About Us

The Purpose

Philly Yardens Association is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit entity with a three-fold mission: increase access to healthy food, build community around food security and gardening, and rebuild urban soils. We live our mission by converting residential grass yards and ornamental spaces to beautiful food-productive gardens that support the urban ecosystem. Our services are rendered on a 'Pay-What-You-Can' sliding scale to ensure that all members of the community can participate.

The Plan

In the current phase, front yard conversion services will be available in West and Southwest Philadelphia only. If you're interested in installing a Philly Yarden and you reside in our operating zone, please drop us a line below (be sure to include your address)! If you're not in our operating zone, please join our mailing list and we'll let you know when we're ready for you!

The People

Christopher Flounders

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Chris grew up in Havertown, PA (Delaware County) and moved to West Philadelphia in 2009. Chris is a lifelong gardener. He loves plants, is thankful for all they offer, and is conscious of the need to steward their environment in a responsible manner. He believes a key pathway to economic security for all is through food production. Short and sweet, he believes ‘less grass yards, more food-productive Philly Yardens.’

Albert Merkin

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Albert, originally from Sugar Land, Texas, has lived in various neighborhoods within Philadelphia since 2008, most recently moving just outside the city limits in Havertown 2 years ago. His favorite fruit is the blueberry. Albert finds that access to affordable, sustainable, healthy food vital to feeding individuals and families in Philadelphia. As a recreational gardener, he also sees the joy and pride growing your own fruits and vegetables can give, as well as a deeper connection to the food itself. Albert works for Deloitte and is a licensed CPA in the state of Pennsylvania.

Garrison Hines

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Garrison Hines is a 23 year old resident of North Philadelphia. As a Farm Assistant at FNC Teens' for Good Farm and Orchard Apprentice for the Philadelphia Orchard Project, he has dedicated himself to the production of organic produce and healthy living. He joined the Board of Philly Yardens Association because he has experienced some of the hardships facing our citizens firsthand. He believes Philly Yardens can address the dual problems of hunger and obesity that so pervade the region. Fun fact, his favorite fruit is the apple (non-species specific)!

Kacey Willard

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Kacey grew up in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, before moving to Philadelphia for college. She studied industrial design and graduated with a B.S. from Philadelphia University. She is currently working as a graphic designer at Anthropologie. Living in an urban area helped her to develop a green thumb and a small house plant obsession. Now, that obsession is spreading outdoors as well. Kacey lived in the East Falls, Germantown, and West Philadelphia neighborhoods of Philadelphia before settling in Drexel Hill. There, she tends to her quaint vegetable garden and small (but hopefully growing) collection of fruit trees. Her favorite fruit is a lemon due to its usefulness in all types of cooking and baking, but especially for its ability to take any dessert to the next level. The thing Kacey is most excited about with Philly Yardens is its mission to transform the city while providing delicious food, strengthening communities, and hopefully helping some bees (and other pollinators) along the way.

Nakia Maples

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Nakia Maples is 'The Philly Plant Guy' and founder of Hearticulture Apparel. Nakia is a houseplant enthusiast and designer of epic indoor garden spaces. His own setup features over 200 plants! Nakia is an active social media content creator, hosting informational YouTube videos and running a Facebook group called Philly Plant Guy (with over 4,300 members).

Alexis Buss

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Alexis Buss is an avid gardener, tree planter, and forager. She is a co-founder of the volunteer-run neighborhood bookstore, Bindlestiff Books. She also serves as Members Services Coordinator for a non-profit land trust in West Philadelphia.

Lou Ballezzi

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Lou Ballezzi is an attorney in private practice, focusing primarily on M&A, start-ups, and other transactional matters. Previously associated with an international law firm, Lou now enjoys entrepreneurial endeavors and a boutique practice tailored to small business needs. With a background in biology, Lou is interested in environmental improvement, climate change mitigation, and food sustainability and security. Living in a revolutionary-era Philadelphia townhouse, Lou dreams of what can grow in small spaces. His favorite fruit is the small (but mighty) kiwi berry.

Marlene Bell

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Marlene is a small business owner and DJ in Philadelphia. She knows how to read a crowd, and will work off the energy of your guests to give you an unforgettable night. She’s performed at nightclubs, lounges, proms, school dances, weddings, fashion shows, block parties, sweet sixteens, and corporate venues like Salesforce, Nordstrom, Sephora, Neimans, Urban Outfitters Corporate Office and Jimmy Choo just to name a few. A dedicated vegan, Marlene constantly shares high quality content on social media and brings much needed social media prowess to the team.

Tom McCusker

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Tom McCusker founded neighborhood favorite, Honest Toms's Plant Based Tacos, in West Philly. Tom is borderline 'fruitarian,' a perfect fit for an entity that strives to plant fruit everywhere! Tom recently sold Honest Tom's and purchased a farm to start growing and selling hemp, fruit, veggies, and nuts.