On a recent Saturday morning, our neighbors in the Rowan/Judson section of the city walked to the signtuare gazebo on the grounds of the St. Elizabeth's Recovery Residence to do something that usually requires far more effort: buy fresh fruits and vegetables.
This accessibility to fresh produce and the existence of a farmer's market in North Central Philadelphia — a community located in a federal district recently named the second hungriest in the nation — has been a success thus far. "We are meeting our goal to serve healthy, affordable fresh fruits and vegetables to those who need them," said Michelle McFarland, a resident at our Rowan Judson residence who is working the farmer's market for her second consecutive year. The market is made possible by a partnership between Project H.O.M.E., Temple University's School of Tourism and Hospitality Management, and Fresh Grocer, and is the brainchild of Steve Korman, a staunch advocate for alleviating food scarcity in Philadelphia.
The market is just one aspect of the larger sustainability initiatives that we have incorporated into our 2011-2016 Strategic Plan. Project H.O.M.E. is committed to ensuring that "all developments reflect the shared values of economic, social and, to the greatest extent possible, environmental sustainability.”
By adhering to the United Nations' strict definition of sustainability as the ability "to meet “the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs," one of our first steps has been to develop an Environmental Sustainability Plan, which has 8 main goals that fall under 3 categories: manage resources, reduce waste, and build community.
We commit to examining the resources we use and bring into our organization, as well as the waste that we create.
Finally, we know that the only way to be a more sustainable organization is to engage in this process as a whole community.
We have taken many first steps to do this, participating in neighborhood cleanups, changing our electricity supply to 100 percent renewable energy, expanding our gardens, building our new residences to be LEED-certified, participating in nutrition education, and more.
We know that there is much work to be done and we are excited to tackle the next steps of our work. We are creating committees that will take on different pieces of the Environmental Sustainability Plan, to help Project HOME define more specifically our goals for moving forward.
Here are a few sustainability resources with a local feel:
- Sustainable 19125: A sustainability project in Kensington.
- Mayor’s Office of Sustainability
- The Energy Coordinating Agency of Philadelphia: Great resource for low-income homeowners.
- Grid Magazine: A free, monthly print publication focused on sustainability issues and initiatives in the Greater Philadelphia area.
Erika Slaymaker is Project H.O.M.E.'s Environmental Sustainability Coordinator.