schoolyards as well as other urban locations. So far they have supported 46 orchards and have planted 36 orchards and 697 trees. Their bounty has included apples, asian pears, cherries, figs, peaches, pears, plums, berries, grapes and kiwi.
While they have planted or have supported orchards throughout the city, including in Germantown, Belmont, Squirrel Hill, Fair Hill, Francisville and Roxborough, the following orchards are open to the public as demonstration sites of what can be successfully grown in the city.
Bartram's Orchard in Bartram's Garden in West Philadelphia has over 110 fruit and nut trees and is a part of Bartram's Garden Community Farm, a larger partnership with Bartram's, the Agatston Urban Nutrition Initiative of the University of PA, Pennsylvania Horticultural Society (PHS), and Philadelphia Department of Parks & Recreation. The park and garden are open for visitation during daylight hours.
Fair Hill Orchard is on the grounds of Historic Fair Hill. Friends of Fair Hill Burial Ground added an orchard to the community garden on the edge of the historic cemetery, the resting ground of famous abolitionists. See their website for more information.
At Grumblethorpe Historic House & Garden in Germantown, POP has also helped Grumblethorpe's Community Farm Program with the addition of the Grumblethorpe Orchard with new fruit trees, berry bushes and a filbert hedge. You can arrange a visit here.
At SHARE headquarters in West Allegheny, POP has collaborated with SHARE Food Program, PHS, Penn State University and others to develop a green resource center and an urban farming demonstration site. The SHARE Orchard and gardens not only help provide emergency food supplies for the region, but it provides education to help teach how to grow food. The best way to visit this site is to volunteer.
Teens 4 Good runs youth entrepreneurship programs where kids sell home-grown produce at farmstands and farmers markets around the city. POP has teamed up with them to plant the Teens 4 Good Orchard at 8th and Poplar in North Philadelphia. You can visit the orchard and buy fresh produce at their farmstand on Wednesdays, 3 p.m. to 6 p.m.
In East Fairmount Park, Woodford Orchard has been the brainchild of The East Park Revitalization Alliance, Naomi Wood Trust and the Philadelphia Department of Parks and Recreation to bring agriculture back to the Strawberry Mansion section of the park. The orchard is on the grounds of the Woodford Museum which is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Tuesdays through Sundays.