La Finquita Farm Stand received a $400 grant at Stake #5.
1. Describe the project a STAKE Grant would help you accomplish.
La Finquita (the Little Farm) has existed on owner-abandoned vacant land on the corner of Master and Lawrence Streets in South Kensington for over 25 years. In recent years, as many of the original gardeners aged or moved out of the neighborhood, there was less activity and a growing fear that without an engaged group of stewards, this garden could be lost to development.
Thanks to the efforts of a few tireless gardeners over the past year, new members have harmoniously combined their energy with old-timers’ devotion to attract new gardeners while reinvigorating the old. The result has been an impressive revitalization of the garden, which was acknowledged by the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society (PHS) when they accepted La Finquita into their Grower’s Alliance (GA) program this winter. As members of the GA, La Finquita gardeners will receive educational support and technical assistance to guide them through the process of setting up a thriving neighborhood produce stand this spring.
One of La Finquita’s greatest assets is that its gardeners are cross-generational and cross-cultural. This also means that individual financial means vary significantly, which could present a challenge going forward as up-front license costs may be prohibitive to some gardeners.
2. How will you use the grant toward the realization of your project?
Funding from Philly Stake would enable low-income gardeners to participate in La Finquita’s farm stand this spring and summer. The City of Philadelphia requires that all individuals involved in the sale of produce have a Business Privilege License (BPL), a costly $50 for each license.
Although the farm stand is a hyper-local entrepreneurial endeavor which will eventually be a source of income for participants, fresh, organic produce will be sold below market rate, and at times will be given away to neighbors in need. A Philly Stake grant would cover the cost of the BPL for La Finquita gardeners who would be discouraged from participating in the farm stand solely due to lack of financial means.
3. A little about yourself and what led you to your current creative goals. This may include a previous project of yours, ways it both succeeded and failed.
A main focus of my work as Program Coordinator at the South Kensington Community Partners, SKCP (formerly the Kensington South Neighborhood Advisory Council) for nearly the past two has been to facilitate organization within each of South Kensington’s numerous community gardens and ensure that the largest number of interested neighbors can benefit from these green havens. Because many urban gardens are started on vacant land, often with no formal permission from the owner, they face a real threat of being developed with little warning.
I have been staying abreast of and involved in conversations around policy and legislation about vacant land and specifically urban agriculture which is changing on a city-wide level.
Although there are a host of questions which remain with regards to implementation of the changing policy, I have learned that organization, productivity, and creativity are key when attempting to advocate on behalf of a vulnerable community garden.
4. Why is this project important? How will it benefit the community?
Currently in South Kensington, as with the majority of low-income neighborhoods city-wide, there are limited options for neighbors who want to purchase fresh produce at affordable prices. The benefits of a farm stand run by neighbors who live and grow in the neighborhood they are serving are abundant and include: increased access to and awareness of the importance of fresh, local food; creation of a local economy; productive use of space that would otherwise be vacant and potentially unsafe. I have seen the demand for a locally-based farm stand. There are currently close to 25 gardeners eager to cultivate and share their produce from 13 shared plots in La Finquita. A Philly Stake award will help these eager gardeners spread the fruits of their labor neighborhood-wide.