Health and Wellness Open Space Management

Open Space

NKCDC’s approach to open space became a best practice nationally.

About the Program

NKCDC’s Open Space Management Program was created in 1996 in response to residents’ concerns about the negative impact vacant land was having on their neighborhood. 

With robust community support, NKCDC began cleaning, leveling, fencing and planting trees on dozens of vacant lots that were easy targets for illegal dumping and criminal activity. 

More than 300 lots were stabilized in this manner, with another 150 becoming part of Philadelphia Land Bank’s Side Yard program, and 15 turning into community gardens.

Seeing the increased safety and health benefits of greenspace on River Wards residents, Pennsylvania Horticulture Society (PHS) adopted NKCDC land management model for its city-wide PHS LandCare Program.

Today, NKCDC contracts with PHS and other organizations to maintain as many as 900 vacant parcels in our neighborhood and across North Philly. By working in Philadelphia neighborhoods every day, the Open Space Management crew develops strong connections with the community. We create clean and green open spaces, and organize volunteer tree plantings and other green projects. 

Cleaning & Greening

Clean and green neighborhoods improve our physical and mental health. They also just look nice. Join a community cleanup, report illegal dumping, find lead and air quality testing, and learn about nearby vacant lots!

Learn More

Roots to Re-entry

Roots to Re-entry is a Philadelphia program that gives employment tools and support to citizens transitioning back into their communities from the Philadelphia Prison System.

Designed in collaboration with a strategic employer network, the PHS’s curriculum includes intensive hands-on training in horticulture, landscape maintenance, greenhouse operations, organic land care, hardscaping, nursery management, carpentry and wood working, irrigation and other green industry skill sets, as well as health and job preparedness workshops.

NKCDC is proud to hire returning citizens from the Roots to Reentry program as our contracts and budgets allow.


Want to help?

Check out these resources for cleaning and greening, or acquiring a vacant parcel. Reach out to us if you need more information: 215-427-0350 or