Traditionally, living off the land and achieving an equilibrium with nature is only for residents of the country. Once you enter the big city, you're plugged into the machine of artificial life and mass-produced goods.
The recent trend of urban farming has dismantled that stereotype. Across the country, cities are returning to an agricultural way of life, and in many ways, Philadelphia is leading the charge.
One of the urban farming organizations in Philly that is getting the most buzz is striving not only to be in harmony with nature, but with the current layout of the city itself.
Cloud 9 Rooftop Farm was established in 2012 and began developing the following year. The project is the brainchild of Rania Campbell-Cobb, a native of suburban Maine and current West Philly resident.
Cloud 9 was founded on the premise of bringing urban agriculture to Philadelphia by utilizing the city space, rather than requiring a designated space like a community garden.
Cloud 9 plants its gardens atop Philadelphia buildings. As the org's homepage explains, this tactic "[minimizes] storm water runoff, [extends] the life expectancy of roofing materials, [reduces] heating and cooling costs, [and uses] underutilized space to grow delicious food."
This concept of using urban farming not to attempt to fully revert to a rural way of life, but to enhance the urban way of life goes to the heart of what contemporary agriculture is all about.
Cloud 9 told Be Well Philly about the draws and the difficulties of undergoing such a novel project:
"Growing food on a roof is a weird thing, and it can be hard to convince people to do it. Green roofs have been taking off, but to grow food you need more soil depth so it takes more weight to put on the roof. Finding space that’s strong enough and building owners who are interested in experimenting is the key."
The food is allocated to a variety of places: some is donated to a pantry run by residents of the building, some sold at the Francisville Farmer's Market on 19th and Fairmount, and some is sold to the Win Win Coffee Bar and other local establishments.
To learn more about Cloud 9 and everything they are doing for the community, visit the organization webpage.
By Bessam Idani
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