Grounds for Change: Activating Vacant Land

Edible City

Idea

Tags: agriculture, birds, conservation, corridor, edible, education, food, foodsecurity, forest, grow, habitat, jobs, lots, lotsoflots, migration, parks, Philadelphia, play, urban, wildlife

A new garden city.

The Edible City transforms urban voids into prized patches of nourishment at the confluence of nature, culture, and agriculture. The project would restore William Penn’s vision of Philadelphia as a “green country town” boasting sylvan spaces and public squares, updating Penn’s ideal of gardens, orchards, and fields with contemporary ecological know-how, home-grown entrepreneurialism, and an ethic of social justice. Five lot types of dynamic new open space—in the context of a citywide action plan—connect this system to existing urban networks. The Edible City will reconnect a natural "corridor" impacting thousands of living species. At the center of the Atlantic flyway, a migratory crossroads as important to birds and butterflies as I-95 is to traffic, Philadelphia’s urban voids are nutrient-rich stepping stones in the “comestible corridor” from South America to the Arctic. Locally, these spaces link the Wissahickon to the coastal plain via Petty’s Island, where industrial ruins already shelter bald eagles and yellow-crowned night herons. The Edible City will nourish citizens through urban agriculture: supplying fresh edibles to local markets while creating jobs, educational programs, forests, grasslands, picnic parks, and playgrounds. New open space would also accommodate social events and performances. Philadelphia’s lushest lots are alive with pokeberries and goldenrod, cicadas and scarlet tanagers. The Edible City envisions this irrepressible life force as a generator for natural and cultural resources—an engine of discovery and laughter, surprise and satisfaction as well as a delicious vision of the future.