ESUF and LITTLE BERLIN – A Match Made In Heaven

Thunder snow and frigid temperatures aside, this winter is really shaping up to be one for the history books! There are so many incredible projects blossoming, partnerships blooming and adventures growing. It’s practically spring already!

As you may have read in our last post Elissa is having some incredible adventures in India (seriously, we’re all a little jealous), but I’ve been having some great adventures of my own here in Philly. They haven’t exactly been normal adventures, no epic bike rides, discoveries of secret abandoned treasures or late night blizzard walks. They’ve been adventures into the world of collaboration and leadership. My journey as an urban farmer started about 5 years ago, randomly, and now here I find myself in the middle of an extremely exciting movement in this city. Right place at the right time? Maybe. All I know is that sometimes I stop dead in my tracks and think, “How did I get here?” Or maybe I was just humming the Talking Heads.

Anyway, There is an amazing little collective art gallery called Little Berlin which is moving from Hope St to Viking Mills. They are a great group of folks, some of them you may know from our programing. Leslie Rogers from “Peter Pan In a Kensington Garden”, and Masha Badinter from the Kensington Library programs. One of the founders, Kristen Neville, is also a good friend of Elissa and I’s, so when they came to us with an idea to collaborate we stoked!

Across from Little Berlin’s new home at Viking Mills is a substantial vacant lot which borders both York and Boston streets. The property is 152’x102′, yes that is 1/3 of an acre. In the urban farming world, THATS HUGE! I dreamed a long time ago of expanding ESUF on the lot, but of course, like most dreams you realize you nave neither the time nor the resources to actually achieve them. But then suddenly there was this new opportunity with more people involved who had just as much invested and had the resources and man power to make it possible. Plus the idea is really quite unique and I’m very excited to be a part of it!

The pitch goes like this:

“Viking Mills, Little Berlin and Emerald St Urban Farm aim to create a community creative art space complete with a berry patch, herb spiral and ornamental flower garden on a vacant lot in the neighborhood of East Kensington.  In addition to transforming an unused lot into a beautiful place it will serve as a resource for community events, fleas markets and fresh produce. Most importantly it will be a positive space that will bring the neighborhood together through art and food! All of the produce will be ‘pick your own’ and any excess fruit will go to a local food cupboard.

This project is important because it creates a common space that can bridge cultural differences through art and food! It also turns a desolate lot into a productive and beautiful space that the neighborhood can enjoy and where local artists can exhibit their work!  The collaborative efforts of Emerald St. Urban Farm, Little Berlin and the Viking Mill will contribute to the expansion of each organization’s mission by further building upon our relationship between Philadelphia’s active, creative community and the neighborhood around us.  Emerald St. will be able to grow produce for the community in greater quantities, Little Berlin will continue to move outside of the gallery walls, and the Viking Mill will vastly improve upon a trashed and vacant lot.  Primarily, the blueberry patch will enable us to provide fresh organic fruit for the neighborhood.  It will also serve as a nexus between the many artists and organizers that serve the East Kensington neighborhood, where ideas can be conceived, shared and realized.”


Here are some drawings we have for possible designs:


So you see we have a lot of work cut out for us. If anyone would like to get involved with this project please let us know. This is all about collaboration. Once we have the design down we will begin opening it up to the creative side. Anyone who has ideas for creating pieces of art, be that sculpture, paintings, performance, sound-scapes, community gatherings or even cool seating, tables and structures.

Also, come show your support at the IGNITE Philly event at Johnny Brendas on February 10th. Kristen and I will be giving a powerpoint presentation about each organization and this awesome collaborative project!

We are also going to be creating a Kickstarter for the project. Keep your eyes open for emails and facebook blasts about our Kickstarter so you can make some donations to get us started!





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4 responses to “ESUF and LITTLE BERLIN – A Match Made In Heaven

  1. Hey Patrick – you should post more info about IGNITE – when and where?

  2. michelle

    This is a really amazing idea! I don’t live in the neighborhood but, I would really love to help out.

  3. Pingback: Little Berlin/ Emerald Street Urban Farm Project « Streets Dept

  4. Stanford

    Will you be constructing compost bins? I’d like to see you make use of the many discarded tires in the area. I have some thoughts on how to utilize them and not create a mosquito problem.

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