A group of Bhutanese refugees in South Philly cultivate a garden of Thai roselle, the fruit of which can be used to make a beverage. The Philadelphia Beekeepers Guild recently reported an “overwhelming demand” for beginner classes for beekeeping. And in Grays Ferry, seniors and youth tend an 80-year-old community garden.
Those are just a few examples of Philadelphia’s thriving urban farm and garden culture, featuring projects often started by African American residents, immigrants, and refugees. It’s a trend officials approve of and want to encourage. But many plots are on vacant land that owners might not have given permission to use, might be owned by the city, or might even be full of contaminated soil, a legacy of past industry.
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