On Saturday, March 19 and March 26, members of the church, friends from the Cupboard and the Shelter and new friends, neighbors from Old City, got our urban farm going on the east side patio. In the picture below, you can see Liz, our new friend from the neighborhood, who came over to get involved in our urban farm.
We also changed out the soil in the front rose bed (underneath the sign), providing the roses with better soil.
Thanks to Janice, Val, Jeanette and her friend visiting from London, Bruce, Eddie, Alan and Liz. Also, thanks for all the neighbors who stopped by to say they’d help in the future.
Spread the invitation and plan to join an eclectic conglomeration of Old Firsters, clients from our cupboard, residents from our shelter, and neighbors from Old City as we keep working next Saturday: on Sunday, April 3, after church, join whatever graceful crowd the Spirit gathers (from among those same unlikely groups of church members, neighbors and cupboard and shelter folk), beginning at 1 pm, as we begin planting seeds and seedlings. We are always pretty informal in how we dress for church, but that day feel encouraged to wear grungy clothes you can get dirty in the garden.
And with your help, Old First will move towards blossoming and blooming in another way!
Are we really talking about farming at the corner of 4th and Race? Well, we have farm animals at Christmas time! And Alan During composted most of last season’s barnyard material. Thanks to a proposal Val Salomon wrote last summer, the Pennsylvania Horticulture Society has accepted us into the City Harvest Green Growers Association. With Janice Smith and Jeanette Boorstein planning our vegetable gardens, we are ready to try our green thumbs.
We will be planting that first week of April, and expect to begin harvesting by the the second week in May.
We will be rotating crops and growing through the whole summer season.
Our produce will be harvested on Saturday mornings, and then split between two uses: 1) being donated for the needy– we hope primarily adding a fresh food component to the food we make available at the cupboard; and 2) being sold at Old First’s own farmer’s market on Saturdays in the front courtyard– providing an new income source for all our gardening efforts.
We are currently talking with Sister Margaret how we might also market produce from New Jerusalem, our Wellspring partner at our weekly farmer’s market. Their gardens produce more vegetables, herbs and flowers than they can give away!
Food is already a major focus at Old First. That’s first because, as a church, we love to eat. But, if you think about it, many of our Wellspring Ministries– the cupboard and the shelter where we organize dinners for our residents– have a strong food justice component.
And, since sometimes, we feel the distance, even mistrust, between the community of people we serve and the more privileged neighbors around us, we believe that focusing on our common need for nutritious food might be a bridge. So much of the Wellspring work already at Old First is bringing people together across all the social and economic barriers built to keep us apart. Imagine a wonderfully diverse, even unlikely group planting and tending our gardens together.
In the next weeks, beside these three initial workdays, look for a list of other volunteer opportunities for being involved in our urban farming.
Janice, Val, Jeanette and Michael