In 2009, members of the Germantown Monthly Meeting and other community members founded a community garden on the site of the former tennis courts of Germantown Friends School in the 5400 block of Wissahickon Avenue, adjacent to Cloverly Park. In 2015 the garden was closed so that GFS could sell the property.
The Old Tennis Court Farm made a significant contribution to its surrounding community:
It was a place for neighbors of all ages, races, genders, and financial status to work and learn together as they grew fresh organic fruits and vegetables for their own tables and those of family, friends, neighbors, and local food security programs.
Of its 50 plots, eight were maintained as community service plots specifically for donation to local food security programs, and several individual gardeners also contributed produce to the community. Over six years, thousands of pounds of fresh, organic fruit and vegetables were donated to Whosoever Gospel Mission, SHARE, and others.
As productive greenspace, the site mitigated environmental impact. It absorbed stormwater, and the off-grid solutions to water and power were carbon-neutral. Like the adjacent park, the garden was managed without pesticides or herbicides.
With a goal of acquiring and preserving the property at 5407 Wissahickon Avenue and returning it to productive community greenspace, the Old Tennis Court Farm Protection Project is partnership of the Old Tennis Court Farm gardeners and the Friends of Cloverly Park, working with Natural Lands Trust. Neighborhood Gardens Trust is providing technical assistance and Germantown United CDC is serving as fiscal sponsor for community-based fundraising.
Purchase of the 0.65-acre site by Natural Lands Trust would preserve the site in perpetuity and allow for eventual transfer to an entity such as the City of Philadelphia (as part of Cloverly Park) or Neighborhood Gardens Trust.
Once returned to operation, the Old Tennis Court Farm would provide a sunny area to grow nutritious organic fruit and vegetables for neighbors without adequate garden space; offer mentoring for those with little or no gardening experience; provide healthy food to neighbors in need and local food security programs; invite local schools and organizations to schedule service days or cultivate group plots; serve as forum for neighbors who otherwise might not meet and share interests; showcase off-grid solar power to motivate energy sustainability by local residents, schools, and other neighborhood gardens; and absorb stormwater and prevent additional run-off into the Wissahickon watershed.
To date, the effort has received widespread encouragement and support, including that of members of Philadelphia’s City Council, the Senate and House of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, the Secretary of Agriculture of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, the Philadelphia Department of Parks & Recreation, the City Commissioner and City Planning Commission, Germantown United CDC, multiple community organizations, and neighborhood associations.
Make a tax-deductible donation toward the purchase of the Old Tennis Court Farm site through Germantown United CDC, the project’s fiscal sponsor. Contributions can be made online or by mail with the downloadable donation form.
For questions or for more information, please use our contact page.