Sankofa Community Farm
Go back and get it!
Sankofa Community Farm is a 3.5-acre community-based crop farm, rooted in the experience of the African Diaspora. As a spiritually centered farm, Sankofa prioritizes reverence for Spirit, human beings, and our relationship to the myriad beings beneath and above the soil.
The farm offers over 60 different crops and wild foods for our community’s healing and produces over 15,000 pounds of food annually for local farm stands and other markets. Sankofa Community Farm emphasizes intergenerational connections in learning and is powered each year by paid high school interns working alongside community elders, neighbors, and volunteers.
Farm Markets: June–November
5400 Lindbergh Boulevard
Clark Park Farmers Market
43rd Street and Chester Avenue
Opportunities at The Farm
Home Garden Beds
Want to grow food at home? Southwest Philly neighbors can sign up for a low-cost raised bed garden.
What is Sankofa?
At the farm, we are committed to living the praxis of Sankofa, a constant “remembering” as we move forward with our lives as individuals, nourished by active engagement of our people’s shared narratives in America. The concept of Sankofa is derived from King Adinkera of the Akan people of West Africa. Sankofa is expressed in the Akan language as “se wo were fi na wosan kofa a yenkyi.” Literally translated, it means, “It is not taboo to go back and fetch what you forgot” — or, as we say, “Go back and get it.” The farm has been guided by the idea of Sankofa since its inception and we work daily to bring this consciousness to our Southwest Philadelphia community.
Now in its second decade, the Sankofa Community Farm:
- Is powered by roughly 20 paid local high school interns.
- Produces and distributes over 15,000 pounds of food each year.
- Works with more than 50 local families in our community garden.
- Manages weekly neighborhood farmstands and grocery partnerships to sell its produce affordably and locally.
- Builds and supports more than 50 local home and school gardens in the neighborhood each year.
- Distributes over 80,000 vegetable transplants to over 130 farms and gardens around Philadelphia through the PHS City Harvest Program.
- Hosts more than 1,500 volunteers annually.
History of Sankofa Community Farm
Founded in 2011 by co-directors Chris Bolden-Newsome and Ty Holmberg, Sankofa Community Farm is the embodiment and natural progression of strong community connections. The farm began through a partnership between the Garden, the Philadelphia Orchard Project, the Agatston Urban Nutrition Initiative at the University of Pennsylvania, the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society, and the City of Philadelphia, converting underutilized recreational fields for community agriculture. In 2016, the farm was renamed the Sankofa Community Farm. We honored the farm’s 10-year anniversary in 2021, marking the milestone with community meals and harvest days; celebrations with neighbors, friends, and partners; and intentional visioning for the farm’s sustainable future.
At Sankofa, in addition to our restorative farming practices, we believe that nurturing strong relationships among our neighbors is the key to growing the best in our community and building sovereignty within our neighborhood. Like the majority of our farmers, most of our Southwest Philadelphia neighbors emigrated from Southern Black communities or from West Africa, the Caribbean, and Southeast Asia — all places where strong interpersonal connections linked by shared traditions are the norm and help people overcome daily struggles.
Many neighborhoods like Southwest Philadelphia reflect what Detroit educator Malik Yakini describes as “food apartheid,” where “public policy and economic practices have created [this area with] low access to foods.” These conditions are sometimes also referred to as “food deserts,” which is defined by the USDA as mostly being about proximity to food providers. However, “food desert” suggests a naturally occurring phenomenon, whereas “food apartheid” better reflects the systemic causes: the human-driven impacts of racism, the high cost of living, people being time-poor and cash-poor, cultural inappropriateness of available foods, and the limited ability of people to grow and cook their own foods. For instance, there are few full-service grocery stores in our area of Southwest Philadelphia, and stores have only limited arrays of expensive, low-quality produce. For neighbors living with restricted budgets, limited time, insufficient or unstable housing, or low culinary education, it can be challenging to access, afford, and prepare food that is nourishing to body and spirit.
Food sovereignty goes beyond food security to build community self-reliance. The traumas of food apartheid are addressed in small but powerful ways when our neighbors — especially our elders — can form links to their shared stories through the seeds, plants, and produce of their homelands, growing, cooking, and sharing food that is meaningful for them.
We aim to listen to our neighborhood and support our communities in healing themselves with the tools we already have but are quickly losing with the death of every elder. Food security alone is insufficient: food given to folks without jobs, without education, and without power to determine their neighborhood’s future does not nourish. Food sovereignty is concerned with not just providing the calories and nutrients folks need but helping to build webs of connection to one another by our relationship to the land we live on, the foods we know ancestrally, and the life choices made available in our community.
The Sankofa Community Farm’s Culinary Cultures Programs are run by Chef LaQuanda Dobson. Programs vary from youth development classes in winter and summer on cultural cooking classes to seasonal food preservation classes for the Southwest community.
Southwest and West Philadelphia Area Growers Network (SWWAG)
Formalized in 2018, SWWAG represents a coalition of local farmers and growers, led collaboratively by the Sankofa Community Farm, Urban Tree Connection, the Philadelphia Orchard Project, and the Garden at CHOP Karabots. We work with a wide range of neighborhood and citywide partners to enhance and expand our community’s access to land, healthy food, and ancestral and intergenerational wisdom. We believe in building sovereign and local food systems that utilize regenerative farming practices, promote neighborhood leadership, and uplift people of color of all ages.
June 23, 2022
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