LIFE DO GROW (LDG) is an evolving collaboration between PUC and the community surrounding the corner of 11th & Dakota Street in North-Central Philadelphia. We are working with neighbors, local schools, community organizations, ex-offenders, houses of worship, foundations, and other youth groups throughout the area* to transform 3 acres of under-utilized space on this block (a 2 1/2 acre plot of open land and an apartment/garage across the street) into an active model of holistic and localized urban sustainability, and our hub of operations.
Together, we are transforming landscapes, growing fresh produce, building capital, inspiring creativity, and empowering those around us with the analysis, skills, resources, and networks to build upon this model, harvest their own visions for the re-development of their communities, and become pioneers of social and environmental change throughout the city.
* Some of the groups that we work with include: the Village of Arts & Humanities, The Philadelphia Former Gang Member Association, the Sankofa Rights of Passage Program, The GrassROOTS Coalition, the Fairhill Public Housing Community Board, Foundations, Norris Homes Community Center, Elverson Military Academy, Crossroads Academy, A.P. Randolph Career Academy, Heartranft Middle School, Education Works, Temple University, Vision of Missions Tabernacle Church, and Mt. Calvary Church.
Functions of Life Do Grow (LDG):
- Center for Community Organization: Creating a safe space for members of the community to gather, discuss relevant issues, share ideas and resources, and work in solidarity to maintain and develop their community as they see fit, from the ground-up.
- Urban Farm: Producing locally-grown and organic produce as a way of creating a community-based food system, generating local economy, and building public consciousness rooted in the physical and metaphysical well- being of the individual, the community, and the Environment.
In our first full season, we successfully produced organic tomatoes, collards, broccoli, lettuce, bell peppers, jalapeno peppers, mint, rosemary, string beans, spinach, and an assortment of beautiful flowers, and produced our first Value- Added product: our very own Salsa! In this up coming year, we plan expand our range of vegetables and add a wide variety of berries, herbs, fish, shrimp, eggs, and honey to our menu.
- “Home-Grown, Home-Made” Market: Establishing a weekly marketplace and forum where goods, services, and ideas that are grown, made, and offered by members of the community can be traded and sold, thereby generating a local economy and supporting the growth of local businesses.
- Local Business: Generating capital through the distribution of the farm’s produce and PUC’s services to re-invest in the community and the overall operation of the program. By transforming under-utilized space into sources of local production, we can offer services create jobs for an expanding area and population.
- Health & Fitness Center: Bringing together local youth with elders in the community to share experiences, provide guidance and wisdom, and help them grow into physically, mentally, and spiritually aware and healthy young adults through group exorcise, weight training, self defense and boxing training, yoga, sex education, and hands-on nutritional workshops through the management of the farm.
- After-School & Summer Enrichment Program: Providing local youth with a safe-space where they can spend their extracurricular time surrounded by positive people, ideas, and energy, while learning how to become productive members, and ultimately leaders, in their communities. We directly engage these students in the overall management of LDG, providing them with hands-on experiences that train them how to: compost and re-cycle discarded materials; grow, harvest, cook, and prepare organic produce raised in a variety of different environments; create and market Value Added products made from that produce; lead community canvasses and conduct local surveys; facilitate group discussions; and manage PUC’s local business. These practices, in turn, help these young people further develop their scholastic skills in math, science, economics, social-studies, and communication.
- Urban Innovation & Sustainability Training Center: Engaging students throughout Philadelphia in interactive workshops where we analyze the relationships between food and identity, energy and economics, the environment and society, and community and the self, while providing hands-on experiences in landscape transformation, urban agriculture, permaculture practices, culinary arts, small-business management, curriculum development, group facilitation, community organizing, sustainable design, and a variety of environmentally, socially, and economically sustainable practices that will enable them to become pioneers of change in their communities.