What is Urban Agriculture in Philadelphia?

What is Urban Agriculture in Philadelphia?

Philadelphia Society for Promoting Agriculture

January 5, 2023

Virtual via Zoom

Urban Agriculture as practiced in any given context picks up characteristics of that city.  However, surveying in Philadelphia found that four themes drive the missions of urban agriculture programs:  addressing food scarcity through community development, building a local network of growers and distributors to bring healthy food to food deserts, providing a training ground for career skills that lead to career pathways for young and old, and supporting food entrepreneurship in local communities.

This virtual program was led by PSPA’s own Jessica McAtamney and local people who work in the urban agriculture space.  It provided a good, brief overview of the four rationales for urban agriculture.


Jessica Naugle McAtamney
(she, her, ella)
Principal, Lankenau Environmental Science Magnet High School in the School   District of Philadelphia
Co-chair of the Urban AG subcommittee for the city’s Food Policy Advisory Council
Science Magnet High School
W | 215.400.3420


Phil Forsyth, Co-Executive Director
Philadelphia Orchard Project
Pronouns: he/him

Brandon Ritter
Chief Operating Officer
FarmerJawn & Friends Foundation Fund
Email: brandon@farmerjawnandfriends.org

Owen Taylor
Owner/Co-Founder Truelove Seeds
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Mimi McKenzie
Legal Director
Public Interest Law Center

Jessica provided a brief overview of Urban Agriculture in Philadelphia, stressing the diversity of goals and populations that are involved.

Mimi spoke about the Garden Justice Legal Initiative (GJLI) which helps urban gardeners/farmers deal with land sovereignty issues, including the issues involved in adverse possession and reforms for which the PILC is advocating.  Phil Forsyth reviewed the efforts of the Philadelphia Orchard Project in bringing fresh fruit to partners around the city. Brandon Ritter, chief operating officer of FarmerJawn and Friends Foundation Fund, talked about his mission of reintroducing farming into the lifestyles of urban people through education, access, and empowerment in Philadelphia and New Jersey.  Owen Taylor is building (free from grants and such) a company called Truelove Seeds, a seed company offering culturally important vegetable, herb, and flower seeds grown by urban and rural farmers committed to community food sovereignty and sustainable agriculture.

Responding to a question from the floor, Jessica and others on the panel spoke to the need to connect workforce development and training that is a part of most Urban Agriculture programs with real jobs in the public and private sector.