October 2014

Denzel Thompson Grows an Urban Garden in Philadelphia

Denzel ThompsonDenzel Thompson

Denzel Thompson
Denzel Thompson (center) accepted his TeenNick HALO award for his urban garden work with the Philadelphia Urban Creators.

Growing up in North Philadelphia, Denzel Thompson saw many empty lots and very few green spaces. Only a few grocery stores sold healthy foods in his community, but there were lots of fast food restaurants. Because of this, Denzel and many others had problems with obesity. Denzel wanted to make a change for himself and also for his community.

In his early teens, Denzel went to New Orleans to help people affected by Hurricane Katrina. During that trip, Denzel learned to build greenhouses and change vacant lots into urban gardens. He wanted to do something similar in his own community. When he was only 14 years old, he and six other teenagers founded the Philadelphia Urban Creators (PUC) in 2010.

The PUC members worked together to find land they were allowed to use. Then they cleaned it up and started a garden. It took a lot of hard work from friends and volunteers. After about four years, fresh organic produce was growing where there once were empty lots. Today, the PUC grows a large variety of vegetables, fruits, and herbs.

The PUC’s urban garden system is made up of lots of outdoor gardens and greenhouses. The greenhouses make it possible to grow plants year round. Most of the food the PUC grows is sold to local farmers’ markets and restaurants. The PUC puts the money it makes back into the garden and the community. Community volunteers help with gardening, construction, and marketing. Many people in the neighborhood are now eating healthier.

Denzel says the garden has helped him eat healthier and get in better shape. It has also made him more interested in his education. Now, he wants to study agriculture in college. He is also helping start an organic farming program for local schools. For his work with the PUC, Denzel became a TeenNick HALO award honoree in 2013. HALO stands for Helping And Leading Others. Denzel is happy that his work has helped make his community a better place.

Image credit: ©Mark Davis/Getty Images for Nickelodeon

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Question 1
Where did the PUC start its urban garden?

Question 2
What is the PUC’s urban garden system made up of?

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