Philadelphia has 40,000 vacant lots and 700 empty factories. A legacy of globalisation as jobs went instead to lower paid workers in Asia and Latin America. The Philly Orchard Project sees these space not as an eyesore but as massive opportunity. Their modest plan (ahem) is to "the first American metropolis to grow most of its own food."
Not with the more common community gardens model, but with orchards of fruit and nut trees. They gone with trees because they indicate a longer term vision, that these gardens are here to stay. They also "provide cleaner air, better nutrition and better exercise, which means less public cost for healing sickness. Their shade reduces costs to heat and cool homes." In getting neighbors outdoors working together neighborhoods are expected to also become safer. Kids gain valuable farm skills in turn building career confidence and pride, with the hope this will also reduce crime, jail building and incarceration.
Paul Glover, founder of the project acknowledges that similar ventures exist in cities like Detroit, Los Angeles, Austin and Vancouver, while noting that Philadelphia's 20-percent poverty rate, along with rising energy and shipping costs, have given his city a poor a "food-security" crisis. Yet, with hundreds of volunteers now signed up for orchard plantings, optimism is running high. ::Philly Orchard Project, via Daily Pennsylvanian.