Discover growth resources for green space and urban agriculture in Philadelphia.
Conservatorship is a helpful tool to obtain the rights to manage a property in order to return it to productive use and into compliance with code.
Sheriff’s sales are an important tool for acquiring ownership where a property is burdened with unpaid debt.
Learn more about how to license, lease, and purchase land from the City of Philadelphia and its various agencies.
You don’t need to own vacant land to establish a community garden or green space in Philadelphia, but gardening without ownership comes with risks. Find out how to get started.
Urban agriculture is recognized as a valid use of land in Philadelphia under the zoning code. Find out what you need to know about zoning in Philadelphia.
If you plan to sell food produced in your farm or garden–especially prepared foods–you should be aware of Philadelphia laws about food safety & preparation.
Gardening + Farming
Check out the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society for useful information about how to grow various fruits and vegetables, garden in small spaces, and organize your community.
- Penn State Extension Vegetable Gardening has lots of great information on site selection, growing, and managing gardens.
- Mother Earth News has a crop-by-crop guide to growing dozens of varieties of crops.
- American Community Gardening Association contains tips, FAQs, resources, conference information, teleconference participation, archives and other information helpful for maintaining a garden and growing your knowledge base.
- The United States Department of Agriculture shares comprehensive information community gardens and urban agriculture, including toolkits, research, and other support.
- EPA Brownfields and Urban Agriculture: Interim Guidelines for Safe Gardening Practices is a condensed report from 60 experts on how to safely grow food on formerly polluted sites.
- UMass completes a comprehensive and fairly inexpensive soil test that will determine amounts of any toxic materials as well as provide information on soil pH and nutrient composition for your soil.
- Step by step guide to vegetable gardening.
Need supplies and gardening equipment?
Fairmount Park Organic Recycling Center offers compost, mulch and manure for free (up to 30 gallons) 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.
Explore the Tool Library in West Philadelphia where you can sign up for an inexpensive library card and access thousands of tools.
Looking for insurance?
Every garden needs insurance. Read about insurance for gardening in Philadelphia.
The American Community Garden Association offers affordable liability insurance policies for members.
Small Grants (Get Funding)
- 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
registered501(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 environmental awareness. SWEP has a particular interest in funding programs that involve local girls or women in science, engineering, or environmental fields.
- KaBoom Grants for Outdoor Play — Grants to support playgrounds and other outdoor play areas for children.
- 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.
- Looking for larger grants and loans for farming?
- Although limited, financial support for small farms and farm-related businesses is available from a variety of Federal, state and local agencies and from non-governmental organizations.
- Explore the USDA’s Agriculture Marketing Service for further support.
Free Assistance & BENEFITS
Looking for help?
Explore the guide to food assistance in Philadelphia with Philly Food Finder.
Explore a public computing center.
Find free career workshops and resources at PA CareerLink® Philadelphia.
For free one-on-one support to help you apply for over 20 public benefits, visit a BenePhilly Enrollment Center.
Use the Network of Care and Supports for Behavioral Health & Intellectual disAbility Services.
Gardening on Public Land
Gardening on Publicly-owned Land:
Read this article about obtaining gaining permission to use land from the City of Philadelphia.
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.
Use these tools in your path to securing access to land:
- Visit the Philadelphia Land Bank’s website– where you can express interest in a public parcel.
- Use the ATLAS: this is the City’s tool to lookup permits/licenses, research real estate information, and more.
- Use the Vacancy Lot viewer to identify potential land vacancy for each tax parcel boundry.
- Look up whether your prospective property has debt and is a candidate for sheriff’s sale.
- See the Stormwater Parcel Viewer for information on permiability and more.
Looking for additional information about public land?
OPPORTUNITIES FOR ORGANIZATIONS
Are looking to do business other organizations?
- See PHS’ garden tenders
- Request for Proposals: Philadelphia Urban Agriculture Plan (due April 30)
Looking for resources to help you grow your business of growing?
Looking to get paid to work on gardens?
Interested in building a career?
- Explore apprenticeships. Through these programs, you can earn while your learn.
- Explore careers. Deciding on what career you’d like to try can be tough; take your career assessment at My Next Move.
- Discover career pathways at Philadelphia Works.
- Explore workshops and resources at PA CareerLink® Philadelphia, for free.
Volunteer & Connect
Looking to volunteer?
Philadelphia Orchard Project plants orchards throughout Philadelphia creating green spaces and community food security.
Looking to connect with other gardeners?
Philadelphia Urban Farm Network (PUFN) is a very active listserv offering resources and community for the Philadelphia urban farmers and gardeners.
Looking to become a mentor?
The Urban Farming Project is an after school program for K-5 students at Dr. Ethel Allen Promise Academy where students will participate in meaningful gardening lessons and outdoor activities with mentors. Get involved here.
Want to help propel justice further?
Looking to buy locally-sourced food?
Philly Food Works is an online farmers’ market for local producers, offering subscription services for local foods.
Also, check out Farm to City to discover farmer’s markets near you.
Interested in paid urban gardening workshops for your organization or community?
Want to request legal representation from The Public Interest Law Center for your garden?