Skip to content
Link copied to clipboard

N. Philly Hoodstock festival a celebration of farm, community and social change

The 3rd annual festival at an urban farm is about community change. After the festival, organizers are providing a platform for young people to talk about social, education and criminal justice issues during the Democratic National Convention

Urban Creators’ Stanley Morgan (left) samples a carrot as he talks with Ammiel Townsend (center) and Wayne Hamm at the Life Do Grow urban farm.
Urban Creators’ Stanley Morgan (left) samples a carrot as he talks with Ammiel Townsend (center) and Wayne Hamm at the Life Do Grow urban farm.Read moreTOM GRALISH / Staff Photographer

WHOEVER THOUGHT that urban farming was a way to demonstrate that black lives matter - just as much as everyone else's?

The youth who started Life Do Grow Farm in North Philadelphia thought so.

They say "the farm," as they call it, is about more than just growing food.

It's about community building and changing the neighborhood surrounding the farm on 11th Street near Dakota, a few blocks north of Temple University.

"Going to these protests [such as for Black Lives Matter] is a way of participating in [a] revolution," said Alex Epstein, 25, a founder and co-executive director of Philly Urban Creators, which started the farm seven years ago.

"But growing your own food empowers you to be a healthy person and strips you of dependence on corporate food systems. It's an act of revolution," he said.

Jeannine Kayembe, 26, the other founder and co-executive director of Philly Urban Creators, put it slightly differently.

"It's not necessarily revolution, but evolution," she said. "We are evolving in our way of thinking to create social change."

Next Saturday, the Urban Creators will celebrate the Third Annual Hoodstock festival at the farm from noon to 8 p.m.

The festival will include music, art galleries, poetry, and food, on 11th Street from Dauphin to York Streets.

The headliner act will be North Philadelphia rapper Freeway, who is expected to perform about 6:30 p.m. on a York Street stage.

Since Hoodstock will take place on the last Saturday before the Democratic National Convention opens on Monday, July 25, Urban Creators have found a way to make young people's voices heard.

The group plans to showcase their grassroots approach to community organizing through a series of workshops, panel discussions, and poetry performances during the week of the DNC in a program called Youth Action Assembly.

* On Tuesday, July 26, the group will host a discussion on "Black Lives Matter" from 12 to 3 p.m., followed by a panel discussion on "Education 4 Liberation," from 3 to 6 p.m. Both events will take place at the Asian Arts Initiative, 1219 Vine St.

* On Wednesday, July 27, D. A. Seth Williams is scheduled to appear on a panel entitled, "Mass Freedom," rather than "mass incarceration," from noon to 3 p.m. at the Painted Bride, 230 Vine St. A panel on "food, Land and Environmental Justice will follow, from 3 to 6 p.m.

* On Thursday, July 28, a panel on "Intersectional Social Change is planned, but the time and place will be announced later.

"Very often people see us just as urban farmers," said Epstein.

"The real mission we have is to empower our local community, to help build self-determination, to grow their own food, and to fix their own homes and create their own businesses."

Epstein said the group decided to have the Youth Action Assembly because it wanted young people to have a voice during DNC week.

"We have young people who are experts in North Philadelphia and professors in their own communities," he said.

For more information about Philly Urban Creators, go to

215-854-5987 @ValerieRussDN