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‘Grow Food Where You Live’ teaches urban farming and social skills to men

July 28, 2015 Category: Purpose

In the Chinatown North neighborhood, Philadelphia artist Meei Ling Ng has spent months working with participants in a program at the homeless shelter Sunday Breakfast Rescue Mission.

In the Grow Food Where You Live initiative, which began this past February as part of Asian Arts Initiative’s Social Practice Lab, Ng has taught the men who are part of the Overcomers Program at Sunday Breakfast Rescue Mission about growing their own food in their own garden in a Vine Street parking lot.

The farm provides vegetables, flowers and herbs that will be used in the kitchen at Sunday Breakfast or sold at local farmers markets. It also uses both recycled and found materials in its custom-built planters and trellises come from area businesses. In addition, rainwater collection, seed saving and self-watering planters are also part of the sustainable farm design.

In March 2015, in addition to building the farm, Ng started a program with class sessions over the course of four months for the Overcomers to learn about urban farming. She taught them topics such as seed starting, tomato plant pruning, proper water techniques, mulching/composting and harvesting were covered.

According to Ng’s website, the men in the Overcomers Program that tend the farm often spend time talking with curious people that walk in from the street inquiring about the project, and she’s noticed that some of the participants have shown improvement their interpersonal skills through this process of interacting with the public.The overall goal of the program is to teach advanced techniques so participants can gain a skill set that would enable them to be employed at or start up their own urban agriculture operation on one the city’s vacant lots.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WaM80ASSULk]

 

Image via Sang Cun

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