“Occupy Vacant Lots is different from urban farms in that it is an entirely volunteer-run operation,” Nate Kleinman, an organizer and heirloom seed collector told me. “There is no motive for business or profit; it is entirely a community service, designed to reclaim vacant lots and turn them into productive local food systems and community spaces.”
Occupy Vacant Lots activists begin their work by reaching out to local communities to gain their consent to clear a lot and plant a garden. The idea of community gardens has been received enthusiastically, with many local residents helping to clear the land and suggesting vegetables they would like to see planted.
“It is interesting that this land isn’t being used, but many of the residents have been afraid to touch it. I think that reclaiming the space together is helping to break that fear, and building a solidarity of resistance to make our neighborhood feel cleaner,” said Meenal Raval, another activist with Occupy Vacant Lots.
Occupy Vacant Lots activists clean and clear the lots, and construct the design for the garden. So far, seven lots across Philadelphia have been cleaned, cleared and prepared for planting in the spring.
Occupy Vacant Lots activists also promise their support and responsibility in case of a confrontation with authorities or dispute with an owner, but it is ultimately up to the community to maintain the garden.
- Making Sustainability Legal (guest author) (ourdailygreenlife.blogspot.com)
- Occupy Vacant Lots – off to a start! (foodactiongroup.wordpress.com)
- Spring Comes to Philly’s Mercy Edible Park (my.firedoglake.com)