We kicked off this summer with our first supper club. We might be biased, but it was a blast! Meeting new friends, getting to harvest some of the first summer vegetables, and then making delicious spring rolls with our bounty, I mean what is not to love?
For us at Cloud 9, it went deeper than just having fun and hosting an event because we had the opportunity to see some of our hard work come to fruition as folks gathered around to foster community in our garden space. As one of our core values, we aim to engage our community to be involved in the conversation on sustainability and food access. We think being in community is where we can flourish.
As many already know, we can’t assume sustainability will happen by just one person doing it. While it is important to take our individual roles seriously, we also need to be aware of the greater scope outside of us, which is why we need community. Community supports us when we are weak, when we feel desperate and start to wonder if we really are making a difference. Community allows us to thrive, to learn more, and to do more. Not only do we have a bigger impact when we have community, but we also have people we can count on. For this reason, Cloud 9 seeks to engage in communities, and create space for communities to establish.
As we watched new people strike up friendships in our gardens over food we grew and collectively made as a Supper Club community, it reaffirmed our work is needed in this neighborhood and in Philadelphia.
If you are interested in joining our Supper Club community mark Sept 18 on your calendar! Until then, join our newsletter to see what fun things Cloud 9 is up to in Philly. Sneak Peek: family fun soil workshop where kids will help us make and paint recycled small irrigation systems for our roof on July 25.
As some of you may know Cloud 9 was fortunate enough to receive a Clarence and Lilly Pickett Endowment for Quaker Leadership grant in 2013. What, you may ask; does rooftop agriculture have to do with Quaker leadership?
Well, it actually has a lot to do with Quaker Leadership. The founding of Cloud 9 Rooftop Farm came from a leading of us (Clare and Rania) in 2011. A leading is a sort of a feeling, followed by individual and group discernment, that a project or idea is valuable and worth pursuing. Rania and I had a leading while sitting in a sunny room on a Sunday (we should have been in Quaker Meeting) and we were struck by the need to start a farm in Philadelphia. We knew that land was challenging to access and could be taken away at any minute. We thought about community gardens but we decided we wanted the farm to be more based on education. Then, as if reading our minds an email popped up on the computer asking if anyone was interested in starting a rooftop garden in West Philadelphia. Yes, we though … let’s start a rooftop farm. It will be new, unique, and the first one in the city. It will be a inspiration for other folks, educational, and a leader in the Philadelphia food movement.
That first site in Southwest Philadelphia did not turn out to be the best location for a rooftop farm. Neither did the second site in Northwest Philadelphia. But our community did not give up on us and has encouraged us to keep pursing rooftop farming! Members of West Philadelphia Worship Group have joined our support committee and we have been invited to speak at many Young Adult Friends (YAF) events as well as Guilford Alumni events. People all over the country have shown us great support by urging us to continue on. The Clarence and Lilly Pickett Endowment are one of those groups who continue to support us. They have made it possible for us to begin this season building a Cloud Mobile, a traveling planter prototype that will demonstrate different components of rooftop agriculture. They have also made it possible for us to build a small demonstration garden.
Sometimes when looking back on where Cloud 9 began I also remember a class I took in at Guilford College with Max Carter. The class was Quakerism 101 and it was there I learned of SPICE, which is the acronym that stands for all the Quaker testimonies. SPICE stands for the testimonies of simplicity, peace, integrity, community, and equality. After learning these testimonies we added that the S in SPICE also stood for stewardship, taking care of the earth and it’s people. It feels so important to have a spiritual relationship with our work, as well as practical one, and it’s wonderful to have the Quaker testimonies to guide us.
Thanks to the Clarence and Lilly Pickett Endowment for Quaker Leadership for allowing us to follow our spiritual leading. We plant to continue working with all sorts of folks to educate around rooftop agriculture.
Thanks, the Cloud 9 Team
People around the world are exploring exciting new models and techniques in sustainable agriculture. Cloud 9 is “looking up” to add to Philadelphia’s local production of fruits and vegetables lots, school gardens, park spaces, and community gardens by growing on roofs. Rooftop agriculture not only increases urban agricultural production, but plays an important role in improving air quality, and reducing environmental damage to nearby rivers and streams.
Cloud 9 is launching the Cloud Mobile, a portable planter demonstrating the ins and outs of Rooftop Agriculture. The Cloud Mobile uses three soil mediums, examples of drainage materials, and a rainwater collection system. The Cloud Mobile is stationed at Guild House West on Fairmount Avenue and will be tour Philly shortly!
Cloud 9’s Cloud Mobile and demonstration garden join a growing landscape (pun intended!) of rooftop farms and gardens. The Kimmel Center, Four Seasons Hotel, Sofitel, and Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP), PRooF, Graceful Gardens, Roof Meadows, and Urban Ecoforms to name a few, have built or are building beautiful and productive rooftop gardens.
South Philadelphia High School is going big! They received $26,300 to start phase one of their rooftop farm project. Affiliated with the Lower Moyamensing Civic Association, the school will work with Roofmeadow, a landscape architecture firm, to design and implement the farm over the next few years.
Rooftop Farms offer extensive benefits to urban areas. Starting a rooftop farm poses particular challenges, including material expenses, weight load capacity, and soil health. To improve the viability of rooftop agriculture we must explore creative solutions to these challenges. We must share information, methods, struggles, and successes. Cloud 9 aims to work with all those exploring rooftop agriculture to improve agricultural productivity in Philadelphia.
Thanks for all your support! ~ The Cloud 9 Team
Greetings Cloud 9 Friends and Supporters!
We can’t thank you enough for all the support you’ve shown over the past two years. You are the foundation on which Cloud 9 stands. Without you, this project would not be possible, and as we move forward into a new growing season a new phase for Cloud 9, we hope that you’ll continue your support for this important work.
Cloud 9 is moving in exciting new directions. As many of you already know, Clare Hyre has decided to step down as Co-Director of Cloud 9 in order to focus on her youth empowerment and food justice work with Weaver’s Way Community Programs. We are eternally grateful for all that Clare has done, and she will continue to be involved as a regular volunteer, ally, and adviser.
Rania will continue as Director of Cloud 9 and is looking forward to building upon the great work we began together. Rania will use her passion for urban food production and creative use of space, her skills as a community organizer, and experience as an urban gardener and farm educator to carry out the vision we developed as a Cloud 9 team.
Rania and Clare have devised a transitional plan for Cloud 9, both for the added responsibilities Rania will be assuming, and a revised direction for the project. In 2012, our plan was to put a garden on a roof. Though we worked diligently, Cloud 9 was unable to build as planned due to unexpected roof site complications. This was a challenging experience for all parties involved, and we at Cloud 9 learned a lot, including how much support there is for rooftop agriculture in Philadelphia, regardless of the challenges inherent in such a project.
Which brings us to the revised vision: Cloud 9 will work to make rooftop agriculture viable and vibrant in the city of Philadelphia through education, demonstration, and community support.
Cloud 9 is not leaving behind the vision of a rooftop farm, but rather focusing on its strengths as an organization; educating, gardening, and community organizing to make rooftop farming a reality for as many individuals, organizations, and communities as possible.
This season, the Cloud 9 vision is being pursued two ways. Cloud 9 is in conversation with a residential building in North Philadelphia to construct a small, demonstration rooftop garden that will be used for experimentation and research with the goal of developing best practices for the Philadelphia Region. Cloud 9 will build a mobile rooftop garden to offer education at the ground level about rooftop growing conditions, systems of irrigation, and the environmental benefits. The garden will be interactive and featured at community events throughout the area.
These two goals are tangible and feasible, bringing the Cloud 9 mission to a new level of actualization. We hope that you are as excited as we are about these next steps. We welcome any feedback or support you may have in regards to this vision.
Once again, thank you so much for your continued support of Cloud 9. We feel blessed to be a part of the growing urban farming movement in Philadelphia, and are so happy to be in community with you.
Best Regards, Cloud 9