Informal Economies of Community Gardens in Philadelphia

Posted by on September 22, 2008

University of Pennsylvania
Institute for Environmental Studies

Domenic Vitiello
City and Regional Planning & Urban Studies
University of Pennsylvania

Informal Economies of Community Gardens in Philadelphia

A dozen years ago, Philadelphia was the foremost center of community gardening in the United States. But as public and foundation support for community gardens in the city has waned, how resilient have gardens been? How have neighborhood development, migration and demographic change affected the survival, disappearance, creation, and transformation of gardens? As food systems and economies are changing, what roles do community gardens play in food access in the city and its diverse communities? This summer a team of researchers from Penn’s School of Design and Urban Studies Program surveyed over 800 sites that are or were community gardens, with the assistance of the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society and Penn State Agricultural Extension. At gardens growing food, crops have been measured, which will ultimately yield estimates of the dollar value of food grown in community gardens in the city, updating and expanding upon research by the Penn State Urban Gardens Program in the 1990s. At a cross-section of about 50 gardens growing food, a survey of gardeners has documented the distribution networks and other social and economic patterns of gardens, examining their roles in community food security. This talk will present the initial findings from this research, and explore its implications for urban agriculture policy, planning, and community and economic development.

Date: October 1, 2008
Time: NOON – 1:30 pm
Place: Carolyn Hoff Lynch Auditorium
On the Penn campus: Chemistry Building
34 & Spruce Sts. (enter on 34 St)

Direct questions to: 215-573-3164


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