Each year, more and more refugees take part in our urban agriculture program. In part, it’s about growing organic, healthy food—but the benefits extend beyond the table. From creating community to encouraging job readiness, the gardens are a place where refugees are Growing Together and Growing Home.
A Refugee-Driven Program
The inspiration for the gardens came from arriving families, who wished to secure growing space in the city. From that idea, the gardens have grown to encompass hundreds of family plots, with more on the way. The initiative is a partnership with PHS, Parks and Recreation, the Neighborhood Gardens Trust and others.
- 2008-2009: NSC settles growing numbers of Bhutanese & Burmese refugees, who express interest in growing food in the city.
- 2011: With the help of a dedicated team of staff, volunteers and community partners, ground is broken at Growing Home. The space is transformed from a derelict lot to a verdant, sun-drenched garden where healthy food can be grown.
- 2012: Former Mayor Nutter joins our Growing Home gardeners during their annual block party, and remarks on their positive influence on the community during a speech translated in Nepali, Burmese and Karen.
- 2013: Murals celebrating South Philly’s Bhutanese and Burmese refugee communities are installed in and near Growing Home by Mural Arts Program muralists Shira Walinsky and Miriam Singer.
- 2014: Demand remains high. The program expands to Point Breeze, with plans for Growing Together on Reed Street set in motion.
- 2015: Growing Together officially launches in the spring. The gardens are featured in a National Geographic article about green space in the city.
- 2016: Additional plots are added on Reed Street. Plans develop for an entrepreneurial garden.
Many of our gardeners arrive with deep agricultural knowledge. They include families from Nepal, Bhutan, Burma / Myanmar and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Affordable Growing Space
At $25 per year, garden space is affordable by design. The small fee includes a dedicated 4’x10’ plot, seeds, tools, water and healthy produce for much of the year.