Netter Center Breaks Ground on Community Farm and Food Resource Center
Penn's Netter Center is breaking ground -- again.
This time at Bartram's Garden, where the Netter Center's Agatston Urban Nutrition Initiative (AUNI) -- in partnership with the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society, Bartram's Garden, and Philadelphia Parks and Recreation -- has established a farm and community garden on a 3.5 acre plot of land where an abandoned baseball field and a worn-down tennis court once stood.
The official groundbreaking for the Community Farm and Food Resource Center was on October 27, and it's now being prepared with plantings.
By spring the Farm/Center will include a field for vegetables, a community garden where local residents can maintain their own plots, an orchard with over 50 fruit trees, a 1000-foot-long berry patch, and a greenhouse.
Based on Penn's nationally-renowned university-assisted community schools model, AUNI organizes learning opportunities for more than 10,000 students and their families at 20 public schools in Philadelphia. AUNI’s ecological approach to nutrition education includes rich hands-on experiences -- like the Farm/Center at Bartram's -- where local high school students can grow, cook, consume, and sell healthy fruits and vegetables, and in turn bring affordable and nutritious food to their families and communities, along with healthy change.
The Farm/Center is growing other great things as well. For Penn students who volunteer to work at the Farm alongside local high school students and community residents, it's a chance to experience community service and to ignite personal possibilities in their academic lives. For young graduate alumni like Brian Cassidy, GED'10, and Neena Pathak, GED'10, both Nutrition Education Coordinators for AUNI, it's another chance to see their academic passions around nutrition, urban education, and food justice bear fruit as they actively develop new ways of engaging local youth.
Whenever Penn's academic know-how comes together with the strengths of community and partnerships, powerful possibilities for change can grow -- not only for West Philadelphia students, their families, and communities, but for service-minded Penn students and young alumni.