Page 1

to wards a

Sustainable Philadelphia

e ta k e o n

a p r il 2009 / is s u e 3

guerrilla tactics

Gardening takes bloom

Picking Philly

The Orchard Project bears fruit

smart start How-to get seedlings going indoors


id gu i






↑ Meet Skip Wiener, Philadelphia’s pioneering guerilla gardener, on page 18.

Transform the sun into Smart Solar energy. Take advantage of Pennsylvania's New Solar Rebate program! When the new rebates are combined with the recently expanded federal tax credits, and other financing that Eos can arrange for you, solar now costs less than conventional power. Now you can reduce your carbon footprint and save money. No money down arrangements available. Let Eos show you how Smart Solar can be. 215.787.9999 •


Monk’s Café a casual, affordable, neighborhood, belgian brasserie

Full menu available ‘til 1AM nightly 200+ world-class bottled beers No Crap On Tap! 100% Wind Powered for all of our electrical needs “The Soul of Belgium in the Heart of Philadelphia”®

Tom Peters & Fergus Carey, proprietors - serving fine Belgian ales since 1985

16th & Spruce

• 215.545.7005 •

Change you can grow


sn’t it inspiring to see Michelle Obama and a class of fifth graders digging up the White House lawn, planting the first garden there since Eleanor Roosevelt’s victory garden in 1943? It’s clear that nutrition is going to be a priority for our First Lady, and her interest in it is personal; a few years ago, a pediatrician suggested that her children were putting on weight due to too much take-out food and not enough veggies. Michelle put a new focus on feeding her family a healthy diet, and the kids responded. That same maternal motivation prompted local resident Makeba Morris to start digging in the dirt, and writing an email to Grid about it: “As a new mom living in Center City, it became obvious rather quickly that if I wanted to give my child healthful, organic produce, I’d have to either get a second job or grow my own! For the minimal cost of some organic seeds and soil (from Home Depot), a few free five-gallon containers, and water (good ol’ Schuylkill swill), I was knee-deep in tomatoes, peppers, mint, Thai basil and strawberries ’til the fall. I had to commit to the up-front work of setting up the container garden, watering it every day, and I eventually reaped a darn good harvest for a novice gardener.” It’s time for us—and by “us” I mean well-intentioned, would-be gardeners like myself—to take the plunge and follow the excellent examples of both Michelle Obama and Makeba Morris.

To that end, Phil Forsyth has provided us with a very easy-to-follow, step-by-step guide to planting in an egg carton. Phil knows a thing or two about gardening, having spent four years developing an urban farm in Brooklyn, and now acting as the Orchard Director at the Philadelphia Orchard Project, which Natalie Hope McDonald documents on page 22. The Orchard Project’s motivation is food justice: to provide healthy food for communities that typically don’t have good access to it. Our cover story on Skip Wiener’s guerrilla gardening techniques shows how well-tended land can make a community safer. So, let’s see: Growing our own food makes our children healthier, our neighbors healthier and our communities safer? Somebody get me an egg carton!


Alex Mulcahy 215.625.9850 ext. 102 art director

Jamie Leary associate editors

Will Dean Ashley Jerome 215.625.9850 ext. 114 copy editors

Andrew Bonazelli, Patty Moran production

Lucas Hardison it

Scott Hungarter circulation

Mark Evans 215.625.9850 ext. 105

Alex J. Mulcahy Publisher


Tenaya Darlington Phil Forsyth Reesha Grosso Dana Henry Mark Alan Hughes Natalie Hope McDonald Nathaniel Popkin Judy Weightman photographers

Lou Catalbiano Shawn Corrigan Tyler Gates Dan Murphy Jacques-Jean Tiziou Albert Yee illustrators

Jude Buffum J.P. Flexner Brad Haubrich Melissa McFeeters published by

Printed in the usa on Leipa’s 43.9 lb Ultra Mag gloss paper. It’s 100% recycled, 80% from post-consumer waste.

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Red Flag Media 1032 Arch Street, 3rd Floor Philadelphia, PA 19107 215.625.9850 g r i d p h i l ly . c o m

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bike issue prototype, september 2008

Word on the street Early praise and constructive criticism


would like a one year subscription to your magazine. I have a passive solar home—envelope concept—built in 1981. No heating bills! I’d be glad to share our experience with this type of home which doesn’t get much publicity but really works! We also have a 53 panel photvoltaic array on our winery which makes more electricity than we use. We sell it all to the Energy Cooperative. We are doing our part! —Alice Weygandt I am thrilled with your magazine and excited for the future of sustainability in Philadelphia, however, I was disappointed to see you promoting beef in the “localize” section. By now, everyone in the environmental community should be aware of the detrimental effects animal agriculture poses to our planet, specifically beef. In fact, regardless of whether beef is “free-range” local or organic, cattle are one of the biggest contributors to methane production, something Tanya Seaman failed to mention in her

article on composting solutions. According to Food & Water Watch, the deforestation of more than 70 percent of the Amazon rainforest can be attributed to cattle ranching. In addition, it takes 5,000 gallons of water to produce one pound of beef compared to 25 gallons of water to produce one pound of wheat. The reality is that beef is neither healthy, nor humane, nor is it sustainable and should be avoided at all costs if we are truly going to make an impact on climate change. —Bethany Cortale

W W W. G R I D P H I L LY. C O M

energy issue No. 1, february 2009

sAve Money on energy Bills!

to ward S a

SuStainable PhiladelPhia

→ What everyone in Philly needs to know


feb 2009 / issue 1 g r i dP h i l ly. c o m

Apollo’s Creed Mike McKinley talks about Philly’s solar future

TrAsh inTo TreAsure

Philadelphia’s local living economy is going public.

→ Your old computer, their new start

nkcdc No. 2, march 2009


Introducing Philadelphia's first magazine devoted entirely to urban sustainability. Reach our readers—the passionate leaders of the new local economy—by advertising your business in grid. C O N TA C T

Alex Mulcahy / 215.625.9850 x102 1032 Arch Street, Third Floor / Philadelphia PA 19107

Need to get something off your chest? Write Read back issues online at 4

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ap ri l 2009










design and more

Dumpster Divers Trashing South Street


or an entire year, Burnell Yow! went out every trash night, rummaged through people’s garbage and made a collage of what he found. Fifty-Two Collages in Fifty-Two Weeks is the result of that effort, and it’s hanging up in a brand new gallery space on South Street. Yow! and his wife, Betsy Alexander, are both members of the Dumpster Divers, a group of 45 artists that get together once a month and talk trash. Recently, through a project called Art on South, a few lucky artist collectives have been allowed to take over vacant storefronts to use as their own galleries. 734 South Street has been dubbed “Diver Central,” and has become their temporary home. The space is theirs, rent-free, until someone decides to buy or rent the property for commercial use. The large space exhibits art from roughly 16 members, all made from found or discarded items. Next to a sitting area stands Hugo Hsu’s Empty Nest, a circular sculpture made entirely from welded butter knives. Newer member David Gerbstadt has placed a rack of repurposed clothing for sale towards the back of the gallery. Artist Alden W. Cole stripped and refinished old headboards he found in the trash, using them to create a handsome and functional desk. Everywhere you look, there’s something that could have ended up in a landfill, but instead has inspired the Divers to repurpose it into a room full of colorful and inventive art that is as accessible as it is inspiring. “This isn’t the kind of place where if you break it, you buy it,” Yow! laughs, “If you break it,” “we’ll probably just glue it back together.”


R.E.Load Baggage Pro Tool Pouch

With warmer weather comes more bike riding, and with more bike riding comes a variety of bike maintenance issues. Bike prepared with this locally made tool pouch from R.E.Load Baggage. Just slide in your tools, roll it up, throw it in your bag and ride off to the destination of your choice. R.E.Load Baggage, 310 N. 11th St., Unit 2B, 215-625-2987,

Gaszilla by John Lindsay offers a glimpse at a future where the supply oil has dried up.

Patchwork Pillows: Nicole’s Threads

Made from leftover fabric scraps, these patchwork pillows can brighten up any living space. Each pillow is one-of-a-kind and made by hand. Along with your new up-cycled pillow, you can also feel good knowing that 25 percent of your money spent goes to the research of Colony Collapse Disorder (the phenomenon where bee colonies abruptly disappear).

Fabrik Reusable Produce Bags

Bring along these handy bags the next time you hit up your local farmers’ market or grocery store. The lightweight tulle fabric allows any salesperson to clearly see the produce and enables you to shop plastic and guilt-free. You can also check out Fabrik’s other sustainable products, such as reusable cloth gift bags and easyto-clean vinyl snack packs!

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/ food

fire in the kitchen with Ashley Jerome

Wild Mushroom Pâté

with toma primavera and arugula

Now that you can no longer use the cold weather as an excuse to be anti-social, why not invite some friends over and make them a fancy appetizer that highlights some local seasonal flavors? 2 cups chicken stock, vegetable stock or mushroom stock 8 tbsp. butter 2 shallots, minced 3 garlic cloves, minced ½ lb. Oley Valley shitake mushrooms ½ lb. Oley Valley white trumpet mushrooms ½ lb. Oley Valley oyster mushrooms 1 cup heavy cream 4 eggs 6

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½ cup walnuts (toasted, cooled and ground) ½ cup bread crumbs 4 cups thyme, de-leaved 1 lemon sea salt freshly cracked pepper arugula Cherry Grove Farm’s toma primavera cheese olive oil baguette ap ri l 2009

Preheat the oven to 350˚. Butter a loaf pan, cut a piece of parchment to line the bottom and butter that as well. Place the stock in pot and bring to a rapid boil. Reduce to roughly ½ cup and set aside to cool. Now, either bring out your food processor or get ready for a lot of mincing. Depending on your skills, you can either roughly chop your ingredients and throw them in the processor, or use your trusty kitchen knife to finely chop. Toast the walnuts in the oven for about five to seven minutes and set aside. Mince the shallots and the garlic and sauté them in two tablespoons of butter, until the shallots are translucent. Start cutting up the mushrooms. (This is where the food processor really comes in handy.) Once the shallots and garlic are done, set them aside in a bowl. Using the same pan, sauté all the mushrooms in the remaining butter, working in batches if necessary. In a large bowl, combine the reduced stock, the cooked mushrooms and your shallot mixture. Next, finely grind the walnuts in the food processor. Add the cream and eggs and combine till smooth, then pour it into your mushroom mixture (make sure the mixture is at room temperature or the eggs will cook). Add the bread crumbs, thyme and the juice of one lemon. Stir all your ingredients together, adding salt and pepper to taste. Pour the mixture into your loaf pan. Set that loaf pan in a larger pan and add hot or boiling water halfway up the side. Bake for one hour. While it’s baking, cut up the baguette into thin slices, arrange on a baking sheet and baste with olive oil. Toss the arugula with some salt, pepper and a little bit of olive oil. When the pâté is done, remove it from the oven and let it cool to room temperature. (It can also be refrigerated for up to five days.) Put your baguette slices in the oven, till they are golden and crispy. to assemble

Spread a layer of the mushroom pâté on your toasted bread. Add a thin slice of the toma primavera (I use a vegetable peeler to get a really thin slice) and top with a piece or two of the seasoned arugula.

/ food

Grand OpeninG

Oley Valley Mushrooms Joe Evans was a carpenter by trade until his back went out. With some time off, he and his wife Angela, who shared a love of hunting for wild mushrooms, decided to try growing them. The venture was so successful that Joe quit his job and put his carpentry skills to use building customized, fabric-covered grow rooms. Since then, they have been harvesting excellent quality shitake, white trumpet and oyster mushrooms. With a harvesting period of September through June, Oley Valley Mushrooms supply some of Philly’s great local restaurants like Rx, Southwark and the White Dog Café. Fair Food Farmstand, Reading Terminal Market, 12th & Arch, 215-627-2029, contact or 610-987-9849 for other locations.

april 22, 2009 (Earth Day)

Cherry Grove Farm’s Toma Primavera Smooth, rich and creamy with a tangy finish, toma primavera stands out as a local artisan cheese. Made in Lawrenceville, NJ, toma is one of three cheeses, along with gouda and asiago, that the farm currently produces. They’ve been working hard to add brie and a blue to their already impressive résumé , so look for those in the upcoming months! Salumeria, Reading Terminal Market, 12th & Arch, (215) 592-8150

Vrapple Eight years ago, Sara Cain attempted to turn Philadelphia’s infamous mystery meat concoction into a treat that herbivores could enjoy. A good friend of hers, who had grown up on scrapple, lamented the loss of the local delight since becoming a vegetarian. In January of 2008, Cain started making Vrapple commercially by working with a small, family-run copacker in Lancaster. She was even invited to participate in Scrapplefest, and Vrapple had the honor of being the only vegetarian scrapple in the bunch. Plus, did we mention it’s delicious? Fair Food Farmstand, Reading Terminal Market, 12th & Arch, 215-627-2029, and Essene Market, 719 S. 4th St., 215-922-1146

934 South StrEEt PhilaDElPhia C Exclusively offering locally manufactured Sun & Earth products in our Refilling Stations (Bring Your Own Bottle and pay by the ounce) Laundry Detergent, All-Purpose Cleaner, Hand Soap & Dishwashing Liquid C

You don’t have to be a

superhero to

CSAs: Eat Fresh and Local Without Going to the Market It’s not too late to sign up for a share in a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program. Here’s how it works: You pay a certain amount of money to a farm, or a group organizing farms, and receive a delivery of fresh foodstuffs every week for however long the CSA lasts, usually five to seven months. Some of the programs let you choose what you get, while others will surprise and challenge your cooking skills. Either way, you’ll support local farmers like Dancing Hen Farm, Lancaster Farm Fresh, Pheasant Hill Farm, Red Earth Farm and Wimer’s Organics, and eat well without having to go to the store. Find out more at recent Sustainability Award winner or call 215-733-9599.


planet the

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Looking for a Smart Solar Solution? Take advantage of Pennsylvania's New Solar Rebate program! When the new rebates are combined with the recently expanded federal tax credits, and other financing that Eos can arrange for you, solar now costs less than conventional power. Now you can reduce your carbon footprint and save money. No money down arrangements available. Let Eos show you how Smart Solar can be. 215.787.9999 •


g r i d p h i l ly. c o m

ap ri l 2009

/ policy

Ask Mark

Raising the Bar for Responsible Investment

Philadelphia’s Director of Sustainability, Mark Alan Hughes, answers our readers I’ve heard rumors that all new construction in the city will be required to be LEED certified or Energy Star rated. I’m sure these are just rumors, but what measures are being taken towards making new construction, including residential, more sustainable? The sustainable strategies include, but are not limited to: energy efficiency, construction waste management and requiring the use of regional materials. Also, when can we expect a zoning code that DOES NOT encourage the use of cars and parking in the city? —Christine Rossi, LEED AP, architect intern, Wallace Roberts & Todd, LLC Thanks, Christine. Great question. About half of the energy consumed in a city like Philadelphia is related to the construction and operation of buildings, so increasing the performance of our buildings makes the single-largest contribution to reducing our vulnerability to rising prices and our competitive advantage as a place to live and work. Now, you raise a fundamental question that faces any policymaker: What is the right balance between mandates and incentives, between the famous carrot and stick? In Philadelphia, we’re all for mandates, but in general they should be applied at the state or national level. Enacting mandates, to take your example, on new building construction in the city would create an unbalanced playing field between the city and suburbs. I bet we both agree that a mandate like

These incentives work well with our new stormwater regulations, encouraging a design element (a green roof) that allows an owner to avoid a cost (the stormwater fee).

LEED certification or Energy Star rating would be good in the long run by educating the market about the advantages of high-performance buildings and lowering the price of efficient materials and practices. But in the short run, it would also likely add to the city’s cost structure as perceived by developers. Imposing local mandates in a city like Philadelphia is like asking orphans to build their own orphanages! But there are many other things we can do to further our goal of improving the energy or related performance of our buildings. In particular, we can make it easier to design, build and renovate in a more sustainable way. For example, we could expedite or lower the permitting fees for projects that meet certain energy or environmental standards. Another example is the tax credit for green roofs that we already offer on the commercial side and could extend to the residential side. These incentives work well with our new stormwater regulations, encouraging a design element (a green roof ) that allows an owner to avoid a cost (the stormwater fee). And finally, we could reward developers and owners who build to standards above the code requirements with, for example, an extension of the property tax abatement. The good news is that between the Zoning Code Commission and the new Tax and Economic Competitiveness Commission, there is work underway right now to address these important issues in a comprehensive way, including car and parking issues!


Have a question for Mark? Send an email to

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Benchmark helps foundations, endowments, religious orders and high net-worth investors with Socially Responsible (SRI) portfolio management encompassing all asset classes.

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Wise counsel, thoughtful strategies and investments for positive impact.

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/ how-to


Transplants S

o you’ve been enjoying those orange, yellow, purple, green, striped, two-tone, cherry, plum, pear-shaped and downright unusual tomatoes from the farmer’s market. Then you get your hands on a seed catalog and the names call to you: Black From Tula, Golden Sunray, Aunt Ruby’s German Green. So how hard is it to grow these heirloom vegetables yourself? ¶ First, you need a place to grow that has abundant sunlight, rich soil and easy access to water, such as a backyard, front yard, community garden, a patio, deck, rooftop or window box. Next, you need a good seed catalog with a wide selection to get your heirloom juices flowing. Try Seed Savers Exchange (, Seeds of Change ( or Johnny’s Selected Seeds ( Many of the seeds you get can be directly sown in the soil, but others, including tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, basil and most cabbage family crops, are best given a head start before transplanting into the garden. For those of us without access to a greenhouse, this can be accomplished cheaply and easily with a homemade egg carton seed tray.



How to start heirloom veggies from seed by phil forsyth

Supplies you will need ■ ❑ ■ ❑ ■ ❑ ■ ❑ ■ ❑ ■ ❑ ■ ❑ ■ ❑

heirloom seeds egg carton scissors potting soil plastic wrap pennies or pebbles pen or sewing needle watering can or spray bottle

1. Consult your seed pack, catalog or

garden book to calculate when you need to get your seeds started. For warm season crops like tomatoes, this is six to eight weeks prior to planting (mid-May in Philly). Penn State Cooperative Extension’s Philadelphia planting calendar is a useful guide ( horticulture/plantingguide.html).

2. Separate the top and bottom half of

your egg carton with scissors.

3. Put a few pennies or small pebbles

in the top half of the carton to create space for drainage. If you’re using a paper egg carton, you’ll first want to lay down some plastic wrap as a liner.

4. Use a needle or pen tip to poke sev-


eral drainage holes into each cell of the egg carton bottom.


5. Place the egg carton bottom into the


6. Fill each cell with potting soil up to

the dividers. Wet the potting soil prior to planting. The soil should be damp, not saturated.

7. Plant two or three seeds per cell.

Check your seed pack for proper depth—a general rule of thumb is twice the diameter of the seed.

8. Cover your seed tray with plastic


wrap to keep the moisture in. Place the seed tray somewhere out of direct sunlight and near a heat source. A soil temperature of at least 75 degrees is ideal for germination.


9. Remove the plastic wrap after the

seedlings emerge, usually within a week. Now you need to move the tray to your brightest window. If you don’t have a sunny window, you’re going to need grow lights.

10. Water whenever your soil begins to


dry, being careful not to oversaturate. A misting spray bottle works especially well. After a few days of growth, use scissors to snip out all but the largest seedling in each cell.


11. Using a spoon and great care, trans-

plant your seedlings to a larger container after two or three weeks. If you don’t have any 4-inch pots on hand, soda bottles can be cut off as a good substitute. (Remember the drainage holes!) Water the seedlings immediately after transplanting and keep them out of the sunlight for a couple days until they adjust.

12. Bring them outside for a couple hours

a day about a week before your target planting date to get them acclimated, then increase this time over the course of the week. This process is known as hardening off. For warm season crops, avoid temperatures under 50 degrees.


Now you’re ready to heirloom your garden and your kitchen! If you missed your seed start date this year, you can still get a pretty good selection of heirloom transplants from Greensgrow Farm ( in Kensington. But remember, the only way to wow your neighbors with Green Zebra tomatoes, Tequila Sunrise peppers and Striped Toga eggplants is to start them yourself! ■


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/ how-to

Let It Rain Saving rainwater for your own uses


by will dean

o comply with federal regulations governing combined storm water and sewage overflow (where lots of rain can wash sewage into local watersheds), the Philadelphia Water Department is trying something new. Usually, upgrading the storm water system means lots of new pipes, construction, expense and disruption. This is the “gray” approach. Instead, PWD is looking to nature to turn Philly’s streets “green” and deal with storm water problems in a natural way. ¶ Their Clean Water Green City program seeks to put infrastructure improvements like rain gardens, rain barrels, trees, grass and green roofs (instead of more pipes) in a few model neighborhoods by the end of the year to inspire interest in the rest of the city. The eventual goal is to turn all of Philly literally green, but you can get a head start, and a cheap way to water your garden, by putting in a rain barrel now. 1. Get a large (approximately 50 gallon) plas-

tic barrel. You can find them used on Craigslist. If you go the used route, make sure it was only used for food storage before and not holding chemicals. Rinse out the barrel thoroughly.

2. Use the saw to cut a hole at least six

inches wide in the top, and attach the mesh screen (to keep out debris) with the staple gun.

3. Drill two holes in the side of the barrel: one

an inch from the bottom and one an inch from the top.

4. Push the hose spigot into the hole in the

bottom and tighten the locknut fully. Then wrap the locknut with Teflon tape or seal it with caulk. Follow the same procedure with the hose adaptor in the top hole.







Supplies you will need ■ ¾-inch hose ❑ spigot ■ ¾-inch hose ❑ adaptor ■ drill ❑ ■ 9 -inch drill bit ❑ ■ Mesh screen ❑ ■ 2 ¾-inch locknuts ❑ ■ saber or ❑ keyhole saw ■ staple gun ❑ ■ Teflon tape ❑ or caulk ■ wrench ❑ ■ 50 gallon ❑ plastic barrel

5. Place the rain barrel under the downspout

of your gutters, or somewhere that water runs off your roof if you don’t have gutters.

6. Elevate the barrel using cinder blocks or a milk crate so it’s easier to

attach a hose to the spigot. Attach another hose to the hose adaptor and run it away from your house. (This is to prevent overflow.)

7. Water your garden!


g r i d p h i l ly. c o m

ap ri l 2009

illus t r at ion s by j .p. fl exner

/ how-to

Fair Food Approved

Size: 2.25” wide x 4.75” tall






On average, each person in the U.S. discards Additionally, Big Green Earth Store, Whole Should include: eight dry-cell batteries per year, according to Foods, IKEA and Best Buy accept alkaline Batteries fall into several cate- teries. Pep Boys, Advance Auto Parts and Auto gories: single-use single-use lithium Zone will accept automotive batteries. Fair trade * locallyalkaline, grown * independent manganese, rechargeable (nickel-cadmium, Philadelphia’s Household Hazardous Waste Fair food logo lithium ion, nickel-metal hydride) and lead- Drop-Off events are scheduled throughout based automotive. There are a number of oth- the year at various locations throughout the but these are the most prevalent. city—the next one is April 18 at the Streets placeers,your order online or call: Although the single-use variety accounts for Department Training Center. They will ac21st the & Fairmount 267.514.7145 * lion’s share of junked batteries, automotive cept rechargeable batteries, but not alkaline 110 Cotton Streetbatteries in Manayunk and rechargeable are the most 215.482.3964 impor- or automotive batteries. Visit the Streets Detant kinds to keep out of the landfill because partment’s Hazardous Waste website for more Place your order online or call: they contain metals and toxic chemicals information. 21st &heavy Fairmount 267.514.7145 that eventually end upininManayunk our environment, Battery Solutions ( has 110 Cotton Street 215.482.3964health risks. Because mer- introduced the iRecycle Kit to accept rechargeposing significant cury use in newer alkaline batteries has been able and single-use batteries for recycling by reduced drastically, some landfill bans of the mail. For even more information about other batteries have been lifted and recycling pro- companies that accept rechargeable batteries, grams have stopped taking them. Neverthe- visit the Rechargeable Battery Recycling Corless, it is still prudent to recycle these batteries poration online at whenever possible. Places in the Philadelphia area that accept Hazardous Waste Drop-Off Event, Sat., April 18, rechargeable batteries for recycling include Streets Dept. Training Center, State Rd. and AshWhole Foods, IKEA, Best Buy, burner St., Depot, Staples ous_waste.html and Radio Shack.




1s and 2s can go in the blue bucket, but how do I recycle [insert random Luckyor formore. you, we have the answers, and this month we’ll Get 10% off item]?” orders $100 tell you about batteries.



Clean Up



message: Mugshots Coffeehouse & Café Not Your Usual Lineup Fair Food approved catering! Mugshots offers coffee to go, breakfast trays, and party platters, great for meetings, events, and Recycling batteries safely by samantha wittchen parties! Delivery available. Biodegradable and owplates that Philadelphia has started showing more love to its recutlery included. cycling program, you undoubtedly find yourself thinking, “I know

Catering! mUgShOTS mUgShOTS CoffeeHouse & Café

Mugshots offers coffee to go, breakfast trays, and party platters, great for meetings, events, and parties! Delivery available. Biodegradable plates and cutlery included.

Get 10% off orders $100 or more.

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Place your order online or call: 21st & Fairmount 267.514.7145 110 Cotton Street in Manayunk 215.482.3964,

g r i d p h i l ly. c o m


/ news & events

Greening the Post-Industrial City: Innovative Reuse of Philadelphia’s Idle Lands

→ Academy of Natural Sciences, 1900 Benjamin Franklin Parkway, Apr. 23-24, $25 (student), $50 (non-profit), $75 (individual), 215-895-2341,

It’s no secret that we’ve got a lot of vacant land and old factories that could be converted into something useful, and Drexel is sponsoring an academic conference April 23-24 focusing on reusing abandoned industrial land in Philly. The conference will feature topics such as navigating legal issues, and past experience with community involvement, as well as presentations on green building and urban agriculture. There should be a lot of info available if you’re interested in redeveloping the old textile mill by your house.

Energy Festival and Native Plant Sale → Family Energy Festival, SCEE, 8480 Hagy’s Mill Rd., Saturday, April 18, Free, 11a.m.–3p.m., 215-482-7300 x110,; → Native Plant Sale, Saturday, April 25, 8:30 a.m.–4:30 p.m., Sunday, April 26, 9 a.m.–1 p.m., Free.

Energy is all around us all the time, but how much do you really know about it? Test yourself, and find out more at the Schuylkill Center for Environmental Education (SCEE)’s annual Family Energy Festival on April 18. Find out about energy-saving strategies like composting, solar panels, bio-fuels and local food through hands-on activities and presentations. With globalization, not to mention all the remnants of colonization, it’s hard to tell which flora and fauna actually developed in our area. Get in touch with over 100 species of native trees, shrubs, vines and wildflowers at SCEE’s Native Plant Sale on April 25–26. You can buy native plants, learn about composting (if you missed it before) and get advice on using local herbs. If you’ve been paying attention to local energy news (like our February Energy Issue) then you already know that electric bills in Philly are set to go way (for higher energy prices) up in 2011 after state-imposed rate caps expire and we enter a completely market-driven electric system. PECO’s rates will probably go up around 20-30%, which is sure to hit even harder now that the economy is in a deep recession. PECO has just announced approval for a plan to help mitigate this where consumers will pay more now, so they can pay less later. So how does it work? The program, called Early Phase-In, will raise participating consumers’ rates a half cent per kilowatt hour in 2009 and a full cent in 2010, from whenever they sign up until the end of 2010. That extra money will be put into accounts, upon which PECO will pay six percent interest, and be applied as a credit to customers’ bills starting in 2011. PECO will be mailing info about the program to all of its customers—possibly by the time you read this. However, if you really want to save money, start conserving and cutting back on your energy use now by using electric appliances less and switching to more efficient light bulbs, like compact fluorescents.

Be Prepared


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ap ri l 2009

Can Local, Healthy Food Transform Our Community?

→ Temple University, Student Activity Center, Room 200, 1755 N. 13th St., Wed., Apr. 8, Free for students, $20 others, 8 a.m.-1 p.m., 215-204-3082, sbm.temple. edu/iei/sec09.html.

If you’re looking for a less expensive conference to test your academic mettle, check out the fourth annual Social Entrepreneurship Conference at Temple. It will focus on local food and how promoting it can help communities, and is free for students. There will be people interested in local food looking for others to help them get their projects started, and a presentation on the vertical farm concept [↙] (kind of like an urban farm in a skyscraper) by Dickson Despommier of the Vertical Farm Project ( Panelists include George Cashmark (Sodexo), Ann Karlen (White Dog Cafe Foundation), Marilyn Anthony (PASA), Skip Wiener (Urban Tree Connection), Duane Perry (The Food Trust), Jill Fink (Mugshots CoffeeHouse), John Doyle (John & Kira’s Chocolates), Jamie McKnight (Teens 4 Good), Dave Zelov (Weaver’s Way Co-op), and Mariana Chilton, PhD (Drexel University, Public Health).

Run for Clean Air and Celebration


d guide to

the g

→ Saturday, April 18, 7:30 a.m.–5 p.m.,


earth day, the annual event when we remember that we live on a planet and not a garbage dump, is coming around this month—April 22 to be precise—and there’s plenty to do. Here’s a round-up of events and volunteer opportunities. For more events, check out the national site at

Earth Day Festival and Flea Market → Saturday, April 18, 9 a.m.–5 p.m., Clark Park, 43rd and Baltimore Ave., Free, To sign up: 215-387-0919, or

If you’re looking for a fun time outdoors, this all-day event could keep your ecomind occupied for a while. There’ll be music, workshops, local food and all kinds of flea market goodies, which is like buying recycled stuff without all the expense. The festival is co-sponsored by Uhuru Furniture, a company that collects unwanted furnishings, fixes and resells them. Their furniture store (1220 Spruce St.) is part of the left-wing political group Uhuru Solidarity Movement, which also organizes the monthly People’s Flea Markets in Clark Park during the spring, summer and fall. “This all-day free festival will focus on how we can build a sustainable future for all people,” writes Harris Daniels, Uhuru member, “based on the understanding that sustainability can only come through social and environmental justice for African and indigenous people all over the world.” Businesses like Dhyana Yoga, Ethnics Furniture and Robin’s Books will host workshops and have goods for sale while you listen to Brazilian bossa nova band Os Humanos, revolutionary African poetry by Rasheed Bey as well as a variety of local acts. There will also be plenty of the weird old knick-knacks, cheap furniture, records and food that fans of the People’s Flea Market expect. Money from the event will go to the African Village Survival Initiative and promote green goals such as economic self-reliance programs, collective food production and sustainable energy.

There are plenty of volunteer opportunities on or around Earth Day to excise your green guilt. If you really want to feel the sweat run, try the Clean Air Council’s 5K Run to benefit their environmental work. You can register online individually or as a team—the route starts at Martin Luther King, Jr. Drive and ends at the Art Museum. The registration fee goes to Clean Air, and you get an organic t-shirt and one of those pin-on bibs with a big number on it, which tells anyone who sees it that you ran in a large, organized race. Afterwards there will be a free Earth Day celebration at the Art Museum with the usual suspects of green groups, recycling opportunities and activities.

Party for the Planet

→ Saturday, April 25, 10 a.m.–4 p.m. Philadelphia Zoo, $15-18, 215-243-3223 Party-for-the-Planet.htm

Come to the Philadelphia Zoo the weekend after Earth Day for music, games, food and actual members of the community that Earth Day supporters are trying to preserve (by which we mean the animals, not the many local environmental groups in attendance). You can bring your old sneakers, plastic bottles and cell phones for easy recycling and appreciate the wildlife you’re not poisoning at the same time.

Clean Up, Green Up

→ Second Saturday, Saturday, April 11, State St., 6 p.m.–10 p.m., Free; → Clean Up, Green Up, Saturday, April 18, various sites, 10 a.m.–4 p.m., → Roots Ramble, Saturday, April 18, 7:30 p.m.–1 a.m., Business District, 610-566-5039,

Media, PA, the self-styled “Fair Trade Town,” is hosting events all month. There’s a Second Saturday environmentally-themed art walk April 11 on State Street. April 18 is Media’s Clean Up, Green Up day, with rain barrel demonstrations, clean-ups and tours of local flora. After a hard day of greening, you can relax with the seventh annual Americana/Roots Ramble Music Festival featuring amazingly-named groups like Frog Holler, RockAFillys and the Highball Kids.

Volunteer Clean-Up

→ Saturday, April 25, 8 a.m.–1 p.m., Free,

If you want to help clean Philly’s green spaces, consider this volunteer clean-up, which will be going to the John Heinz Wildlife Refuge and the Wissahickon. There are a limited number of spots for their buses, so consider organizing your own clean-up for your neighborhood! a pr il 20 0 9

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/ design

Everyone Deserves a (Green) Home Permanent housing for the homeless uses green design


hen the pastor of St. John the Evangelist Church in Center City approached Angelo Sgro, executive director of the Bethesda Project, with an empty building to use for their homelessness efforts, he didn’t have to think before answering.

“I saw it and immediately said yes, because if you are working with the homeless and someone offers you an empty building in Center City, you have to,” says Sgro. The site, at Camac and Ludlow, is a couple blocks away from City Hall and Market East and right next to St. John’s historic stone church. Scheduled for completion in 2010, the building will be eight stories tall and feature 79 housing units, as well as offices for the church on the ground floor. The units will

provide permanent and semi-permanent housing to homeless individuals, instead of just temporary shelter. “At the root of it all is an economic problem that there are not enough affordable housing options for poor people,” says Sgro. “You can’t afford a single-bedroom apartment on minimum wage.” Just building such a structure in Philly is a big victory for homelessness advocates. “It’s extremely difficult to develop anything

by will dean

like this anywhere in Philadelphia,” explains Sgro. “As soon as you say ‘homeless,’ people protest.” On the second and third floors, Bethesda will run 24 single-room units with microwaves, fridges, bathrooms and shared common area kitchens. Project HOME will have the fourth through eighth floors for 55 efficiency apartments with their own kitchens. In addition to the social aims of the building, it will also feature some really smart design touches that will help reduce costs and resource use. The architecture firm that designed the building, DLR Group, was excited by the chance to design something with social and environmental good and plans to apply for LEED certification. ■


Part of the roof, which will be a resident-accessible terrace, will have vegetation to cut down on the heat island effect. Rainwater collection and graywater recycling (the water used when you do things like wash your hands) systems will irrigate plants on the roof.

Strong insulation, low-energy lighting and mechanical systems. 20 percent of the construction will use recycled materials. Low-V.O.C. sealants, adhesives, paints, coatings and carpet systems. Pumps that use the heat produced by refrigerators to warm apartments. 16

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illus t r at ion court e s y DLR G ro u p

Girard College Thompson Street

Brentwood Apartments

Touring With Bob

by Will Dean / photos by Dan Murphy

A Trip Down Girard Avenue

n a city as old and strange as Philly, there’s some history in every 100-plusyear-old brick rowhome and tiny colonial alley. While it’s fun to make up stories about what happened where (I like to think that my block was where Ben Franklin invented freedom soda), it’s also great to know the actual history and future plans of Philly. To that end, I recently took a tour down Girard Avenue with Bob Thomas, an architect, cartographer, tour guide and historian. His firm, Campbell Thomas & Co., has designed environmentally-efficient and socially responsible buildings for over 30 years, so the sites are not only notable for their history, but their sustainable features. You can ride your bike or take the trolley, which is also historic and dates back to the ’50s.


we started at these beautiful German Baroque Revival buildings. Across from some nice green space and wonderful sites like Fairmount Park and the Whispering Wall (an old curved wall where you can whisper at one end and your friend can hear it at the other), Thomas helped fix up this decrepit structure in the ’70s into housing for seniors and families. They preserved the historic façade and added handicap access and a solar array on the roof. 4134 Parkside Ave.

the Brentwood Apartments

i had seen the wall surrounding this school and the neo-classical buildings peeking over before, but had no idea what it was. Turns out it’s not a college as we would know it, but a boarding school for children of limited means who come from one-parent households. Set up in 1848 by the will of Stephen Girard, an extremely wealthy banker, the college was originally just for white, male children whose fathers had died. After legal battles that went up to the Supreme Court, Girard was desegregated in the ’60s and allowed female students to enroll in the ’80s. Girard Ave., from 25th to 19th.

Thomas’ company designed these singlefamily public housing units in 1984 to maximize their efficiency. They use passive solar heating (a box on the south side, which is shielded in the summer, heats up during the day and distributes that warmth throughout the house) and good insulation to minimize heat loss. The residents pay around $30 all winter for heating and one unit uses a wood stove. In fact, the houses are so well-designed that when Thomas tried to enter them in a contest PECO was hosting for efficient houses, he was told they were “too efficient” to qualify. 15th and Thompson (a block north of Girard).

thompson street

Girard College

although it is now known for denselypacked storefronts, Girard used to be lined by buildings with little front lawns and looked much more residential. Weird how hard that is to imagine. Girard Ave. from 29th to 25th. ■

Storefront Houses


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↘ Skip Wiener, original guerrilla gardener and founder of nonprofit Urban Tree Connection

Hold Your Turf 18

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How Haddington used guerrilla gardening to transform its vacant lots, and why the city should encourage everyone to do the same by haley loram

ap ri l 2009

portrait by jamie leary


omeone left a busted couch at the edge of the Conestoga Children’s Garden, directly under the “No Dumping” sign. Skip Wiener, who tends to the network of gardens in the West Philly neighborhood of Haddington, pursed his lips and said, “That hasn’t happened in a while, but I’ll go talk to Cleveland after we’re done here; he might have seen who left it.” Cleveland owns the mechanic shop across the street, and he’s just one of the neighbors who keep an eye on the gardens. Many of the people who live in Haddington are older and tend to own their homes, which gave them a painful front row view of the neighborhood’s evolution from its strong workingclass roots into something dangerous. Wiener knows many of those folks. They saw drugs come in and watched as the neighborhood vacant lots become part of the, “staging grounds for the open-air drug market,” as he calls it. The lots, tucked among people’s homes, were vacant stretches surrounded by chain-link fences and littered with garbage. They were so overgrown that dealers ran through them to escape the police, and so desolate that one was the site of the murders of four neighborhood children over the years. They are also where the neighborhood and Wiener have put down roots. Wiener was born and raised about 10 blocks from Haddington. He has advanced degrees in Plant Physiology and Biology and in Landscape Design from Temple University and the University of Pennsylvania, and he’s worked on urban greening programs for decades. In the ’90s, he worked at schools across Philadelphia—including Martin Luther King High School, Wright Elementary and Ada H. Lewis Middle School—creating gardens on their grounds, only to watch them wither during the summer months when no one was there to watch them. About 10 years ago, Wiener took his skill for nurturing plants in an urban environment beyond the school system. The William Penn Foundation funded gardens in

Haddington as part of an experimental after-school program. Wiener was recruited to work on the where and how of those gardens. He used his connections in Haddington to launch the project, tapping on doors, chatting with parents and creating a network of gardens with neighborhood kids. Eventually he founded the nonprofit Urban Tree Connection. But gardens don’t look that impressive in the off season. In October, Wiener sounded frustrated as he told the story of the adjoining Pearl Street Walkway and the Conestoga Children’s Garden. Gesturing at the scattered vegetable beds lying fallow, he said, “You need to see these in the growing season! With all the kids and the flowers and the vegetables.” To appreciate the network of community gardens that Wiener has helped create, you don’t need to see what the gardens look like at their peak so much as recognize that the spaces they occupy are no longer a blight and hazard, appreciate that this change happened “from the sidewalk up” with hardly any money, and understand why it worked. As Wiener and his neighbors cleared the trash out of the lots again and again, uprooted the brush to create a clear, unbroken line of sight from one end of the garden to the other, replaced the tall chain-link fence with a knee-high split rail fence and defined paths through the lots with soft wood chips,

Neighbors have to get organized and put in the sweat equity first, because getting legal control of vacant land is a long, slow process. —Terry Mushovic, Executive Director of the Neighborhood Gardens Association the drug dealers gradually moved on. Reclaiming their common backyard, the neighbors created clean, safe gardens where neighbors get together and children play. These are the people who know and have a stake in Haddington. Wiener recalled a conversation with a neighbor about the drug activity in the neighborhood, and how she said, “I’ve diapered most of the guys who sold drugs in this lot.” These gardens are held together and owned by that network of social ties, rather than fences or titles, and that’s where things get complicated. Wiener gets called a “guerrilla gardener” because he tends to land that he doesn’t own. Technically, that’s illegal. But according to Terry Mushovic, Executive Director of the Neigha pr il 20 0 9

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borhood Gardens Association (NGA), this is how it’s always been done. “[Neighbors have to] get organized and put in the sweat equity first,” she says. “Getting legal control of vacant land is a long, slow process.” Planting on vacant land has been the accepted way to create a garden in Philadelphia, a city of over 40,000 vacant lots covering 146 square miles, for 50 years. Urban gardening used to be such a part of our city’s DNA that, for decades, Philadel-


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phia had a harvest show each September. People brought their best specimens of the usual vegetable suspects and occasional mini-crops of cotton and tobacco, part of the agricultural legacy of the hundreds of thousands of African Americans who migrated to Philadelphia from the Deep South between World War II and the early ’70s. That generation of “guerrilla gardeners” was supported from all sides. In 1976, Penn State received funding from a Carter Administration anti-poverty program modeled on the Victory Gardens of the ’40s, which supported urban gardening to improve nutrition in poor communities. But the program also had an educational agenda—for city residents to understand how hard it is to grow food. The money funded eight demonstration gardens—at least two of which are still around today. Mushovic started the Awbury Arboretum garden in east Germantown in 1977, and it has been continuously cultivated by the community—and doubled in size twice—since. Down in Queen Village, Southwark/Queen Village community garden is on a city-owned plot of land that is permanently leased to NGA. But the Penn State program also supported gardeners in more personal ways. Sally McCabe, who now runs the Garden Tenders program at the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society, used to grow enough grapes to make wine in her old community garden in Northern Liberties. However, she knows that gardening is about more than just plants, and that it takes chutzpah to actually put shovel to earth in a vacant lot. “Gardening is less about plants and more about community organizing,” she says. “Some people just needed a blessing to get started.” The workshops and encouragement paid off. In 1995, there were over 500 community gardens growing approximately

$1.8 million worth of produce in Philadelphia, and an extra 500 non-food producers. However, when University of Pennsylvania professor Domenic Vitiello cataloged the city’s urban agriculture sites in the summer of 2008, there were only 220 left. Where did the gardens go? Vitiello described showing up at the barren site of what used to be a flourishing garden in lower North Philadelphia. As he and his research assistants asked the neighbors if there used to be a garden there, they heard a story that would echo throughout their research. “ ‘A man from the city came; he told us that we couldn’t have a garden there anymore, and then a bulldozer came,’ ” he says. Sometimes the city sent the bulldozers first and the explanation later. It wasn’t just bulldozers that leveled Philly’s community gardens. There wasn’t as much competition for land from developers before the real estate boom took off in the late ’90s. In the late ’80s, NGA acquired the title to the 2.7-acre Glenwood Green Acres property at a sheriff’s sale for just $25,000. The Bel Arbor Community Garden is in Bella Vista, on the southern edge of Center City. In October 1995, a group of neighbors received permission to start a garden from Christ’s United Presbyterian Church, which abuts a sliver of vacant land, without realizing that the space in question actually belonged to the New York developer who had turned most of the block into a CVS, Hollywood Video and parking lot. In 1999, the owner donated the land to NGA for a tax write-off. Mushovic believes that there is no way that he would have donated the land a year later. “[The impression I got] from his attorney was that he had a really profitable year and just needed that tax break,” she says. However, the donation had a legal catch: If at any point the land is not an active garden, it has to be returned to the developer or to his heirs. Reversion clauses like this one are used to prevent an organization or person who receives a gift of land from developing it themselves. Until 2006, the city of Philadelphia regularly donated vacant lots to the homeowners next to them through the “side-lots” program. However, depending on who you ask, a few too many of those lots were redeveloped or turned into parking lots, and now the city can only legally donate land to groups with a legal status, generally nonprofits. In addition, the Street administration changed the philosophy of the city’s greening programs. Instead of empowering neighbors to care for the land around them, the city took a top-down approach to greening the city through the Neighborhood Transformation Initiative. They consolidated vacant lots into parcels that would be large enough to attract developers. Hence, the bulldozers. With the funding dried up, the political and programmatic support for community gardens has withered. Now, starting a community garden in Philadelphia is not for the faint of will. For starters, you may want to get permission from the land owners before you start to plant. But where are the owners? If you find them, the city of Philadelphia would probably like to know. The city’s records are in disarray and there isn’t a transparent and accessible system for administering land. But, by Mushovic’s best guess, about half of the vacant lots are privately held and are often tax delinquent. If you’ve got your eye on a lot that happens to be owned by the city, you can apply for a year-to-year gardening lease so the city knows that your garden exists. However, that lease gives you no recourse to stop development, and the goal of the Redevelopment Authority (RDA), which manages some of the city-owned land, has been to generate money for the city by selling abandoned properties and getting them back

You need to see these [gardens] in the growing season! With all the kids and the flowers and the vegetables. —Skip Wiener onto the tax rolls. Looking at Philadelphia’s projected $2 billion budget shortfall, it’s hard to argue with the fact that the city needs to get the full value from our vacant land. But liens against the property from back taxes make it hard for the city to recoup losses from vacant properties. Furthermore, the pressure to build on every available piece of land just isn’t what it used to be. Wiener has an example of how fruitful it can be for the city to leave the bulldozers in the shed. Every growing season Urban Tree Connection uses formerly vacant lots to connect with about 120 neighborhood kids per week in the Veggie Kids program. Not only does it keep them out of trouble, the kids grew about 1,000 pounds of produce last summer and distributed it by wheelbarrow to 22 families that they knew. And the things that they grew! As Wiener put it, “almost any seasonal vegetable that you can [imagine] around came out of those gardens.” They’re looking to double their output this year, and a new city program could make RDA land available for other urban farming projects at no cost to farmers. None of that will happen if the gardens disappear. Wiener knows the importance of keeping your eyes and hands on the land around us. “In the hood, you have to hold your turf.” ■


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Power plants


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The Philadelphia Orchard Project is harvesting edible agriculture one vacant lot at a time by Natalie Hope McDonald

photos by Albert Yee

rom Kensington’s Cambria Orchard to Chester Avenue’s Squirrel Hill and the Martin Luther King High School Farm on West Oak Lane, fresh fruits and vegetables are being harvested in once-vacant, crime-ridden lots. It’s all part of a massive nutrition plan by Philadelphia Orchard Project (POP) to grow sustainable and edible agriculture in local communities that need it the most. ¶ According to Phil Forsyth, POP’s orchard director, the organization has done 14 orchard plantings since the their inception two years ago. “The key is we don’t seek out the space,” he says. “Groups come to us.” That includes faith-based Circle Venture, which maintains an orchard and adjacent play space for children in Kensington, Grupo Motivos, a women’s collective dedicated to sustaining food security in Norristown, and the New Africa Center and Muslim American Museum, which harvests food in West Philly for youth service groups. “What distinguishes POP from most other food and community greening and gardening groups is we’re devoted to food justice issues,” says Domenic Vitiello, POP’s president and an assistant professor of city, regional planning and urban studies at the University of Pennsylvania. Vitiello says POP works with nonprofits with roots in the region to plant orchards in low-income communities where citizens don’t always have

tain the orchards over time. At the Chester Avenue Orchard, for example, the Neighborhood Gardens Association maintains the orchard and distributes food to gardeners and local food banks, while the Teens 4 Good Orchard in Poplar sells produce to local restaurants and at the City Hall Farmer’s Market. Proceeds are then reinvested into youth programs. “Groups from around the city may apply,” says Forsyth. “But they have to have some legal access to the land. And the community partners become the actual caretakers.” POP must also determine water access to the orchard and performs soil tests to make sure there’s no contamination before planting. “We’re looking for sites in low-income neighborhoods that need access to fresh food.” Combating food insecurity was very much on the mind of community organizer Paul Glover when he founded POP in 2007. He applied what he had learned from a growing worldwide movement dedicated to developing sustainable and ethical food systems in Philadelphia, which was estimated as having more than 40,000 vacant lots at the time and one of the highest poverty rates in urban America. According to POP, as many as 500 people in Philadelphia have joined the group’s listserv. There are also active members of the orchard committee and dozens of community groups that participate in POP’s mission. “We hope we will expand our capacity,” says Vitiello, “and train people in tending orchards.” Vitiello says the orchards perform a powerful job in the communities that are most affected by poor nutritional opportunities and neglect. But the orchards don’t only provide a valuable fresh food source; they also reduce urban heat by

We’re looking for sites in low-income neighborhoods that need access to fresh food. The community partners become the actual caretakers. ↑ Phil Forsyth,

orchard director

access to healthy food. “They often lack control over food production,” he says. “We don’t actually own the orchards, but we help them plant.” POP also teaches the community members, many of whom have never worked in a garden before, how to sus-

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absorbing carbon emissions, filtering water naturally, cleaning the air, absorbing noise and reducing storm water runoff. And for every vacant lot that has been turned into an orchard or community garden, these neighborhoods become more livable and beautiful, and allow neighbors to work together to learn skills such as planting, composting, food processing and tending. This year, POP received a small grant to develop a nursery in Philadelphia that will produce food which will be shared with needy families. With spring being the organization’s busiest season for planting, POP is already in the midst of planting new orchards abundant with berry and nut bushes, as well as pear, peach and cherry trees. Communities also harvest hazelnuts, blackberries, blueberries, currants and figs. “We work with groups to determine what trees and berry bushes they would like most in the community,” says Vitiello, who notes that many orchards are oriented toward specific ethnic groups. They plant Asian pear trees and persimmon, as well as fruits used in Puerto Rican and African cuisines. POP also researches which bushes and trees will attract the most beneficial insects, and which are most susceptible to disease. “We rarely plant apple trees,” says Vitiello, because of the difficulty in keeping them disease-free. Last year, POP partnered with the Mural Arts Project and PlaySpace to create an orchard at Hartranft Elementary School on West Cumberland Street in North Philadelphia. The greening project, which included the de-paving

of a portion of the school’s parking lot, was part of the elementary school’s science and environmental education program. The students and community members now sustain the orchard and green space themselves, which reclaims two abandoned lots in the process. “What has been significant,” says Shari Hersh, director of the Mural Art Project’s art education initiative Mural Corps, “is the amount of people coming together for this project.” Hersh created a blog about the ongoing experience ( illustrating the community’s efforts, art projects and orchard planting. POP was also invited to create a display orchard at the United States Botanic Garden in Washington, D.C. last year. Called One Planet: Ours the permaculture orchard was designed to showcase sustainable strategies for the 22nd


Even before the economic crisis, this was a way to address the disparity in food access. 1










• Martin Luther King High School Farm (West Oak Lane)


Find an Orchard Near You

century, according to POP. When the exhibition closed in the fall of 2008, the plants and trees were all uprooted and replanted in Philadelphia. Even though POP’s oldest orchard in Philly has existed for just over eighteen months, according to Forsyth, “We already see the effects. It’s a positive thing to see people in the community get together in their own neighborhoods.” He predicts there will be an even more significant need for these orchards as more people are impacted by the distressing economy. “But even before the economic crisis, this was a way to address the disparity in food access,” he concludes. “The local food movement was something that basically had no relevance to people furthest down the income level scale. But POP has given these people access to fresh and healthy food.” ■

• Nicetown CDC Orchard (Nicetown) • Fair Hill Burial Ground (North Philadelphia) ALLE L E H IG


• Potter Thomas Elementary School Orchard (North Philadelphia)


• Cambria Orchard (Kensington)


• Hartranft Elementary School Orchard (North Philadelphia) LA





• Woodford Orchard (Fairmount Park)


• Grupos Motivos Orchard (Norris Square) 676


• Francisville Orchard (Francisville)



• Teens 4 Good Orchard (Poplar)


• Secret Garden at Greenfield Elementary School (Center City)



• United Communities Orchard (South Philadelphia)


• Chester Avenue Orchard (Squirrel Hill) • New Africa Orchard (West Philadelphia) 95


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ere are about 250 convenient locations in Philadelphia and beyond where you can pick up a copy of Grid. The list grows every day. Search online at

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Atlantic Books Gianna’s Grille Passional Philadelphia Java Co. Philadelphia Record Exchange Relapse Records Inc. Repo Records Retrospect Tattoed Mom The Bean Café TLA Video Whole Foods Market Wooden Shoe Books


Gryphon Cafe High Road Bicylces Total Nutrition Of Wayne Your Gourmet Kitchen WEST CHESTER

Country Bagel Bakery Kruetz Creek Winery Nick’s Cafe Peace of Pizza Pig Out: BBQ Pit

MIXED GREENS is a coalition of speakers and social entrepreneurs generating empowering stories of real life results for sustainable practices in the building industry and business communities. Sustainable living in practical steps!

Let us help you transition to a more610-306-3245 sustainable future. • • Gwynedd, PA • 215.816.2046

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Geo-exchange Heat Pumps Geothermal & Hybrid Systems Wood Stoves / Chimney Liners

renew yourself with Acupuncture Susan Bloch, M.Ac., R.N. Natural Health Care for Body and Mind Mt. Airy & Center City Philadelphia 215-844-7675

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EARTH SaturDAY 04 25 09

Bring your own bottles to the Big Green Earth Store refill station (laundry detergent, hand soap, dishwashing liquid) to refill with Sun & Earth and receive $1.00 off each refill with this coupon.

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Join Grid Magazine, Whole Foods, Big Green Earth Store, Sun & Earth, and a host of other local “green” businesses and nonprofit organizations as we celebrate EARTH SaturDAY on April 25, 2009. The Block Party will be on South Street between 9th and 10th Streets from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. and will feature giveaways and live music from local musicians. 

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Make Your Place:

Affordable, Sustainable Nesting Skills by Raleigh Briggs Microcosm, 2009, $5

Food Politics:

How the Food Industry Influences Nutrition and Health by Marion Nestle UC Press, 2003; $16.95


hen you bite into an apple , you’re probably not considering the laws and regulations, complex legal relationships and huge amounts of money that go into promoting food products. On your behalf, though, Marion Nestle is. A respected academic—she chairs the nutrition and food studies department at New York University—Nestle uses both her personal experience (she worked on the 1988 Surgeon General’s report) and excellent research skills to put together a case indicting lawmakers and big agribusiness. One of the most striking facts in the book is that the U.S. produces almost double the amount of calories necessary for every person. This has led to food producers spending lots of money advertising, lobbying politicians and crafting policy to get us all to eat more food products that don’t have much basic nutritional value. By going into the inner machinations of food policy, Nestle reveals how what’s best for people—as in most healthy—usually takes a back seat to what makes the most money. The example of soda companies paying to secure so-called “pouring rights” at schools (where they can set up vending machines, etc.) is especially chilling considering the rise in childhood obesity and diabetes. To fix our food problems, Nestle suggests institutional reforms like subsidizing growers of those fruits and vegetables instead of the many other food industries that already receive governmental money, such as the sugar industry. A revised and updated version of the book is available now, with contemporary info on the food revolution it helped spark. One of her biggest points, though, hasn’t changed—a balanced diet is the same now as it was a thousand years ago, and if we paid more attention to what makes us healthier, instead of what is more profitable, we’d all be better off.

If you’re always looking enviously at your industrious neighbor/friend/partner who makes their own cleaners and gardens all summer, and thinking, “Oh, I wish I knew how to do all of that, too,” this book is for you. Author Briggs, who previously published zines on the same topics, shows you how to make cleaners from soap, vinegar and scented oils, as well as healthful tinctures from herbs. She also gives tips on starting up a garden and how to keep it pest-free without using pesticides. Make Your Place is professionally bound, but has the simple and charming look of a handmade zine. Little drawings pop up everywhere, and all the recipes and how-tos look hand-written, like a guidebook left to you from a crafty, DIY aunt.

Plan C:

Community Survival Strategies for Peak Oil and Climate Change by Eugene R. Murphy New Society, 2008; $19.95

There have been a lot of books lately about the various crises coming our way: peak oil, climate change, deforestation, the disappearance of bees. While a good scare can go a long way to creating needed action, Plan C goes a step further and presents possible solutions to the problems we face. After spending some time outlining these challenges, Murphy shows how the solutions lie in working together and developing strong community bonds. He provides actual plans for growing food, running a small-scale transportation system and producing fuel. (Many are based on how Cubans adapted to a mostly oilfree economy when the U.S.S.R. fell and stopped supplying the island nation with petroleum.) Murphy’s book is the kind of thing you hope to find in the post-apocalyptic rubble.

Graceful Gardens

{ urban = organic = edible } Gardening Services = Grace Wicks 215.913.7156


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ap ri l 2009

New Horizons

Upscale vegan eats warm your stomach and conscience


ith the rush towards eating locally, it’s surprisingly easy to forget about the original “ethical” eating choice that for hundreds of years has attracted people like Ben Franklin, Charlotte Bronte, Albert Einstein and, of course, me. While Kate Jacoby, co-owner and pastry chef of upscale vegan eatery Horizons, gave up meat out of concern for animals, there are plenty of environmental reasons as well. “If you look at animals as the middle-man, or middle-animal, in the food production chain,” says Jacoby, “there’s a lot of waste and pollution in raising them for food.” One of the most frequently quoted statistics is that it takes 10 pounds of feed to produce one pound of beef, along with the energy of transporting food for the animals, the methane (a greenhouse gas) produced by flatulent animals and the massive amounts of sewage raising large numbers of animals creates. But meat tastes so good, you might say. Well, if you could eat at Horizons every night, you might stop fantasizing about the perfect steak. “We want to be a really good restaurant that just happens to be vegan,” says Jacoby. With seasonal dishes like the Mushroom Pub Plate and year-round favorites like Grilled Seitan (a foodstuff made from wheat that has some of the texture of meat), there are subtle and delicious choices for both those who are accustomed to meat and potatoes, and the long-term meatless. It’s also a good place to impress family members and/or dates. From the muted-yellow dinpho tos by t yl er g at es

ing room—with decorations like little waterfalls—to the long wine list, attentive wait staff, classy food presentation and $20 entrees, Horizons is definitely a more upscale restaurant. If you tend to look more like the hippie veggie stereotype, though, you can still fit in. When I visited in March, there was a conservatively dressed older couple a table away from a seriously bearded fellow and a woman sporting artificially bright red hair and an equally loud striped shirt and peasant skirt. There’s also plenty for local eaters. “Two of our main proteins come from local producers: Fresh Tofu [in Allentown] and Ray’s Seitan [Philly],” says Jacoby. Many of their mushrooms come from Kennett Square, and their blueberry horizon highlights Salt Roasted Golden Beet Duo This appetizer displays deep yellow, golden beets in two unusual ways. Sliced on top of small pieces of rye with a mustard spread and local smoked peppercorn tofu, it makes the kind of tiny halfsandwich that a vegetarian prince would eat. The beets are soft and tangy and go well with the smooth texture and tastes of the tofu and bread. A cucumber dill sauce separates the other beet iteration: served tartare with seaweed caviar.

by will dean

cheesecake uses fruit from Hammonton, NJ. For those looking for more traditional Philly foods, Horizons plans to have a special menu for April which will feature dishes inspired by the original menu of the first iteration of the restaurant as a casual cafe in Willow Grove that opened in 1994. There’ll be mock chicken salad, sandwiches and perhaps even a vegan cheesesteak. “We try not to be too obvious about it all,” Jacoby says. “We go under the radar and we’re hoping to make people think about what they eat.” She doesn’t want to antagonize meat eaters so much as subtly convert them. “We all coexist here in the cheesesteak town.” Horizons, 611 S. 7thSt., 215-923-6117

Mushroom Pub Plate Mushrooms from Kennett Square fill up this expedition into the world of edible fungi. A big wood-grilled portabello top that’s as smoky as a barbeque and topped with a mild grain mustard sauce grabs the attention immediately, quickly followed by the moist and succulent stuffed deviled oyster mushrooms. Pickled beech mushrooms add some tang, and the maitakes and truffled celery root puree looks and tastes like a small, earthy pot pie.

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Winter Plate With hearty veggies, mushrooms and seitan, this dish evokes the homey vegan meals my mom never made (albeit in a more sophisticated way). The seitan is diced and formed into a patty, which is savory without being chewy, and topped with cauliflower terrine and Dijon sauce, which add smooth texture and spice. Grilled royal trumpet mushrooms and sautéed brussels sprouts add earthy flavors and make me feel like I’m in a very wellappointed rural cottage.

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Seeds of Change

verything we hope to achieve, have and enjoy would be shaken from our grasp without the miracle of seeds unfolding into food, far from where we live. Are you on the road to success? Take food with you. Whether we eat from silver plates or tin cups, three times daily or three times weekly, we will eat or die. Fortunately, enough food is brought to Greater Philadelphia to fill the Comcast Center every night. While we sleep, thousands of trucks deliver millions of pounds to dozens of massive wholesale and supermarket warehouses. Fruits and vegetables reach us from California, Florida, Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Mexico and Central and South America. Milk and eggs from Lancaster County refrigerate here with slaughtered western steer. Fish from the Atlantic coast, China and South America flop onto our shores. The system never rests, delivering the greatest variety of eats for the smallest paycheck, any place on earth. From high above, our machines, trucks and toilers would look like blood cells racing through an athlete. Many are fed so well that we can live preoccupied with careers, romance, God, homes, sex, families and thrills. Beyond the farm, metals and fuels forge tools which raise food. The food we buy has survived bugs, birds, weeds, diseases, erosion, drought, flood, poison, harvest, storage, trimming, crushing, mixing, cooking, packaging, spoilage, more storage and transport to wholesalers and markets, to be swallowed by us.

But there are problems in heaven. Philadelphia has become an army camped far from its sources of supply, using distant natural resources faster than they renew. Although Philadelphia was once a vast garden, filling its own belly, we now import most food from hundreds and thousands of miles away. Large urban orchards, farmlands and grasslands were paved for the city’s latest crop: people. Every day 8,000 more Americans arrive, and each wants as much food as you. Yet, each day eight square miles of agricultural land is destroyed for suburbs, shopping centers, livestock and stripmines. Costlier fertilizers and deadlier pesticides are needed to pump more food from overworked

Fixing our broken food system by paul glover

dirt. Twenty-six square miles of topsoil fly or float away daily. At the same time, America sells grains abroad, trying to feed nations that have preceded us toward agricultural ruin. More hunger is served by less land every day. Relax, though. Don’t eat faster. You’re feeding your future by one or more of these changes. You’re eating less meat, so that grains are fed to humans and animals do not suffer. You’re shopping for Pennsylvania labels, rather than eating food hauled cross-country. You’re growing some of your own food. You’re recycling kitchen scraps into your garden. You’re buying bulk when you can, looking for food value rather than packaging. You’re asking your grocer to stock regional fruits and vegetables. You’re supporting small farms by joining a CSA (subscribing to the harvest) or spending at farmer’s markets. You’re landscaping with edibles rather than ornamentals. You’re controlling retail sales by joining—or starting—a buying club or co-op. You’re having a good time without wasting metals, plastic, oil, paper and electricity. You’re having one or fewer children, and adopting the rest. Even large factory farms are beginning to learn the benefits of non-toxic pest control, drip irrigation, green manure, mulching, intercropping and genetic diversity. Cities are starting to plant edible parks and orchards, to link building codes and development options to urban agriculture, to fund food preservation centers, turn clean sludge into fertilizer, establish agricultural zones and give tax breaks to greenhouses. There are many local organizations working to grow healthy food. They’ve set the table. Time to roll up our sleeves and dig in. ■



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ap ri l 2009

illus t r at ion by B r a d H a ub r ich/ 168 D es i gn

BarberGale designing sustainable brands. A sustainable brand

is one that resonates with authenticity backed by integrity. It inspires and is admired. It produces foot soldiers that tell your story for you. It flourishes in today’s interdependent world, and in the long run, creates more profit for the company and more social, economic, and environmental prosperity for society.

SCA Americas is proud to be recognized as a Charter Member of the new Greater Philadelphia Green Business Program

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Otto’s MINI 1275 Wilmington Pike West Chester PA 19382-8446 (866) 265-7073 *37 hwy/28 city MPG MINI Cooper Hardtop with manual transmission. EPA estimate. Actual mileage will vary with options, driving conditions, driving habits and vehicle operation. Š 2009 MINI, a division of BMW of North America, LLC. The MINI name, model names and logo are registered trademarks.

GRID Magazine April 2009  

Towards a Sustainable Philadelphia

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