Green Dollars and Sense: Community Gardening on Vacant Land

Jun 16, 2012

Credit: Neal Santos

– Neal Santos

Today’s guest post is written by Diana Jih, a speaker at our National Conference of Volunteering and Service in Chicago and AmeriCorps member at the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society (PHS).

What can be done in historically vibrant communities burdened with neglect? As new studies report on what community members experience daily as the consequences of blight effect safety, health, and land value, we hope to offer some solutions. Diana Jih will present case studies of urban farms and networks of sustainable gardens and businesses in Philadelphia along with Michael Thompson, Co-founder and Farm Manager of the Chicago Honey Coop, whose work includes many years of honey and fresh food production as well as job training, community education, and non-profit and cooperative business management. We’d like to present a framework for those interested in incubating or undertaking green ventures on vacant land.

We’ll cover The Pennsylvania Horticultural Society’s training approaches for community organizers and how to embed capacity building to promote volunteer and funding sustainability as well as profiles of Farm 51 and different growers and buyers networks. Our discussion will also illuminate the often confusing path towards land stewardship or eventual ownership of vacant lots by navigating Philadelphia’s current land use policies and the potential for a land bank in its near future. We’ll also highlight policies in other cities.

No matter if you’re working with a market garden or an urban farm, we plan on incorporating your insight and lessons from the field into the discussion as well as any questions you might have. Together, we can examine different funding, cost-saving, and value adding approaches based on various economies of scale. We look forward to hearing about inspiring ventures from different cities and neighborhoods and to learning from each other.

Let’s empower our green initiatives to transform vacant land into healthier communities.

Diana Jih has engaged with environmental justice initiatives for many years including the current network of partners in community greening she works with through the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society (PHS). She builds capacity among individuals and organizations who want to plan their community’s development through urban greening. Her solution center highlights PHS’s City Harvest community gardens in her neighborhood that have transformed vacant land into sustainable garden spaces. Jih is presenting at Green Dollars and Sense: Community Gardening on Vacant Land.