Communities sticking together

Philly Rooted, an organization focused on urban agriculture, is one of the 20 community groups in West Philly receiving a $3,000 boost, thanks to grants from Sustainable Communities Initiative-West, which helps distressed communities rebuild. The recipients will share their ideas at a ceremony, open to the public, on Friday from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at the Community College of Philadelphia’s West Regional Center.

Philly Rooted plans to use their share of the cash to build a “hoop house” (similar to a greenhouse, but with plastic sides that can be rolled up) at their Walnut Hill Community Farm at 46th and Market.

“There’s not much fresh produce in West Philly, especially once you get past 45th Street,” says Erica Smith, one of the founders of Philly Rooted. “Our purpose is to introduce it to the local economy, so there’s a circle of growing, selling and consuming fresh produce here.” The farm is maintained by a “youth grower’s cooperative” made up of students who sell the fruits and veggies at local markets.

SCI-West — along with partners Enterprise Center Community Development, the Partnership CDC, University City District and the People’s Emergency Center — selected the 20 winners that they felt would best help the area.

Rebuilding Together Philadelphia is one of them. The organization fixes up homes for low-income residents, focusing on critical repairs, energy efficiency and home modifications for the elderly and disabled.

“When we go in to do the interior work, we’re also planting trees, fixing sidewalks,” says Carrie Rathmann, director of RTP. “There are benefits for the whole community.”

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