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Co-Working It Out
Local artisans find strength in numbers
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saviors Seed savers safeguard our regionâ€™s rich horticultural heritage
Our annual profile of local farms in partnership with PASA
Kidding Around Spring is here and so is great goat cheese
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The Keystone Center for the Study of Regional Foods and Food Tourism AUTHOR OF AS AMERICAN AS SHOOFLY PIE: THE FOODLORE AND FAKELORE OF PENNSYLVANIA DUTCH CUISINE
Urban Farmer and Novelist
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12 Plain Sights: Has Hidden City found the birthplace of the Barnes Collection? 13 Clean Cut: A do-it-yourself solution to keeping your cutting boards toxin-free 14 Food Source: Meet Philadelphia beekeeper Adam Schreiber 16 Rolling Wonder: The Farm Explorer hits the road, delivering farming and cooking education 20 The Whole Food: Bok Choy 22 Kids These Days: Goat cheese season has finally arrived
Exploring the of Philadelphia page
Heirloom seed-savers are preserving our areaâ€™s rich horticultural heritage by brian rademaekers
26 Small Businesses Meet a Great Idea: Co-working artisans share resources, experience and a vision of community
38 Urban Naturalist Fish Town: The Fairmount fishway is helping shad make the arduous trip upstream 40 Events Earth Day celebrations, gardening workshops and a run for clean air are just some of 20plus events that will get you outside this spring. 46 Dispatch Some Seeds Have Deep Roots: An heirloom seed saver tells the story of his collection
farmbook â€” 16-page special insert inside! cov e r an d co n te n ts p hotos by ro b card il lo | w w w.ro b cardi llo.com
April 18 - 28, 2013
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Grid welcomes an editor-in-chief
hese days much of my at-home time is spent trying to induce smiles and sleep from our little guy. Between singing “Two Princes” and “I Feel Good,” and countless hours on a rocking chair, finding time to read is a challenge. But despite feeling the end-of-day exhaustion, I just tore through Judy Wicks’ new memoir, Good Morning, Beautiful Business. Do I lose editorial credibility if I say she’s a hero of mine? Though I’ve read any number of articles about her life story and her impact on Philadelphia’s local food and business communities, the book was still a revelation. She’ll be on the cover of the next issue, Grid’s 50th, and a guest at the next Grid Alive, Friday, May 10 at Trinity Memorial Church (22nd and Spruce Streets). I’m thrilled to have this opportunity to interview her, and I hope you’ll join us. Another book robbing me of sleep is Drift, a detective thriller about genetically modified food. You may know the author, Jon McGoran, any number of ways. He’s written several novels under the pen name D.H. Dublin; he’s been an activist on behalf of community gardens and food labeling; and for the past few decades, he’s been a fixture at the venerable food co-op, Weavers Way. For more than 20 years, he served as editor of the Shuttle, an excellent publication produced for members of the co-op. When I met Jon almost five years ago, he guided me on a tour of the co-op and Weavers Way’s Mort Brooks Farm. It was astonishing how often our conversation was interrupted by Jon greeting passersby. It seemed that not only did everybody know Jon, they all seemed to like him, too. So it’s with great pleasure that I introduce Jon as Grid’s editor-in-chief. He’s smart, funny, immensely likeable and a very talented writer. He’s also a shameless punster (if you have shame, you don’t make puns), so I look forward to blaming him for any groan-inducing attempts at humor in these pages, especially if I’ve written them.
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Speaking of these pages, what an issue! It has our fourth Farmbook, published in partnership with PASA (the Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture), Brian Rademaeker’s excellent cover story on the importance (and fun) of Philadelphia’s heirloom seeds, and a back page essay from another local titan of sustainability (and author), seed saver William Woys Weaver. I hope you enjoy reading this issue as much as we enjoyed putting it together. But please, don’t let Grid keep you from a good night’s sleep.
Shaun Brady Bernard Brown Tenaya Darlington Grace Dickinson Marisa McClellan Julianne Mesaric Kristen Mosbrucker Emily Teel Leah Troiano Brian Rademaekers April White Williams Woy Weaver intern
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Your child deserves a liberal arts education. In middle school.
What if education were reimagined, reinvigorated and redefined to ignite your child’s spirit of wonder as well as her capacity to achieve? It is at the Waldorf School of Philadelphia. We provide a collaborative environment that mixes artistic thinking with scientific thinking, and creates original thinkers prepared for life.
I wanted to thank your team for writing a thorough article on our neighborhood and addressing historical designation. My husband and I live in Overbrook Farms and love the community. We are currently a one-income family and found the historical designation intimidating — specifically, the additional money this designation could involve. Your article cleared up much confusion. I especially liked the rules and regulations box. We will soon be a two-income family again and have begun to think (dream...) about fixing up our home. —cheryl o’donnell
Win a free energy audit! Are you ready to take the next step in making your home more energy efficient? Grid has partnered with EnergyWorks to give away a free energy audit every month this year (a $400 value!). To enter, visit gridphilly.com/grid-energyaudit-contest. A winner is chosen at the end of each month. Learn more about EnergyWorks at energyworksnow.com
Boy, am I glad I entered that contest in Grid magazine! We now have a really detailed roadmap to help us on our way to saving more energy and money.” — past winner
Get your limited edition Grid canvas tote bag This spring, Grid is excited to announce a new partnership with Philadelphia’s Fabric Horse. Based in South Philadelphia, Fabric Horse makes thoughtfully designed backpacks, utility belts, accessories and bike-related gear, hand-crafted from recycled materials. Based on Fabric Horse’s popular waxed canvas tote, our limited edition bag will feature a special Grid color combination. Equipped with four pockets, vinyl interior, a snap closure and sturdy seatbelt handles, the bag is designed to fit in your bike basket and is perfect for a weekend farmers market haul. The bags will debut on April 14 at the Philly Farm & Food Fest. Afterwards, they will be available online at store.gridphilly.com To learn more about Fabric Horse, visit fabrichorse.com
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40th and filbert
The Birthplace of the Barnes Collection? This building at 40th and Filbert Streets in West Philadelphia is where Dr. Albert Barnes manufactured the wildly successful (read: lucrative) antiseptic Argyrol. It is also where he hung his paintings, which would become part of the regular seminars Barnes held for his employees on his theories of art and learning. For more on this story, visit Hidden City Daily, hiddencityphila.org. In partnership with Hidden City, Plain Sights highlights historic buildings with compelling stories hiding in our midst.
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m o d e r n ph oto by p ete r wo o dal l â€˘ archival im ag e courtesy o f the Athe n aeum o f P hi la delphi a
Cutting out chemicals without cutting down on clean by leah r. troiano
y cutting boards are my most treasured — and most used — kitchen items. I rely on these workhorses many times a day, and since they have contact with just about all my food, I’m very careful about how they’re maintained. My gorgeous butcher block board is near and dear to my heart, but is off limits when preparing animal products. Since wood is porous, secretions from meat and fish can become trapped in the wood when the knife breaches the board’s surface. Caring for this type of board requires specific attention and care. The product you use
to clean a wooden cutting board could potentially end up in your food. So I make my own cleaning product using only food-grade cleaning products. leah r. troiano, a certified cancer support educator, works with people who have cancer or would like to prevent cancer. Videos on how to make the products featured in this column can be found at cancerhealthandwellness.com . Contact Leah at Leah@CancerHealthandWellness.com .
make YOUR OWN cutting board cleaner White vinegar
Clean spray bottle
→→ Fill a clean spray bottle with equal parts water and white vinegar. Shake to mix and then spray the board. Wipe and remove any leftover debris using a cloth towel. (Don’t have white vinegar? A few drops of dishwashing liquid on a wet cloth will work, too.) →→ Sprinkle the board with baking soda and salt. Cut a lemon in half and rub (cut side down) over the board’s surface. Once
Baking soda (or salt)
Mineral oil (food grade)
the surface is coated, let sit for about 5 minutes. →→ Rinse the board with water or spray it with the vinegar and water solution. Wipe clean. Allow board to completely dry. →→ Once dry, drizzle food grade mineral oil over the board and rub into the wood. Let sit for about 15 minutes and then wipe to absorb the extra oil. (This step conditions the wood and extends its life.)
Support our local farmers at one of the many farmers markets near SEPTA stations. You’ll find fresh local produce, meats, and dairy on SEPTA’s special Farmers Market Map at www.septa.org/maps
Although I’m a “less is more” type of person, having more than one cutting board is essential in my kitchen. To maintain cleanliness, I designate certain types of boards for specific foods. For example, I use only dishwasher safe boards for meat, fish and cheese. Those boards can go in the dishwasher and be sterilized in the high-heat cycle. Some boards even come marked with different images (such as a fish, cow or vegetables) as a helpful reminder.
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Bees produce honey, pollinate plants, and occasionally provide a reminder to be mindful story by april white • photos by emily wren
eekeeping is a meditative practice,” says Adam Schreiber. “When you are working the bees, they require your full, undivided attention. If you don’t give that to them, they will let you know. They have a very demonstrative way of letting you know.” ¶ A hobby apiarist and former president of the Philadelphia Beekeepers Guild, Schreiber, 41, works bees in colonies throughout the Fairmount neighborhood. He keeps hives in a community garden, in nearby Fairmount Park and even on the roof of his rowhome. Last season, he maintained 10 colonies, raising approximately 700,000 bees. Bees produce honey to feed themselves during the cold, barren winters; surplus honey is the beekeeper’s bonus. Last year, Schreiber harvested 200 pounds of honey. He eats his fill — on toast with bananas
Adam Schreiber Beekeeper
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and peanut butter — and sells the rest to family and friends. Philadelphia is a surprisingly rich environment for both bees and beekeepers. For the bees, the city’s abundant ornamental plantings provide a diet more varied than many rural settings. For the city’s 63-registered beekeepers, there’s the four-year-old Philadelphia Beekeep-
ers Guild, which is dedicated to sustainable urban beekeeping and has more than 125 members. The group is a much-needed resource for experienced and would-be keepers, hosting regular meetings, workshops and an annual weekend seminar. “The first question people who are new to beekeeping will ask is: Am I going to get stung?” Schreiber says. “There’s a lot of things you can do to minimize the chance. You wear protective gear, establish a good routine. But as much as we try to domesticate honeybees, at the core they are wild animals. Yeah, you are going to get stung some times.” Learn more about the Philadelphia Beekeeper’s Guild at phillybeekeepers.org.
Happening now: May in Philadelphia is a busy time for bees and their keepers. The bee colonies are focused on raising their young in preparation for the nectar flow that comes with the mid-May and June blooms. The beekeeper must make sure the hives have enough space to accommodate this rapid growth. Too little space can prompt a “swarm,” the departure of half the colony for a new home, a natural occurrence that can alarm the neighbors and greatly reduce the season’s honey haul.
Adam Schreiber maintains hives throughout the Philadelphia, including on the rooftop of his rowhome. To reach those bees, Schreiber must climb through a window (left). When checking his hives, Schreiber will use a smoker (above) — a beekeeper trick for subduing bees. Typically beekeepers will wear additional protective gear as well. Last season, he raised approximately 700,000 bees and harvested some 200 pounds of honey (right).
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In late March, Greener Partners started growing lettuce in bins that will be installed in the Farm Explorer in April.
The Farm Explorer
is hitting the road this spring! Catch this mobile garden at these Earth Day celebrations.
Rolling Wonder A farm on wheels takes farm education on the road
by julianne mesaric
hiladelphia’s food truck scene boasts everything from grilled cheese sandwiches to Korean tacos. This spring, a new kind of food truck is rolling into town. Instead of just serving meals, the Farm Explorer allows diners to harvest and cook their food, too. Launched in April by Greener Partners, a five-county, Greater Philadelphia-based nonprofit that connects communities through food, farms and education, this 24-foot trailer holds living vegetable beds and a community kitchen all hauled by a biodiesel pickup truck. “The raised beds on Farm Explorer will mimic the (seasonally changing) raised beds in the fields of Hillside Farm, creating the most authentic farm experience we can,” says Helen Nadel, education specialist for Greener Partners. “Allowing children to have the experience of pulling food from the dirt and tasting how delicious it is can be a real ‘Aha!’ moment.” Farm Explorer was inspired by research that found a curriculum combining gardening and nutrition education improves student attitudes and preferences for fruits and vegetables. Greener Partners hopes to connect children and families to their food through physical, sensorial and practical experiences. The end goal is to increase general health, reduce obesity rates and reconnect people with the pleasures of real food. The mobile farm, created through a partnership with the Independence Blue Cross Foundation’s Healthy Futures campaign and The Junior League of Philadelphia, will 16
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also enable Greener Partners to expand their seed to plate education efforts in the Greater Philadelphia region. Farm Explorer will be visiting 15 schools in the School District of Philadelphia this spring (in addition to the 25 schools Greener Partners reaches through their Seed to Snack program), as well as senior centers, health centers, community events, summer camps and birthday parties. For some, this will be their first time pulling a carrot out of the ground and seeing that small harvest transformed into a simple, healthy dish. “We want to bring the farm experience to folks who might not otherwise have access to seeing how fresh food grows,” says Meg McCurtain, education director for Greener Partners. “The youth have a great voice in this healthy food movement, and will really be the ones to move it forward.” For more information and to request the Farm Explorer at your school or community event, visit greenerpartners.org
April 20 The Longview Center FOR AGRICULTURE Celebrate Earth Day with The Lost Creek Alpacas. Enjoy dry felting and spinning demos, angora rabbits and shop alpaca products. Sat., Apr. 20, 10 a.m.2 p.m., The Longview Center for Agriculture, 3215 Stump Hall Rd., Collegeville. For more information, visit greenerpartners.org
April 22 Villanova University Join the Villanova University community for a sustainability fair, farmers market, panel discussion on fracking and a keynote address from Philadelphia’s sustainability director. Mon., Apr. 22, 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m., Villanova University, 800 Lancaster Ave., Villanova. For more information, visit campusevents. villanova.edu
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THURSDAY b rs Pu ewate rs! Bridg s outdoo e v o m
The Porch Beer Garden 3pm–8pm
BEST FOOD THEMED KITE • BEST KITE THEMED FOOD SMALLEST FLYABLE KITE • FUNNIEST KITE MOST AWESOME KITE
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WEDNESDAYS XPN Philly Local Wednesdays at The Porch 12pm Live music from Philly’s rising stars 5/1: Matthew Chylak 5/8: Mike ‘Slo-Mo’ Brenner 5/15: Alex Shaw of Alo Brasil 5/22: Tin Bird Choir 5/29: The Districts
Dapper Dog Pitruco Pizza Local 215 Sum Pig
Full Porch event schedule
SO MUCH PROCEEDS TO BENEFIT NEW PLAYGROUND: EMAIL INFO@PENNTREATYPARK.ORG FOR MORE INFORMATION
Progressive Solutions for tree and land management 610-235-6691
Now Offering organic lawn care
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8 SITES > 8 PROJECTS 8 WAYS TO SEE THE CITY ANEW
MAY 23rd through JUNE 30th
To volunteer and learn more about the sites & projects: festival.hiddencityphila.org FESTIVAL.HIDDENCITY.ORG
Th e W h o l e Fo od
Bok Choy Th e ch oy s is yo ur s story and photos by
gr ac e di ck in so n
hough slowly gaining a name for itself, bok choy is far from common here in the states. Travel to China however, where the ingredient has been cultivated for more than 5,000 years, and you will find that bok choy is a staple. This month’s featured gardener Beth Bowman grew up in the Philippines, where the vegetable has been popular since the Spanish conquest of the Asian islands in the 1500s, when many Chinese immigrated to the Philippines and brought their beloved bok choy with them. In 1974, Bowman moved to the U.S., but it wasn’t until the past 10 years or so that she could easily find bok choy in seed catalogs. Used in everything from salads to stir-fry, the leafy green has crisp stalks similar to celery, and a mild, but slightly bitey flavor. Bok choy — also called pak choi — is a member of the cabbage family and is often referred to as “white cabbage.” While markets in Asia can feature up to 20 different kinds, you’ll primarily find two Nutrition 101 types here in the U.S. Regular bok choy Bok choy is an excellent source has sturdy leaves and bright white stalks. of vitamins A and C, and has 15 Shanghai bok choy, or baby bok choy, has percent of the recommended delicate leaves that lend themselves well to daily allowance of calcium per serving. One cup has a mere 10 to being used raw. Either variety will work 20 calories. for the following recipe (p. 21), a brightly flavored kimchi featuring bok choy bulbs. What to look for As you would with romaine lettuce, look for heads with crisp, bright green leaves and firm white stalks free of any brown spots. If planning to use raw, opt for smaller-leaved heads.
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grace dickinson is a food blogger, photo enthusiast and recipe creator. These passions are brought together on FoodFitnessFreshAir.com , where she chronicles her experiments in the kitchen.
for The gardener
Beth Bowman finds bok choy to be one of the easiest crops to grow. “It’s fast growing and isn’t very picky in terms of fertilizer or soil type,” explains the Northeast Philadelphia gardener, who grows the crop every spring at Benjamin Rush Community Garden. “Even in poor soil it can grow, and within a few weeks, you can typically harvest.” The quick turnaround is what gets Bowman most excited. “When you’re able to start growing in the spring, you want something you can harvest quickly. You don’t want to wait three months down the line.” Seeds should go into the ground in April, and within 50 to 60 days will be ready to harvest. However, the leaves can be picked even before fully grown, and used raw in dishes like salads. When planting, Bowman prefers to mix bok choy seeds with different types of lettuce. “The seeds are round and very, very small, like sesame seeds,” Bowman says. “They’re easier to handle when you mix them with other types of seeds.” Given the seeds’ size, bok choy will generally need to be sowed in excess, and then thinned once the leaves start popping up. This is when Bowman harvests for salads, thinning as she goes along, and leaving the rooted bok choy to mature into full bulbs. Later-season bok choy is great for stir-fry, she says.
from The Farm
“In our neighborhood, the slightly more adventurous people are generally the bok choy buyers,” says Andrew Olson, founder of Southwest Philadelphia’s Farm 51. May through October, Olson sells the farm’s produce at his weekly farmstand. He says the challenge in growing the crop is the heat, especially in the city. “If you get a few sustained days of hot weather, it will bolt and there goes your bok choy crop … If you’re plagued with a stretch of 80 or 90 degree days in May, you’ll need to pick it.” In its prime, bok choy maintains a compact shape. However, when about to bolt, its center will elongate and a flower sprouts. “If you get it when it just starts to bolt, it’s not the end of the world,” Olson says. “But as the flower starts to grow, the bok choy gets more bitter.”
from the kitchen of chef Sbraga
Another key to a successful crop is steady watering. “Ideally, [bok choy] gets an inch or an inch-and-a-half of rain or water a week. So if you’re not getting that naturally, you’ll want to make sure they get supplemental irrigation.” Pests like cabbage loopers can also be a problem. Olson suggests using a row cover — fabric that covers the entire row to form a physical barrier against the bugs — or a spray with Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt), a naturally occurring bacterium commonly used in organic farming. Olson uses Bt at Farm 51, but says both methods work equally well. “If you’re going with the row cover, just make sure to use a more open mesh rather than a real fine mesh, because that can create a warmer environment later in the season and that won’t be good.”
for The kitchen
Bok choy kimchi has become a staple for Chef Kevin Sbraga. Currently, he serves a slightly more complex version of this recipe at his modern American restaurant, Sbraga, located on the Avenue of the Arts. Kimchi is a traditional Korean dish typically made from seasoned and fermented vegetables. “There are some ingredients out there that are big and bold in flavor … and then there are other ingredients like bok choy that are more delicate, and they absorb, and they’re receptive to other flavors,” explains Sbraga. “That’s what I like about bok choy, and that’s what I like about it in this particular use of it. You make this awesome kimchi dressing and the bok choy just absorbs all its flavors. It’s pure deliciousness.” At his restaurant, Sbraga serves the kimchi over a miso-marinated bluefish, but a pan-fried fish can easily be substituted to simplify the dish. Sbraga, 440 S Broad St. sbraga.com
Bo k Ch oy Ki m ch i Chef Sbraga suggests serving the kimc hi with pan-seared blue fish or black cod, atop adzuki beans. The full recip e can be found at gridp hilly.com Dre ssin g ¼ cup ginger, zested or minced 2 cloves garlic, minced 2 tsp salt 1 tsp cayenne 1 Tbsp smoked paprika 2 Tbsp ketchup 2 Tbsp tomato paste 6 Tbsp Sriracha 3 Tbsp sesame oil 1 cup blended oil (80% canola, 20% olive oil) 1 quart white distilled vinegar 1 bay leaf 5 black peppercorns
For the dressing: Simmer the vinegar, bay leaves and peppercorns until reduced by half. Strain, cool and reserve. In a bowl whisk the vinegar reduction and all the remanding ingredients, except the oils. With an emersion blender or regu lar blender, slowly add oils and blend to emulsify. For the vegetables: Heavily salt all the cut vegetables (don’t be scared, most of the salt will be discarded) and allow to sit for 20 minutes. Drain all the excess liquid and press through a fine strai ner or pasta strainer. Mix the vegetables with the sesame seeds, 2 cups of kimchi dres sing and sesame oil. Check seasonings and adjust to taste, if needed.
VEGE TAB LES 3 cups (approx. 12-15) bok choy bulbs, bottom base trimmed, thinly sliced (leaves can be used for garnish) ½ cup carrot, julienned 1 bunch of scallions, thinly sliced 1 Tbsp ginger julienned 2 tsp white or black sesame seeds, toasted 1 tsp sesame oil ½ cup salt
for The pantry
Bok choy is a member of the Chinese cabbage family and is beloved for its fresh flavor and crunchy texture. It doesn’t can well, but can be used in a number of quick and fermented pickles. To preserve its crunch, wrap bok choy in perforated plastic bags and store in the coldest part of your fridge. For a speedy, crisp slaw, trim away the leafy bits and chop the white ends into matchsticks. Dress with toasted sesame oil, soy sauce and rice wine vinegar. If you like a funky pickle, substitute bok choy for the more traditional Napa cabbage in your favorite kimchi recipe. — Marisa McClellan Learn more about food preservation at McClellan’s blog foodinjars.com
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food A wedge of Gotogetagoat from Valley Creamery in Long Valley, NJ.
Kids These Days New local goat cheeses are springing up all over
story and photos by tenaya darlington
hile an east coast winter can put any local foods operation into hibernation, the region’s goat-cheese makers have been quite busy. Valley Shepherd Creamery opened a cheesemaking operation and grilled sandwich stand in Reading Terminal Market, and Cranberry Creek hired Paul Lawler (formerly of Fair Food Farmstand) as their full-time cheesemaker to develop a new line of goat cheeses at their state-of-the-art facility in the Poconos. Add to that the recent World Jersey Cheese Awards for nearby artisan dairies Keswick Creamery and Hidden Hills, and it seems that eastern Pennsylvania is starting to get its dairy due. As winter fades and spring unfolds, there’s plenty to still be excited about. Kidding, when goats give birth to their young, takes place in March and April, and marks the start of goat cheese season, ushering in snow-white cheeses that appear in tubs and tuffets at local markets. May is the time of year to sink your teeth into soft 22
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chèvre, fluffy goat ricotta and other cloud-like offerings. The secret to great spring goat cheese lies in the tenderness of the grass. As herds move onto young pastures, they shift from a grainbased diet to consume new shoots and leaves — ingredients that generate fresh, light-tasting milk imbued with sunshine.
Here’s a sampling of what local goat cheesemakers have in store for this spring.
Valley Shepherd Creamery Long Valley, NJ
Reading Terminal Market’s newest stand features a range of goat cheese styles. Look for supple chèvres, spreadable “goat cream,” Frenchstyle crottins, and husky aged raw goat daddies like Gotogetagoat that deliver rompin’ stompin’ flavor. Be sure to peer through the windows into the on-site “make room,” where you can watch cheesemaker Jamie Png stir fresh curds. Png isn’t making goat cheese just yet, but you can always snag a braid of fresh mozzarella still warm from the vat!
Yellow Springs Farm Chester Springs, PA
This pristine farmstead dairy in Chester County services the area’s dairy fiends with a goat cheese CSA that starts in May and runs through the fall. The CSA pick-up locations include the Fair Food Farmstand in the Reading Terminal Market, which also carries a seasonal line of Yellow Springs’ hard-to-find awardwinning cheeses, as well as many more outside the city (see sidebar for the full list). In late spring, look for two new goat cheeses in the line-up. “We’re developing a new cheese that uses native sasparilla, and another with sumac that we’re calling Staghorn Sumac,” says Al Renzie, cheesemaker at Yellow Springs. Al and his wife Catherine also run a native plant nursery, and their growing line of cheeses incorporates some unusual flavors grown on the farm, including saffron and black walnuts. Extra Sharp II, a kicked up chèvre from Shellbark Hollow Farm in West Chester, Pa.
Shellbark Hollow Farm West Chester, PA
Pete Demchur, the area’s godfather of goat cheese, is known for his Extra Sharp II — a kicked up chèvre that pairs beautifully with picnic fare, like buckwheat honey, fresh fruit, cured meats and crusty bread. This spring, Demchur debuts two new selections: Cornwallis, a deeply creamy sharp chèvre that has ripened at least six months (expect “a hint of blue and a slightly peppery finish”), and Tumbleweed, a raw milk sharpie washed with Frecon Farms’ hard ciders.
Kirchenberg Farm Fleetwood, PA
New to the local stage, Kirchenberg Farm will be offering Thumbalina, a small goat crottin (or cake) made by John Zimmerman, a Mennonite goat farmer in Berks County. Thumbalina will be distributed by Farm Fromage, a local company that works closely with new
Who’s Got Your Goat?
Lancaster County cheesemakers to develop and distribute their products. “As a young cheese it’s delicious, and when it gets hard as a hockey puck it’s great grated on vegetables,” says Howard Field, founder of Farm Fromage. “Each one is a perfect three mouthfuls.”
Cranberry Creek Farm Cresco, PA
When Headhouse Farmers Market opens in May, stop by the Cranberry Creek stand for downy chèvre rolled in fresh herbs, and keep your eye out for new creations by Paul Lawler who joins the operation this spring. His expertise in making beefy Taleggio-style cheese and rustic tommes will no doubt lift this young dairy to new heights. “I’m going to bring some serious washed rinds to the table,” says Lawler. “We also want to try a leaf-wrapped bloomy, perhaps doused in liqueur. I’ll also be honing their tomme, called Eugene — named after the farm’s founder.”
Look for the above selections at area farmers markets, Greensgrow Farm, Fair Food Farmstand, Di Bruno Bros. and on the cheese boards of Philadelphia restaurants, including Tria, Talula’s Garden and Kennett Restaurant.
Misty Creek Goat Dairy Gap, PA
Amish wunderkind Amos Miller has established himself as the go-to goat ricotta producer with his velvety Misty Lovely. He also produces a wonderful aged Spanish-style goat cheese, called Kidchego. Both make excellent picnic cheeses, especially alongside honey and spring berries.
Yellow Springs Farm Goat Cheese CSA Pickup Locations »» Yellow Springs Farm, 1165 Yellow Springs Rd., Chester Springs »» Henry Got Crops CSA, 7100 Henry Ave., Philadelphia »» Forest & Main Brewing Company,
61 N. Main St., Ambler »» Taste of Olive, 22 W. Lancaster Ave., Ardmore »» Taste of Olive, 26 S. High St., West Chester »» Rushton Farm CSA, Delchester Rd., Newtown Square »» Victory Brewing, 420 Acorn Ln., Downingtown »» Fair Food Farmstand,
Reading Terminal Market, 12th and Arch Streets, Philadelphia »» Pennypack CSA at Highlands, 7700 Sheaff Ln., Ft. Washington »» Weavers Way, 8424 Germantown Ave., Philadelphia »» Longview Center for Agriculture,
3215 Stump Hill Rd., Collegeville
Linden Dale Farm Ronks, PA
The Mellinger family makes one of the area’s most authentic French staples. A take-off on central France’s Valençay, Dalencay is shaped like a pyramid and rolled in ash, just like the original. The farm also produces Laughing Lindy, a Brie-like cheese that is herbaceous and rich; it’s rare to find great “bloomy” cheeses made from goat’s milk, but cheesemaker Andrew Mellinger has a light touch. This spring, he’s experimenting with goat’s milk yogurt, but is determined not to expand his line of cheeses just yet. “We’re making the same cheeses we made last year, but we’re trying to make them better,” said Mellinger over breakfast during kidding season. “Right now, we’ve got our hands full.” For more on local cheese, visit madamefromageblog.com m ay 20 13
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Meet members of the pennsylvania association for sustainable agriculturE, working to bring fresh, delicious food to local eaters
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found a future for their farm in the next generation, but other farmers are having to get more creative
Raw milk has many virtues â€” so whatâ€™s the controversy?
why we farm
PASA members share their passion for farming
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A Tale of Two Types of Milk
being “anonymous” milk” — and those serving consumers as directly as possible, through locally and regionally based food systems. Some farmers will say that the milk passing through the contrasting channels represents two entirely different prodNo food may seem more basic to any mammalian ucts and, in many cases, they’re right. But for conspecies than milk, and yet nothing sparks a comsumers, the important difference is often whether bination of curiosity and controversy so much or not they’re able to speak directly with farmers among humans as the question of whether or not about the methods used in producing the milk or to consume milk in its raw form. In fact, given all other dairy products. from PASA’s the strong rhetoric on the subject, it’s perfectly There is no such thing as risk-free food for executive director normal to feel totally confused about what to do. anyone, so I suggest reframing the debate from Not so many decades ago raw milk could be “raw vs. pasteurized” to “anonymous vs. identitybought directly at farms and pasteurized milk was a value-added preserved” milk. These aren’t synonymous categories, since some option for the general public to buy at the corner store. Admittedly, identity-preserved milk is raw and some pasteurized. But qualities pasteurization was necessary to reduce health risks in many areas instilled by farmers, like organic, pasture-raised and grass-fed, can of the country, since mass produced cow’s milk carried the risk of make a bigger difference for the consumer than the raw/pasteurized shoddy production and contamination with tuberculosis and other question. The challenge to the consumer is choosing milk — or really foodborne diseases. From that perspective, pasteurization was inany food — that has maintained its identity. We always recommend deed the miracle process we all learned about in school. knowing where your food comes from and how it was produced, in However, throughout this “pasteurization era” for milk, there were order to make the best possible decisions on behalf of your own and farmers — mostly working on a smaller scale — who continued to your family’s well being. cultivate a high-quality, raw product by reducing risk in other, less technological ways. In so doing, they avoided two major pitfalls of Brian Snyder, Executive Director pasteurization: incidental damage to the nutritional content of the PASA (Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture) milk, and not-so-incidental profit-taking by corporate middlemen pasafarming.org who handle processing and distribution of most dairy products. The result has been a split of the dairy industry. There are farmers shipping milk to the mass market infrastructure — the end product
Your neighbor’s our farmer.
raw milk, cheese, yogurt, keifer douglasville, pa
For raw milk fans, it’s pasture versus Pasteur by liz pacheco & kristen mosbrucker • photos by albert yee
may not seem like children’s names, but to Mark Lopez, they might as well be. “These cows are like family to me,” he says, standing in the pasture of his 100-acre Wholesome Dairy Farms in Douglasville, Pa. One of 163 raw milk dairies in Pennsylvania, the farm has seen many changes since Lopez’s grandfather began raising cows there in the 1930s. ¶ “Back in the ’40s and ’30s and such, rotational grazing was most of the way it was done.” In rotational grazing, the cows are regularly moved from pasture-to-pasture, giving the grass time to re-grow. Lopez has returned to that same system, dividing his land into a circuit of paddocks, or enclosed sections of pasture, that takes the cows two weeks to complete. With grants from the Natural Resources Conservation Services, he has also added a solar-powered watering system and a walkway and stream crossing for the cows to reduce erosion and habitat loss. equila, coco and jellybean
But the 100-acres weren’t always dedicated to grass-fed, sustainable dairy production. Before Lopez, a bovine veterinarian by trade, took over the family farm and opened Wholesome Dairy in 2008, his uncle was running a “heavy metal” dairy operation. “That’s where you have sick cows, and dead cows,” Lopez says. “Cows in 4
a commercial dairy must be milked as hard as possible because the profit margin is so low.” Farmers will sell their milk to one manufacturer, where it’s mixed together before being separated into various components and processed into dairy products like milk, cheese and yogurt. In these operations, cows are also commonly
fed grain, not grass, so they produce more milk. A grass-fed cow — like those at Wholesome Dairy — will produce half as much milk compared with a corn- or soy-fed cow, says Lopez, but the product will taste much better. Having grown up drinking raw, unpasteurized milk from his grandfather’s grass-fed cows, the return to this practice seemed natural for Lopez, who says he made the change because he wanted the best for his animals. While developing a raw milk dairy hasn’t been easy (five years later the business is finally stabilizing), Lopez recognizes the value in his product — one produced on a small scale that has traceability and the unique identity of coming from his farm. Today, as federal agencies continue to discourage raw milk consumption, even in states like Pennsylvania where the practice is legal, that identity is increasingly relevant. Whether consumers are looking for raw or pasteurized products, local food advocates argue that it is understanding where one’s milk comes from that is most important to ensuring the product’s safety.
Food safety is an issue whenever people eat anything. It’s not just a milk issue.” What’s in your glass? Most milk available for sale in Pennsylvania is pasteurized — heated to 161° F for at least 15 seconds to destroy potentially disease-causing bacteria. Many raw milk-drinkers say the unpasteurized product is fresher and full of enzymes and nutrients that are destroyed when heated. The Center for Disease Control counters that the nutritional impact of pasteurization is limited to slight decreases in levels of thiamine, vitamin B12 and vitamin C. But as the pasteurization process continues to evolve, higher temperatures are being used to increase shelf life and the greater impact on nutrient content is unknown. While more than half of all states permit some kind of raw milk sale, Pennsylvania is one of only eight states where the sale is legal everywhere. Regulations in other states can include place of sale and quantity limitations, as well as a variety of other restrictions. Some even require that customers have a doctor’s note. In Pennsylvania, the state Department of Agriculture requires regular testing of raw milk, just as it does of the pasteurized product. Raw milk farmers self-test through state-approved labs for a variety of pathogens. Coliform — bacteria found in animal feces — is tested for twice a month, and the state requires testing for salmonella, E. coli and other diseases every six months. Results are sent to the Food Safety Division. “We have a lot of dedicated staff who go out every single day,” says Lydia Johnson, director of the Bureau of Food Safety and Laboratory Services in Pennsylvania. “We are tasked with a very important job to keep Pennsylvania safe.” Johnson stresses that the department fully supports local farmers, although she is hesitant to call raw milk products safe. “Pasteurization is the kill step, so raw milk is definitely a product that we try our best to regulate,” she says. “However, it’s a snapshot, so one day the milk can be fine and the next there could be contamination.” Lopez can attest to the state’s attentiveness
and says that surprise visits Opposite: are common. But in addition Mark Lopez (left), farmer to the tests required by the at Wholesome state, Lopez does his own each Dairy Farms, with and farm week to monitor his product. kitchen manager Rebecca Even with these extra precau- Seidel, who is tions, he knows there is always responsible for everything from risk for contamination. “[The milking to making customer has] to have a lot of the cheese and trust when they’re drinking yogurt. raw milk. Because they don’t really know what’s happening on the farm. They hope that things are being held up to the standard that they’re supposed to, but [contamination] could happen anywhere.” The ongoing relationship between farm and consumer is critical in building and maintaining that trust. For Lopez, this means keeping an open door policy and inviting anyone to visit his farm and see the dairy operations. Despite this openness, Lopez is surprised at the questions customers ask. “I get ‘Are you organic?’ ‘Do you feed [genetically modified organisms]?’ ‘Do you use pesticides?’ ‘Are there antibiotics in the milk?’ ‘What do you do when the cows get old, do you kill them?’ It’s always sort of like hot-button issues.” Instead, Lopez advises customers to ask questions about the milk’s cleanliness. “Never once have I gotten, ‘What are your bacteria counts?’ ‘What’s your somatic cell count [how much inflammation a cow’s udder has]?’ And I think I would ask that. ‘Have you ever had any kind of issues with contamination?’” To date, Lopez has had no contamination problems. A Dairy Dilemma In addition to raw milk, Pennsylvania has also legalized the sale of raw milk cheese aged at least 60 days. Kristian Holbrok, a former chef who now manages Doe Run Dairy in Chester County, explains that the difference between the cheeses is in the bacteria. The raw milk already has the bacteria necessary to make PASA
Above: cheese whereas the pasteurWholesome ized milk needs bacteria added. Dairy sells raw milk in But the 60-day aging requireaddition to ment means any raw milk soft yogurt, kefir, cheeses are illegal. and ricotta cheese. “If we could make raw milk soft cheeses there is much more of a flavor difference,” he says. “It’s just not the same.” Holbrok still makes raw milk soft cheeses for his own enjoyment, specifically varieties that were once imported to the U.S. from around the world, before the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) banned interstate trade two decades ago. His favorite is Reblochon, a French cheese which literally translated means “to pinch a cow’s udder again.” Further regulation of products like raw
milk cheese, may be on the horizon, a development that Holbrok says will be difficult for small farmers to accommodate. “We just don’t have the money left over like that,” he says, explaining his concern about the FDA’s new Food Safety Modernization Act. Passed by President Obama in January 2011, the act is expected to affect all farms selling food directly to the public, not just raw milk farms, and could include additional fees and regulations for food production. Currently under public review, the act’s final implications are still to be determined. Holbrok isn’t the only cheese farmer feeling pressure from the FDA. Emily Bryant Montgomery, cheesemaker at Calkins Creamery in Honesdale, Pa., originally made her Brie-style Noble Road cheese with raw milk. Despite the cheese’s popularity, Montgomery couldn’t shake the fear of FDA regulations. Recently, she started using pasteurized milk instead. A Relationship of Trust Lopez is very open about the risk of producing and selling raw milk. “To address the raw milk
cleanliness issue — that’s real … People can get sick if the milk gets contaminated. People can get sick if the spinach gets contaminated, or the peanuts, or the hamburger, or any food. It’s a real issue. Food safety is an issue whenever people eat anything. It’s not just a milk issue.” Despite this, raw milk dairy farmers tend to face a higher level of scrutiny at the federal level than other food producers. When Lopez started Wholesome Dairy in April 2008, he knew his cows were healthy, producing a clean, delicious product. The challenge was not to convince consumers of his milk’s safety, but simply to tell them his products were available. After two years — and almost shutting down the farm — Lopez was finally able to tap into the raw milk demand. “I almost feel like a celebrity sometimes. It’s really gratifying to show up with my trailer and some milk and the response is like, ‘Yeah, Mark’s here!’” Today, Wholesome Dairy products can be found at 15 stores and markets throughout the region. “I can’t tell you how many times people have said, ‘I’ve had different kinds of raw milk and your milk is the best I’ve ever had,’” Lopez says. “That makes me really proud to hear that, but that’s not an accident, you know?” Choosing to grass-feed his Ayrshire cows makes the difference, he says. “That to me is what really separates us, not from the commercial milk that’s in the grocery store, but from any other raw milk in any other store.”
I can’t tell you how many times people have said, ‘I’ve had different kinds of raw milk and your milk is the best I’ve ever had,’” Lopez says. “That makes me really proud to hear that, but that’s not an accident, you know.” 6
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WHY WE FARM Farming isn’t easy. The hours are long, the work exhausting, and you never know what curve ball Mother Nature will throw next. So, why would anyone want to farm? We asked that question of some farmers here in Pennsylvania, and here’s what they had to say.
I think working on an organic farm is a way of the future, to change from monocultures and things like that. That’s probably why I farm, I believe in it, I think it’s good overall for the future.” “That’s a tough one. Because I’m 10th generation and I didn’t have many options. That’s all I ever knew.”
PASA Member Since 1992 Farmer • Tait Farm Foods • Boalsburg, Pa. farm favorite: “I’d say kale; I like the greens.”
tom culton PASA Member Since 2005 Owner • Culton Organics • Lancaster, Pa.
“I grew up in a farming lifestyle ... And then once I went to college I realized the best thing for me to do was to go back to the farm and help sustain it. And it’s just a beautiful place, it’s preserved and it’s where I get to raise my kids. Fresh air, fresh food — can’t beat it.”
emily bryant montgomery PASA Member Since 2005 Cheesemaker • Calkins Creamery • Honesdale, Pa. farm favorite: “Our brie-style cheese. It’s just fun and buttery and light and it’s just so neat to see the milk go to curds in that way.”
“My turkeys. Because they taste much different from other turkeys ... and they greet me every morning at the door. Yeah I’d say the turkeys are my fraises du bois.”
“It’s an experience for my twin six year-old boys and for quality food for my family.”
al benner PASA Member Since 2006 Owner • Old School Farm • Honesdale, Pa. farm favorite: “I don’t have one. I like to do a little bit of everything … [But] my one son really likes the Icelandic sheep and my other boy really likes to collect the eggs.”
“I’ve always wanted to do it and my mission in life is to feed people. I don’t care if I’m putting the food on the plates or I’m growing it or I’m promoting it or I’m writing about it — I just want people to have access to healthy food.”
sandra miller PASA Member Since 2002 Owner • Painted Hand Farm • Newburg, Pa. farm favorite: “I’m a goat farmer, I love baby goats.”
To provide my family and community with local, organic, healthy vegetables — with nutrientdense vegetables.”
“Because I love producing nutritious food for people and healing the earth.”
PASA Member Since 2012 Manager • Mill Hollow Farm • Edgemont, Pa. “It’s probably tea herbs because I’ve been growing them the longest and I feel such a visceral effect when I make teas or when I use herbs.”
PASA Member Since 2002 Vegetable Grower • Dancing Hen Farm & CSA • Stillwater, PA farm favorite: “Kale. Because it’s so good for you … packed with nutrients.”
I farm because I have a passion for good food and I particularly enjoy the connection between producing and the people that are eating. And it’s a good healthy lifestyle.”
“The allure of self-employment, selfreliance. The opportunity to work along side my wife and daughter are really the things [that make me farm]. And I think they feel the same way.”—Tom “It’s a lifestyle choice. It’s about doing our gift, doing what we’re passionate about. Giving back, building community ... oh my gosh, all those things!”—Tricia
Tricia Borneman, Tom Murtha, Dakota
PASA memberS since 2006 Farm Manager • Blooming Glen Farm Perkasie, PA farm favorite: “Kale!”
karen vollmecke PASA Member Since 1996 Farmer/Owner • Vollmecke Orchards • Coatesville, Pa. farm favorite: “The cantaloupes and watermelons in the summer time … nothing better than eating a good cantaloupe or watermelon, right?” lifetime member
“I am a breast cancer survivor and part of my healing process was a farm that we had bought four months prior to my diagnosis. It was part of my healing ... And now we’ve discovered the goodness and richness of doing that, we’re doing it for our local community as well.”
sloane six PASA Member Since 2010 Farmer • Quarry Hill Farm • Harleysville, Pa. farm favorite: “Our lamb is just so mild and sweet and delicious. I’d say probably our lamb shanks. On the vegetable side, that’s hard. Dragon-tongued beans come to mind. I’d never had them before. They’re just really crunchy and delicious.” lifetime member
“Because this is the thing that makes me feel most like myself.”
margaret schlass PASA Member Since 2009 Farmer • One Woman Farm • Pittsburgh, Pa. farm favorite: “I like to grow root vegetables. Because they’re just so satisfying. You pull them out of the ground and it’s just like ‘rarrrrrr.’”
I farm because I like being connected to something so human and something that’s connected so deeply with nature, it brings everything together. And it’s fun and it’s hard work, and I like hard work” “I don’t know what else to do. I wouldn’t know what else to do.”
bill elkins PASA Member Since 1999 Co-owner • Buck Run Farm • Coatesville, Pa.
PASA member since 2008 Farm Manager • Weavers Way Farms • Philadelphia, PA farm favorite: “Hakurei turnips. They’re damn good. And they’re easy to grow.”
“My cattle. My grasses and my cattle both – can’t separate one from the other.” lifetime member
“Mostly just because it’s fun and I just really enjoy living on a farm. We recently moved to this farm and [my brother and I] both have taken up lots more responsibilities. Over the summer we do lots of work with our CSA.”
“I farm because I feel like it’s doing something good for the world. My parents owned the farm and it was probably going to get out of the family after four generations and I wanted to be the fifth generation.”
kelly smith chandler scott-smith PASA Member Since 2008 Farmer • Village Acres Farm • Mifflintown, Pa.
“I really like the berries; we have blueberries and raspberries and blackberries. They’re really fun to pick and pack and it’s really fun to sell in the CSA.”
PASA Member Since 2011 Farm Operator • Deep Roots Valley Farm • Morhsville, Pa. farm favorite: “We do meat and eggs, but I say we definitely partake in the eggs the most. They are plentiful and healthy and perfect.”
V I L L AG E A CRES
vegetab les, berries, meat
Preparing the ground for the next crop of farmers by shaun Brady • photos by albert yee
had gathered at a round table in their large, timber frame FoodShed, the patriarch of Village Acres Farm finally arrives. He offers his hand along with what turns out to be a characteristically droll introduction. “Hi, I’m the late Roy Brubaker.” ¶ At 71, Roy Brubaker is, in fact, alive and well (if not always perfectly punctual). But he is a few years past what people in most professions consider retirement age. Brubaker and his wife Hope have recognized this and begun to think about passing Village Acres on to the next generation. everal minutes after his family
The romantic ideal of the family farm is a vision of several generations working the fields side by side, children growing and assuming the mantle from their parents. Such isn’t always the case in the contemporary world, where financial viability is a serious issue for any farm, and the prospects of a college education and more lucrative careers lure younger generations away. While there is no single way to go about it, succession planning has become vital for modern farmers hoping to see their work carried on. 10
Easements Can Make It Easier “It’s been a struggle,” says Al Granger. “There aren’t that many young people that have an interest in that type of work.” Granger, 80, owns Glasbern Inn, a Lehigh Valley bed and breakfast with an adjacent 130-acre farm. He’s been hunting for successors to the inn and the farm for five years, to little avail. A young farmer recently responded to the call and is in the midst of his first season at Glasbern, an arrangment Granger hopes will become more permanent.
The Village Acres family (from left to right): Debra Brubaker, Hannah Smith-Brubaker, Hope Brubaker, Roy Brubaker and Julie Hurst, wife of Debra's brother and manager of the FoodShed and community events.
Roy Brubaker, patriarch at Village Acres Farm, and his daughter Debra have recently become 50/50 partners in a Limited Liability Company to begin a more formalized succession process.
Roy and Hannah Smith-Brubaker, Debra’s partner who helps with chickens, eggs and marketing for the farm.
Chip Planck and his wife Susan had better luck with their Wheatland Vegetable Farms in Northern Virginia. In 2002, the couple took advantage of a “Rural Hamlet” provision in their county’s zoning ordinance. Ten of their 60 acres were subdivided to become a small rural community for those desiring to live adjacent to farmland. The remaining 50 acres were put under easement (meaning legally protected from future development) and divided into two parcels: one 40-acre plot which has all the farm infrastructure, including greenhouses, a worker kitchen and irrigation system, and a second 10acre piece with a small house and farmland but no infrastructure. “It was more an effort to do what we thought of as appropriate rural planning than it was a succession plan,” Planck says. “We wanted to save the land, and if you’re saving the land you’re presumably assuming that somebody is going to be on it, but that wasn’t an overt goal.” Knowing their two children had no interest in farming the land, the Plancks began to look for buyers within their local community. A young farmer whose parents and grandparents had been the Plancks’ neighbors bought the 40-acre farm in 2011; and a writer involved in DCarea farmers markets bought the 10-acre piece a year later.
“One of the problems with retirement is that one day you count and the next day you’re home and you don’t count,” Planck says. “We were fortunate to be able to gradually disengage ourselves but not disengage ourselves completely. We have no interest in going anyplace else in the world and yet we had no interest in picking squash and peppers all day long anymore either.” Now 72 and essentially retired since 2010, the Plancks still live on land neighboring their former farm and occasionally still do work for their successors. Raise Your Hands A key component of the Plancks’ succession plan was investment; for 15 to 20 years they made the maximum contribution to a self-employment account. “We can be retired on those investments without having sold a bit of this land,” Planck explains. “So we weren’t forced into decisions that were unattractive but necessary from a financial point of view. We didn’t have to sell the farmland to someone to put 50 ugly houses on in order to retire.” Jim Crawford and his wife Moie of New Morning Farm in South Central Pennsylvania were in the process of renovating their home when a financial advisor warned them that investing too much money could increase the property’s PASA
resale value to the point where it was too expensive to remain a farmhouse. “You go through your thirties and forties and you never consider the fact that you’re ever going to get old,” says Crawford, now 68. “I’d never considered the fact that I was going to have to think about these assets being saleable to someone else who we hope would farm. As I got older I realized more and more that I didn’t want to be the last generation to farm this land. That was a huge revelation to me.” Knowing that their children wouldn’t take over the farm, the Crawfords focused on making New Morning economically viable in a way that would be attractive to a potential buyer. “Your kids are a lot more likely to put up with whatever idiosyncrasies you’ve got built into your operation,” Crawford says. “Whereas somebody who’s not in your family is going to look at it from more of a cold, hard business perspective: Is this going to be a way for me to make a living and support a family in the long term? So that attitude is the beginning part of having a good succession plan.” Hire Power Hiring good employees and giving them enough responsibility to breed loyalty and dedication was also important to Crawford’s plan. He assumed that his successor might come from his pool of workers; what he didn’t expect was that it might be more than one of them. For eight years, Crawford attempted a “farm-to-own” process; several farmers lasted one season before both sides realized the arrangement wasn’t a good fit. “The whole process demonstrated how difficult it is to find someone who can really step into your life,” he says. “Every farm is unique and structured on the personality and values of the farmer. It’s so much the opposite of generic that I couldn’t conceive of these people stepping in and living my life.” A few years ago, however, two members of Crawford’s crew formed a partnership and stepped forward with a plan to take on the farm. At first skeptical, Crawford came around and last season stepped completely away from production, giving the partnership, since grown to include five employees, a “dress rehearsal” that has so far proved successful.
Helping Your Children Succeed At Village Acres, a more traditional family succession has been underway, albeit in a particularly modern guise. The current plan for the Brubakers’ 30-acre farm in Juniata County, 40 miles outside of State College, involves their 31-year-old daughter Debra, the youngest of their four children. After leaving home for college and living in New Mexico for several years, Debra returned to the area in 2009. “I don’t know how my parents did it, but all of us kids ended up somehow enjoying the work of the farm,” Debra says. “We come from a Mennonite heritage, so it was always very much in my upbringing that being a farmer is a calling. We have a responsibility to be stewards, to care for the land, to care for the ecosystem.” However, it wasn’t always clear that the Brubakers would pass the farm on to one of their children. In 1997, their oldest daughter Angela began several seasons working alongside her father, but ultimately left to become a nurse practitioner in Austin, TX. “After a few rough years with a lot of bad weather and minimal profits, she decided to go on and get further education, which I was encouraging her to do,” Roy recalls. “She’s still interested in the farm and may cycle back to be a part of it someday. But when she left, I began to think that maybe some of our apprentices could become partners with us.” Village Acres’ apprenticeship program began in 1992, when the Brubakers’ son came home from college for the summer with a friend in tow. The program became more formalized over the years, with three or four interns now working at the farm most years, many of whom have gone on to work their own land. As an early adopter of organic practices, Roy also serves as a mentor to many of the region’s farmers. Village Acres officially became certified organic in 1991, though many of those practices had been in place since the farm’s inception in 1982, inspired by Roy’s father’s own interest in organic growing methods. Debra’s homecoming was at first tentative. She and her partner, Hannah Smith-Brubaker, are working to devise a work-life balance, while facing the sometimes daunting prospect of being a same-sex couple in a rural community — or even simply being female in a traditionally male-dominated field.
Every farm is unique and structured on the personality and values of the farmer. It’s so much the opposite of generic that I couldn’t conceive of these people stepping in and living my life.”
“For me,” Debra says, “being a woman or being gay, it’s about being confident that you have an equal right to speak up. I have a long legacy of Roy Brubakers in my family to be in the shadow of. It’s just about finding your voice, which is a common female problem in rural America and beyond.” In 2012, Debra and her father became 50/50 partners in a Limited Liability Company (LLC) in order to begin a more formalized transition process. Both father and daughter say the LLC leaves open the prospect of further involvement from the other siblings, whose perspectives are still taken into account. Physical evidence of their cooperative efforts can be seen in their newly-built FoodShed, a space where they host monthly breakfasts and occasional live music events, and which they envision as a multi-purpose community gathering place. Roy scoffs slightly at the building’s pristine aesthetics, a requirement from his more imageminded children. Roy has long incorporated his family’s vision for the farm into his own, even when they conflict. “In 1998, Angela wanted to start a CSA, which she was very keen about and I was not,” he says. “She won the battle and it was a good decision. That wasn’t part of my dream, but I guess my dream was to follow the stream and see where it would take us.” This willingness to adapt new practices and strategies has made Roy — and farmers like Granger, Planck and Crawford — able to see a future for their farms, even after they have stopped farming. While this future may not be what Roy initially imagined when he started farming, it’s proof that farm succession is a fluid process, one that requires flexibility, innovation and perhaps most importantly, planning. Or as Chip Plank sums it up, “You1have to think rtmGRID4.5x4.75_Layout 8/31/12 3:24way PMahead.” Page 1
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Co-working artisans share resources, experience and a vision of community by emily teel • photos by albert yee
he salvaged my sorbets,” says Marianne Cozzolino, owner of Jenny and Frank’s Artisan Gelato. “I was having texture problems and she said, ‘Why don’t you get a refractometer?’” Cozzolino’s savior, Brûlée Bakery owner Lila Colello, wasn’t lending her expertise as a consultant; she was just being a good neighbor. Independently, Colello and Cozzolino roll croissants and freeze sorbetto, but instead of taking turns in a rented commercial kitchen, they simultaneously work on their own equipment as members of a new entrepreneurial food community called the Artisan Exchange.
The West Chester-based Artisan Exchange follows the co-working model first brought to Philadelphia in 2007 by Indy Hall, a memberoriented office space for designers, developers, writers, artists, educators and everyone in between. Since then, co-working spaces have 26 gridphilly.com
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popped up around the city. There is Seed Philly for techies and CultureWorks for creatives; the Artisan Exchange is for food makers. While members can take advantage of business support common to co-working spaces, like printing services and meeting rooms, the Exchange has
Oley Valley Mushrooms is located just minutes from the Artisan Exchange and on Saturdays sets up shop at the indoor Artisan Market.
the added benefits of commercial-grade kitchen space and a weekly Artisan Market for selling goods. Members have also discovered that the co-working community lends itself easily to logistical collaborations, allowing entrepreneurs to sidestep some of the production and distribution hurdles that can keep nascent food businesses from getting off the ground.
It Started with a Great Cup of Coffee Though rapidly diversifying, the warehouse that houses the Artisan Exchange and the weekly market was recently home to a single business: Golden Valley Coffee Roasters. Started in 1986 by John Sacharok, a former Wawa marketing director who developed their coffee program, Golden Valley largely deals with corporate clients. The company’s coffee is served in hotels, restaurants, convenience stores and gas stations throughout the U.S. As global demand for coffee has grown, however, Sacharok noticed a disturbing trend. “Used to be you’d get a ‘Wow!’” but slowly, he says, “there wasn’t any wow left.” Coffee, a shadeloving understory plant, is now often sun-grown in a monoculture to produce more volume. Sacharok is adamant that this is “what is fundamentally wrong with the coffee business. The
John Sacharok, his sister Maryann Baldassare, her husband Frank Baldassare, and Joe Stratton, a Golden Valley Coffee Roasters employee and local farmer, opened the Artisan Exchange in June 2012 as a solution for Golden Valley’s empty warehouse space.
Top right: Spiked cinnamon pecan buns from Brûlée Bakery, shiitake mushrooms from Oley Valley Mushrooms, and pasta from Vera Pasta are just some of the delicacies available at the Artisan Market. Above: Ka’Chi, a Korean food truck, and Dia Doce, a cupcake truck, also set up on Saturdays at the Artisan Market. Left: MomPops/Take Me Bake Me Pizza was among the first tenants to join the Artisan Exchange.
desire to drive down cost of production means that the product — flavor, antioxidants, aromatics — suffers.” Unwilling to compromise, Golden Valley changed course. Sacharok and his business partner (and sister), Maryann Baldassarre, purchased roasting equipment. Frank Baldassarre, Jr., Maryann’s eldest son, became their master roaster. Today, the company still largely deals in the corporate world, but they roast their beans themselves and, whether it’s a priority for their clients or not, the coffee now boasts a sweeping set of credentials: Fair Trade, bird-friendly, and not one, but two organic certifications. They’ve even developed a single-serve coffee machine that brews singleserve cups without using wasteful pods, in order to continue marketing their product to offices and other companies rapidly switching to onecup coffeemakers, like those made by Keurig. The shift left the business owners with a dilemma: a warehouse and central drive aisle larger than their current needs, but out of synch with warehousing trends. They were reluctant
to sell the building in an unfavorable real estate climate. The team, which now included Frank Baldassarre, Sr. (Maryann’s husband and a former banking executive) and Joe Stratton (Golden Valley’s director of equipment services and a farmer), began to look for alternate ways of using the warehouse.
A Niche in the Kitchen In 2011, the group came across a survey by the National Grocers Association reporting that a whopping 86 percent of consumers interested in local foods found themselves asking, “What are the small-scale food manufacturers doing for space?” “We were struggling to find a kitchen,” says Carrie Balthaser, “at $20 per hour it’s hard to get your product out at cost.” Balthaser, whose company Basic Batters makes gluten-free cookies, is one of the newest members. “I work in the corporate world, but this is my passion.” Golden Valley discovered that there was no shortage of passion among these potential entrepreneurs,
but logistical concerns, such as space and licensing, were serious obstacles to making these businesses viable. The traits of their warehouse that were considered liabilities in the real estate market began to look like benefits. The central aisle meant that entrepreneurs could drive their vehicles in to unload supplies or load product for farmers markets. When the weather grew colder it also made the perfect enclosed place to host a Saturday market. In June 2012, Golden Valley welcomed its first members to the Artisan Exchange. They envision it as an affordable home and a community for those seeking to transform their local food dreams into reality. Within the last few months, word has spread and interest has exploded. As of mid-March, members included 20 food businesses, among them two food trucks, Ka’Chi and LuLu’s Café, who use Artisan Exchange as a home base for their mobile businesses. Though plans for the space include the buildout of a commercial kitchen where aspiring M ay 20 13
entrepreneurs will work by the hour, the current model requires members to rent space in 120-square-foot blocks in three bays — called neighborhoods — of the warehouse. The U.S. Department of Agriculture and Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture have certified the entire space, and each neighborhood includes a sanitation station: the commercial kitchen’s trifecta of handwashing, prep and triple-basin sinks. Beyond that, members can equip their spaces however they like. Cozzolino had 220volt wiring run to power her imported gelato maker, and Gary Crane of Gary’s Specialty Food Products installed a sink to wash peppers for his line of hot sauces. Some blocks are loaded with refrigerators of both commercial and Craigslist varieties; others stand mostly empty while entrepreneurs with day jobs, like Waffatopia’s Brian and Andrea Polizzi, amass equipment to build their businesses.
One-Stop Artisan Shopping Issa Ostrander, owner of MomPops and Take Me Bake Me Pizza, was among the first tenants. Ostrander is perhaps the ideal candidate for the new venture; as welcoming and gregarious as an RA in a dorm, he enthusiastically embodies the collaborative potential that the space hopes to foster. Having previously launched a retail food business — Mom’s Bake at Home in Manyaunk — Ostrander knows well the intimidation of starting from scratch. “[Here] you’re not coming into a brand new business alone … it’s more like ‘Welcome! Here’s a cake!’” And cake there is, alongside Sweet Salvation Truffles, and the many delicious gluten-free treats from Sally B Gluten Free, Rawsome Fudge and Basic Batters. Outside vendors add diversity to the Saturday indoor Artisan Market. Urban Essence brings handmade bath and body products. Across the aisle, Livengood Family Farm sells pasture-raised meats, and just two stalls down is the prizewinning Oley Valley Mushrooms. Thornbury Farm, located just minutes away, is
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even offering the Artisan Market as a weekend pick-up option for their 60-plus CSA members in the upcoming growing season. Farm manager Zachary Heacock laughs at the suggestion that he’s there to bring vegetable righteousness to the many sweets and baked goods, “kale always goes the fastest … people will buy three bags at a time.” Market patrons are enthused as well. West Chester residents Kate and her son John are exuberant. “We just bought our entire dinner!” they say, opening bags to show off purchases. “We had two boxes of macarons, but we ate one … mushrooms, chips and [guacamole], chicken sausage, pasta, gelato, and we’re about to go get coffee.” Even on a chilly March morning the market is pleasantly busy. The industrial space offers plenty of parking, shelter from the elements, and the real game-changer, Jackie, the Baldassarre’s 16-year-old daughter, who, along with friends, coordinates craft activities for children so their parents can shop unencumbered.
More Artisans, More Ways to Collaborate So far, the vision set by Sacharok, Stratton and the Baldassarres seems to be playing out well. Entrepreneurs are interested, and creative relationships are forming. Before, Cozzolino threw away egg whites leftover from gelato production. Now, Colello uses them to make colorful, dainty French macarons. Lisa Ferraro Klinge of Taste Artisanal makes spreads with European cheeses that can end up on Ostrander’s pizzas or in Joe D’Andrea’s creative Vera Pasta. Antipasti platters are also in the works that will feature Klinge’s spreads alongside Cucina Verde’s local vegetable ferments and Maiale Salumeria’s cured meats. Below: Joe D’Andrea, chef and founder behind Vera Pasta, works to make a sale during Saturday’s market. Right: Chandler Brunnabenb and Carrie Balthaser’s Basic Batters, a gluten-free cookie maker, is a newer member to the Artisan Exchange. Below right: Cured meat from Maiale Salumeria.
Logistical collaborations are developing as well. A group of members who sell their products at many of the same farmers markets plan to share transportation in the season ahead. They’re also discussing cooperative buying. Food distributors often require minimum orders of $2,000 or more. The plan, Ferraro Klinge says, is for members to “divide it up amongst cheese, chocolate, baking supplies or packing materials,” ultimately conserving their resources and avoiding excessive individual expense. Beyond saving costs, members have a tangible goodwill towards one another. The overwhelming opinion, which could easily skew competitive, is one of admiration, respect and conviviality. “The sense of community in here is just amazing,” Balthaser says. “We all do different things … but we try to complement each other.” Artisan Exchange continues to grow, accepting new members and building resources to include the commercial kitchen, an allergen room and shared cold storage. The hope is that the members’ respect for one another will keep pace with that growth and, like Golden Valley’s triple bottom line approach to coffee, the increasing demand will support an expanding community of passionate entrepreneurs. the artisan market is open every Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. (208 Carter Dr., West Chester). For more information on the market and the Artisan Exchange, visit artisanexchangewcpa.com
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The Fish Pepper was an AfricanAmerican heirloom plant popular in Philadelphia and Baltimore, dating to before the 1870s.
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Exploring the of Philadelphia Heirloom seed-savers are preserving our area’s rich horticultural heritage by brian rademaekers
s anyone with the gardening bug knows, the bleakness of midwinter in Philadelphia has a way of making you dream of warmer times, often hatching ambitious plans for your raised beds. I had one of those moments this winter while looking through the glossy pages of a seed catalog. Among the hundreds of pages of colorful fruits, flowers and vegetables, a particular plant caught my attention: the Fish Pepper. With distinct white-striped leaves and young green fruit, the pepper bush was interesting in on a purely visual level. But what really got my attention was the pepper’s history as an AfricanAmerican heirloom plant popular in Philadelphia and Baltimore, dating to before the 1870s. Heirlooms are plants whose seeds have been saved over generations, replanted year after year, consistently reproducing similar traits. Many vegetables offered at nurseries and bigbox stores are hybrids that can produce sterile seeds or offspring with erratic traits. The idea of a plant with deep roots in our history intrigued me. How many others plants like this were out there? What is our region’s history in growing heirloom food plants? Could I make a whole garden featuring heirloom plants with Philadelphia ties? Thus began my seed-searching quest to create the ultimate Philadelphia heirloom garden.
Since the 1950s, hybridization has bled out nutrition for the sake of shelf life, or for whatever reason. It’s just not there.❞
← William Woys Weaver photos by rob ca r d il lo
Center seedy As I quickly found, such a garden needn’t lack diversity. The Philadelphia region has long been a powerhouse of heirloom seed production, starting with Native Americans and Quakers and growing with seed companies like D. Landreth Seed Company (founded in 1784) and Burpee (founded in 1876), right through the 19th and 20th centuries.“We had Quakers in the city who were always interested in botany and food production improvement,” says William Woys Weaver, a Chester County author who has been collecting and growing local heirlooms since the 1970s. He inherited his grandfather’s seed collection of hundreds of local heirlooms and has since expanded it to include thousands of local plants. (Learn more about Weaver’s work on p. 46.) “Philadelphia has always, since at least the 1700s, had a special interest in growing things, so we’re ahead of the game,” Weaver says. “You had all these people growing things here, and the list of heirlooms to come out of this region is incredibly huge, more so than any other part of the country, I think.” Generally, heirlooms are considered “any variety that’s older than 50 years,” says Tim Mountz, founder of Happy Cat Seeds in Kennett Square. But not all heirloom-type plants go back 50 years. “We call anything newer than 50 years ‘open pollinated’ varieties,” Mountz explains. If you’ve ever grown or eaten a Green Zebra Tomato, you know a “new heirloom.” Open pollinated or “OP” varieties are created M ay 20 13
[The Stoltzfus String Bean] had been extinct for 70 years before we brought it back.❞
→ tim mountz through a process in which two plants with different traits — say, a green tomato and a yellow tomato — are interbred to create a hybrid, explains Mountz. This is done across six generations of plants, with the grower tracking a desirable trait over successive generations. After six generations, the plant can be considered stable. After 50 years, it can be called an heirloom. The Green Zebra Tomato, bred in 1984, is now stable and can be called its own variety, but it is not yet an heirloom. Happy Cat is one of many places where gardeners can find heirlooms with local roots. One
Tim Mountz found the Stoltzfus String Bean in his grandfather’s seed collection after he passed away.
of Mountz’s favorites is the Stoltzfus String Bean, which he found in his grandfather’s collection after he passed away. “It had been extinct for 70 years before we brought it back,” Mountz says. “It’s a string bean, so we’ll eat it green before its beans develop in the pod, and we’ll also dry them and then soak them overnight for use in the winter as a cooking bean for things like refried beans.” Beyond the good eating, he says it’s
d.i.y. seed saving The first question any seed saver should ask is are these seeds are worth saving. Heirloom or “open pollinated” seeds have been bred to produce for generations without losing vigor or desirable traits, unlike seeds from hybrid or “F1” plants, which may not stay true to the parent plant’s traits. To avoid cross pollination with different varieties, some gardeners cage or bag their plants. Planting single varieties should be precaution enough, but you should also make sure your neighbors aren’t growing another variety of the same vegetable. Seeds should be wrapped in light-proof paper and stored in sealed glass containers in the refrigerator. Beginning seed savers should start with seeds that are easy to save. Some, like peas, are a snap. Tomatoes are more of a challenge. You might decide it’s worth a couple bucks to just buy seeds, but there’s something special about saving seeds one year and growing them the next, part of a cycle that is thousands of years old. Here is a guide to some of the easiest seeds to save, and some you might want to hold off on until you’re a more seasoned seed saver.
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just a good looking plant. “The flowers are more beautiful, the plant itself is more beautiful, and the bean itself is a dark purple.” Weavers Way Co-op in Mt. Airy, Primex Garden Center in Glenside, and Burpee Seeds in Warminster all carry local heirloom seed varieties, but the Fish Pepper that first caught my eye came from the Baker Creek catalog, based out of Missouri. Baker Creek owner Jere Gettle cites the Jersey Devil tomato as one of his favorite heirlooms from our region. “It looks sort of like
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a horn, which is where I guess the ‘devil’ part comes from. It’s my favorite paste-type tomato … they’re just incredibly good eating.”
Growing Local Weaver notes that there currently isn’t an extensive guide to regional heirlooms, let alone a one-stop shop for buying them. Finding them takes some research and “hunting and pecking through catalogs,” he says. But, one great resource can be seed exchange groups like the Philly Seed Exchange. Aimee Hill, a co-coordinator with the Philly Seed Exchange, says the group doesn’t only focus on seeds with historic ties to the area, but since they come from plants grown in the region, they are by default local heirlooms. “The idea is to get as many local seeds as possible and have people save seeds no matter where they came from in the first place,” Hill says. “As they’re grown and saved and grown over generations, they become more adapted to the Philly area.” They’ve gotten many seeds from the pre-1800s collection at Bartram’s Gar-
den and the Pendle Hill Quaker community in Wallingford, Pa. While proponents of heirlooms have long lauded the superior taste compared to hybrid versions grown for commercial markets, there are many other reasons to grow not just heirlooms, but local heirlooms. “If you have organically raised heirloom food plants in your garden, you’re going to be living a lot healthier than if you’re just growing hybrids. The heirlooms have not declined in their nutritional value the way these hybridized plants have,” Weaver says, citing studies from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. “Since the 1950s, hybridization has bled out nutrition for the sake of shelf life, or for whatever reason. It’s just not there.” Mountz and Weaver also extol the vigor of plants that have been bred to cope with our climate, soil and pests. “They’ll either germinate earlier, or be more resistant to humidity or insects,” Mountz says. “It’s really great to see the local traits you’ll get; it’s not just the local flavor and the local history, but the ability to grow in a climate that’s really cold in the wintertime, but
then subtropical for two-and-a-half months in the summer.” Hill agrees. “If you grow things over generations and save the seeds from specific areas, they become more resilient. It’s like terroir with wine and grapes grown in specific areas,” he says. “They’re better at getting all the good stuff, the fancy stuff, out of that soil so they taste better.” It also enhances economic independence, because seed savers don’t have to buy new seeds each year.
Saving for a Seedier Future There are also benefits of diversity. “The more local seeds that are saved, the more diverse the seed base is in the first place,” Hill says. “From a neighborhood level, if you get more and more people saving seeds, the more diversity you have. Instead of just having a few fancy types of tomatoes, you have hundreds of types that can do well in Philadelphia. It’s food independence.” I look forward to contributing to that diversity with my “ultimate Philadelphia heirloom garden.” This spring and summer, in addition to
Plant Harvest Plants Harvest Seeds
is a great way to preserve local heirlooms, grow plants well-suited for your local climate, and save a few bucks on seed purchases. But vegetables that are ready to eat a few weeks after planting might need to stay in the ground another month or more before their seeds are ready to harvest. If you are planning on saving seeds this summer or fall, be sure to plan your garden accordingly this spring. Here is a garden timeline to help you begin.
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the Fish Pepper and the Stoltzfus String Bean, I will be growing Early Jersey Wakefield Cabbage, Amish Deer Tongue Lettuce, Philadelphia White Box Radishes and Jenny Lind Melons. My local tomatoes will include Jersey Devil, one called London Grove (from Happy Cat), and of course some Brandywines — the superstar of our regional heirlooms. Saving local seeds does more than put delicious food on your plate, it keeps alive a history that is rich but fragile. As Weaver explains, those superstar Brandywine tomatoes, first grown on the banks of the Brandywine Creek in Chester County, are the perfect illustration of that fragility. Just a month after delivering the seeds to a seed company, the grower who gave Brandywines their name was thrown from a horse and killed. Had he died a month earlier, the Brandywine tomato as we know it might have died along with him. Weaver compares preserving local heirlooms to linguists preserving endangered languages. “With languages, if you lose the speakers, you lose the language,” Weaver says. “It’s the same with these plants — if you lose them, they’re gone. I’ve come very close to losing some things, and it scares me because I shouldn’t be the only one on planet earth with some of this stuff.”
Seeds of Sedition Seed saving has been essential to farming since the first time hunter gatherers decided it was time to settle down. But in the era of genetically engineered (GE) crops and monoculture on a massive scale, saving seeds is almost an act of defiance. With thousands of acres covered not just with the same crop, but the same brand and genetic modification, from the same manufacturer, non-GE crops like corn and soy are becoming scarce. Meanwhile, GE manufacturers like Monsanto have aggressively pursued lawsuits against seed-saving farmers who, intentionally or not, saved patent-protected seeds from one year to the next. While no GE produce or seeds for home gardeners have hit the market so far, the processed foods on most grocer’s shelves are full of GE ingredients. More than 30 states, including Pennsylvania (gmofreepa.org), are pursuing laws to label GE foods. Supporters want to know if their food is genetically engineered for health and environmental reasons, but also because they want to know if their purchases are undermining the kind of genetic diversity that heirloom seed-savers are trying to preserve. Protests, petitions and letters aren’t the only way to show your opposition to an agricultural system that has lost its way. Think about growing local heirlooms instead of the latest sterile hybrid. And if you’re feeling a little subversive when it comes time to harvest your spinach, peppers or eggplant, think about leaving a few in the ground and saving the seeds for next time. For more information about GE labeling initiatives, visit justlabelit.org
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by bernard brown
The shallow steps of the Fairmount Dam fishway help shad move upstream so they can find somewhere to spawn.
Fish Town Shad don’t jump, but with a little help, their numbers can by bernard brown
hen we think of migrating fish swimming upstream to spawn, we picture salmon heroically leaping up waterfalls — the stuff of inspirational posters. But the American shad is different. “Shad don’t jump,” Joe Perillo, a Philadelphia Water Department (PWD) biologist, plainly states. American shad stay in the water, and for millennia they swam gracefully up the Schuylkill River as far as Pottsville. Those mighty salmon might have been able to make it over the Fairmount Dam (salmon never actually swam this far south), but not our shad. Blocked from reaching their spawning beds, they’ve pretty much disappeared. Dams up and 38
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down the Eastern Seaboard have turned American shad from a commercially and culturally important fish into a historical curiosity; we remember them in Philadelphia at “Fishtown,” even if their April Shadfest has to import the actual fish. p hotos by christian hunold
You buy your food locally, but what about energy? Joe Perillo, a biologist with the Philadelphia Water Department, talks about the fishway and points to the fish crowder — a metal apparatus that forces the shad closer to the window so the Water Department can take a better photo.
What’s a Fishway? …About 3 pounds Visitors can learn more about the fishway at the Fairmount Water Works Interpretive Center. There you can watch videos of shad, otters, water snakes and other critters making their way upstream. In the spring, you can view the live Fish Cam online at fairmount waterworks.org/fishcam.php
But American shad are making their comeback in the Schuylkill thanks to a bit of clever engineering called a fishway. It is a type of “fish ladder,” a series of switchbacks that zigzag back and forth, like shallow steps, transforming the steep climb and surging waters of a dam or waterfall into a gradual rise and a gentler, more shad-friendly current. Located at the Fairmount Dam and elsewhere on the river, these fishways are helping the shad get up and over various obstacles so they can get upriver to spawn. Their babies will make the trip back downstream, grow up in the Atlantic Ocean and, we hope, come back when it’s their time to spawn. This spring I tagged along with PWD workers on a weekly fishway cleaning trip. They shut a gate at the top of the ladder and water drained from the top compartment into the next one, and then on down through a switchback to the
bottom, leveling with the water below the dam. These compartments are arranged as shallow steps. When full, they let fish swim from one to the next, resting a bit at each level. The shad won’t simply come if you build it, though. Perillo explains that a $1.5-million overhaul of the fishway in 2008 made it especially shad-friendly. It now features a pipe that shoots water diagonally across the river channel to get the fish’s attention, and there’s a calm spot right next to the fishway to make it stand out even more. Metal plates at the gaps between compartments calibrate the flow from level to level, and careful design eliminates shadows and bubbles, both of which spook the skittish shad. PWD biologists have also been releasing hatchery-raised baby shad into the Schuylkill for a few years now. The idea is that these shad will remember their childhood home and come back to spawn later, jumpstarting a self-sustaining population. These days about 3,000 are making their way back up to spawn each year. They’ve been spotted as far up river as Phoenixville. Most of these fish are from the hatchery, but a few have been new, unmarked fish, a sign that shad are reestablishing themselves in the Schuylkill.
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Bartram’s Garden Volunteer Day
Work alongside Bartram gardeners to maintain and beautify the garden’s unique urban landscape. Held the second Saturday of each month.
→→ Sat., April 13, 9 a.m.-12 p.m., free, Bartram’s Gar-
Farmer Rick Rigutto tends to rainbow chard in the high tunnel at the Weavers Way’s Mort Brooks Farm.
den, 54th Street and Lindbergh Boulevard. For more information and to register, visit bartrams-
Second Saturday Gardening Series: High Tunnels in Philadelphia
Fermentation Basics Workshop
Join Amanda Feifer of phickle.com to learn the basic principles of fermentation and how to make probiotic foods from scratch. Participants will take home kraut or pickles.
Tommy McCann, a Penn State Extension horticultural educator, will talk about high tunnels and their benefits for urban agriculture and gardening, specifically in Philadelphia. →→ Sat., April 13, 10 a.m.-12 p.m., $10, Fairmount Park Horticultural Center, N.
Horticultural and Montgomery Drives. For more information and to register, visit extension.psu.edu/philadelphia/events
→→ Sat., April 13, 12-2 p.m., $35, St. Michael’s Lutheran
Church, 2139 E. Cumberland Rd. For more information and to register, visit greensgrow.org
Philly Farm & Food Fest
Sample our region’s bounty at the second annual PF3, a gathering of local farmers, food producers, and sustainable food businesses and organizations.
→→ Sun., Apr. 14, 11 a.m.-4 p.m., $15-30, Pennsylvania
Convention Center Annex, Broad and Race Streets. For more information and tickets, visit phillyfarm-
Genetic Roulette Screening
Enjoy a complimentary bag of organic popcorn and watch Genetic Roulette, the film that’s helping America wake up to the realities of genetically engineered organisms in our food supply. Hosted by GMO Free NJ.
→→ Thurs., April 18, 6:15-8:15 p.m., free, 771 Haddon Ave., Collingswood, NJ. To RSVP, email firstname.lastname@example.org with your name(s) and phone
The Making of a Viaduct Green
Explore how two former railway lines can become a future garden and civic project that can enhance the quality of life, cultural landscape and economic vitality of Philadelphia.
A Bicentennial Town Square featuring Dr. David Orr
David Orr, an environmental studies professor at Oberlin College, will lead a discussion on green building. For 25 years, Orr has studied energy, water and materials use on college campuses, helping launch the green campus movement.
→→ Tues., April 16, 6-7:30 p.m., free, Corzo Center,
University of the Arts, 320 S. Broad St. For more information and to register, visit corzocenter.ticketleap.com
GMO Free PA Monthly Meeting
Do you know what genetically modified organisms are? Learn more at this monthly meeting held by the local chapter of GMO Free PA.
→→ Tues., April 16, 7-9 p.m., free, Ludington Library, 5
S. Bryn Mawr Ave, Bryn Mawr. For more information and to register, visit facebook.com/GMOFreePA
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21st Annual Children’s Earth Day Forest
Walk through a handmade rendition of a Pennsylvania forest overflowing with life-size plants and animals, all created entirely by local classrooms and schools. →→ Sat., April 20, 10 a.m.-1 p.m., free, Rolling Hill Park,
1301 Rose Glen Rd., Gladwyne. For more information, visit lmconservancy.org
→→ Thurs., April 18, 6-8:30 p.m., $10 members/$15
nonmembers, Academy of Natural Sciences, 1900 Benjamin Franklin Pkwy. For more information and to register, visit davidorr.eventbrite.com
Swarthmore Co-op Presents Food Truck-a-Thon
Join Swarthmore Co-op for their second Food Truck-a-Thon, featuring live music and local food trucks, including Nomad Pizza, Foo Truck, Say Cheese and many more. →→ Fri., April 19, 5-7:30 p.m., free, 341 Dartmouth Ave., Swarthmore. For more information, visit swarthmore.coop
Hunting Park Orchard Fest
Join this family festival at the site of the new Hunting Park Community Orchard. Activities include orchard planting, cider pressing, games, a health fair and more!
→→ Sat., April 20, 10 a.m.-2 p.m., free, Hunting Park,
Old York Road and W. Bristol Street. For more information and to RSVP, visit phillyorchards.org
Science Carnival on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway
Join scientists from the Academy of Natural Sciences and 100 other exhibitors as part of the Philadelphia Science Festival. The carnival includes family-friendly experiments, activities and live entertainment. →→ Sat., April 20, 11 a.m.-4 p.m., free, Academy of
Natural Sciences, 1900 Benjamin Franklin Pkwy. For more information, visit ansp.org
DIY Sprays, Fertilizers and Treatments for a Healthy Organic Garden
Learn how to use natural ingredients from your kitchen to make organic pesticides that will stop insects, squirrels and diseases from killing your favorite plants.
Villanova University Earth Day Celebration
Celebrate Earth Day with a discussion on fracking, a farmers market, and an address by Katherine Gajewski, director of the Office of Sustainability for the City of Philadelphia.
St. For more information and to register, visit
versity, 800 Lancaster Ave., Villanova. For more information, visit campusevents.villanova.edu
5K Run for Clean Air
The 32nd annual Run for Clean Air, held on the banks of the Schuylkill River, is Philadelphia’s Largest Earth Day celebration. Hosted by the Clean Air Council, participants can choose from a 5K run, 3K walk or kids fun run.
→→ Sat., Apr. 20, 9 a.m., $10-$35, Martin Luther King
Drive (West River Drive). For more information and to register, visit 5krunforcleanair.org
Teens 4 Good Farm Spring Kickoff
Help prepare the Teens 4 Good gardens for planting, enjoy healthy refreshments, and participate in family-friendly activities led by teens.
→→ Sat., April 20, 10 a.m.-2 p.m., free, Teens 4 Good
Farm, 8th and Poplar Streets. For more information, visit teens4good.orbius.com
Stormwater Soak It In!
Learn sustainable landscape practices that reduce stormwater runoff and promote water quality while creating natural habitats for birds, beneficial insects, pollinators and wildlife.
→→ Sat., April 20, 11 a.m.-3 p.m., free, Ingersoll/Clay-
tor property (located behind the Lower Gwynedd Township building, 1130 N. Bethlehem Pike, Spring House). For more information, visit lowergwynedd. org/township-government/gwyneddgreen.aspx
Doylestown Earth Day Fair
The Doylestown Earth Day Fair is fun for the whole family, featuring local food vendors, green merchants and earthfriendly crafts for kids.
→→ Sun., April 21, 11 a.m.-4 p.m., free, Bucks Country
Gardens, 1057 N. Main St., Doylestown. For more information, visit greencollaboration.org
Spring is a lovely time to start planting fruit trees. Learn about choosing the right rootstock, planting space, soil and time to plant.
→→ Sat., April 27, 11 a.m.-1 p.m., $10 members/$12 →→ Mon., April 22, 9 a.m.-6 p.m., free, Villanova Uni-
→→ Sat., April 20, 12-2 p.m., $25, 2501 E. Cumberland
Backyard Tree Fruit Planting
Museum Without Walls Fun Ride
nonmembers, Longview Center for Agriculture, 3215 Stump Hall Rd, Collegeville. For more information and to register, visit greenerpartners. org
Rain Gardens: Sustainable Solutions
Join the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia and the Association for Public Art for an evening ride to visit select sculptures highlighted in the Museum Without Walls audio tour. Helmet required.
Learn how to add rain gardens to the landscape where they will be most effective absorbinh rainwater runoff from roofs, driveways, sidewalks and lawns.
→→ Thurs., April 25, 5:30-7:30 p.m., free, Philadelphia
→→ Sat., April 27, 10-11 a.m., $20 members/$25
Museum of Art, 2600 Benjamin Franklin Pkwy. For more information and to register, visit museumwoutwalls2-eorg.eventbrite.com
nonmembers, Morris Arboretum, 100 E. Northwestern Ave. For more information and to register, visit morrisarboretum.org
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Darby Creek Cleanup
Join the Friends of Heinz Wildlife Refuge for the 27th annual clean up of Darby Creek to help keep the Refuge a clean and safe place for wildlife and visitors.
→→ Sat., April 27, 9 a.m.-12:30 p.m., free, John
Heinz National Wildlife Refuge, 8601 Lindbergh Blvd. For more information, visit
Penn State in the City: A Special Urban Agriculture Festival
Penn State’s Extension program will be showcasing its community work and teaching skills to gardeners and chefs. Activities will include high tunnel tours, cooking demos and beekeeping workshops. →→ Sat., April 27, 1-5 p.m., free (space is limited),
SHARE, 2901 W. Hunting Park Ave. For more information and to RSVP, visit extension.psu.edu/ philadelphia/events
Philadelphia Science Festival Discovery Day: Urban Farming
→→ Sun., April 28, 11 a.m.-3 p.m., $10, Bartram’s
Garden, 54th Street and Lindbergh Boulevard. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit philasciencefestival.ticketleap.com
Cuisine, Culture, and Community: A Global Celebration of Women and Food
Join an internationally renowned group of philanthropic chefs, restaurateurs, authors, TV personalities, wine and spirits specialists, and educators as they host a fundraiser benefiting the Green Tables and scholarship programs.
From Tracks to Parks: The Next Generation of Urban Green
Hear from the visionaries transforming industrial relics into urban parks of the future. The panel will include representatives from Chicago’s Bloomingdale Trail, New York’s High Line, Philadelphia’s Reading Viaduct, and St. Louis’ Trestle.
meals), The Restaurant School at Walnut Hill College, 4207 Walnut St. For more information and to register, visit lesdamesphiladelphia.com
Spring Craft Bazaar
Celebrate spring with Greensgrow and shop for a Mother’s Day gift among a talented array of local artists and vendors, selling upcycled crafts, handmade soaps, jewelry, ceramics, photographs and more.
→→ Mon., April 29, 6-8 p.m., free, The Academy
of Natural Sciences, 1900 Benjamin Franklin Pkwy. For more information and to register, visit trackparks-eorg.eventbrite.com
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Rotunda at 40th and Walnut Streets. To learn more, visit therotunda.org/ events/eating-alabama-film-screening
Join Grid for their monthly live event. Featuring: Judy Wicks, founder of the White Dog Café, Sustainable Business Network and Fair Food; Rob Fleming, sustainable design director at Philadelphia University; and William Woys Weaver from The Keystone Center for the Study of Regional Foods and Food Tourism.
→→ Fri., May 10, 6-8 p.m., $5, Trinity Memorial Church, →→ Sat., May 4, 9 a.m.-4 p.m., free, 2501 E. Cumberland Rd. To see more, visit greensgrow.org
The Herb Society of America’s 74th Annual Herb Sale
Thousands of herbs, scented geraniums and salvias will be offered. Chutneys, jams, vinegars and homemade baked goods will also be available, as well as a gourmet herbal brunch.
22nd and Spruce Streets. For more information and to buy tickets, visit gridphilly.com
Walk and Talk on Weeds and Invasives
Can you identify the weed or invasive growing in your garden? Lori Hayes, a Philadelphia Extension master gardener, leads a walk to identify the top 10 local weeds/invasives. →→ Sat., May 11, 10 a.m.-12 p.m., $10, Fairmount
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→→ Sat., May 4, 8 a.m.-4 p.m., $85 (includes all
Want to grow your own vegetables in the city? Learn how to test soil, grow food and even how to raise farm animals during this day of gardening demonstrations, beekeeping basics and more.
In the documentary Eating Alabama, a couple returns home to Alabama where they try to eat the way their grandparents did — locally and seasonally. Yet nearly everything about the food system has changed. Hosted by Slow Food Philadelphia and Farm to City.
(reservations required), 1685 Art School Rd., Chester Springs. For more information, visit hsaphiladelphia.org
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Seeds With Deep Roots Heirloom seeds keep alive memories of people and place by william woys weaver
s far back as I can remember, i have always been surrounded by seeds. During my preschool years, I farmed with my grandparents, and it was my Grandfather Weaver, with his acre or so kitchen garden in West Chester, who raised me at his knee. My grandfather ran an accounting business, but his heart was in plants. He started collecting seeds in the early 1930s from relatives in Lancaster County where he was born. Before long, his entire property had become a botanical showplace, with fruit trees, bee hives, a pigeon house for racing pigeons (which provided manure for the gardens) and all sorts of wonderful things no one sees today, like Pineapple Rhubarb with yellow stems. Armed with my own little wheel barrow, hoe and shovel, I helped in the garden, and I suppose by osmosis I absorbed a lot of what my grandfather was doing. One of his garden buddies was renowned folk painter Horace Pippin, who also lived in West Chester. Pippin would visit the garden and my grandfather’s bees in order to get stung, a remedy that seemed to give him relief for an old war injury. My grandfather was not too happy about sacrificing his rare bees in this way, so to make up for it Pippin brought him seeds. As it turned out, these friendly bribes represented some of the rarest African-American heirlooms available then, including the Fish Pepper, now found in many seed catalogs.
My grandfather died in 1956 and his seed collection was forgotten. Twelve years later, my grandmother and I were cleaning out the old freezer in the cellar, and there they were, safely stored in air-tight baby food jars. Those tiny jars reminded me of so many wonderful things from
his magical garden, I took up the challenge to see what could be salvaged. The freeze had helped preserve the seeds. I lost some, but I managed to bring many of the best back to life. My fits and starts at seed saving
became more serious in the 1970s, as I realized not everyone had grandparents with gardens full of heirlooms. I began retracing my grandfather’s steps, contacting elderly cousins who still had gardens, seeds, and most importantly, the stories to go with them. By the end of the 1970s, when I moved the entire garden to Devon, I had acquired several thousand heirlooms, many more than my grandfather’s core collection. I have always been interested in the vast riches of our tri-state region, and I suppose I have always favored heirloom seeds from this area, especially the Native American varieties. Having evolved here, these seeds do much better here than, say, desert heirlooms from the Southwest. They have provided me with the wonderful genetic material to continue breeding where my grandfather left off. “Bred and grown in Pennsylvania” has become one of my mottos. The future of the seed collection I have assembled over the years, what I now call the “Roughwood Seed Collection,” is not clear. The Keystone Center for the Study of Regional Foods, which I am setting up this year to promote foods from our tri-state area, will fill a long-needed role in supplying seeds and offering workshops on regional foods and heirloom gardening. I am hoping it can also take on that part of the Roughwood Seed Collection devoted to our regional heirlooms. The first step in this realization will be the groundbreaking this spring on a fully operational 1860s Pennsylvania Dutch kitchen garden at Kutztown University. Hopefully, it will become a launching pad for more serious work on our seed heritage, and a source of locally originated heirlooms for kitchen gardeners across the region. Because we don’t grow heirlooms just for nostalgia; we grow them to eat. If you’re interested in cooking with heirlooms, try the recipes in william woys weaver’s newest book, As American as Shoofly Pie: The Foodlore and Fakelore of Pennsylvania Dutch Cuisine (April 2013, University of Pennsylvania Press).
Each month, Dispatch features personal reflections on adventures in sustainability. Have a story you’d like to share? E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
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may 20 13
illustration by kirsten harper
Work was co-created with Myra Bazell and SCRAP Performance Group Photo Credit: Courtesy of William Hebert
Master of Environmental Studies
Madison Cario created a dance-theater work, TIDE, for her MES Capstone Project, in which she explored the social and psychological impacts of environmental destruction. Raising consciousness of environmental issues through the language of dance, TIDE draws on personal narrative and movement to inspire self-reflection, dialogue, and ultimately action to solve the ongoing environmental crisis. Penn’s Master of environMental studies PrograM combines classroom work with field experience in a broadly based interdisciplinary approach to the study of the environment. As a culminating exercise in the program, students complete an individual project that puts what they’ve learned in the classroom to work in the field. Their choice of final projects often reflects the area of environmental work in which they intend to focus their careers.
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