Published by City Farmer, Canada's Office of Urban Agriculture


Urban Agriculture in Philadelphia

dollar gardens

Much of Philadelphia was built after the turn of the century, with the population finally peeking in 1950 at about two million. Since then it has dropped back to just over one and a half million, not much more than in 1900.

This loss of people and housing leaves a lot of open space for urban agricultural development. The hundreds of garbage strewn vacant lots (sometimes constituting 50 percent of a city block's area) have stimulated citizens to create what has been called "the largest comprehensive urban greening program in North America."

According to Libby J. Goldstein, president, Food & Agriculture Task Force, Philly's 501 community vegetable gardens produced $1,948,633 worth of fruit and vegetables in 1994. A total of 2812 families (12,093 individuals) are involved in the vegetable gardens.

Philadelphia has a wide range of service groups dedicated to helping urban food gardeners, most acclaimed being Philadelphia Green, Penn State Urban Gardening Program and the Neighborhood Gardens Association.

Philadelphia Green, part of the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society, started in 1974 with a staff of two. Twenty years later 40 employees work with more than 1,100 neighborhood groups, corporations and government organizations on nearly 2,000 greening projects.
For more information call 215-988-8800
or write to:
The Pennsylvania Horticultural Society
100 N. 20th Street
5th Floor
Philadelphia, PA 19103-1495

The Neighborhood Gardens Association's goal is the long term preservation of community gardens. Most community gardeners do not own the land they garden and are always at risk of being asked to leave the land. In the last few years more than five acres of gardens in Philadelphia have been built upon or developed for other uses. The NGA battles against this trend, thus far acquiring a total of 16 gardens.
Neighborhood Gardens Association / A Philadelphia Land Trust
100 N. 20th Street, Suite 309
Philadelphia, PA 19103
Web Site:

Penn State's Urban Gardening Program was established in 1977 as part of a 6-city federal demonstration program that also included Boston, Detroit, LA, Houston and New York City. These programs were operated by Cooperative Extension. Today the program is still active in Philadelphia and Chester where workshops are held throughout the growing season.
Penn State Urban Gardening Program
4601 Market St. 3d Fl
Philadelphia PA 19139

More Information on Philadelphia Gardens

Philadelphia's Community Garden History

Ethnic Diversity in the Gardens of Philadelphia

How to Start a Community Garden in Philadelphia

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Revised July 30, 2001

Published by City Farmer
Canada's Office of Urban Agriculture