Vacant Land 215 Toolkit

  • Philadelphia has tens of thousands of vacant parcels. For decades, many communities have tried to put these spaces back into productive use by growing gardens or farms or establishing open, community spaces. But too often gardeners, farmers and community members face challenges trying to gain legal access to new spaces or secure the legal protections they need to maintain their spaces. So, we created a comprehensive self guide for gardeners looking to maintain or create community spaces on vacant land. Through this guide, our community trainings, and, we are helping community members self advocate to secure access to vacant land. Click here to read or download the toolkit.


Grounded in Philly Legal Toolkit


Other Legal Resources

  • American Community Garden Association offers affordable liability insurance policies for members.
  • contains legal information, best practices and supporting tools for urban agriculture in the U.S.
  • Department of Records Philadelphia has information on the municipal records and land ownership.
  • Dig, Eat and Be Healthy: a Guide to Growing Food on Public Property by ChangeLab Solutions presents helpful legal and policy information for city gardeners regarding questions about common types of land agreements, issues of liability, utilities, maintenance, growing practices, contamination, access, security, improvements, and gardening on school district property.
  • The Urban Agriculture Law Project, A legal blog maintained by Becky Lundberg Witt.


Gardening + Farming


Garden Supplies

  • Philadelphia Urban Farm Network (PUFN) is a very active listserv offering resources and community for the Philadelphia urban farmers and gardeners.
  • Fairmount Park Organic Recycling Center offers compost, mulch and manure for free (small amounts) or for a fee (larger amounts).
  • PHS City Harvest Program offers seed, soil, seedlings, supplies and technical assistance through Green Resource Centers to participating urban farmers and gardeners. City Harvest participants will receive instructional workshops on organic pest prevention and control, pre- and post-harvest handling, season extension and soil building. Participants are expected to donate a portion of their produce to local soup kitchens and food cupboards.
  • The Farm and Garden section of Craigslist often posts cheap tools, soil, compost, materials, and other useful items.
  • The free section of Craiglist often posts firewood, bricks, palettes, horse manure and other useful materials for starting or maintaining a garden project.


Small Grants 

  • Philadelphia Activities Fund Grants - applications due in April. Offices at 1515 Arch Street, 10th floor, Philadelphia, PA 19102.
  • Fiskars Project Orange Thumb - Fiskars awards grants that include cash and garden tools to support community gardens in North America. 
  • The Home Depot Foundation Community Impacts Grant Program - Grants, up to $5,000, are available to registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations and tax-exempt public service agencies in the U.S. that are using the power of volunteers to improve the physical health of their community.
  • Lowes Toolbox for Education Grants - Public schools (K-12) and non-profit parent groups associated with public K-12 schools are eligible to apply. Past projects awarded grants include reading gardens, vegetable gardens, nature trails, physical fitness areas, and more. 
  • The Society of Women Environmental Professionals (SWEP) of Greater Philadelphia - provides grants to help fund organizations or programs that protect, restore, or foster the natural environment or provide educational programs increasing environmetal awareness. SWEP has a particular interest in funding programs that involve local girls or women in science, engineering, or environmental fields. 
  • Kitchen Garden International-Sow It Forward is the name of the food garden mini-grants program offered by Kitchen Gardeners International from 2012 through the spring of 2015. We are currently revamping our program in order to help more garden projects to start and will be providing information about the new program via KGI's email list in October 2015.  
  • Kids in Need Foundation
  • KaBoom Grants for Outdoor Play
  • Target Field Trip Grants
  • Community Development Block Grant (CDBG), every city receives some Federal funding and it can be used for community gardens, you just need to get into the planning process and have it put in the budget.


Neighborhood Organizing and Citizen Planning

  • Philadelphia Citizens Planning Institute -  Become a Citizen Planner. Learn more about planning practices and how your organization can be more effective in maintaining and improving the quality of life in your community. 
  • The PhillyRising Collaborative is the City of Philadelphia’s new way of doing business. The PhillyRising Team coordinates the actions of City agencies to help neighbors realize their vision for their community through sustainable, responsive, and cost-effective solutions. Together, residents and the City government can keep Philly rising! 



Land Bank

  • A number of organizations advocated for the Land Bank. See below for some of these organizations and additional resources:
  • (1) Philadelphia Land Bank Alliance 
  • (2) The Campaign to Take Back Vacant Land, a coalition of Philadelphia community, faith and labor groups.
  • (3) Soil Generation (formerly Healthy Foods Green Spaces), a coalition of Philadelphia organizations and individuals who support community-managed green space, gardens, and farms through advocacy, grassroots organizing, and education. 
  • (4) Center for Community Progress provides step-by-step instruction on establishing a land bank and has lots of other great resources related to policy matters.

Making the Case

  • Philly Food Justice contains articles that provide useful information and potential contact information for food justice work in the City. 
  • The Thriving Communities Institute explains the need for urban community revilatization and charts the steps of transitioning from vacancy to vitality.