Top Stories

Growing food on an urban farm
April 18, 2023

By William Rowen Healthy Roar staff | Levi Joynes Jr. said his favorite thing about being a farmer is seeing the looks on people’s faces when they buy his fruits and vegetables. He has worked as a farmer for 23 years. He currently is the lead farmer at Mill Creek Farm in West Philadelphia. 

Usually, farms are located where there is a lot of room, out in the country, but Mill Creek Farm is located in the city, where there’s less room and more people. Because there is not a lot of land, Mr. Joynes and other people built a greenhouse to grow plants. 

At Mill Creek Farm, the farmers grow “herbs, fruits, vegetables, pretty much anything you can name,” said Mr. Joynes in a recent interview with the Healthy Roar. Many of the foods they grow are sold or donated to people who live near the farm. 

Health benefits of eating locally grown foods include having fresher and more nutritious foods, and supporting your community, according to Lizzie Streit, a registered dietitian and contributor to She also wrote that eating locally grown foods is good for the environment. Trucks and other vehicles don’t need to go as far to bring food to people. That means they use less fuel that pollutes the environment. 

Mr. Joynes said he wanted to become a farmer because when he was growing up, he sometimes didn’t have enough to eat. He wanted to be able to provide for his family and his community, he said. As a child, he was amazed by seeing plants grow. 

He said he lives just six blocks away from Mill Creek Farm. At the farm, his responsibilities include planting, cleaning, and organizing. He even works in the winter when the farm is not selling many foods. 

He said he takes home some of the food that grows at Mill Creek Farm to eat with his family. He likes to eat vegetables with quinoa, he said. Quinoa is a type of grain. 

Mr. Joynes said if a fruit or vegetable goes bad and begins to rot, it gets added to compost. Compost is a mixture of plants that break down and become nutrition for the soil. It helps new plants grow. 

Mill Creek doesn’t have any farm animals. There’s not enough space on the urban farm, Mr. Joynes said. But frogs, snakes, groundhogs, and crickets live there.

Share this with your friends!

Since 2003, Healthy NewsWorks has been empowering elementary and middle school students to become researchers, writers, and confident communicators who advance health understanding and literacy through their factual publications and digital media.