Coffee Hour: Growing Community Capacity in Philadelphia-Lisa Mosca, Sharat Somashekara, Heather Zimmerman

Friday, April 20, 2012 - 3:30pm to 5:00pm
Refreshments in 319 Walker Building at 3:30 p.m. Lecture in 112 Walker Building at 4:00 p.m.

Growing community capacity for urban production in Philadelphia:

City Harvest case studies and the Penn State High Tunnels Project


CAS high tunnels

The talks will describe the status of urban agriculture in Philadelphia, describe the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society (PHS) programs, and focus on case studies of the PHS City Harvest Program related to urban food production. In addition there will be a description of the Penn State Coop Extension High Tunnel Project in Philadelphia.


Sharat Somashekara,City Harvest Program, is a gardener, educator and musician based in Mt. Airy, Philadelphia.  For the past six years, he has worked as an instructor at the Philadelphia Prison System and worked on resourcing urban farms and gardens throughout the city as part of PHS’ City Harvest program. Sharat has an undergraduate degree in Computer Science from NYU.  He began his formal training in sustainable agriculture at the UC Santa Cruz apprenticeship program in 2001.  Before joining PHS, he worked as an apprentice under Shane Labrake at the Accokeek Foundation and co- managed Pennypack Farm CSA in Horsham, PA.

Lisa Mosca, City Harvest Program, has spent the last six years as an educator and food systems advocate in Philadelphia through PHS' City Harvest Program. She has had a lifelong interest in issues of nutrition, food access/hunger, pollution and ecological restoration. Lisa has an undergraduate degree in Biology from Swarthmore College, an MS in Environmental Studies with a focus in pollution biology from the University of Montana, and a law degree from Temple University.  Her interest in sustainable agriculture began with childhood work on farms.  She participated in sustainable agriculture research and advocacy throughout college and as a research intern at The Land Institute in Kansas after graduating.  She received a certificate in Ecological Horticulture from the UCSC Center for Agriculture and Sustainable Food Systems in 2001 and was the founding farm manager of Pennypack Farm Education Center for three years before coming to PHS.

Heather Zimmerman, is a horticulturist and urban farm educator working for Penn State Extension Philadelphia and Awbury Arboretum. She is a graduate of California State University's Urban teaching program and The Barnes Arboretum School of Horticulture and Landscape Design. She is passionate about connecting people with the natural world, empowering them to grow their own food, and helping to create a more sustainable way of life for urban dwellers. She is an urban homesteader raising chickens, catching rain water, composting, and growing her own vegetables and fruits all within the city limits.