An Urban Inspiration: The Walnut Hill Community Farm

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.”

Photographs by David Ferris. 

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.

For more stories and inspiration on urban cultivation, visit Gardenista.

Related:
Bee-Friendly Landscaping
4 Ways to Support Pollinators
7 Reasons Why You Should Grow Your Own Food

30 comments

susan k.
susan k.3 years ago

Thank you for sharing

tanzy t.
tanzy t.4 years ago

Just beautiful.hope it catchs on.

Anne G.
Anne G.4 years ago

Great.

Duane B.
.4 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

Deborah W.
Deborah W.4 years ago

The 2 words that stick out to me are: INSPIRATION and COMMUNITY. Most search for, want and need the same things. When hooked up with other like-minded folks amazing things can birth. Let's keep it coming.

Deborah W.
Deborah W.4 years ago

The 2 words that stick out to me are: INSPIRATION and COMMUNITY. Most search for, want and need the same things. When hooked up with other like-minded folks amazing things can birth. Let's keep it coming.

Monica D.
M D.4 years ago

Lovely pictures. I like community gardens. Good on them for making a positive difference.

Lauren Weinstock
Lauren Weinstock4 years ago

Is anyone worried about fumes, gases, other nasty stuff in the air released by vehicles, etc??? Otherwise, a gorgeous garden in my home city.

Susan S.
Paul Stephan4 years ago

Inspiring.

Magdalen B.
Magdalen B.4 years ago

Lovely!