Urban Tree Connection
5070 Parkside Ave., #3500c
Philadelphia, PA 19131
Noelle Warford, Executive Director
Nykisha Madison, Community Markets Manager
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Urban Tree Connection has worked for the last fifteen years to revitalize the Haddington, West Philadelphia neighborhood by creating green spaces on nine blighted vacant lots many of which had been formerly used for illicit activities such as drug dealing, chop shops and nighttime brothels, thereby reclaiming them for community use by both children and adults as safe, open spaces. To maintain those garden spaces, they utilize the help of a large group of dedicated volunteers from both the neighborhood, and from religious and service organizations, colleges, universities and secondary schools, as well as corporate groups from all over Southeastern PA and several other states. For the past several years, UTC’s healthy food growing initiative, Neighborhood Foods, has been producing vegetables, providing food for both a weekly community market, run by women in the neighborhood, and for some other local markets, attempting to create a sustainable model. UTC’s weekly programming teaches community children the practices of growing vegetables with supporting curriculum, the value of a healthy diet, and as they get older, how to market their own produce within the community through the VeggieKids program. Adult programs, community-led healthy cooking classes and other health-related and creative programs are all part of the how UTC grows and sustains connections within the community and beyond. In the past two years, in collaboration with Partners for Sacred Places, UTC has developed a church-farm model, creating a church garden at Ward AME Church with future plans for a weekly farmers market. With the support of health coaches creating menus incorporating an increased amount of fresh vegetables, and by inviting them to be participants in the garden, the long-term goal there is to increase positive health outcomes.