Community gardening on vacant land is open to Latinos
A diverse crowd of old and new Philadelphians came out last night to attend a vacant land use info session held by the North Kensington Community Development Corporation (NKCDC).
Table stations spread across the Kensington CAPA gymnasium, each one providing info on a different aspect of community gardens — everything from land rights and soil to water and insurance. There was also a table set up offering Spanish translation services on all of the issues, which is part of NKCDC’s commitment to reach its entire base community with green space.
So you see a vacant lot in your neighborhood and your green thumb starts itching. What can you do?
It’s important to know who owns the land, but not absolutely necessary. To find out is as simple as looking up the owner under their real estate taxes on the government website. But NKCDC and other community organizations at the event last night insisted that they’re not “the garden police.” Their advice? If you can’t get permission to use the lot from its owner, forge ahead. Just be aware of the risks.
Before you start planting, learn about the history of the soil. Urban soil is notoriously tricky to work with. If your lot sits in the shadow of a defunct factory, there’s a chance it could be contaminated and prevent growth. UPenn will be running “Soil Kitchen,” a free soil testing program, on April 18-19.
As for H20, rain barrels are the most cost-effective and environmentally friendly way to keep a garden growing, and the Philadelphia Water Department has the details.
For more information on garden development and maintenance, the Philadelphia Horticultural Society will be holding instructional programs in the coming months. Lastly, here are some resources to learn more about the legal issues of running a community garden: applying for 501(c)3 status, zoning permits, and insurance.