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Sustainable Philadelphia

Gardening take one!

the

issue

Snakes in the garden

[ page 20] april 2010 / issue 13 gridphilly.com

The new urban activists get their hands dirty [ page 12]

Essay: on the heartbreak of harvest [ page 30]


This is the place for you.

Primex Garden Center

Independent, family-owned and operated since 1943

Conveniently located near the Glenside train station, Primex offers over 250 organic and eco-friendly gardening products. You can pick up compost bins and rain barrels, check out the on-site demonstration garden, recycle your pots and flats or take advantage of free soil pH testing. Our knowledgeable staff is always ready to answer your questions or help you out with anything you need! 435 West Glenside Avenue • Glenside, PA 19038 • 215-887-7500 • www.primexgardencenter.com


Year One

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t’s time to celebrate, Grid is turning one! In honor of this occasion, we’re throwing a party at Yards Brewing Company on Saturday, April 10 from 5 to 8 p.m. (see inside back cover for details). We would love if you stopped by, had a beer and said hello. I suppose this is a time for reflection, something I’ve had little time to do since this magazine’s inception. “Lurker” is a term used to describe a person who reads a message board but never contributes. And, for years, that’s more or less what I was in the sustainability community. I would go to forums at the Academy of Natural Sciences, often dragging a less-than-interested friend. Once inside, I would occasionally grab their arm and exclaim things like, “Oh my God, I think that’s Christine Knapp! From Penn Future!” I was like a 12 year old at spring training. I spent my spare time scouring local newspapers, trying to get a clearer picture of the major players and their goals. During this period, I was lucky to discover Will Dean, a journalist who regularly covered sustainability issues for the City Paper. Together, we put together a prototype. I was no longer a lurker. Turns out entering the fray was less like testing the water, and more like stepping into the eye of hurricane. Last August, I got married—I know, a great idea during the first year of a business. The reception was a whirlwind: It was all pivot, embrace, “Thanks for coming,” repeat. This entire year has been a similar experience. I was ill-prepared for the avalanche of email, the all-caps messages (I LOVE YOUR MAGAZINE!), and the infectious enthusiasm of the many, many people who wanted, in some way, to be a part of it. The sustainability elders—the movers and shakers who I would name if I didn’t fear leaving someone off the list—were all accessible and helpful. They were not only patient as I learned my DVGBCs from my DVRPCs, but often suggested story ideas as well. They’ve had high hopes for Grid, and I hope we haven’t let them down. Let me also thank the brave few who advertised in our first issues. There were many people who liked what we were doing, but were sure that, like many other independent publications, we were doomed to fail. The recession didn’t help. I’ll always feel grateful to the folks who believed enough to invest early. While I still see many places for us to improve, it thrills me to look at this issue and see at its center a Philadelphian as inspiring as Nic Esposito. “Farm-

c o ver il l u st rat io n by meli ssa mcfeeters

publisher

Alex Mulcahy 215.625.9850 ext. 102 alex@gridphilly.com distribution

Claire Connelly 215.625.9850 ext. 100 claire@gridphilly.com managing editor

Lee Stabert lee@gridphilly.com art director

Jamie Leary jamie@gridphilly.com assistant to the publisher

Tim Mulcahy tim@gridphilly.com ing melds two parts of my personality,” he says in the story (p. 12). “I want to work hard and I want to be part of something bigger than myself.” You might not be ready (yet) to quit your job and devote yourself to urban gardening, but you can certainly grow something, no matter where you live. Inspiring people to act and get involved is what I’ve always wanted Grid to do. “Lurking” is a good way to start, but it’s much more fun when you take a chance, challenging yourself in new ways. As Paulo Coelho writes in The Alchemist, “When a person really desires something, all the universe conspires to help that person realize his dream.” One year into Grid, I can’t disagree.

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ne last thing: As my employees can attest, I think it’s incredibly important to prepare Philadelphia for the expiration of PECO rate caps on January 1, 2011. (Really, I can’t stop talking about it.) Next year, energy prices in our area will increase by as much as 30 percent. In coming issues, Grid will be shining a spotlight on the things we can do to prepare for this change— whether it’s making our homes more energy efficient or explaining alternative energy solutions.

copy editors

Andrew Bonazelli Patty Moran production artist

Lucas Hardison customer service

Mark Evans mark@gridphilly.com 215.625.9850 ext. 105 intern

Ariela Rose Cassie Cummins writers

Michael Boyette Bernard S. Brown Cassie Cummins Alli Katz Marisa McClellan Alex Mulcahy Ariela Rose Lee Stabert Char Vandermeer Samantha Wittchen photographers

Lucas Hardison Jessica Kourkounis illustrators

Alex Mulcahy Publisher alex@gridphilly.com

J.P. Flexner Melissa McFeeters published by

p.s. A few weeks ago we launched our blog, The Griddle, to keep you better informed about all things sustainable. Stop by gridphilly.com and let us know what you think!

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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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·

News

·

business

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r e c yc l i n g

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Food and more

TIGER Beat A U.S. Department of Transportation grant should mean big things for the city’s walkers and bikers by lee stabert

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he final weeks before spring—when the itch for the outdoors becomes borderline unbearable—is the perfect timing for this announcement: TIGER, The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery Discretionary Grant Program, has awarded our region $23 million in recovery money to be used towards the development of biking and walking trails. The Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia and the Pennsylvania Environmental Council (PEC) were instrumental in winning this money, working in concert with six counties and agencies in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. The project has been dubbed GREAT-PA/NJ (Generating Recovery by Enhancing Active Transportation in Pennsylvania and New Jersey), and major components include the completion of the Schuylkill River Trail and work on the East Coast Greenway. Enthusiasm for projects such as Schuylkill Banks—which hums daily with all sorts of activity, from athletes in training to families headed towards the Art Museum to eco-friendly commuters—shows the city’s appetite for innovative urban transportation solutions. This money is a tremendous opportunity to continue our region’s forward progress.

News

Alert

Isle of White

RetroFit Philly gives Philadelphians a chance to win free energy upgrades by lee stabert

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t seems impossible that, in a few short months, Philadelphians will be sweating through their shirts, but it’s true. Energy costs are sure to be a concern this summer, and small changes make a huge difference. This is the thrust behind RetroFit Philly’s Coolest Block Contest, an initiative sponsored by the City of Philadelphia, the Energy Coordinating Agency (ECA) of Philadelphia and the Dow Building & Construction business group. The winners will receive energy audits and white roofs for their entire block, free of charge. Cool roofs reflect the sun’s heat rather than transferring it to the home below. They are about 50 to 80 degrees cooler than typical asphalt roofs. Though they come in many colors, white is ideal because it most efficiently reflects the sun’s rays. Many Philadelphia neighborhoods are well-suit-

Prepare yourselves: In January 2011, electricity rates in Philadelphia will increase, if not skyrocket. Back in 1997, the Pennsylvania House of Representatives passed a deregulation measure that capped utility rates for consumers in preparation for allowing competition—or “Energy Choice”—in

pho to by M aria-J o sé V i ñas, AGU

ed for white roof installation—rowhomes with no- or low-slope roofs receive the most benefit from this technology. Residents of the winning block will also receive insulation and air sealing products that can reduce heating and cooling costs by as much as 30 percent. To participate, download an entry form from retrofitphilly.com, get signatures from your neighbors and return the form to the Energy Coordinating Agency (1924 Arch St.). Entry forms must be received by April 5. General information on cool roofs and entry rules are also available on their website. Contest aside, white roofs, proper insulation and air sealing are economically prudent ways to drastically reduce a home’s carbon footprint, and the subsequent utility bill—nobody likes an overworked air conditioner.

the market. PECO’s cap will expire increase by 29.7 percent (18.4 percent next year, but citizens in other areas for small businesses and 36.1 percent of the state are already feeling the for mid-size businesses). These rate heat from rising The caps for also take hikes make more important Foodies who love bills. their flowers should note: BethitKennett, head chefthan at Liberty PPL Electric Utilities, ever to retrofit and weatherize Hill Farm in Vermont willwhich give a services cooking demonstration at this year’s Flower Show.homes Liberty 25 Pennsylvanians, expired businesses. For information on Hillpercent Farm is aof working dairy farm that opens itsand doors to visitors interested in an immersive agritourism fresh, rustic,this locally-sourced cooking has inspired avisit flood January 1 ofexperience. this year.Kennett’s The company complicated set of changes, of national customers’ press, including features Gourmet Magazine and The New York Times. estimates monthly billsinwill puc.state.pa.us/utilitychoice.

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/ local business

Bite Marks

Katie Cavuto Boyle’s Healthy Bites fills a void in Graduate Hospital by lee stabert

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hey say one of the keys to a successful business is seeing a need, and then filling it. That is Katie Cavuto Boyle’s plan. Her newly opened Healthy Bites To-Go Market/Café looks to bring wholesome, locallysourced grab-and-go products to the Graduate Hospital neighborhood.

The area has some excellent spots for a casual dinner or snack, but they’re mostly bars specializing in ramped-up pub food. There is nowhere for eaters in this rapidly developing neighborhood to pick up a pint of local milk, a quick sandwich or lasagna to heat up at home. Cavuto Boyle, a licensed dietician and chef, started Healthy Bites three years ago, offering meal delivery, catering and nutrition consulting. She has always had a passion for healthy eating, but has become increasingly interested in sus6

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tainability, with a large focus on local and organic products. She knew many of her neighbors were going through similar transformations. “I’ve lived in this neighborhood for five years,” says Cavuto Boyle. “I’ve just been dying for something like this. I absolutely love this neighborhood, and we’re huge supporters of all the restaurants, but there’s nothing that you can just grab and go. And there are no little markets—it’s pretty difficult to grab something that’s healthy, local and sustainable.”

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Healthy Bites offers variations on certain staples—soup, chicken, fish, frittatas and lasagna—that change daily. They also serve breakfast and sandwiches. Cavuto Boyle teaches cooking classes every other week, and if you have at least six people, you can get a private session. After the class, everyone sits down to a family-style meal with wine. Since opening in mid-February, Cavuto Boyle has experienced a groundswell of support from the neighborhood. “We really want this to be a community experience,” she explains. “We’re getting to know everyone who walks in the door. This is just as much their market as it is ours. They let us know what they want to see on the shelves.” Seventy-five percent of the products in Healthy Bites’ market are locally sourced. All the dairy, milk, cheese and produce come from Lancaster County (through Lancaster Farm Fresh Co-op). They also carry local pastured eggs, poultry and bacon, Severino fresh pastas, Claudio’s cheese, Zahav hummus, Scoop ice creams and sorbets (made in Chester County), Otolith Sustainable Seafood, Wild Flour Bakery goods, Baker Street Bakery breads, BT Brownies, locally-sourced honey, One Village Coffee, and Burlap and Bean Coffee (a brand out of Newtown Square). As the weather warms, Healthy Bites will add outdoor seating and install planter boxes out front for herbs. They will also serve as a pickup spot for Lancaster Farm Fresh’s CSA. “The great thing about having the market and the café is that we’re really not wasting anything,” says Cavuto Boyle. “We get beautiful produce, and all the scraps get made into stock— we’ve made veggie stock every single day. We’ll also be composting, and using the compost for the herb garden.” ■

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→→ 2521 Christian St., 7 a.m. – 9 p.m. Mon. – ◘Fri.,

8 a.m. – 9 p.m. Sat., 8 a.m. – 8 p.m. Sun., 215-259-8646, healthybitesdelivery.com

ph ot os by luca s ha rd i s o n


Soap Dish

Spotted Hill Farm proves that size doesn’t matter by lee stabert

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onna Bowman’s farm isn’t very big, but neither are its primary inhabitants: a herd of miniature Nubian goats. They’re inquisitive, friendly little creatures, with long, floppy ears and prominent noses. Bowman breeds them, and uses their milk for the homemade soaps and lotions she sells through the farm’s website and at local farmers’ markets. Not all of her products contain goat milk, but they are all hand-crafted by Bowman on-site. Spotted Hill’s soaps, lotions and lip balms are all-natural, mild and smell lovely. (This writer has been using a bar for months and can’t imagine a return to commercial soap.) Running this farm—and this business—is the fulfillment of a dream for Bowman and her husband. When they hit their 50s, and the kids were finally grown up, they made

it a reality. They sold their house in Havertown and haven’t looked back. “I’ve enjoyed everything I’ve ever done, but this is where I belong,” says Bowman. “This is something we’ll do ’til we’re carried out of here.” In addition to providing milk—and amusement—the goats are slowly clearing the farm’s back woods, one nibble at a time. Those woods contain (shhhh!) a cache of morels, and on April 25, Spotted Hill will host Mushroom Madness, a benefit for the Boyertown Farmers’ Market featuring foraging and feasting. They also periodically invite the community to the farm for PASA (Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture) field days featuring local craftspeople, goods from local farmers and a chance for kids to interact with the animals. → Spotted Hill products are available at local farmers’ markets and also online at spottedhillfarm.com and at, 530 Colebrookdale Rd., Boyertown, 610-473-9637 (by appointment)

Bloom Times Love ’n Fresh Flowers is the place for locallygrown blossoms

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ennie Love, owner of the Mt. Airy floral boutique Love ’n Fresh Flowers, describes her business as “far from traditional.” Operated out of Love’s home studio and garden, Love ’n Fresh sells only flowers grown within a 50-mile radius of Philadelphia. In fact, Love grows most of them herself. Love was raised on a farm and has always had a special relationship with flowers. A couple of years ago, while volunteering at Weaver’s Way Farm, she began to entertain the idea of growing flowers professionally. She then spent two years in an intensive academic program at Longwood Gardens. She is now a certified horticulturalist and member of the Association of Specialty Cut Flower Growers (ASCFG). “Sustainability is a buzzword at the moment,” says Love. Many associate the word with farms and food, but Love believes sustainability is equally relevant to the floral industry, which is currently hampered by the use of toxic chemicals, unfair labor policies and high fossil fuel consumption. Local flowers, on the other hand, are sustainably produced, create jobs and forge a unique relationship between the consumer and the grower. Growing flowers locally also leads to beautified landscapes and increased biodiversity. “I hope my clients come to understand all these facets of locally-grown flowers,” says Love. “And that they are willing to support them.” —Cassie Cummins →→ Love ‘n Fresh Flowers has hours by

appointment only. Mixed bouquets are available for sale at area farmers’ markets and neighborhood businesses. Visit the website for a list of retail locations or to contact Love for an appointment. Germantown Ave. & Roumfort St., 215-4794585, lovenfreshflowers.com.

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/ profile

You’re a Green One GRINCH spurs change in Chestnut Hill

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by lee stabert

hestnut Hill might be one of the city’s most verdant neighborhoods, but it has a long way to go before becoming its greenest. Moving the Northwest Philly enclave closer to that goal is the mission of GRINCH (Green In Chestnut Hill), a community organization approaching its first birthday. GRINCH started with Amy Edelman, owner of the Night Kitchen Bakery on Germantown Avenue. A few years ago, Edelman decided she Association, Edelman partnered with both the wanted her business to be certified by the Green Mt. Airy Business Association and the ApothRestaurant Association. It was a long, exhaustive ecary Garden, another local business, to launch process, but with the help of a consultant, Night monthly seminars on composting, recycling Kitchen satisfied all the requirements. (The trick- and sustainability. They were incredibly welliest was eliminating Styrofoam; the bakery never attended, and showed that there was an appetite used it for any of their packaging, but the cake for change in the neighborhood. dummies in the window had to go.) Soon after, Edelman ran into Jennifer Reed, an “I realized as the process was going on that old friend. They got to talking about opportunities I wanted to reduce my carbon footprint,” says for expanding these sustainability initiatives to the Edelman. “And I realized that there were other whole neighborhood, not just business owners. businesses out there that wanted to as well.” Al- GRINCH was born. A few months later, fellow ready a member of the Chestnut Hill Business resident Alix Rabin came on board to help out.

From the beginning, their first priority was recycling. Germantown Avenue, Chestnut Hill’s main shopping thoroughfare, doesn’t have pedestrian recycling. At last year’s Garden Festival, GRINCH recruited a horde of high school students to patrol the Avenue, collecting recyclables from festivalgoers. They’ll do the same thing this year—and hope that a full-time, permanent solution is around the corner. GRINCH has also organized workshops with students from the Jenks School to teach them about recycling and reducing trash. In November, the organization hosted their first “Weird Waste Day,” an event that collected over 10,000 pounds of used electronics. It was so successful that they’re throwing another one on Saturday, April 10 (see event listings on p. 29 for details). In January, GRINCH teamed up with a few other neighborhood organizations for a Christmas tree recycling event. “We were worried about getting 100 to cover the cost of the woodchipper,” says Edelman. “We ended up getting 260 trees. It was the very first time we’d held that event, and we’re going to do it every single year.” Other upcoming plans include the addition of a GRINCH-engineered “Eco-Alley” to Chestnut Hill’s annual Garden Fest. Located on West Highland Avenue, this offshoot will feature green vendors and organizations (including Grid). Chestnut Hill has a bit of an uptight image— especially in comparison with its Southeast neighbor Mt. Airy, a longTop of time hotbed for community the Hill activism and environmenGrinch’s leadership (left talism (in no small part due to right): Alix to the incredibly influential Rabin, Amy and storied Weaver’s Way Edelman and Co-op). But that is changJennifer Reed ing, as young people and new businesses, lured by the beautiful historic homes and tree-lined streets, move in and start getting involved. GRINCH is hoping to be instrumental in guiding the neighborhood to a more sustainable future. As Rabin quipped, “This isn’t your grandmother’s Chestnut Hill.” ■

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→→ For news and upcoming events,

visit GRINCH’s blog at greeninchestnuthill.blogspot.com.

It’s April, which means it’s time to sign up for a CSA—many of the top ones fill up fast! Purchasing a share from a local, sustainable farm (or network of farms) guarantees you fresh, seasonal produce throughout the spring and summer months, at a great price. Visit the farms’ websites for information on pickup locations, prices and what you can expect in a typical share.

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Greensgrow Farm csa@greensgrow.org 215-427-2702 greensgrow.org

Landisdale Farm landisdalefarm@juno.com 717-865-6220 landisdalefarm.com

Red Hill Farm redhillfarm@osfphila.org 610-558-6799 osfphila.org

Keystone Farm mail@keystonefarmcsa.com 570-247-2550 keystonefarmcsa.com

Herrcastle Farm haeusa19@epix.net 717-284-3203 herrcastlefarm.com

Red Earth Farm redearthfarm@enter.net 570-943-3460 redearthfarm.org

Wimer’s Organics budwimer@gmail.com 717-445-4347 wimersorganics.com

Lancaster Farm Fresh Co-op csa@lancasterfarmfresh.com 717-656-3533 lancasterfarmfresh.com

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Bicycle Tubes The Issue: Recycling your bike blow-outs The Challenge: Spring is coming to Philadelphia, and the potholes are in full bloom. You hop on your bike for the first time since the Snowpocalypse hit and take one of those craters at full speed. Suddenly, you have a defunct bike tube or tire on your hands. Improperly handled stockpiles of tires can be breeding grounds for mosquitoes, harbors for vermin and targets for toxic fires. The rubber from tires is also suitable for recycling into other useful products. Bicycle tubes are a little trickier—they’re usually made from vulcanized rubber, which is cost-prohibitive to recycle on a large scale. The Solution: Since ground rubber from tires can be used in applications ranging from athletic field turf to asphalt to flooring, your best bet is to take your tire to someone who will recycle it. According to the Rubber Manufacturers Association’s 2007 Report, the demand for ground rubber increased 43 percent from 2005 to 2007. Of the half-dozen bicycle shops I contacted in Philadelphia, none of them accept used

tires or tubes for recycling. Luckily, Pep Boys, which accepts automotive tires, also accepts bicycle tires. As for tubes, recycling options in Philadelphia seem to be nonexistent, but Boulder-based Ecologic Designs (ecologicdesigns.com) partners with companies and communities to reclaim bike tubes and make them into new products. Of course, the most environmentally-friendly option for dealing with your blown-out tube is to patch and reuse it. It’s cheaper, less wasteful and easy to do. The Eco-Aware Consumer: The options are scarce, and determining the recycled content (if any) of a bicycle tire can be difficult. However, Greentyre makes a responsibly-manufactured, puncture-proof polyurethane tire. As for tubes, unless you go with a latex rubber tube—they’re made from a renewable resource, but are generally more expensive and need to be inflated more frequently—you’re limited to purchasing a new vulcanized rubber tube. ■

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Gardening the

issue

Growth Industry

Nic Esposito and a new generation of urban activists are starting in the garden by lee stabert

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nswering a question about his favorite things to grow is a challenge for Nic Esposito. After a few nods to his Italian heritage—eggplants, tomatoes—he settles on a response that speaks volumes about the work he is doing in his West Philadelphia community: “I love planting perennials,” he says with a smile. “It might make me sound lazy, but I love the idea of putting something in the ground—like rosemary or berry bushes— and seeing them grow back. It gives you a stake in where you are.”

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port r a it by j e s s ica k o u rko u n i s


green thumb

Nic Esposito poses with seedlings in PHS’ greenhouse at Weaver’s Way Farm

Esposito—a community gardener and innovative urban agriculture advocate—is by no means the only young Philadelphian working on the ground to revolutionize life in our city, but he is an excellent case study. Deeply devoted to his West Philly neighborhood and expansive in his vision for a more verdant and connected future, Esposito makes a compelling case for gardening and urban agriculture as the keys to unlocking a better way of life.

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sposito grew up in South Jersey, but his family’s roots are in Italian South Philadelphia. He had a conventional suburban upbringing—food came from the grocery store—but credits his politically progressive parents with giving him an open mind. “I was always in the outdoors,” he recalls. “I’m a writer, so I spent a lot of time writing poems in the woods.” After graduating with a degree in English from Rowan University, Esposito spent a few years as a nomad. From the get-go, he knew he wanted to do service. After turning down a Peace Corps commission, he signed up with AmeriCorps and spent 10 months in the NCCC (National Civilian Community Corps). Placed on a team based in California, he spent those months traveling around the country— mostly to hurricane-ravaged areas on the Gulf Coast. “Everywhere we went had a farm,” he says. “It was this serendipitous thing. Everywhere I ended up, I was able to volunteer on a farm.” His final project for NCCC would be transformative—Esposito’s team was sent to Danny Woo International District Community Garden in Seattle. It was his first experience with community gardening. “I guess there’s power in being an English major,” says Esposito. “I had great research skills. I started reading as many books as I could and went to a million workshops. I WWOOFed [an international network of organic farms offering room and board in exchange for labor] in Bolivia and Argentina, and eventually ended up at EarthShare Gardens in Lafayette, LA.” Esposito recalls one afternoon in —nic e sp o sito particular, sitting with friends in the Louisiana sun, packing CSA shares and chatting about everything from farming to philosophy. “I hadn’t felt that content in a long time,” he says. “After college, we all kind of run around, trying to figure out who we’re going to be, and where we’re gonna work. Farming melds the two parts of my personality; I want to work hard and I want to be part of something bigger than myself. The first time I grew something and ate it, I was hooked.” Around Christmas 2008, Esposito’s grandfather grew ill. He moved back to the area to be closer to his family, but also to tackle a long-term challenge. “You learn a lot traveling around,” he says. “But to do a real, sustainable project, you have to have a home base. Louisiana wasn’t the place for me—plus, there’s just something about Philadelphia.” [↘]

Farming melds the two parts of my personality; I want to work hard and I want to be part of something bigger than myself. The first time I grew something and ate it, I was hooked.

If you’re searching for an indication of where the sustainability movement is headed next, look no further than Esposito— flannel shirt, beard, muddy boots and all. The new urban activists are here, and they’re getting their hands dirty. Literally. A generational shift is underway, and it’s starting in the garden. This new crop of community leaders share the passion and mission of their forebears while embracing an exciting breed of pragmatism and socially-responsible entrepreneurship. They realize that creating a progressive future for our urban centers means making sustainable sense, but also economic sense. They still want to organize, educate and recycle, but they also want to grow things—viable markets, civic connections and, of course, food.

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Gardening

How the West Was Won

the

issue

He answered a Craigslist ad and moved into a house in West Philadelphia with raised beds in the backyard. His new roomates introduced him to Erica Smith, a relationship that would prove essential. His housemates had bought worms from Smith for composting, and heard she was working to establish a community gardening association in West Philly. Once Esposito and Smith hooked up, that project became the UC Green Gardening Association. “That was the beginning,” says Esposito. “From there, we scoured West Philadelphia looking for land.” Smith made a connection with the Woodland Cemetery Board of Directors, who wanted to install a community garden. Meanwhile, the pair also began a partnership with the Enterprise Center; the organization had just secured the rights to a plot of SEPTA land at 46th and Market. By last July, things were moving forward at the Woodland Cemetery community garden and 22 volunteers were hard at work building raised beds. By pooling their resources, Smith and Esposito have become a force: “With Erica, it’s probably one of the best working relationships I’ve ever had with somebody,” explains Esposito. “The partnership is very organic. We aren’t getting paid for any of this.” Esposito did eventually get a job, running the Urban Nutrition Initiative’s garden at University High School. He started to notice some inherent weaknesses in the current urban agriculture models. In recent years, the emphasis has been primarily on education and volunteerism—both great things—but the next step is to make these plots economically viable. “UNI was amazing,” says Esposito. “It really showed me what it is to develop youth in the garden, and what it is to run an urban 14

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garden. We sold to farmers’ markets and made money. But we give the youth all these skills—green building and growing—and they get out and there’s no job market for gardening. So, that’s what we’re trying to make a model for at the Enterprise site by putting together a cooperative garden.” This experiment—dubbed the Walnut Hill Community Farm & Growers Co-op—has been kick-started by the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society’s Community Growers Alliance (CGA) grant, an innovative funding program for small, entrepreneurial growers—from backyard gardeners with a surplus of cucumbers to community gardens hoping to become self-sufficient. The Walnut Hill Farm will replace an old staging ground for the El at 46th and Market that’s currently a dirt lot. “Basically, through the CGA grant, we’re going to have the resources to set up a farm, and sell at farmers’ markets,” says Esposito. “And that’s how workers will get paid. It’s a different model for youth—no grants or stipends. We need to create jobs. You can tell someone to eat healthy, but if they don’t have a job to be able to buy the food or a stake in that community, they’re not gonna get to do it.” Like many from this new school of activism, Esposito talks a lot about the economics of change—though it’s not about getting rich. It’s about adopting an entire lifestyle—in the spheres of both work and play—that results in a vibrant market for socially-responsible goods and services. The only way the movement can become truly sustainable is if it can survive outside the Petri dish of non-profits and grants. These changes are happening nationwide, and Esposito gives a hat-tip to President Obama. “A community organizer becoming President was huge,” he explains. “I feel like I can go into meetings with higher-ups of the real estate department of SEPTA and Enterprise—everyone is in suits, and I’m in my flannel shirt and dirty boots—and be taken seriously. It’s no longer, ‘Oh no, here come the tree-huggers again.’” Esposito works with neighborhood teens to install the Woodland Cemetery Children’s Garden, summer 2009.

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hile devoting time and energy to his neighborhood’s green spaces, Esposito is also working towards an MFA in writing. His main project is a novel about four people in West Philadelphia establishing an urban homestead. He also writes a blog for local band Hoots & Hellmouth’s website (bandmember Rob Berliner is a current roommate) called “Notes from the Urban Homestead.” His background as a writer makes him an eloquent and engaging advocate for a new way of living: “So much of the American narrative has been about going out to the individual,” he says. “Now we’re coming back towards the group. And we’re realizing it’s not such a scary thing to be close to people, to rely on them.” When asked about his vision for Philadelphia, 10 years down the road, Esposito gets excited. First of all, he hopes compost becomes the new recycling. “I was just in Toronto,” he says. “The fact that they have a green bucket, a blue bucket and a trash bucket in front of everyone’s house blew me away. We waste so many resources. They call compost ‘black gold,’ and it really is.” He also envisions the rise of an urban homestead movement. These self-contained enclaves would feature small-scale livestock, gardens and traditional energy sources such as woodburning stoves, showing that a style of traditional, sustainable ph ot os by La n Di n h


living is possible—and economically viable—within a modern city. “There have to be zoning changes,” says Esposito. “We need chickens in Philadelphia. They had them 50 years ago. My grandfather kept chickens at his house at 7th and Pierce. We also need bees. Bees increase organic pollination exponentially, while chickens eat waste and create more fertilizer.” Change is always complicated, and Esposito isn’t naïve about the challenges that come with working in diverse, economically- disparate urban neighborhoods. “We need to take back the conversation about gentrification,” he explains. “It’s a double-edged sword for a lot of activists. I see this malaise—people get so caught up not knowing what to do in a community that a lot of good ideas fall by the wayside. Gentrification at its simplest is an economic issue, and, at its most important, it’s a moral issue. I want to make a community better and I want the people here to make it better with me. And while people squabble over what’s the right thing to do, big corporations are coming in with tons of capital and buying up land, putting up fast food restaurants.” The only way to impede fast food and agribusiness is to replace them with something better. After all, people have to eat. Food initiatives have amazing potential as vehicles for progressive, innovative thinking—growing, cooking and eating in a thoughtful, nourishing way is making a comeback. “The baby boomer generation did a lot in terms of civil rights, and opening people’s minds,” says Esposito. “But, man, they were sleeping when it came to what they were putting in their bodies. I was looking at pictures from when my family used to own land in Mt. Laurel. There’s an image of my Uncle Danny—he was a total South Philly guy, played strings for the Quaker City String Band in the Mummers Parade— and I see a greenhouse. I couldn’t believe it. He kept bees and had a greenhouse. My grandparents grew vegetables in the front yard. What were my parents doing this whole time?” Every new movement is treated with a degree of skepticism—Esposito even hears it from his own family—so it’s important to remind people that these aren’t new ideas, they’re old ideas. “Sometimes people think it’s a fad,” says Esposito. “I tell them that community gardening has been going on in Philly since 1681. Penn designed this city around community gardens. He built it around orchards. He called it a green town.” While this movement might take root in the garden, to be truly sustainable it has to become a broader ethos—one that impacts every area of your life. “I don’t get disheartened,” says Esposito. “At the end of the day, when you pick some food from your garden and invite a few people over—and you have time to do it because you’re not overwhelmed with bills and work and all that stuff—it’s a better way to live. People are realizing that.” ■

Fourth in a Limited edition • available mid-march 2010 exitseries.com • FLying Fish brewing co. • cherry hiLL , nj

+

→→ On April 18, Esposito will give a talk on

the ethics of organic gardening at the Ethical Society (1906 South Rittenhouse Sq.).

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15


Gardening the

issue

Pot Luck

Repurposed planters go from junk to germination by char vandermeer

W

hat do a trash-picked drawer, a broken watering can and an empty Chinese take-out carton have in common? Planter potential. If you’re looking to start a container garden, but don’t feel like spending a small fortune on pots, there’s nothing wrong with appropriating an eclectic collection of repurposed containers to get you started. Take a trash night tour and you’ll be surprised by what you find. Grab a drawer or two from an abandoned bedroom set and then raid your basement for leftover water-based paint, or swing by a paint store and browse through their abandoned custom paint shelves—you’ll find plenty of wacky colors on the cheap. For additional style points, find a funky drawer pull and affix it to your new masterpiece. Then, drill a few drainage holes in the bottom of the drawer and line the drawer with a layer of plastic, taking care to pull the plastic through the drainage holes, and then perforate it. The goal is to create adequate drainage

house special: Like the paperclip, the Chinese takeout carton is a marvel of functional design. It’s always painful to throw them away, and now you won’t have to. First, polish off every last scrap of fried rice or General Tso’s, then wash the containers thoroughly. One container will be used for your pot, the other for the catch tray.

16

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while protecting the base of your planter. Shallow-rooted plants, like lettuce and radishes, will work well in this sort of system. There are just so many options. Even galvanized watering cans kick the bucket. No worries: just drill a few holes in the bottom, fill ’em up with dirt and a plant—basil is a nice option—and, presto, landfill fodder becomes the source for endless batches of pesto.

Transform Take-out Containers 

3

1

2

5

4 6

To create the pot, 1 fold the cover flaps down inside the body of the carton. 2 Poke a few drainage holes into the bottom. To elevate your carton and keep it from resting in a pool of water,

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3 insert four quilting pins with large beaded heads into the bottom edges of the carton. 4 Seal the drain holes and pin entry points with hot glue to maintain the waterproofing.

To transform your second container into the base, 5 unfold the carton and lay it flat. Draw a line one-and-a-half inches outside the base square. Cut along the line, leaving a rectangle.

Lop off the four corners on a diagonal, to create an octagon. 6 Fold the container upwards to fashion a tray. In honor of your pot’s lineage, use it to start a nice, hot chili pepper.

illus t r at ions by j .p.fl exn er


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17


Gardening the

issue

Seed Money

When it comes to seeds, Kim Massare does the work for you by char vandermeer

A

few years ago, frustrated by the lack of heirloom varieties available at local garden centers, South Philly gardener Kim Massare went on a seed catalogue shopping spree. She lit up her rowhouse’s basement with grow lights and brought down all those non-recyclable plastic containers she’d been collecting— Startin’ Yer Garten was born. As any gardener can tell you, it’s easy to plant too many seeds—especially when your garden is, at best, a postage stamp with limited sun. Over-planting has an upsetting side effect: having to discard those carefully nurtured seedlings. Looking to offset the cost of her investment and rescue her extra plants 18

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from the trash bin, Massare posted an ad for them on Craigslist. The response was immediate and enthusiastic. Until a recent “sad scooter accident,” Massare delivered the sets herself. Now, fledgling gardeners (who receive regular updates on their adopted chil-

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dren) pick up their seedlings once they’re ready for the outside world. “Over the weeks I’d send emails to people with pictures of their plants,” says Massare, who dispenses free gardening advice along with her seedlings. “It was really fun to finally meet these people. A lot of them were just getting started gardening and we chatted, with them saying, ‘I have this kind of space. What do you think would be best for that?’” Massare features varieties that are hardy and grow well in Philly’s climate. In fact, many of her seeds are saved from the previous year’s harvest, ensuring that the healthiest plants and most vigorous producers become future candidates for Startin’ Yer Garten. She carefully hardens off her seedlings—a labor-intensive process that, over the course of several weeks, involves trudging the plants from the basement to her yard to gradually expose them to sun, wind and variable temperatures. This delicate procedure makes for stronger, more disease-resistant plants and isn’t something novice gardeners are generally eager to undertake. Tomatoes are her bestsellers and favorites include the famous San Marzano canning tomato, meaty Pruden’s Purples, zesty Green Zebras, and an assortment of pear and cherry tomatoes. Her special “gravy pack” features basil, parsley and tomatoes. Massare offers a variety of other seedlings as well, including peppers, kohlrabi and several different herbs. Her personal favorite? Definitely the kohlrabi. “It’s a great early spring vegetable,” she explains. “It really does look like it’s from another planet.” ■

+

→→ Startin‘ Yer Garten

startin.yer.garten@gmail.com; Massare’s seedlings cost between $2 and $6.


Gardening the

issue

City Snakes

Gardeners, meet your new best friend: the brown snake by bernard s. brown

D

on’t freak out—it’s just a snake. It’s a really tiny snake, totally harmless. The worst it can do is poop on you. ¶ Sure, you weren’t expecting to find a real live snake in West Philly (or North Philly, or Northwest Philly), roaming the soul patch of green that passes for your backyard. Worms, yes; slugs, unfortunately, yes; maybe a few other of your standard garden bugs; but a snake? The pencil-sized, beige snake with two rows of little dark spots down the back has a name, the “northern brown snake” (Storeria dekayi for the scientists out there), and, unlike other native snakes in our region, it seems to thrive in cities. No one is quite sure why they do so well around urban greenery—it might be that slugs, their favorite prey, are particularly common in

our vacant lots and gardens—but herpetologists have been documenting them in the big cities of the Northeast since the late 1800s. Brown snakes help their cause by staying out of sight, hunting their slimy quarry in thick vegetation and snuggling up under rocks, boards, old lawn furniture or just about any other object that might warm up in the sun.

Garden Tenders If you don’t have a garden of your own, or just want to get more involved in your community, the Pennsylvania Horticulture Society’s Garden Tenders program is a great place to start. Operated under the Philadelphia Green program, Garden Tenders is a training course for community groups, non-profit organizations and individuals interested in starting community gardens on vacant lots, in parks and around schools and churches. The program starts with “Basic Training”—upon completion, graduates are invited to attend additional workshops. →→ Wednesdays, March 17 – May 5, Saturday, April 17 at PHS, 100 N. 20th St., 5th floor.

To register, visit phsonline.org/phlgreen/gardentenders.html. For more information, contact Sally McCabe at gardentenders@pennhort.org or 215-988-8846.

Gardeners find their brown snakes eventually, as do the neighborhood children—two demographics that tend to spend a significant amount of time digging and playing close to the ground. Most other Philadelphians don’t know there’s anything as wild as a snake living behind their rowhouse; indeed, the ophidiophobes would be happier not knowing.  There’s probably no snake more harmless than the brown snake. It will puff up a bit to look big and tough, but it’s hard to look threatening at 10 inches long (they’re born at about three inches, and a brown snake longer than 12 is a bruiser). Its teeth aren’t big enough to break human skin, and it packs no venom. Only soft, gooey creatures fear the brown snake, and that, at least, should endear them to the Philadelphian striving to protect flowers and veggies from the slow but ravenous slug hordes. If you have no garden, but would still like to meet a brown snake, start looking in May. They spend their winters huddled together in communal hibernation dens, but by late spring they’ve spread out to hunt, get lucky and have their itty-bitty babies. Search in a community garden or vacant lot, and check under surface objects with a bigger footprint than a piece of office paper. I’ve had luck with everything from railroad ties to discarded clothing. Always do the snake the courtesy of moving it out of the way before you put its roof back down—it will find its way back, and we don’t want anyone to get smooshed. ■

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→→ phillyherping.blogspot.com

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19


GRID ad Land:Layout 1 2/24/2010 1:12 PM Page 1

Gardening the

issue

Popular Mechanics A

ll gardeners use potting soil,” says mark Highland, president of Organic Mechanics. “Why not use a local product?” Founded in 2006, the company, located just outside of Coatesville, makes a variety of soils for every level of planter—from large organic farms to botanical gardens to recreational gardeners.

how

does your garden grow? This month at The Schuylkill Center: Native Planting for Urban Spaces April 14 / 6:30pm Learn how native plants can turn your urban garden into an oasis for wildlife. Hosted by Art in the Age 116 North 3rd Street, Philadelphia Native Plant Sale April 24 and 25 Members’ Preview on April 23rd Our 6th Annual Native Plant Sale features 100 species of trees, shrubs, wildflowers, grasses, ferns, and vines. The Schuylkill Center offers: Land Restoration Environmental Art Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation Environmental Education for Children and Adults

8480 Hagy’s Mill Road Philadelphia, PA 19128 Tel.215.482.7300 For more information about these and other programs:

www.schuylkillcenter.org 20

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Most commercial potting soil uses a large amount of peat, an accumulation of nutrient-rich, partially decayed organic material. Most peat used in the United States has to be imported. “Peat is a natural resource harvested by big trucks and vacuums in Canada and then shipped down here,” explains Highland. Organic Mechanics takes peat out of the equation. Instead, they use three primary ingredients for their potting soil: compost, coconut coir (a fibrous byproduct of the coconut industry) and worm castings. This combination makes for a rich soil that— with the exception of the coconut fibers— is produced almost entirely in the region. The compost they use is from a company just a few miles from their warehouse and is carefully monitored both for moisture content and sourcing. The coconut fiber, while primarily imported from India, is shipped compacted, expanding to five times its original size when it arrives at Organic Mechanics. “We’re using two products with a combined carbon footprint smaller than peat,” says Highland. “It retains moisture longer and is healthier overall.” Healthy soil is a passion for Highland. “I used to have plant blindness: that’s a shrub, that’s a tree, that’s some grass. But as I started learning about horticulture, I discovered that the health of the plant is ultimately connected to soil health.” After getting a B.A. from the University of Florida in environmental horticulture, Highland worked for a landscape construction company in California. He eventually came back east to earn an M.S. in horticulture from the University of Delaware and began focusing on what makes soil healthy. In 2006, he launched Organic Mechanics, using a nickname he got during his undergrad days. At first, the company had only one product— the culmination of years of research and hard work. For the past four years, Highland has concentrated on expanding the product line

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A local company forsakes peat by alli katz

and the business. Organic Mechanics now has three products and sells their wares all along the East Coast, from Maine to Virginia, and as far west as Chicago and the Great Lakes. Using local baggers, the company keeps its carbon footprint down and maintains the local connection, ensuring that their affiliates in other states hold up to the company’s high standards. Organic Mechanics’ goods can be found at Greenable in Northern Liberties, Primex Garden Center in Glenside, at Whole Foods and in other natural food stores across the city. It’s not just the soil that makes Highland proud—he loves educating people about gardening. “Good workshop days are the best,” he says. “People go home excited about organic gardening and starting their own compost.” He wants people to know that there’s a better way to grow things. “It’s not harder or more expensive,” he explains. “It’s just a different way of thinking about gardening.” ■

+

→→ organicmechanicsoil.com, 610-692-7404

ph ot os by luca s ha rd i s o n


Planting a garden is a delicate dance. throughout the season, as some plants enter, others fade, destined for a dinner plate or a lunchbox. some do better on brisk spring mornings, others crave the stiing heat and humidity of August in Philadelphia. What follows is a guide to planting from seed. With a bit of planning, your plot (however large or small) will spend the next few months in a perpetual state of renewal– constantly offering up an array of delicious things to eat.

Based on the Philadelphia Planting Guide from Penn State Cooperative Extension. Questions? call the Garden Hotline: 215-471-2200 ext. 116.

beans beets black eyed peas bok choy cabbage carrots celery collards corn cucumbers garlic greens leeks lettuce lima beans melons okra onions parsley peanuts peas potatoes pumpkins radishes salad greens shallots spinach squash swiss chard turnips watermelons

march

aPril

may

June

July

auguSt

SePt

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/recipes

recipes and photos by marisa mcclellan foodinjars.com

Rhub Awakening

C

ome spring, we local eaters are deeply hungry for regionallygrown produce beyond cold-loving Brussels sprouts and storage apples, potatoes and onions. Sadly, with a stinging chill remaining in the air, summer berries, stone fruit and corn (oh corn!) are still a long way away. Happily, there’s one plant that starts appearing earlier than all the rest, and with its brilliant color and tart flavor, it will give your taste buds the zing they’ve been longing for. Rhubarb typically appears in April, unfurling wide leaves as the stalks grow tall. It comes in hues ranging from a rosy green all the way to vivid crimson (hothouse rhubarb is typically darker in color than its outdoor cousins). Take care to avoid the leaves—they’re toxic when ingested. Most sellers trim the  stalks before bringing their rhubarb to market, so it’s rare to encounter the leaves. One particular pleasure of rhubarb is that it is tremendously versatile. It can bring a delicate tanginess to a main dish, be roasted down into a juicy, tart compote (perfect for stirring into yogurts or piling on toast) or be simmered with sugar and water into a bright, flavorful syrup (drizzled into sparkling water, it’s the ideal springtime cooler). 22

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Roasted Rhubarb Compote 1 ½ 1 2

pound of rhubarb, cut into 2-3 inch lengths cup maple sugar orange, zested and juiced tbsp. butter

 Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Combine rhubarb, maple sugar, orange zest and juice in a large mixing bowl. Toss to combine. ˜˜Butter a large baking dish and pour the rhubarb into it, arranging the pieces to lie in a single layer. ˜˜Roast for 15 to 20 minutes, until the rhubarb pieces are tender. Serve over ice cream, stirred into yogurt or spooned onto toast.

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Rhubarb Syrup 2 ½ cups chopped rhubarb 1 ½ cups sugar 1 cup water

˜˜Combine all the ingredients in a saucepan. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat and cook for approximately 10 minutes, until the rhubarb has slumped and released its color into the water and sugar. Remove from heat. ˜˜Line a fine mesh strainer with cheesecloth and place it over a bowl. Pour the cooked rhubarb into the cheesecloth—the syrup will run into the bowl below and the solids will remain in the strainer. ˜˜After letting it strain for 15 minutes, gather up the corners of the cheesecloth to create a bundle of rhubarb solids. Give it a gentle squeeze, working the last drops of syrup into the bowl. Discard the cheesecloth bundle. ˜˜Allow the syrup to cool for an hour prior to use. Store in a resealable jar or bottle; keep refrigerated.


Pork Tenderloin and Rhubarb Sauce 1 4 2 1 ½  ¼ ¼

pork tenderloin, cleaned of any silver skin tbsp. olive oil, divided cups chopped rhubarb (approximately 4-5 stalks) cups chopped red onion cup brown sugar cup apple cider vinegar salt and pepper

˜˜Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Heat two tablespoons of olive oil in a large, oven-proof skillet over high heat. Season your pork tenderloin

Gussied-Up Tabbouleh [ serves 8 ]

(Meadow Run Farms sells a particularly good one) with salt and pepper. Place the tenderloin in the skillet and brown on all sides. Once it’s browned, place the pan in the oven and cook 10 to 12 minutes, until the internal temperature reaches 150 degrees. ˜˜Heat the remaining two tablespoons of oil in another skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions and cook for four to five minutes, until they’ve begun to brown. Add the chopped rhubarb and stir to combine. Add the vinegar and sugar, and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Reduce heat to medium and let cook until it relaxes

into a chunky sauce, stirring frequently. Add a splash of water if it appears to be thickening too quickly (it will thicken further once it’s removed from the heat). ˜˜Remove the tenderloin from the oven and, using tongs, place it on a cutting board. Tent with foil and let rest for five to 10 minutes (internal temperature will climb an additional five to 10 degrees during resting). Slice into medallions and serve with the rhubarb sauce spooned on top. This sauce also pairs well with pan roasted chicken. ■

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by dynise balcavage, urbanvegan.net

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hen I first became a vegetarian, tabbouleh was one of the few dishes in my culinary repertoire. I recently updated this Middle Eastern staple—beloved for its pairing of fresh vibrant herbs with sweet, chewy bulgur. I’ve added a bit of lemon zest to brighten the flavor, and instead of soaking the bulgur in water, I soak it in veggie broth for an added layer of flavor. ¶ Tabbouleh is classic for a reason— it’s easy to make, tasty, frugal and healthy. What more could you ask for? 1 1½ 1

cup dry bulgur cup vegetable broth small bunch of Italian parsley, chopped (about 1 cup) 1 small bunch of mint, chopped (about 1 cup) 3 cloves of garlic, minced 2-3 hothouse tomatoes, chopped 1 small onion or small bunch of scallions, finely chopped 1/3 cup grated carrot or carrot pulp leftover from juicing (optional) 1 small organic lemon, juiced and zested a pr il 20 10

4

tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil salt and pepper to taste

Optional additions: finely chopped black olives, capers, raisins, toasted pine nuts or sunflower seeds

˜˜In a medium bowl, soak the bulgur in broth for 30 minutes. ˜˜Mix the remaining ingredients in a large bowl. ˜˜Stir the plumped bulgur into the ingredients in the large bowl. Chill or serve at room temperature. ■

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23


/buy local

Club Box

Mugshots makes buying local even easier

M

Green Cuisine

Greenwood Kitchen makes tasty snacks that everyone can enjoy by ariela rose

F

or eight years, Jaynel Hollis struggled with abdominal pains, nausea, headaches and fatigue. There was no explanation, until she discovered she was gluten-intolerant. She set out on a mission to provide others who suffer from food allergies with gluten-free and vegan food made with local, organic ingredients, establishing Greenwood Kitchen and Bakeshop. “I wanted to give people a safe haven where they didn’t have to worry about the kitchen being contaminated with items that were not gluten-free,” says Hollis. What began as a line of raw snacks has flourished into a full-fledged baking operation run from the comfort of Hollis’ home. She mans the kitchen while her husband brings the treats to local farmers’ markets. The two-person operation works rigorously to fill orders received through the bakery’s Etsy.com shop and supply products for the 18 stores that distribute Greenwood Kitchen goods. Hollis’ food—including customer favorites like raw walnut fig granola and sun-dried tomato basil bread—is available at local shops such as Milk & Honey, Pumpkin Market, the 24

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Fair Food Farmstand and Whole Foods. “When we can’t get an ingredient organic, we get it local,” says Hollis. “Either one or the other, but both is definitely the best.” The packaging, designed by Hollis’ husband, is as carefully thought-out as the ingredients. Items sold on Etsy.com are packed in compostable wood cellulose fiber bags, while those sold in stores will eventually come in biodegradable rice paper bags. Hollis hopes to finalize a brick and mortar location for Greenwood Kitchen within the next year. →→ Visit thegreenwoodkitchen.com for distri-

bution locations, menus and Hollis’ recipe blog; order online at jaynelhollis.etsy.com

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ugshots Coffeehouse and Café has a deep commitment to local food, and their buying club is a logical extension of that philosophy. The weekly club is a simple way for customers to purchase food straight from the farm. The club—which began modestly two years ago at Mugshots’ Manayunk location— has now extended to Fairmount, serving the café’s loyal base of customers. “It started out with a small group,” says Mugshots co-owner Jill Fink. “Then we received a grant from the Merchant Fund to help the program grow.” A weekly newsletter, What’s Sprouting, is sent out each Sunday to those who register on Mugshots’ website (mugshotscoffeehouse. com). Customers can follow the order form link and select items they’d like based on what local farmers have produced that week. Categories include produce, dairy, poultry, vegan treats and locally-baked breads. “Ultimately, I think our customers understand and appreciate what we do because their food is coming from real people and not a factory farm somewhere,” says Fink. The ordering process runs from Sunday until Tuesdays at 2 p.m., though some items, like meat and raw dairy, must be ordered by Monday. Once the orders have been completed, employees box them for customers to pick up on Friday or Saturday at either location. “I love handing people their boxes with these beautiful carrots and turnips and beets sticking out from the top,” says Fink. “Being able to buy those things that have the greens still attached makes you have a connection with the earth.” —Ariela Rose →→ 110 Cotton St., Manayunk,

6:30 a.m. – 8 p.m. Mon. – Thurs., 6:30 a.m. – 6 p.m. Fri., 8 a.m. – 6 p.m. Sat. & Sun., 215-482-3964. →→ 2100 Fairmount Ave., Philadelphia, 6:30 a.m. – 10 p.m. Mon. – Fri, 7:30 a.m. – 10 p.m. Sat., 7:30 a.m. – 8 p.m. Sun., 267-514-7145


/in season Philadelphia University RECIPIENT OF THE USGBC AWARD 2009 MASTER OF SCIENCE IN SUSTAINABLE DESIGN A COLLABORATIVE, MULTIDISCIPLINARY LEARNING EXPERIENCE

Leeks

“The principle of sustainability is reshaping the way we think about the world, encouraging

H

aving grown up in a leek-less household, I find them endlessly intriguing—in no small part due to their resemblance to obese scallions. But leeks are so much more than portly onions; they have an amazing rich, mellow flavor and a dynamic range of textures, depending on how they’re cooked. ¶ A member of the Alliaceae family, which also includes onions, garlic, ramps and elephant garlic, among others, leeks have a long and storied tradition in Europe. They are one of the national emblems of Wales, and in France they are ubiquitous. One of the reasons for leeks’ popularity is their strong constitution. Many varieties can survive in very cold ground through the winter months. A vendor at a recent Piazza Winter Farmers’ Market told me that his French leeks actually get sweeter the lower the temperature drops. There is really only one challenge to working with leeks—the grit. When you slice open a leek, its concentric rings look a bit like the cross-section of a tree. Because of the way they grow, the individual layers can trap dirt. Fortunately, there is a simple trick for eliminating the problem. This method works if you’re using leeks in any sort of chopped form (as is the case in most recipes). Just fill a mixing bowl with cool water, chop your leeks (only the white and pale green portions are edible) and dump them in. Using

your hands, separate the rings. The leeks float, but after a few minutes all the sediment sinks to the bottom. Now, all you need to do is skim the cleaned slices out of the water, and you’re good to go. The most wonderful thing about leeks is their versatility. They can play the part of aromatic in stews, soups and braises, but they can also step to center stage as the featured player. The saucy goodness of leeks slow-cooked in butter and white wine make a wonderful pairing with pasta. (Bacon wouldn’t be a bad invite to that party either.) Cooked gratin style with gruyere and cream, they make a delightful side dish for roasted or grilled meats. Tried-andtrue preparations include potato leek soup (a great way to use up those storehouse tubers) and quiche (leeks are lovely in any egg dish). —Lee Stabert

us to improve the way we design, build and live in the 21st century”

— Rob Fleming, Program Director Become proficient in Green Building Materials, Energy Efficiency, Construction Systems and Sustainable Design

VISIT

www.PhilaU.edu/greengrid

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Photography by Tom Crane & Dean Gazzo

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A Place of My Own: The Architecture of Daydreams

by Michael Pollan, penguin,

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The End of the Line (2009)

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he end of the line is a disturbing portrait of what commercial fishing technology (paired with an increasing consumer appetite) has wrought in our seas over the last 50 years. According to Robert Murray’s film, global, edible fishing stocks will be exhausted by 2048. This is a film about overfishing, plain and simple. Other issues confronting our global fish populations (pollution, decreasing water quality, disease spread from farmed fish) are only mentioned briefly. That focus gives the film a tight, logical momentum. The hero of our story is Charles Clover, former Environment Editor of The Daily Telegraph in London, a man with enough heart and gravitas to serve as the film’s emotional center. The End of the Line was inspired by Clover’s book of the same name, and throughout the proceedings we return to him as he discusses international regulation efforts, illuminates shocking statistical predictions and pesters world famous sushi restaurant Nobu about serving blue fin tuna, a species he likens to white rhino or snow leopard in its proximity to extinction. The End of the Line has a truly global scope—from the devastating effects of the dwindling cod population in Nova Scotia (what does a community do when the motivation for settling there disappears?) to scarcity in West Africa, where fishing rights sold to corporate interests are devastating local fisherman, to the demise of the centuries-old bluefin tuna fishing tradition in the Mediterranean. There is one graphic in particular, showing the spread of commercial tuna fishing since 1952, that underscores the staggering, widespread nature of this crisis. If the film has a weakness, it’s an overreliance on dramatic music and swooping action shots. Murray’s message is scary enough without the menace of bombastic B-movie swells. There is also a bit of a conflict between the onslaught of dead fish shots, meant to evoke disgust and horror, and the film’s subsequent call to treasure traditional fishing practices and rescue the communities that depend on them—all fishermen kill fish. Murray also doesn’t do too much naming of names (Nobu, Mitsubishi, the world’s top bluefin buyer, and communist officials in China who fabricated yield numbers are the notable exceptions), leaving the film with few clear villains. The End of the Line is an intensely sad film, and also an important one. The sea sustained mankind for millennia, and in the last 50 years we have wreaked havoc on this vital ecosystem. Mankind has to change the way we fish—and the way we eat—if we hope to rescue our oceans from the brink. —Lee Stabert →→ This film is available on DVD (including through Netflix).

For information, visit endoftheline.com.

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id you think we could get through an entire issue of Grid without mentioning Michael Pollan in our media section? Maybe next month. Best-known for his work on food politics, Michael Pollan’s second book, A Place of My Own (1998, reissued in 2008), focuses on architecture and building, documenting his efforts to construct the titular place of his own. By his own admission, Pollan was not a handyman when he undertook this project. “Apart from eating, gardening, short-haul driving, and sex, I generally prefer to delegate my commerce with the physical world to specialists,” he writes. Faced with a seemingly shrinking house—his wife was expecting their first child when he began the book—and an impulse to escape from the abstractions of writing to work in the “real world,” Pollan begins to build. Pollan immerses himself in some serious reading to prepare himself (it seems he’s not particularly good at avoiding words), and he hires two people to help him: an architect, Charlie, who is able to help him imagine what this building will look like, and Joe, his gifted but contrarian contractor who happens to think of architects as clueless intellectuals. Tension, and occasional comedy, ensue. At the core of this book, and really all of Pollan’s books, is a discussion of how humans relate to nature. His answer? In the 20th century, not particularly well. Though he had approached construction as a way to escape abstractions, he found that architects, informed by a post-modern sensibility, had been seeking abstraction. Just his luck! Pollan excels at devouring scores of books and then, with the help of some hands-on experience, constructing a coherent narrative from them. While he was unable to perfectly square his little house, he did build it, and his insights are always on the level. —Alex Mulcahy


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APR

07

Mar

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Artist, writer, educator and activist Subhankar Banerjee’s resume is full of projects that raise awareness about the issues that threaten the well-being of our planet. His focus on indigenous human rights and land conservation in the Arctic has resulted in efforts such as the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. He has received honors such as the Greenleaf Artist Award from the United Nations Environment Programme and a National Conservation Achievement Award from the National Wildlife Foundation. Banerjee will share his experiences at this free lecture.

PHS Workshop: Divide and Conquer

Get more out of your garden by propagating the plants you already have. Meadowbrook Farm general manager John Story will show you which types of root systems have to be divided, what plants can be layered and how to get the most out of both common and unusual plants. You may end up with enough new plants to start a whole new garden!

→→ Apr. 7, 7 p.m., Temple University’s

→→ Mar. 25 or 27, 10 a.m. – 12 p.m.,

$25 members, $30 non-members, Meadowbrook Farm, 1633 Washington Ln., Abington Township, 215-988-8869, register at phsonline.org.

Mar

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→→ Mar. 29, 1 – 4 p.m., Temple University’s Am-

bler Campus Learning Center Auditorium. To register, send an e-mail with your name, title and name of organization to Judy Shatz at judy.shatz@temple.edu.

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Tree Tenders Basic Training: Spring Sessions

Join the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources TreeVitalize program this spring and help spread the benefits trees bring everyone. The free three-part series includes training in Tree Biology, Urban Stresses on Trees, Tree Identification, Basic Tree Pruning and Root Care, and Tree Planting and Community Organizing. The labor intensive program is open to those ages 16 and up. →→ Thurs. Apr. 1, 8 and 15, 6 – 9 p.m., Oak Lane

Day School, 137 Stenton Ave., Blue Bell or Tues. Apr. 13, 20 and 27, 6 – 9 p.m., Llanerch Presbyterian Church, Lansdowne Rd. & East Park Rd., Havertown. To register, visit phsonline.org or call 215-988-8844.

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Caribou Migration I, 86x68 inches, 2002

APR 10

Informational Workshop: Financing Opportunities for Green Infrastructure

Hosted by the Temple-Villanova Sustainable Stormwater Initiative (T-VSSI), the workshop aims to supply municipal officials and others in the area with in-depth information about federal and state green infrastructure programs (including those dealing with stormwater, alternative energy, green buildings and energy conservation).

apr

Subhankar Banerjee Lecture at Tyler School of Art

Philly Spring Clean Up

Last year Philly’s Annual Spring Clean Up attracted over 21,000 volunteers who collected over 3.25 million pounds of trash and 48,000 pounds of recycling. This year’s event, entitled “Keep Up the Sweep Up” hopes to continue the momentum of last year and get as many volunteers as possible to grab their rakes, trash bags and recycling bins and transform their neighborhoods. Interested participants can register as groups, site leaders and volunteers. →→ Apr. 10, 9 a.m. – 2 p.m. For project site

locations throughout the city, registration and applications, visit phillycleanup.com.

APR 10

GRINCH Weird Waste Day

What do you do with those old TVs, cell phones, computers and keyboards you no longer have use for? The second annual Weird Waste Day hosted by Green In Chestnut Hill (GRINCH) is a chance for area residents and businesses to dispose of electronic waste in a responsible way. E Force Compliance will reuse or recycle the electronics and use any additional revenue for future recycling events. (See the story on p. 28) →→ Apr. 10, 1 – 4 p.m., Valley Green Bank

parking lot, West Highland Ave., Chestnut Hill, greeninchestnuthill.blogspot.com; for details, contact Amy Edelman, 610-505-6282 or chefamybeth@hotmail.com.

APR

Go Green Expo

Admire and purchase the best products the green world has to offer for home, business, pets, fashion, food and automobiles. The expo combines Business-to-Business and Business-toConsumer experiences into a three day event, ensuring that there’s something for everyone.

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Tyler School of Art, Tyler Auditorium (rm. B004), 13th & Norris Sts., subhankarbanerjee.org

→→ Apr. 16 & 18, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.; Apr. 17,

10 a.m. – 6 p.m., $5-$10; free for business buyers and children under 12, Greater Philadelphia Expo Center, 100 Station Ave., Oaks, gogreenexpo.com, 484-754-3976

APR

Bold Action to Protect Water Quality in Philadelphia and Beyond The Philadelphia Water Department is on a mission to protect and improve water quality in our city. This workshop seeks to educate watershed groups, conservancies, municipal government officials and local residents on the changes that individuals and the city can make to keep the waterways safe. Featured speakers include Christine Marjoram, Manager of the Stormwater Plan Review & Incentive Program, and Marc Cammarata, Manager of Watershed Planning and Engineering for PWD. A light breakfast, lunch and materials will be provided for attendees, plus they’ll have a chance to win a rain barrel!

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→→ Apr. 17, 9 a.m. – 3 p.m., free for PennFuture

Members; $10 for non-members, Friends Center, 1501 Cherry St. Register by Apr. 9; visit PennFuture.org or call 717-214-7920.

APR

Fifth Annual Social Entrepreneurship Conference: The Impact of Design on Sustainable Business

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Hosted by Temple University’s Fox Net Impact graduate student organization, this conference will bring together Philadelphia-based designers, artists, students, entrepreneurs and business professionals. The goal is to shape an ecofriendly future by melding innovative business ideas and creative design. →→ Apr. 18, 8 a.m. – 12 p.m., free for Temple

students; $20 for professionals, Temple University, Howard Gittis Student Center Room 200, 1755 N. 13th St. To register, visit foxnetimpact.org.


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by michael boyette

Growing Pains

M

y neighbor is standing at my back fence, looking at my ripening tomatoes. “I wanted to ask you something,” he says. “Every year, you work so hard to grow them. So why don’t you ever pick them?” Hmmm… I was hoping nobody had noticed. I could tell him I’d been too busy. I could tell him it’s my way of tithing. I could tell him I believe in leaving something for the squirrels and birds. But the truth is, I just don’t like to harvest. I love the turning of the beds, the planting, the waiting, the sprouting, the watering, the weeding. Yet when it comes time to pull the trigger, I flinch. Half my spinach runs to seed. Pea pods turn from green to yellow to papery gray. Cucumbers bloat up like old ladies’ feet. Tomatoes sag and tear and bleed, begging to be put out of their misery. Am I suffering from a psychological condition? If so, what is it called? Harvest anxiety? Overripatosis? Pickophobia? I’ve looked on the Internet and couldn’t find anything. But I’m not the only one who feels this way—Novella Carpenter, an urban farmer in Oakland, CA, writes of the grief that seasoned her first homegrown Thanksgiving dinner. She’d made the mistake of naming her turkey Harold. I would never name a tomato Harold. A tomato is not a pet. It’s more like a child. In the spring, you set the tiny vine carefully in the trench and wrap it up in a blanket of compost. You lie awake as it spends its first night out from under your roof, at the mercy of whatever sluggy slimy predator happens along. You watch and worry and hover and fuss, until one day there’s a tomato, red and ripe and perfect, glowing against the dark green vine. That’s the worst moment of the season. Because the instant you pick that first tomato, it’s over. The rest is just a long downhill slide to30

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ward autumn. At least tomatoes have the decency to humor you with an extended childhood. Corn is even crueler. It grows too fast. There are days in July when you go to work and it’s looking up at you like a three-year-old, and then by the time you get home it’s calling you old man and accusing you of selling out. And unlike tomatoes, corn comes ripe all at once. You must salvage whatever sweetness you can as quickly as possible. For a time, you are buried in it. Corn for breakfast. Corn for lunch. Corn for dinner. Corn for a midnight snack. You get fed up. Then it’s gone—packed up, out the door and off to Corn College. When I think of corn, I remember a certain August day when my children were not quite ripe. On that day, it felt as if they’d be young forever—an endless summer of possibility. We’d driven into the countryside, doing the kinds of things that children still found magical—riding rides and buying toys and viewing small-town wonders—and now we were coming home. The road was hilly and twisty, and we kept expecting to see a barn or a house or a billboard. But all we saw was corn. The stalks stretched away in all directions in soft green waves. The setting sun lit the pollen-filled air. It was so beautiful. Mom, Dad, Josh, Sarah, Dan. Crowded into our little car like peas in a pod. We were together. We were happy. The day was full and perfect. The harvest was yet to come. ■

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Corn is even crueler. It grows too fast. There are days in July when you go to work and it’s looking up at you like a three-year-old, and then by the time you get home it’s calling you old man and accusing you of selling out. illus t r at ion by k at ie f a l ken berg


First Anniversary Party

On April 10, Grid will celebrate one year of covering the people, places, businesses and ideas that are transforming Philadelphia into a more sustainable city. Join us!

Saturday, April 10, 5–8 p.m. Free! Yards Tasting Room 901 N Delaware Ave For details, visit gridphilly.com



GRID Magazine April 2010