One constant throughout our nearly hundred-year history is a commitment to the communities where we operate. Novick Urban Farm is the centerpiece of those efforts. Situated on previously undeveloped land outside Novicks' South Philadelphia headquarters (and right outside the Philadelphia Eagles’ stadium!), Novick Urban Farm is a thriving, 501(c)(3) pending, non-profit, educational center that yields 20,000 pounds of organic produce for the community each year. The farm also:
Hosts educational field trips for thousands of children from childcare centers and elementary schools each year
Donates or sells its produce at a low cost to the local community, with all proceeds supporting Urban Farm programming
Offers a Farm Apprenticeship and Empowerment Program to teen and adult members of South Philadelphia’s Burmese refugee community, teaching them sustainable growing, proper food handling and sales tracking
Novick Urban Farm was founded in 2012 by co-owner Gary Novick. It began small, with an initial goal of seeing if farming the land was indeed possible. By the time he retired in 2016, it had successfully taken root. Seeds of what Gary planted -- both literal and figurative -- grew into an organization that each year feeds thousands of people in need while teaching just as many area children about the value of nutrition.
Today, the farm is led by Head Farmer Jess Renninger and Assistant Farmer Ally Schonfeld. With a degree in International Studies from American University, Farmer Jess has extensive experience working in farming and early education, while Farmer Ally has a Master’s of Science Programming in Agriculture Education from Penn State University.
2019 Farm Market Season: May 29th - October 30th Each Wednesday, May through October, we participate in Mifflin Square Park’s Vendor Village (6th & Ritner St. in South Philadelphia), where we sell produce for a nominal cost. Not only are we supporting the nutritional needs of a community that lacks access to healthy, inexpensive food options, we’re supporting the Urban Farm’s year-round programming. Also accepted at our Vendor Village stand are:
Farmers Market Nutrition Program (FMNP) vouchers offered as part of Pennsylvania’s Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for WIC
Supplement Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) cards
Three times each month during farm market season, we are joined by the Vetri Community Mobile Kitchen. Using the ingredients from the farm, the Mobile Kitchen provides pop-up classes that teach basic cooking skills people can use to make healthy dishes at home.
To stay up to date on the Farm Market schedule and much more, follow the Farm on Facebook and Instagram!
Among our most gratifying initiatives is a Farm Apprenticeship and Empowerment Program offered to teen and adult members of South Philadelphia’s Burmese refugee community.
The adult apprentices become true farm leaders while also giving back to others as they help to distribute produce to food-insecure families. Participants are trained in skills such as sustainable growing, proper food handling and sales tracking. Receiving a supplemental stipend, they gain a support network and leadership skills as they adjust to life in Philadelphia. Our apprentices tell us they benefit from drastic improvements to their own mental health, an appreciation of community involvement and healthier eating.
The Farm accepts -- and depends upon -- volunteers from within the local community, as well as the support of outside volunteer groups.
Working under the leadership of Farmers Jess and Ally, volunteers plant, weed, harvest and more, helping to do the hard work that brings vital organic produce to their own community. Often, multi-generational families come together at the Novick Urban Farm, working side by side to plant, tend to and harvest crops.
We’ve also worked with dozens of volunteer organizations, such as Jefferson Medical School, Returned Peace Corps of Philadelphia, Houwzer Real Estate, Temple University Football, and Philadelphia Power Corps.
Novick Urban Farm is a 501(c)(3) pending, non-profit, educational farm program that is dedicated to promoting healthy choices, nutrition, sustainability and community engagement. By providing hands on learning opportunities to local Childcare programs, we are able to educate children at their youngest on healthy eating and nutrition, promoting long term healthy choices. We are also focused on building community relationships, not only through the organic produce we donate, but through the outreach programs we partner in.