We at STEMcityPHL and US2020 PHL are looking to grow our Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) mentoring programs by developing the Urban Farming Project (UFP), an after school program for students attending Dr. Ethel Allen School in North Philadelphia. In this neighborhood, there is limited access to healthy and locally-produced food options. We plan to address this issue by building an oasis in a food desert. After receiving an enthusiastic approval from Ms. Eberhardt, Ethel Allen’s Principal, we will implement the UFP by utilizing our partnerships with the City of Philadelphia, Salvation Army’s 21st Century program, Opportunities Industrialization Center (OIC), and Saul Agricultural High School. We will launch the UFP on Martin Luther King Day, where volunteers will build the raised garden beds and distribute soil. When the program begins in February, students will be separated into two groups (K-5 and 6-8). All forty students will learn how to grow fruits and vegetables, types of equipment to use, and the factors that promote growth through mentorships with agriculture professionals and volunteers from the community. We will supplement what is being taught during the school day by covering topics like life science, earth science, physical science, and mathematics. The specialized curriculum of this program will be designed in collaboration with Saul High School’s Dean of Agriculture, Jessica McAtamney. The UFP will connect an entire school from kindergarten through eighth grade. Students, staff, teachers, parents, and community members will all participate in a collective project in order to make an impact on both their school and their community. We hope that the implementation of this project will strengthen the school's climate and culture by teaching all participants innovative aspects of healthy eating and urban farming while building a sense of empowerment and accomplishment among everyone involved.
Funded by Philadelphia, PA (January 2017)