|Mill Creek Farm supports Greenworks Philadelphia’s Goals:
Our work directly supports Equity Target #10: Bring Local Food Within 10 Minutes of 75 Percent of Residents. For over 30 years, community residents have grown food for their own consumption and to be shared with friends, family, and neighbors at the Brown Street Community Garden. This helps to sustain self-sufficiency in providing fresh produce to residents. The Mill Creek Farm further expands access to fresh, healthy and affordable food in West Philadelphia by growing vegetables, fruits, and herbs without the use of chemical fertilizers or pesticides and distributing the fresh food through farm stands and integration of local food into anti-hunger programs. Our produce is sold affordably directly to neighborhood residents twice a week: Saturdays at the farm at 49th and Brown and Wednesdays at the Haddington Farmers’ Market operated by the Food Trust, just 2 blocks from the farm at 52nd and Haverford Ave. At these markets, seniors and WIC recipients can use Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program coupons and food stamp recipients can use ACCESS or EBT cards to purchase fresh produce. Partnering with the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society’s City Harvest program, we also donate fresh food to church food cupboards and a women’s shelter that would not otherwise receive fresh produce. The farm supports other people growing their own food by engaging volunteers in learning about urban growing and offering gardening resources to neighbors come by for seeds, soil, and technical support.
In 2005, The Philadelphia Water Department and the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society prepared the site at 49th and Brown with a Growing Greener Grant from the Department of Environmental Protection according to Stormwater Management best practices (Equity Target #8). The bioswales and underground infiltration areas decrease runoff and flooding. The plants at farm and garden soak up and filter water. Our toolshed features a green roof which engages visitors in learning about its benefits: absorbing stormwater, reducing energy requirements for buildings, and helping to reduce the urban heat island effect.
In addition to the green roof, our toolshed demonstrates other techniques for Reducing Building Energy Consumption (Energy Target #2), including cob construction, a composting toilet, and material reuse. Our solar electric system generates all the electricity we use and supports Energy Target #4: Purchase and Generate 20 percent of Electricity Used in Philadelphia from Alternative Energy Sources. This infrastructure is highlighted in our educational programs, a critical component of our work fostering environmental stewardship among urban residents.
We engage visitors and volunteers of all ages in active learning, which benefits their physical and mental health, and helps to build a sustainable future. Field trips for school and youth groups help to connect youth with where their food comes from. Additionally, we work informally with youth from the neighborhood who come by to help out, explore, and more. Offering hands-on experiences like harvesting and tasting food fresh from the field helps to form nutritious habits that may help prevent disease in later life and encourage awareness of and caring for the environment and the community. We also host workshops to share skills and tools that further urban sustainability.
We work mainly with residents of West Philadelphia, but we also attract people from other areas of the City and country, and even international visitors and have offered tours as part of a variety of conferences. We greatly value our partnerships with neighborhood schools and other community organizations that bring visitors and volunteers to the farm, including the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society, the Mural Arts Program, Broad Street Ministry, Mariposa Food Cooperative, and Community College of Philadelphia. In 2008 alone, Mill Creek Farm reached over 1700 visitors and volunteers.
In order to allow local youth to connect more deeply with the farm, we employ students from Saul Agricultural High School in summer internships providing Green Jobs (Economy Target #14) through Workready Philadelphia. By partnering with the Philly Fellows program, we also create opportunities for employment and community involvement in Philadelphia for recent graduates of local colleges and universities.
Distributing food locally Reduces Vehicle Miles Traveled (Economy Target #12). We also promote bicycling by partnering with Neighborhood Bike Works, hosting bike tours, and relying on bicycles as our primary mode of transportation. Bike racks at the farm (both racks installed by the City and made locally out of salvaged materials) encourage visitors to bike to the farm. Reducing vehicle miles traveled and encouraging bicycling also serve to lower Greenhouse Gas Emissions (Environment Target #5). Our diesel pickup truck (which was donated by SEPTA) is used for transporting produce the short distance to market and is fueled with locally-produced biodiesel which is mentioned in Environment Target #6: Air Quality.
While primarily a site for food and education, the Mill Creek Farm addresses Equity Target #9: Parks and Recreation. Our site is an example of neighborhood green space that is enjoyed by many and helps to manage stormwater with no additional cost to implementation. We are also able to draw a connection between the creek and the vitality of the Schuylkill River. The farm maintains a formerly blighted lot with flowers and plants, and removes litter and weeds. Our efforts to reuse and recycle as much as possible also support Environment Target #7: Solid Waste.
Since 2005, we have planted over 35 Trees (Equity Target #10) on the site for fruit production and stormwater management with the added benefits of decreasing air pollution, noise, and extreme temperature days and increasing property values, carbon sequestration, and quality of life.
Our work furthers the goal of uniting Philadelphians to build a sustainable future (Engagement Target 15: Greenest City in America). The farm brings together neighbors, volunteers, partners, and visitors formally through our educational programs and gatherings and informally through our daily involvement. Please help us build on this foundation and expand our reach in accordance with the City’s Greenworks strategy.
c/o 3451 Walnut Street • Franklin Building Annex • Suite P-117A • Philadelphia, PA 19104