For a long time, a weed-clogged vacant lot in the shadow of West Philadelphia’s elevated train tracks looked so much like the sad, forgotten sliver of land it was that it was practically a cliche. Close your eyes and see the chain link fence, the leftover building materials, the transit authority trucks. Now open them — all gone.
Today, there’s a pollinator garden on the quarter-acre site, and an edible hedgerow, and an orchard, and a platoon of volunteers–including a local Girl Scout troop–who tend raised beds and pitch in for seasonal cleanups. The Walnut Hill Community Farm, created and operated since 2010 by The Enterprise Center with substantial funding support from the nonprofit Local Initiatives Support Corporation, replaced a vacant eyesore with a pocket park and working farm in Philadelphia’s Walnut Hill neighborhood. Says farm manager Allison Blansfield: “We are completely out in the open, right across the street from a grocery store and near the el, and at rush hour, you really hear all these city noises.”
Above: A small tool shed, viewed through the kale crop. In partnership with Urban Tree Connection, Walnut Hill Community Farm grows organic vegetables for 68 customers who receive weekly shares of the harvest during the growing season.
Above: Salad greens, including red sail lettuce; The Enterprise Center has a 30-year lease and pays $1 a year to rent the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transit Authority’s land.
Above: Bee balm and echinacea in the farm’s pollinator garden, designed to attract bees.
Above: The farm harvests water off the roof of the El station at 46th and Market streets; water is stored in two 1,100 gallon cisterns on the farm.
Above: Queen Anne’s Lace in the pollinator garden.
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