PHILADELPHIA (CBS) –An urban oasis is helping to rejuvenate a neighborhood and improve lives. The small spot in North Philadelphia is growing not just plants, but also hope.
At 11th and Dauphin Streets in North Philadelphia — surrounded by neighborhoods hit hard by poverty and crime — sits a special place cultivated more than a decade ago.READ MORE: Meat Loaf, 'Bat Out of Hell' Rock Superstar, Dies At 74
“We are in the heart of North Philadelphia,” Rob Sonders said.
It’s a two acre oasis sitting on what was once a junkyard.
Through a canopy of sunflowers is fertile ground, where more than just seeds are being planted.
It’s known as Urban Creators. The site hosts the working Life Do Grow farm and Sonders helps manage it.
“We’re growing some pumpkins and also some corn back here,” he said.
Though the farm provides food to the immediate community — a place where fresh produce is hard to find — over the years it’s transformed from just an area to grow food into a place where artists gather and ideas sprout.
“We have a farmer’s market we do,” Sonders said. “So we sell a lot of the food. We also do community events, where people can come and eat.”READ MORE: 3 Sharon Hill Police Officers Fired After Being Charged In Shooting Death Of 8-Year-Old Fanta Bility
The next stage is being fertilized from a crowdfunded five-figure donation.
William Pasquale works with Next Level Training, a program which teaches leadership skills. He helped organize the fundraising.
“We were all maniacs on a mission for 29 days, raising over $60,000,” Pasquale said. “I’m really grateful for all the support we were able to garner for this farm.”
So is Daralyse Lyons.
“I raised $12,200 single handedly, which is amazing,” Lyons said.
She’s glad to see the money go partially to helping the farm stay open since it’s improved the area.
“Crime went down. The educational outcomes for the people who are involved here have improved,” Lyons said.
But she’s also glad it will harvest the next round of entrepreneurs who otherwise may have not had such an opportunity.MORE NEWS: Investigation Underway After Man Shot In Southeast Philadelphia
“This money is going to be partially seed money for them to do that and come up with their own initiatives and really expand their vision,” Lyons said.