Urban Tree Connection

Spring Markets and Celebrations!

In Uncategorized on May 22, 2014 at 17:22

We celebrated our first day of markets this Saturday, with many people coming together to kick off the season!


Q and Pearl Street Sprouts set up decorations

Rachel and Dori (farmers) headed to Rittenhouse Square early in the morning, as dedicated neighbors—Lisa, Joann, Anita (NF Founders Group), and Pat, Ann, and Gale— started setting up the market at the entrance to the farm. Soon teen apprentices arrived to help prep and decorate the pavilion.


Rachel and Dori worked at the Rittenhouse Market stand

By mid-morning, neighbors were arriving to get the first farm produce of the season. They could pick up flowering plants, and sign up with Destiny (teen apprentice) to have compost picked up from their house each week. Inside the farm, dedicated volunteers— from the Presbyterian church, and a middle schooler completing a Bar Mitzvah project— helped Awinda (farmer) and Sue (volunteer coordinator) plant and weed at the farm, and then joined everyone for lunch.


Awinda, Gale, Sunlight, and volunteers

Gale was back a the grill, kids decorated pots and planted flowers with Addie and Jasmine (garden educators), while Alexis (teen apprentice) painted faces.


Jasmine and Alexis painting faces!

Dr. Sunlight Little, west philly nutritionist, naturalist, and herbalist, made her way back to the farm too. She led an awesome juicing class for us on Thursday, giving advice on nutrition that also touched on behavior and culture. She talked to many neighbors, and over lunch she sat down to talk with Skip (UTC director). We hope she will join us again soon!


Skip and Sunlight

High school students trekked down from as far away as Harlem for the day(!). They came to learn about urban faming in Philadelphia, recognizing that, as a city, we are forward thinking about it, and embrace it. They got a tour of all sites from Skip, and then worked with Sue in the Pennsgrove garden, a block away.


High school students from the College Quest Program in New York City

By the afternoon, kids had taken creative charge of the face paints, and collaboratively transformed Lily, Q, and Karen (garden educators), as well as several parents, into animals and super-natural creatures.


Q, Lily, and Karen with Pearl Street Sprouts and parents!

It was awesome to see so many people—both long-time supporters, and many new faces— enthused about a new season of fresh, neighborhood veggies, and excited about growing our community activities and programs. Thanks to everyone who joined!

Kids Garden Programs “Get Grounded” with New Garden Curriculum

In Kids Programs on May 1, 2014 at 18:08

In April, UTC Garden Programs began at the Pearl Street, Memorial, and Ward community gardens, setting the foundation for the coming months. Kids learned about ecosystems, soil, and the planting cycle, and framed the garden community and each person’s role and value in it. UTC Staff, Teen Assistants, VeggieKids and Sprouts worked together to set garden “ground agreement” (guidelines and expectations), prepped beds with compost, and started planting!

Season Overview

Garden Curriculum Overview: each week includes a Sprouts lesson, VeggieKids lesson, and VeggieKids business day activity

This winter UTC program staff collaborated to create a UTC Garden Curriculum specific to our outdoor, neighborhood-based after school programs. Lessons incorporate urban ecology, farming, health, entrepreneurship, and arts, to encourage a new generation of gardeners and community leaders.

UTC Staff use this Garden Curriculum to run seven weekly programs at three garden sites for our Sprouts (ages 5-9) and VeggieKids (ages 10-13). Three Teen Assistants are folded into this system, training with UTC staff, learning to lead activities, and serving as solid role models for younger kids in their neighborhood.


VeggieKids at the Pearl Street Garden work on a lesson planning and mapping their garden beds for the season

On the first program day at the Memorial Garden, Shae, Teen Assistant, knocked on doors inviting new and familiar faces back into the garden. You could feel everyone’s excitement after a long winter to be back outside and for the season to start. After orientation activities, kids spread out into their own space to observe the garden, writing poems/raps about their favorite birds which they shared. Blue birds and robins got shout-outs for their awesome colors, and eagles for a winning (& Philadelphian) spirit!

April (and winter prep) have set a solid groundwork, and gotten everyone excited for the season!



Kids prepare to share bird poems at the Memorial Garden after talking about ecosystems


Jasmine and Memorial Garden VeggieKids experiment making natural dyes

Soil Shake

Soil Week’s cover page

Soil Shake_Page_2

VeggieKid’s Soil Lesson page 1. (This lesson combines elements from Boston’s Food Project, ‘French Fries & the Food System,’ and Growing Healthy Habits Curriculum).

Soil Shake_Page_3

VeggieKids Soil Lesson, p. 2

– Karen Bustard, UTC

Ward Winter Cooking Program!

In Kids Programs on March 4, 2014 at 23:57

It’s another Monday afternoon and Q, Angel, and I have set up cutting boards and vegetables in the newly renovated basement kitchen of Ward AME church, now ready for our weekly children’s cooking program.


The Ward kitchen!

Today we have a peanut theme to accompany a lesson on George Washington Carver. We are making peanut butter, and peanut bars from one of the 105 peanut recipes Carver published in his bulletin to promote the nitrogen-restoring crop among rural growers. Q works with a few kids to add a small amount of salt, honey, and peanut oil, and they watch as the peanuts turn to a familiar store product in the food processor. The rest of us takes turns cutting apples, celery and bananas. After grinding the peanuts and making the dough for the bars, everyone molds their own shapes, and the snakes, suns, and squares go into the oven.


Shalise already knew we’d be cooking with peanuts when we first picked the kids up from the Martha Washington afterschool program a block away, and Q said cryptically, “we’re making something out of a plant that became popular because of a really famous black farmer dude.”

Image“Oh, peanuts.” She said. “Great, I hate those.” But by the time it comes to eating them she has changed her mind, and is hording the bowl of apples for dipping before Angel nods to her to pass it along, and pay attention to the section of the Carver biography that Preece is reading out loud.

Inventing over 300 products from peanuts— including insulation, antiseptics, and wall board— and teaching rural farmers best growing practices through the mobile Jessup Wagon, Carter embodies the creativity, ingenuity, and connectivity that we admire in urban farmers today!



Kids harvest greens from the 43rd Street Community garden in the fall. Everyone’s excited to return outdoors this spring, and grow some food to cook!

Angel, the block captain on 43rd street and Ward AME member, partners with us to run this program. Her two sons and nephews are joining today, the older insisting that the younger can read the words on the page, to have us be patient. Angel has been instrumental in setting up the two gardens now next to Ward and across the street, and the kids always respond to her energy, sense of humor, and nurturing guidance in the kitchen and the garden!


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

%d bloggers like this: