On schedule, at the close of 2016, the Old Tennis Court Farm Protection Project met an important first milestone in the acquisition of the land at 5407 Wissahickon Avenue: while fund-raising continues toward the community match goal of $75,000 toward purchase and post-purchase site improvements, the purchase process can now begin.
Funds have been raised to begin the purchase process. Contributors to date include individuals, community organizations, private philanthropies, corporate donors, and the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development, Commonwealth Financing Authority, via the Greenways, Trails and Recreation program.
The Old Tennis Court Farm is now under agreement with Natural Lands Trust for acquisition. It is planned that in early 2017 Natural Lands Trust will purchase the property from Germantown Friends School and soon thereafter transfer the land to the City of Philadelphia Department of Parks & Recreation as an addition to Cloverly Park. During its ownership by Natural Lands Trust and, in time, the City, the garden will be leased to Neighborhood Gardens Trust, a role that NGT already fills for other gardens under city ownership, providing insurance coverage and other resources for these community gardens.
Efforts are underway to open the garden in April 2017. Pending approval by the owner, while the purchase is being finalized, the Old Tennis Court Farm Protection Project would have access to the site in order to prepare for a full 2017 growing season.
There is still much work ahead to complete the acquisition and reopen the garden, but we have reached this important first milestone because of the many people who have already given their support—in so many varied forms—to this project. We are deeply grateful for the generosity and enthusiasm that so many have already have contributed.
One important form of support is communicating to the broader public about the effort. We appreciate the interest of the local press, park advocacy groups, and the environmental community, most recently via an article by Mike Weilbacher, executive director of the Schuylkill Center for Environmental Education. (Read Mike’s article here.)
We look forward to keeping you updated on our progress toward the goal of acquiring the site, reactivating the Old Tennis Court Farm, and maintaining it as productive public greenspace.