Community green spaces improve health and wellness, increase access to nutritious food, and promote urban land sovereignty.
Growing Community Wellbeing
NKCDC’s Urban Agriculture and Community Garden initiative aims to improve health outcomes for residents, increase sustainable land sovereignty and food production, and reduce instances of violence. Through community engagement and programming, NKCDC will activate existing gardens and transform open lots along Kensington and Indiana avenues into welcoming spaces for community gathering, healing, and resilience.
NKCDC owns and has immediate access to three green spaces: Tusculum Farms, Greensgrow Farms, and McPherson Gateway Garden. All three sites are also supported through the Rite Aid Health Futures Grant.
How Community Gardens Transform Communities
Kensington ranked last of 46 Philadelphia neighborhoods in health factors and outcomes, according to a 2019 study by the City of Philadelphia and Dornsife School of Public Health at Drexel University. Its Census tracts rank lowest on key demographic and socioeconomic indicators tracked by the city controller’s office.
Improving environmental factors, including access to healthy food, green space, and safe outdoor activities improves mental and physical health. Trees and gardens physically cool urban neighborhoods, reducing mortality rates during heat waves. Gardens also can make significant reductions in violent crime, including gun violence.
“By increasing food access, nutrition education and access to critical resources, this project will result in improved health for hundreds of young people, families and our neighborhood at large. Additionally, it’s another opportunity to collaborate with violence-reduction programs to create safe passages in a neighborhood that has seen more violence than any other part of the city.”
Dr. Bill McKinney
Executive Director, NKCDC
NKCDC Community Gardens
Located on the corner of East Tusculum Street and Kensington Avenue, Tusculum Farms was an open lot that was transformed in 2023 into a community garden and green space. Once a deteriorating space on the corridor, the community garden is now being stewarded by our Community Farmer and Urban Agriculture Manager and will be a site for community programming and participation.
McPherson Gateway Garden
Located at 2968 Kensington Avenue, McPherson Gateway Garden is one of our strategic anchor properties along Kensington Avenue. Situated in close proximity to a number of community anchors, including McPherson Library, Willard Elementary, and Conwell Middle School, McPherson Gateway Garden is now activated into a community green space that will be used for community resources and programming.
Founded in 1997 on a former toxic waste site owned by NKCDC, Greensgrow Farms has a rich history as the longest operating urban farm in the US. Since Greensgrow Farms closed, NKCDC has been operating the site with plans to develop an Urban Agricultural Educational Hub that will bring community members together, encourage care for the neighborhood, improve access to healthy food and nutrition, and be a catalyst for even more gardens and community spaces across Kensington.
Our plan is to keep the land active as we make necessary repairs and improvements to the Property. Events, community cleanups, and other opportunities to get involved will continue to be advertised. Neighbors have expressed interest in using the site for farmers markets, food distribution, recycling collection, and even a tool library for gardening supplies. These ideas and suggestions will be considered as we develop a long-term plan for Greensgrow.
Partners & Site Programming
Programming at the sites will leverage resources and staff from existing NKCDC programs and community partners to activate safe passageways for community use. Programming at garden sites will address food education, health needs, and violence prevention to increase access to nutritious food, improve health outcomes, and reduce community violence.
Six other organizations and gardens throughout Kensington were recipients of the Rite Aid Healthy Futures grant including: Hart Lane Neighborhood Farm, Willard Community Garden, Impact Garden, Philly Unknown, the Butterfly Garden, and Flip Out Productions.
Connected Programs and Partnerships
Fresh produce, meal kits, and emergency food assistance
Pennsylvania Horticultural Society
Training and resources for community gardeners
Trauma-informed community engagement toolkit
Community Health Workers
Connecting residents to health resources
Neighborhood Gardens Trust
A leader in urban land preservation, based in Philadelphia
Temple University Center for Urban Bioethics
Using the CURE Violence model to improve community safety
Contact our Urban Agriculture Program Manager
Contact Catherine Reuter at 215-427-0350 x171 or email@example.com.