Old Tennis Court Farm

The Community’s Garden

The Old Tennis Court Farm is now the community’s garden.

On May 18, 2018, Natural Lands purchased the 0.65-acre parcel of land at 5407 Wissahickon Avenue, 19144 on behalf of the community.

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The site of the Old Tennis Court Farm community garden, the land was purchased in part through a grant of $225,000 from the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development’s Greenways, Trails and Recreation program and the funds that community members contributed to meet the purchase price and related costs.

In the coming months, Natural Lands will transfer the title to Neighborhood Gardens Trust, with which the Old Tennis Court Farm community garden has been affiliated since reopening in May 2017.

In other words, this neighborhood asset is here to stay.

Now and for the years to come, families and individuals in Germantown and East Falls will be able to grow fresh, organic vegetables and fruits for their own tables and those of their neighbors in need. Each year, up to eight 12' x 12' community plots will yield fresh, organic produce for local food security programs.

We thank Germantown Friends School for giving the community the opportunity to purchase the land. We thank the many people who have been so generous with their support in so many ways. We thank Germantown United CDC for serving as fiscal sponsor for the community fund-raising. And we thank especially Natural Lands and Neighborhood Gardens Trust for acting on the community’s behalf.


One (big) step closer: Update on the Old Tennis Court Farm Protection Project

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.


Common Ground

When Chestnut Hill Local writer Stacia Friedman interviewed us about our efforts to acquire and preserve the Old Tennis Court Farm, she was struck by the way that the garden drew members of a very diverse community.

Over the years it was in operation, we met not only immediate neighbors from the West Chelten and Queen Lane neighborhoods in Germantown and East Falls, but gardeners from East Germantown and Mt. Airy, even Center City and South Philadelphia.

We were different colors and different ages. We had different levels of incomes. Different genders. Different orientations. Some of us wished our jobs didn’t consume so much of our time and energy. Others wished they had a job to go to. We went to different churches—or maybe no church at all. We had different ideas about the world, and vastly different experiences had formed us.

But we had, as it turned out, common ground.

Whether we knew a lot about gardening or were new to dirt, trowels, and weeds, whether we needed to put food on our own tables or hoped to put food on the tables of others, we all wanted to grow that food.

And over each season, as we nurtured our seedlings, prayed for rain, cursed the weeds, and harvested our carrots, kale, zucchini, and beets, we began to find the similarities behind the identity labels that tell such an incomplete story: Our concerns for our aging and ailing parents. Our deep love for our spouses and partners, children and grandchildren, nieces and nephews, siblings and friends. Our hopes for this city that is long on potential and always seems just another reach away from meeting it.

We found that you can grow community in a garden.

See Stacia Friedman’s article at http://www.chestnuthilllocal.com/2016/08/04/green-germantown-neighbors-rally-save-urban-farm/

See also our article in the East Falls Local: http://www.eastfallslocal.com/northwest-residents-hope-to-preserve-community-garden/

Help purchase and preserve this vital community resource. Donate online or mail a check.

New Territory

As visitors to this site can no doubt tell, the big news from the Friends of Cloverly Park is the Old Tennis Court Farm Protection Project. This is new territory for us. We have never undertaken any fundraising of this magnitude. But this is an extraordinary situation: Germantown Friends School has offered the community the opportunity to purchase and preserve forever a 0.65-acre parcel of land adjacent to the park.

If Cloverly’s neighbors and friends can raise sufficient funds to effect the purchase, we can bring back the Old Tennis Court Farm, the thriving community garden that operated on the site from 2009 to 2015.

Once again, the neighborhood would have a place for community members to raise fresh, organic fruits and vegetables for their own tables, their friends and families’ tables, and those of the community’s food-security programs.

The purchase price of the parcel is $277,000. We are working with Natural Lands Trust, which is seeking public funds for a portion of the cost. We have set a goal of raising least $75,000 from the community. Each gift, whether $5 or $500, will be important because it will have come from you, the community.

We have just begun getting the word out about the project, and we hope you will help us in doing so. And if you have ideas or suggestions for fundraising, please contact us.