DECA City Farms is Urban Agriculture. It is the operations, the laboratory, the production, the service and the Work. DCF is the place where we learn and the place where we grow. It is the intersection of innovation and tradition, the place where big ideas come into being. Scroll below for new projects and offerings to the community or sign up for our newsletter here.
DECA City Farms @ Lancaster County Park
Lancaster County Park is a central location and a hidden gem of greenspace in Lancaster City. It is also the location of DECA's flagship Community Garden, DECA City Farms.
This garden acts as a source for our locally grown produce, a testing lab for innovative environmentalism and conservation techniques, as well as a sanctuary for volunteers, students and guests to commune, learn, grow, and give back.
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DCF x Sidetrack Farms
Rural and Urban partnerships are the key to fighting food insecurity in Pennsylvania. Getting to know the land and how it functions on a large scale is the educational aspect missing in so many other urban farming programs. At DECA, we know that there is no better teacher than getting your hands in the dirt so our partnership with Sidetrack farms was ideal to foster growth and value for our network of urban members by providing both part-time and full-time seasonal employment, as well as volunteer and mentorship opportunities.
Sidetrack Farms is an organic Hemp producer who dedicated a 60 sq ft section of their land to grow market produce. Located less than 30 minutes from Lancaster City in Mt. Joy, Sidetrack is the secondary source for produce to stock our CSA bags and our Community Farmer's Market shelves.
Sidetrack Farms understands the importance of creating food justice for all. Proprietor, Brendan Stehman led the Lancaster Urban Farming Initiative and Lancaster Rooftop Initiatives in the 2000's before setting his sights on running a 7 acre farm of one of the most innovative agricultural products on the market today. Sidetrack was also the key to fostering relationships with neighboring farms so that we could continue to create accessible solutions for our underserved Lancaster Community.
West End Community Farmers Market
Due to Covid-19 and the toll the world wide pandemic took on our economy, the effect of the past few years has the potential to revert any progress that federal, state and private organizations have been made to address food insecurity and Hunger in Pennsylvania. The unfortunate environment led to the necessary and innovative tactics DECA employed during the summer/fall of 2021 and is why such wild thinking had such a great impact on our local community.
Our most recent project, concluding in October 2021, proved that communities can create their own value and benefit when it comes to the Fresh Food industry. Our West End Community Pay-What-You-Can Farmers Market, located in the unused warehouse that once held the historic West End Market, redirected over 2500lbs of produce, classified as waste due to its size or minor imperfections onto the tables of residents in the West End Community of Downtown Lancaster. Some residents paid $5 for a bag of produce and others who could pay it forward, paid $20 and not one person took advantage of the system. Not one!
We interspersed fresh produce with our DECA City Provision line of products as well as spotlighting the products local artisans offering anything from cool, reusable shopping bags to healing skin salves and beyond.
We’d see the same faces each week, build relationships through connection and share stories of the historic space and how Lancaster City has changed over the years.
The installation of the market also helped to bring living wages and seasonal employment to a number of city residents through our efforts networking with farmers who need assistance in Lancaster County. Our rural partner, Sidetrack Farms, provided us with access to their unused market garden, their knowledge and mentorship, as well as their network of local farmers from which, we could gleen further unsold produce.
In exchange, we were able to provide them with labor when they really needed it and all parties were able to create value out of the partnership.
The last and most beneficial effect was to provide volunteer, learning and growth opportunities to Lancaster residents who were looking to give back to their community and share space graciously with their underserved neighbors. Residents could volunteer their time to help set up the market, provide customer service, a smiling face or a silly joke. It was really beautiful to watch folks from such different walks of life, come together around food. and that is our ultimate goal, to build community, and with Discerning Eye Community Ag, we are building it around food. Fresh, nutrient dense, delicious, food.
Countdown to a Resilliant Future
106th Pennsylvania Farm Show
Harvesting More Innovation
Virtual Panel Discussion