Earlier this month, following the uprisings in Philadelphia and around the country demanding social and racial justice, and an end to police violence, we shared this statement via social media: “POP values education, justice, permanence, regeneration and beauty. We live these values in our work of creating permanent food-growing green infrastructure – community orchards – in the city of Philadelphia.

White text over a black background reading "Black Lives Matter"
We believe that Black lives matter

We urge you to take time to educate yourself about the civil rights struggle in this country, especially if you don’t understand the protests happening right now. They are about George Floyd, but they are also about the hundreds of years of system oppression and state-sanctioned violence that have left so many angry, grieving, and desperate. They are about Ahmaud Arbery, and for those who don’t feel they can safely walk or run or exercise. They are about Breonna Taylor, and for those who can’t even feel safe in their own homes. Together we will fight with you for justice, for a society that doesn’t devalue black and brown lives, for a country where we are all able to live our own complex and beautiful lives without fear.”

Throughout the spring, we’ve been thinking of what POP can do to live up to our values and work towards a more just society and sustainable future. We announced a community agreement and land acknowledgement statement, and in July, POP’s board and staff will meet to discuss tangible next steps. These documents state our values and actions more explicitly, and serve as a commitment for our ongoing work to advance equity and justice. 

Today POP is announcing a new campaign to uplift and promote the work of our partners: Growing Together. Throughout the year, POP will feature the work and accomplishments of our partners, especially those led by and serving Black communities and communities of color, in our emails and social media posts. Each June, we will ask you, POP’s supporters, to make a contribution in solidarity to one of our 65 partner organizations. In its inaugural year, we chose to highlight Urban Tree Connection, a nonprofit whose mission is “to build a neighborhood rooted food and land system through community leadership development and land based strategies in West Philadelphia.” This fall, POP will partner with UTC on new plantings at their Pearl Street orchard and community garden that will provide fresh fruit for generations to come. 

Neighborhood Foods Farm in early spring: fresh, chemical-free leafy greens are starting to grow. NF Farm features 2 high tunnels, a green house, refrigeration, storage shed, and a pavilion for packaging produce and teaching educational classes. This photo was taken during a seed-starting workshop with community gardeners. Courtesy UTC.

Members of POP’s board have pledged $1,000 to support UTC’s vital work – will you join them by making a donation today? This spring, UTC is coordinating a Free Food Share project with Block captains that is providing over 300 shares to families in Haddington, a predominately Black working-class neighborhood in West Philly. Your support today will help grow UTC’s Free Food Share Block Captain initiative to extend beyond June, sponsor $5 CSA memberships, and support their youth and community education programs. UTC’s work goes beyond food and green space access towards self-determination and practices that engage Black people in governing their resources together to meet collective needs.  

This time of crisis has made clear the need for mutual aid and solidarity, and POP will continue to think of ways to uplift partners, build relationships, and advance food and land sovereignty. Please join POP in supporting UTC’s people-centered agriculture and building a people’s food and land system that is sustainable, just, and community-led and governed. Stay connected and follow UTC on Instagram or Facebook. Thank you for being part of our community!

At left, Nykisha, Farm Manager at Neighborhood Foods Farm, believes in a developing deep relationship with the land as she turns the soil for the new growing season
Center, Nefertari, Stand Manager, community gardener and compost specialist, operating our W. Philly YMCA farm stand
Right, Tianye, youth apprentice, grower and artist, walks through a verdant garden underneath a grape arbor bearing ripe fruit
At left, Nykisha, Farm Manager at Neighborhood Foods Farm, believes in a developing deep relationship with the land as she turns the soil for the new growing season
Center, Nefertari, Stand Manager, community gardener and compost specialist, operating our W. Philly YMCA farm stand
Right, Tianye, youth apprentice, grower and artist, walks through a verdant garden underneath a grape arbor bearing ripe fruit
All photos courtesy UTC.

This was originally shared via email on June 22, 2020, was modified for POP’s blog and written by Co-Executive Directors Phil Forsyth and Kim Jordan.