Neighbors rally to save urban farm in Germantown – learn how you can help

Posted on September 12, 2016 by Emaleigh Doley in Community Engagement, Greening, Public Space

garden_2011_may_29_043-2The Germantown community has an extraordinary opportunity to acquire a 0.65-acre parcel of land at 5407 Wissahickon Avenue, formerly the site of the Old Tennis Court Farm, and reactivate this once-thriving community garden.

With the goal of raising the full purchase price for the land and related costs by late October 2016, the gardeners of the Old Tennis Court Farm and the Friends of Cloverly Park are working with Natural Lands Trust to purchase the property, protect it in perpetuity through a conservation easement, and return it to productive community green space.

The Old Tennis Court Farm Protection Project is a partnership of the Old Tennis Court Farm gardeners and the Friends of Cloverly Park. Germantown United CDC is serving as fiscal sponsor.

Make a tax-deductible donation toward the purchase of the Old Tennis Court Farmsite online via GUCDC’s website or by mail with a downloadable donation form.

Visit friendsofcloverlypark.org for fundraising updates and additional information about the project.

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Project Background

In 2009, members of the Germantown Monthly Meeting and other community members founded a community garden on the site of the former tennis courts of Germantown Friends School in the 5400 block of Wissahickon Avenue, adjacent to Cloverly Park. In 2015 the garden was closed so that GFS could sell the property.

The Old Tennis Court Farm made a significant contribution to its surrounding community:

  • It was a place for Germantown neighbors of all ages, races, genders, and financial status to work and learn together as they grew fresh organic fruits and vegetables for their own tables and those of family, friends, neighbors, and local food security programs.
  • Of its 47 plots, eight were maintained as community service plots specifically for donation to local food security programs, and several individual gardeners also contributed produce to the community. Over six years, thousands of pounds of fresh, organic fruit and vegetables were donated to programs such as those of Whosoever Gospel Mission, SHARE, and others.

With a goal of acquiring and preserving the property at 5407 Wissahickon Avenue and returning it to productive community greenspace, the Old Tennis Court Farm Protection Project is a collective effort of the Old Tennis Court Farm gardeners, the Friends of Cloverly Park, and Natural Lands Trust. Neighborhood Gardens Trust is providing technical assistance and Germantown United CDC is serving as fiscal sponsor.

Purchase of the 0.65-acre site by Natural Lands Trust would preserve the site in perpetuity and allow for eventual transfer to an entity such as the City of Philadelphia (as part of Cloverly Park) or Neighborhood Gardens Trust.

Once returned to operation, the Old Tennis Court Farm would:

  • Provide a sunny area to grow nutritious organic fruit and vegetables for neighbors without adequate garden space;
  • Offer mentoring for those with little or no gardening experience;
  • Provide healthy food to neighbors in need and local food security programs;
  • Invite local schools and organizations to schedule service days or cultivate group plots;
  • Serve as forum for neighbors who otherwise might not meet and share interests;
  • Showcase off-grid solar power to motivate energy sustainability by local residents, schools, and other neighborhood gardens; and
  • Absorb stormwater and prevent additional run-off into the Wissahickon watershed.

To date, the effort has received widespread encouragement and support, including that of members of Philadelphia’s City Council, the Senate and House of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, the Secretary of Agriculture of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, the Philadelphia Department of Parks & Recreation, the City Commissioner and City Planning Commission, Germantown United CDC, multiple community organizations, and neighborhood associations.

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