Posted February 23, 2017

Harvesting change during Global Days of Service—and yearlong

Temple’s Global Days of Service are April 24-30. Here, Temple shines a spotlight on community partner Urban Creators, an urban farm near Main Campus that hosts volunteers year round.  

Two volunteers shoveling dirt into buckets.
Photography By: 
Ryan Brandenberg
Volunteering during Global Days of Service is becoming more popular every year.

There’s something special on 11th Street near Main Campus. Walk north. You’ll see Edberg-Olson Football Complex to your right. Keep going. Trust us. Thing are going to look a little more green and you’re going to feel a little more curious. Wait. Is that a farm in the heart of North Philadelphia? Yes, it is.

Urban Creators’ farm, Life Do Grow, humbly thrives just north of Dauphin Street. The grassroots organization co-founded by Alex Epstein, CLA ’14, works to transform neglected spaces into places of growth and life in the community.

The second Saturday of every month is open volunteer day at the farm. On Martin Luther King Jr. Day, the organization hosted nearly 50 volunteers, many of whom are connected to Temple.

It makes sense that Urban Creators will participate in Temple’s Global Days of Service in April, and has for the past three years—it’s their mission to connect people to the vibrancy of North Philadelphia.

Sonia Galiber, CLA ’14, is the director of operations at Urban Creators. She gets to see firsthand how much the young people in the area love the space and enjoy spending time there.

“Just being here, this space is changing lives,” Galiber said.  

She explained that if someone is from North Philadelphia, their experience is different compared with that of a Temple student who just moved to the area. People from the neighborhood are sometimes amazed to see a farm in the community, she said, while others experience shift of perspective—North Philadelphia is more diverse than they thought.

Whether someone has called this neighborhood home for years or someone is just visiting for the afternoon, the farm leaves everyone astonished. Every volunteer is given a tour to expose them to the history of the neighborhood. The farm used to be a dump site, and prior to that, it was a box factory. 

“Now, as a farm, the space is in a stable place again. It’s important to understand the sequence of events,” Galiber said. “This neighborhood isn’t impoverished because it wants to be.”

To get the most out of their space, the organization needs help to move forward. An outdoor kitchen is under construction, production of produce is ramping up and a new composting plan has been put in place.

“We depend on volunteers to get things done,” Galiber said.

Learn more and register for Global Days of Service 2017.