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EARLY ARRIVALS

Sustainable Philadelphia

The return of asparagus and spring garlic

may 2010 / issue 14 gridphilly.com

FLOUR ARRANGEMENT

the home front Postgreen’s 100k House changes the rules

Milling wheat, the old-fashioned way

JUST BREW IT Philly’s top brewpubs

take one!


publisher

Alex Mulcahy 215.625.9850 ext. 102 alex@gridphilly.com

The Year of Logical Thinking

distribution

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

Lee Stabert lee@gridphilly.com

Y

art director

ou have to admire postgreen’s 100K House—and the folks who conceived, designed and executed it—but if you’re looking for a “green epiphany” story, you won’t find it here. Nic Darling and Chad Ludeman weren’t looking to save the world. They decided to build affordable and efficient infill housing for urban areas because it makes good sense. At the 2010 Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture (PASA) Conference, keynote speaker Michael Reynolds talked about how meaningless the terms “green” and “sustainable” have become. “‘Is it logical?’ is what I ask now,” he said. For over 30 years, he’s been designing homes made from garbage, often using discarded vodka bottles or car tires filled with dirt for insulation. You can read more about him and his homes at earthship.org. And, at a recent Urban Sustainability Forum, Patrick MacDonald from the award winning Onion Flats architecture firm echoed that sentiment when discussing water management systems. Why should rainwater flood our sewage system and create health risks when, with proper management and good design, it can be harvested and used? Turning an asset into a liability just isn’t logical. When we do let logic and pragmatism guide us, we’re free to ask the bigger questions about the systems in which we participate, and our society in general. Are we producing high quality food? Are we protecting the ecosystem for future generations? How healthy are we? Are we caring for our children as well as we can? How are our neighbors doing? Are we happy? In a recent column, New York Times columnist David Brooks wrote, “Modern societies have developed vast institutions oriented around the things that are easy to count, not around the things that matter most. They have an affinity for material concerns and a primordial fear of moral and social ones.” This month’s media section mirrors those concerns. We review Annie Leonard’s Story of Stuff, a book that removes the veil from the realities of production, and the movie No Impact

Jamie Leary jamie@gridphilly.com copy editors

Andrew Bonazelli Patty Moran production artist

Lucas Hardison web production

Scott Orwig customer service

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

Ariela Rose Cassie Cummins writers

Man, an intimate look at Colin Beavan and his family’s year off the grid. Both works demonstrate that questioning our relationship to stuff is not only possible, but also quite liberating. It’s time we start thinking about the true costs of what we do as a society, and the alternatives we can imagine. Following the bottom line has led us to where we are now, and continuing to chase it simply isn’t logical.

Ann Cohen Claire Connelly Cassie Cummins Julie Lorch Marisa McClellan Natalie Hope McDonald Alex Mulcahy Ariela Rose Lee Stabert Char Vandermeer Samantha Wittchen photographers

Shawn Corrigan Lucas Hardison John P. Herr illustrators

Daniel Fishel Maskar Design

Alex Mulcahy Publisher alex@gridphilly.com

published by

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

c o ver ph o t o by sh aw n corri gan

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Beekman’s

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Visit www.PhilaU.edu/sustain for more information about the Environmental Sustainability Program.

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News

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F oo d an d mor e

Tree Trim GreenWorks Rebate for Small Businesses In January, Mayor Nutter announced that $27 million in loans would be set aside for a series of programs to assist small businesses in Philadelphia. The GreenWorks Rebate, a reimbursement program for small businesses that choose to make energy efficient improvements, is one of the most promising. GreenWorks recently announced that due to the high volume of applications, businesses interested in receiving a city-funded efficiency assessment should apply as soon as possible. Funds are limited and projects are reviewed on a first-come, first-served basis. The GreenWorks Rebate offers a 50-percent reimbursement on projects that cost up to $10,000—whether its efficient lighting upgrades or equipment and appliance updates. It’s a great opportunity to save money while making your business more sustainable. —Ariela Rose

Fairmount Park cuts down trees to make way for meadow by cassie cummins

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sually when you hear about someone cutting down trees, it’s a bad thing. Not in this case: Fairmount Park’s Houston Meadow Reclamation and Management Plan is using the systematic removal of trees to restore a valued ecosystem, and return breeding birds to a beloved section of the park. Over a period of years, silently, and without notice, there has been a major invasion of the Wissahickon region by rapidly growing, “pioneer” species of woody plants. As a result, the historically diverse terrain has suffered the loss of one particular type of landscape: meadows. Wissahickon’s Houston Meadow covered some 47 acres of land 50 years ago. Today, the meadow occupies only 15 acres of land. In 2006, in an attempt to reverse the loss of meadow by tree encroachment, the Friends of the Wissahickon (FOW) began removing trees that had invaded the site. Since then, Fairmount Park, working in conjunction with ornithologist Keith Russell, has developed the Houston Meadow Reclamation and Management Plan, which substantiates and systematizes the cutting down of trees with field research, mapping and consultations.

One of the main goals of the initiative is to increase the breeding populations of seven bird species that bred inside the Houston Meadow prior to 1970, and to establish conditions favorable for the return of more than 14 bird species that no longer have any presence within the meadow. “Meadow types are a particular land use that nest migratory birds,” says Joan Blaustein, Director of Environment, Stewardship and Education for Fairmount Park. “If birds don’t have that particular land type, they won’t stop over in this area.” Meadow habitats also provide the foundational components for a natural food web— their soil-inhabiting organisms and diversity of insects act as a food source for small mammals and reptiles. The hope is that the meadow be restored to its full 47 acres by fall 2011. A couple of local residents are upset about the removal of trees they’ve grown fond of, but Fairmount Park Director Mark Focht is steadfast in his dedication to the project, saying, “It’s a part of the Fairmount Park mission to balance ecosystems in and around the city.” ■

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Thin Flats Recognized by the ULI Seventeen developments from throughout the Americas have been announced as finalists in this year’s Urban Land Institute (ULI) Awards for Excellence. Philly’s very own Onion Flats has been recognized for their Thin Flats project, an eight-unit infill development in Northern Liberties that uses solar hot water heating, green roofing and rainwater harvesting to reduce energy consumption by an estimated 50 percent.

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/ local business

Handcrafted Haven Nice Things Handmade carries on a tradition in South Philly by claire connelly

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addened by the recent closings of some of Philadelphia’s favorite specialty shops, Elissa Kara made a bold move. In February, the local artist and restaurant veteran opened Nice Things Handmade, a boutique gallery on booming East Passyunk Avenue. Kara, a former White Dog Cafe manager, was heartbroken when the beloved Black Cat Gift Shop closed last year. Then, in January, her good friends at Mew Gallery closed their doors as well. “I got really upset,” she says. “We had already lost the Black Cat, which was such a staple in West Philly; now we’re losing another important fixture like that in South Philly!” 6

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Kara grew up around South Street, and has fond memories of visiting the shops there with her mother. The declining state of retail in that area troubles her, and those childhood excursions now serve as a source of inspiration. “I can’t let all of those stores disappear from this city,” she says. “I thought of all the wonderful people who make things, and it all started com-

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ing together. Why not try?” She found the perfect storefront across from Marra’s (the legendary, 70-year-old pizza joint), with a butcher shop on one side and a scooter shop o n the other. “I feel so fortunate,” says Kara of her store’s location. “There’s a lot of local love here.” Nice Things (named after a shop Kara’s mother ran in Atlantic City during the ’70s) features art, jewelry, handmade clothing and accessories from independent artists. “I like to support primarily local artists,” says Kara. “But I’ve also found great artists from all over the country. It’s important to bring fresh and exciting ideas to the city.” Among the eye-catching wares, you’ll find gems like handmade all-natural soaps from local artisan Lisa Volta and earrings by Krista Peel, co-director of the Philadelphia Art Hotel. Colorful wallets and clutches from Rogue Theory—a pair of Philly designers who are masters at stitchwork—and Daymaker Industries’ inventive, do-it-yourself, 3-D paper models (including replicas of Kenzinger and Mambo Movers’ trucks and iconic Philly rowhomes) are just a few examples of the creativity on display at Nice Things. Kara plans to host frequent events in her new space, including Second Saturdays with featured artists and workshops for children and adults. “I want to create a sense of community,” she explains. “It’s exciting to be able to give back and be part of something here in this growing community.” →→ Nice Things Handmade, 1731 E. Passyunk

Ave., nicethingshandmade.com

phot o by luca s h a rd i s o n


Green Machine Farming tools by women, for women

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by lee stabert

omen are pretty amazing and resourceful,” says Ann Adams, one half of the team behind Green Heron Tools, a company designing gardening and farming equipment specifically for women. “As long as women have been growing, we’ve been using tools and equipment that aren’t really right for us, making them work somehow. That doesn’t mean that we haven’t hurt ourselves in the process.” Adams and her partner Liz Brensinger know this firsthand—they’ve been farming for over 10 years. In the mid-’90s, Adams’ son was having difficulty procuring specialized heirloom vegetables for his groundbreaking Lehigh Valley restaurant, Farmhouse. So Adams and Brensinger started growing produce part-time, supplying Farmhouse and selling at area farmers’ markets. “We sold everything we grew,” says Adams. “But the two of us couldn’t grow enough to actually sustain ourselves and my daughter because it was just two people.” Both women have backgrounds in public health, including 15 years consulting for nonprofits, but wanted to move in a new direction— they were just looking for the right idea. “Going to the market with other women farmers, we

talked about certain issues, and complained a lot about the tools—our biggest issue being the rotor tiller,” says Adams. “Lo and behold, we found other women with similar problems.” They began investigating tools for women and were shocked by the paucity. “Recently, there has been a big increase in the number of women farmers, and obviously there is a huge number of women gardeners,” says Brensinger. “So, when we started looking into this, we assumed that there were things out there and that they just weren’t easily accessible. Instead, we discovered that no one had systematically, scientifically tried to develop agricultural tools and equipment that were right for women’s bodies.” Thanks to a tip from a friend at Penn State, the pair won a grant and began an extensive research and development process. This involved working with engineers, but also conducting focus groups and surveys with fellow female farmers and gardeners across the country. The first product they’ve developed under the Green Heron brand is a shovel-spade hybrid that should be available this time next year. In the interim, the company’s website focuses on products with the Green Heron stamp of approval—mainstream tools that work particularly well for women. →→ greenherontools.com

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!

Independent, family-owned and operated since 1943

Primex Garden Center 435 West Glenside Avenue • Glenside, PA 19038 215-887-7500 • www.primexgardencenter.com

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/ bike culture

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met Andy Dyson at St. Mary’s Church, Neighborhood Bike Works’ (NBW) headquarters at 3916 Locust Walk. Director of the organization since 2002, Dyson spends his days surrounded by broken bikes and people who want to fix them. This particular afternoon, he’s receiving a donation of over 50 bicycles and parts from the Philadelphia Mountain Biking Association. Sionian Russell, a member of PMBTA, was moved by Bike Works’ mission to create opportunities for urban youth through bicycling. “A rite of passage for a kid is their first bike,” says Russell. “Do you remember that taste of freedom?” You may have heard of Bike Church—a time when NBW opens its doors to adults hoping to fix their bikes under the (totally secular) supervision of volunteer mechanics—but NBW is really an organization about kids. Every year, over 350 young people complete the eight week Earn-a-Bike class and take home a set of wheels they’ve refurbished themselves. It’s a form of stealthy environmental education—pairing the joys of reuse/recycle with adopting a greener form of transportation. NBW also runs summer camps, fitness programs, adult bike repair classes and, with a hand from Cadence Cycles, has started a youth racing team. Recently, Dyson partnered with Temple for a third location in North Philadelphia. Dyson unlocks his bike—which he bought from NBW for $100—while singing the praises of Google Maps, Kevlar belted tires and the all-powerful bike trailer. Dyson loves bike trailers. He thinks if more people felt comfortable using them, there would be fewer cars on the road. “I want our ride to really be in the neighborhoods,” says Dyson. “Philadelphia is a very diverse city full of amazingly different areas, and the bicycle is one way that

with

Andy Dyson by julie lorch

In a new column, Julie Lorch pedals along with notable members of Philly’s bicycle community LAon NC a route of their A choice. They ride, ST ER they chat, she reports back. the route

AV E

NBW: Haddington Vine

Hav erfo rd

Race Arch Market Chestn ut

Ludlow

Walnut Locust

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NBW: Bike Church

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I’ve gotten to know it.” Dyson hooks up a trailer stuffed with tires, forks and brake parts destined for NBW’s Haddington workshop at 60th and Salford Streets, and off we go. We head west on the Walnut Street bike lane. Cars rush past us, and Dyson ruminates on bike lane policy. He supports any engineering improvements made by the city but does have his qualms. “Some of the bike lanes are put in places where it’s easy to do,” he explains, “rather than them being in the best place for a bicyclist to ride.” We move over to Sansom. It doesn’t have a bike lane, but it’s wider and quieter than Walnut. Only two cars pass us in eight blocks. Past 52nd Street, we move further north to Race, which offers one of the most luxurious bike lanes in the city. It’s wide enough for us to ride abreast, and the road is smooth. I immediately feel like a jerk for not knowing it existed. Mustafa Abdul-Rashid greets us at the Haddington workshop. An employee of the program since high school, Abdul-Rashid now works full time for NBW, running the shop at 230 North Salford Street. He also helps kids with their homework before Earn-a-Bike classes and hopes to redo the second floor of the shop to host special events and parties. “This place is about young people having the opportunity to make something out of nothing,” says Dyson. “They show themselves that they can make a working bike from a bunch of parts. And someone who leaves here with that experience is somebody who’s hopefully got a sense that they can achieve greater things in the future.” ■

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Sansom

Spruce Pine

Mustafa AbdulRashid (left) and Andy Dyson outside the Neighborhood Bike Works Haddington workshop.

If you’d like to volunteer, make a donation, or find out more about Neighborhood Bike Works, Bike Church, or the Earna-Bike program, visit neighborhoodbikeworks.org. For more information on the Philadelphia Mountain Biking Association, visit phillymtb.org.


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/ gardening by Samantha Wittchen

by char vandermeer

Happy Together Companion planting can increase the yield and the health of your urban garden

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t’s time to dust off those

planters, rinse out the watering cans and get some dirt under your nails. If your garden looks anything like mine—a sea of containers atop a South Philly roof—then you’re constantly struggling to maximize your growing potential without strangling your plants in their pots. Companion planting—pairing crops that get along smashingly with one another—isn’t a new idea. Native Americans had it figured out when they planted the Three Sisters (corn, beans and squash) on one hill. The sturdy corn stalks supported the climbing beans and the spreading squash provided ground cover to choke out unwanted weeds and maximize moisture. Unfortunately, the typical urban garden can’t sustain this particular combination, but

above

Cucumbers and lettuce are happy together; right The dreaded tomato hornworm munches on a pepper.

here are several other combos that work quite nicely: Radishes are an amazing spring crop that pair well with beans and cucumbers, both of which thrive in large containers. The perimeter of a five-gallon bucket can easily produce 15 or 20 radishes. They mature quickly, and you can usually cram in at least two harvests before temperatures climb too high. Plus, they act as a trap crop, protecting your beans and cukes from predators by attracting flies and beetles to their leaves instead of the finicky cucumber’s. You can plant them simultaneously and by the time your space-lovers need a little extra room, it’ll be too hot to grow radishes. Beans are pretty marvelous. They enrich the soil with nitrogen, and all sorts of vegetables clamber to be in their presence. Since pole beans work well in small gardens (anything that grows vertically is an excellent option), try planting chard or strawberries alongside the climbers. Lettuce is a money maker. At four dollars a bag at the farmers’ market, it’s a container gardener’s must-have cash crop. Last year, with great success, I surrounded my Thai eggplant seedlings with several varieties of leaf lettuce. Just tuck your lettuce seeds around the perimeter of your container, about a quarter inch deep and two to three inches apart, and you’ll be in business. The shallow-rooted lettuce provided ample room for the eggplant while simultaneously filling our table with salad as we waited for the slow-growing nightshades to mature. In my garden, tomatoes need all the help they can get. They’re susceptible to just about every pest imaginable. Mint, which repels flies and mites while providing excellent ground cover, is a great companion. Basil is another winner—not only does it act as a mosquito repellant, but it also scares off nasty tomato hornworms. Anything that keeps these suckers out of your garden is a very good thing. ■

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CDs The Issue: Recycling your old Compact discs The Challenge: The day when your tower of compact discs goes the way of the 8-track is rapidly approaching. With the increasing ubiquity of digital music, we are certainly in for a major influx of CD-related trash to our landfills. The actual discs are comprised of three main parts: polycarbonate plastic (with a little bit of lacquer for protection), metals (mainly aluminum, with trace amounts of gold, silver and nickel) and dyes. The cases are usually made from No. 6 polystyrene. The plastics and metals can be recycled for use in the building and automotive industries, but, when trashed and left to degrade, they release Bisphenol A, an endocrine disrupter that may have negative health effects. The Solution: The first option is reuse: See if you can donate your CDs or trade them in at a local CD store. If the store already happens to have a dozen copies of Melissa Etheridge’s Yes I Am, there might be an artist out there waiting to snatch up those discs for a project. Craigslist.org and Phillyfreecycle.org are good places to post your unwanted stash. If you’re willing to drive out to Pottstown, Recycling Services, Inc. (365 Elm St., Pottstown, 610-323-8545) will take them off your hands. Maximize your trip by pooling some friends’ CDs before heading out there. If that’s not a possibility, head to your local post office—the CD Recycling Center of America (cdrecyclingcenter.org) will accept your CDs through the mail at no charge (although they do ask for a small contribution to help defray their costs). The Eco-Aware Consumer: If you’ve switched to digital music, you’re already a more eco-conscious consumer, since your music is now stored in bits and bytes instead of metal and plastic. Your new charge is maximizing the life of your iPod before it needs to be recycled, but that’s a conversation for another day. ■

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/ energy

In Hot Water

A guide to upgrading your hot water heater by Samantha Wittchen

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c c o r d i n g t o E n e r gy S ta r (energystar.gov), in 2009, 14 percent of a household’s annual average energy costs went to heating water. If you have an old, inefficient water heater, that number is probably higher. In January 2011, the rate caps on electricity for PECO customers will expire (PPL customers experienced the change earlier this year), so if your water heater is electric, you will see a 30 percent increase in that expense. With the deadline looming, there’s no time like the present to upgrade your water heater. The two most common fuel types for water heaters are electric and gas. However, solar has been gaining popularity, and the US Department of Energy reports that 1.5 million domestic homes and businesses have invested in solar water heating systems. Water heaters come in various forms, but conventional storage (tank), demand (tankless) and solar are most relevant here. The first two can be powered by either gas or electricity, with upsides and downsides for both. Gas burns relatively cleanly, but it’s energy-intensive to extract from the earth. Plus, if your house doesn’t already have a gas line, the cost to run one may be very high. Conventional water heaters are the cheapest option ($200 to $800), and they’re also the cheapest to install ($200 to $400). If you’re handy, you might even be able to do it yourself. However, they’re also the least efficient due to standby heat loss—the heat lost by hot water sitting in the tank. Tankless water heaters don’t have the standby heat loss issue, but are typically more expensive ($400 to $1,200), and installation costs can be two to four times more than conventional models, depending on whether or not installation requires changes to supply lines or venting. The upside is that you can expect your operating costs to be 30 percent less than with a conventional unit. Solar water heaters have a high initial cost ($2,500 to $5,000), but their operating costs are much lower than any of the alternatives. On average, a solar water heater lowers your monthly bills by 50 to 80 percent, and your heating costs won’t rise with future fuel rate hikes. Additionally, the PA Sunshine Program provides rebates 12

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for homeowners who want to install solar water heaters. A final consideration is size. Most people make their decision based on total capacity. Look instead to the first-hour rating (FHR), which tells you how much hot water can be delivered in an hour of use. Spend a little time figuring out what your usage is in the busiest hour of your day, and you can ensure that you’re sizing your water heater correctly. In the world of water heaters, choices you make about the fuel type, size and type all affect the efficiency of the unit. Luckily, manufacturers are required to publish these stats on a big yellow EnergyGuide sticker on the side of the unit. Make sure you look for it—and the Energy Star

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seal—when you’re shopping around. It’s also a good idea to do a simple analysis of your projected annual operating costs before heading to the appliance store. The more you know about your specific case, the better equipped you’ll be to make the best choice. The Department of Energy shows you how to calculate your operating costs on their Energy Savers website (energysavers.gov/your_home/ water_heating). In the meantime, if you aren’t in the market for new water heater, try turning down the temperature on your current model. Factory settings are often much higher than necessary, and 120˚F should be good enough to keep you toasty in the shower. ■

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/ recycling

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ark your calendars—it’s time for your toxic spring cleaning. Everyone in the region will have a chance to rid themselves of hazardous waste at the dates, times and locations listed here. ¶ A full list of what qualifies as household waste is available at phila.gov/ streets/hazardous_waste.html, but a good rule of thumb is anything under your sink or in your garage that makes your eyes water or emits fumes will make the cut. Paint, pesticides, swimming pool chemicals, cleaning solvents, automotive products such as motor oil or brake fluid, lead-acid batteries, and CFL light bulbs, are a few examples. Most locations will accept your computers, too.

Apr 24

May 1 June 12

June 12

 pper Bucks County Vo-Tech School U 3115 Ridge Rd., Perkasie

July 10

Central Bucks High School 1100 Folly Rd., Warrington

Aug. 14

Bucks Co. Technical High School 610 Wistar Rd., Fairless Hills

Sep. 25

 uakertown Community Pool Q 600 W Mill St., Quakertown

chester

For more info: 610.273.3771 x228 www.chestercountyswa.org

April 10

CAT Pickering Campus, 1580 Charlestown Rd., Phoenixville

May 15

Owen J. Roberts Middle School 881 Ridge Rd., Pottstown

June 25

CAT-Brandywine Campus 1635 E. Lincoln Hwy., Coatesville

Sep. 11

New Garden Maintenance Bldg. 8934 Gap-Newport Rd., Landenberg

Oct. 9

Government Services Center 601 Westtown Rd, West Chester

delaware

For more info: 610.892.9627 www.co.delaware.pa.us/recycle

Sep 25

March 27

Marple Transfer Station, Marpit Rd. & Sussex Blvd., Broomall

April 24

Emergency Services Training Ctr 1700 Calcon Hook Rd., Sharon Hill

Sep.16

Rose Tree Park 1521 N. Providence Rd., Media

Oct. 9

 pper Chichester Township Bldg. U 8500 Furey Rd., Boothwyn

e BUCKS

July 17

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June 25

CHESTER

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e e

e

DELAWARE

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montgomery For more info: 610.278.3618 www.montgomerycountyrecycles.org

April 24

Indian Valley Middle School 130 Maple Ave., Harleysville

June 19

Temple University Ambler, Butler Pike Entrance ONLY, Upper Dublin

July 17

Montco Community College, 473 Cathcart Rd., Blue Bell

Aug. 12

Abington Jr. High, Rear Faculty Parking Lot, 970 Highland Ave.

Aug. 21

Spring-Ford Flex School 833 S. Lewis Rd., Royersford

Oct. 23

 ower Merion Public Works Dept. L 1300 Woodbine Ave, Penn Valley

Oct 23 Nov 6

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MONTGOMERY

Oct 9

 ower Makefield Corporate Center L So. Campus, 770 Township Line Rd.

Aug 14

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Aug 12

May 1

July 10

June 19

For more info: 610.273.3771 x228 www.buckscounty.org/government

Clean House Take Advantage of the Household Hazardous Waste Drop-Off Program

Bucks

PHILADELPHIA

e

philadelphia For more info: 215.686.5560

e

March 27

April 24 Streets Dept Training Center State Rd. & Ashburner St.

April 24

May 22

1 st District Highway Yard 4800 Parkside Ave.

June 26

Northwest Transfer Station, Domino Lane & Umbria St., Roxborough

July 22

Streets Dept. Training Center State Rd. & Ashburner St.

All events 9:00 am to 3:00 pm

Sep. 25

Streets Dept. 3rd District Highway Yard 22nd St. & York St.

e Computer electronics accepted at HHW events with this symbol

Oct. 23

Streets Dept. Facility 3033 S. 63rd St. Northwest of Passyunk Ave.

Nov. 6

Streets Dept. Facility Delaware Ave. between Castor Ave & Lewis St., Bridesburg

Sep 16 Oct 9

Funded in part by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection www.depweb.state.pa.us

map by m askar d esig n

www.philadelphiastreets.com

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/ profile

Second Nature

A veteran Philly furniture maker finds new inspiration by lee stabert

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interview Jack Larimore from an unfinished bench in his studio. Reclaimed wood timbers lay on an angle—dominos mid-fall—braced by a small round ball. The top is sanded, but still rustic. As he speaks, I can’t help but run my finger along the grain of the wood. Working with salvaged materials is still new for Larimore—as are his surroundings. After 30 years as a furniture designer in Philadelphia, he recently moved his studio here, to Cumberland County, NJ, about an hour from the hubbub of the city (though his current neighborhood, Mt. Airy, moves at more of a shuffle). “For me, it’s a big change in the context in which I’m working,” explains Larimore. “I’ve been in the city for a million years. It’s also been interesting for me to be by myself, something I’ve never had in a studio.”

Finding this area was something of a happy accident—a few years ago he attended a nearby barbecue with his wife. They fell in love with the agricultural landscape and the smell of the nearby salt marshes, and eventually purchased this 10-acre farm. Larimore now spends about four days a week out here, working in the garage-turned-studio adjacent to a field filled with miniature horses (they rent the space to a neighbor who raises them). The couple hopes to find someone to do a bit of organic farming on the land as well. “I am, at heart, a naturalist,” says Larimore, who grew up in a bucolic area on Lake Michigan. “It’s what drives me. My work has always had some level of nature discussed within it. So, when the whole reclaimed wood thing started happening, I began playing around with it, using it here and there, and realized that it had some juice for me. The previous life of the timber brought something that wood bought from the lumber wholesaler didn’t have.” Larimore trained as a landscape architect, but quickly burned out on the politics and compromise of life in an office. After three years, he took a leave of absence and bought an old, run-down house off South Street. The rehab process gave him immense satisfaction. “I loved getting up in the morning,” he recalls. “I loved figuring out what needed to be done, going out and getting the materials, and doing it.” This was the mid-’70s, and the house happened to be around the corner from Richard Kagan’s furniture studio and gallery. Larimore started experimenting with the craft, and soon he was hooked. As his career developed, Larimore worked mostly by commission—tackling elaborate, intensive projects that involved heavy collaboration between the artist and the buyer. But recently, he’s gone in a slightly different direction, focusing more on sustainability and accessibility. Larimore’s material of choice for his new line is large, salvaged above Larimore timbers. Most of them are acquired at his studio in through Provenance Architectural Cumberland County, Salvage (profiled in Grid’s recent NJ below From an installation of House & Home issue). new work at OLC The way he uses them is what Showroom, Lazy Girt makes these pieces so arresting. “I (left) and Assisted Knee (right) realized that the best thing about this reclaimed timber is manifested in its timber form,” he explains. “The idea of slicing this stuff up and making flooring out of it, or planking it to make a tabletop, is something I do a little of, but what really excites me is that these pieces of wood really are timbers. They do two things better: they speak about the tree in them—often a significant part of the concentric growth ring is evident—and they’re pretty clear about having been part of a big, old building. It’s undeniable. I went about trying to design a line of furniture that speaks to that, but does it in a way that’s not particularly rustic, that also speaks about modernism and sculptural forms.” ■

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A Philly startup is out to prove that eco-friendly architecture can be affordable story by natalie hope mcdonald | photo by shawn corrigan 16

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t happened over beers. Childhood friends Chad Ludeman and Nic Darling were in the process of making a huge change—leaving their jobs to launch a development company. Neither one had any work experience in architecture or design, but they could see a shift happening—green, energy-efficient building was the future, and they had a chance to capitalize. The pair were were brainstorming, mulling over

traditional business models and rehashing their extensive research, when a distressing question arose: Did they really want to build houses that they themselves couldn’t afford? That their friends couldn’t afford? That same night, they went home and registered a domain name: 100khouse.com. ¶ Ludeman and Darling have been friends since fifth grade. They grew up in a small, one-traffic-light town about 20 minutes south of snowy Rochester, NY. Even after attending different schools and moving away from their families, the two friends kept in touch and eventually relocated to the Philadelphia area. [↘] may 20 10

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Two years ago, they founded Postgreen, a development company they hope will change the way people build homes in this city. “It started out of the purest essence of wanting to do our thing,” says Darling, who, along with Ludeman, quit his day job to launch this venture. Darling worked in software design and Ludeman, who sold his house to fund Postgreen, made barcode scanners. Neither had any formal training in architecture or construction, but they had an itch for real estate. “We had always been interested in real estate as an investment model,” explains Darling. “Green building was less of a ‘let’s save the world’ thing and more of a ‘let’s build better houses’ thing.” They believe that green design is the inevitable future of construction—hence, their company’s name. “In a way, it’s a joke for us,” admits Darling. “Right now this is considered ‘green’ building, but in 10 or 20 years it will just be ‘building.’ We wanted to operate in a sense that what we’re doing is beyond green, or ‘post-green.’” The team—which also includes Ludeman’s wife Courtney, chief financial officer and vice president of sales—spent every waking hour reading books and reaching out to architects and modular home designers around the country to better understand the industry into which they were taking an enormous leap. Darling argues that, in some ways, not having experience in construction gave the company a fresh outlook. “We’re really driving the idea that green building—sustainable building—should not necessarily be more expensive,” he says. “We want to provide energy-efficient, architecturally-appealing houses to a market that normally doesn’t have access to any of those things.” In many ways, Postgreen’s staff represents the company’s target demographic: young, creative types who want an aesthetically distinct home for a fair price, and construction that respects the environment. “When we first started this project, we were looking at more traditional Philadelphia development models,” says Darling, referring to twostory properties with three bedrooms and twoand-a-half baths that featured 1,800 square feet and sold between $400,000 and $800,000. But, after that formative soul-searching session, they decided to pursue a different direction, putting affordability at the top of their priority list. Darling and Ludeman were both inspired by the title of author Karrie Jacobs’ book The Perfect $100,000 House: A Trip Across America and Back in Pursuit of a Place to Call Home (Viking, 2006). “The book itself is different from what we’re doing,” says Darling, “but it was an interesting concept.” The pair wanted to begin the design conversation with a specific end goal. “We wanted to do something that pushes the envelope,” adds Darling. 18

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ast Kensington is a neighborhood in transition. Boarded-up, burntout buildings, vacant lots and an active drug culture plague some areas of this working-class community. Once home to the city’s booming textile industry (a few of the old factories were being converted into condos before the real estate market lost its legs), the triangular area, bound to the North by Erie Avenue, Front Street to the West and Trenton Avenue to the East, has become home to various immigrant populations and, more recently, young artists and professionals looking for cheap digs. It’s also a place where Postgreen saw possibility—they could replace vacant lots with affordable, green housing designed to fit between existing buildings, making room for healthier living in one of the city’s least likely environments. The low cost of land and proximity to public transportation also made Kensington appealing to Postgreen. They picked a lot on East Susquehanna Avenue near 21st Street as the site for their first project. The completed 100K House, a LEED Platinum-certified two-unit residence, looks more like something you’d see in Berlin or Copenhagen than North Philly. The sleek, loft-style townhouses stand out on a block dominated by traditional walkups and fenced-in yards growing little more than dirt and tin cans. “In the same way that our buildings are challenging people to live better, our architecture is challenging people,” says Darling. “It signals that we’re doing something different.” Taking a cue from European design, the 100K House showcases Postgreen’s philosophy: marrying affordability and eco-friendly living with simple, scaled-down architecture. Darling says that the reaction from neighbors has been overwhelmingly positive, despite the radical departure from the area’s traditional aesthetic. He

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explains that they were happy to see something, anything going up, and excited about seeing a vacant lot used for more than loitering and trash. That said, not all reaction has been positive. “A guy stopped in a van one day and yelled that it was the ugliest house in the neighborhood,” he recalls. “The process was to think of the house like an industrial design piece—a functional object,” explains Brian Phillips of Interface Studio, the project’s architect. “We designed it to perform.” Phillips and Ludeman met at a conference several years before joining forces to build Postgreen’s premier project. Phillips and his firm were intrigued by the prospect of designing a concept that could be used as a model for homes throughout the city. “From the start, I was very excited,” says Phillips. “I knew what was so radical about it wasn’t how green it was, but how small it was. This is a very urban ideal.” The first 100K House has a clean, boxy design and features two single-family units (one at 1,150 and the other at 1,270 square feet) on two levels. For Phillips, designing a residence that was compact, functional and green was a welcome challenge, especially considering all the ways urban design has gone wrong in recent years. “Philadelphia has suffered too much from the weird urban McMansion hybrids,” he says. “When you live in the city, the city is your living room.” There is a definite ideological thrust behind the layout of 100K’s indoor spaces—Postgreen has a specific vision for how people should live. The home’s common spaces are dynamic and flexible, encouraging interaction among the residents, while the bedrooms are relatively small and open to the house. Ludeman and his wife Courtney are experiencing this lifestyle firsthand: Upon completion, they moved into one of the units, new baby in tow. Courtney admits she was concerned about the small floor plan at first, especially given the new addition to their family. “I was worried phot o cou rt e s y po s tg reen


left The Ludemans lounging in the 100K living room; below The baby's room on the second floor.

By moving into one of the units, the Ludemans essentially established a show home— and installed themselves as a show couple—in service of the company’s agenda.

when it was being designed that there wouldn’t be enough space,” she says. “But quite the opposite has been true.” While the floor plan is lean, the open-air design provides a sense of spaciousness. “We’re spoiled,” says Darling. “The American home has gone from an average of 900 square feet with 3.3 people per household to an average of 2,700 square feet with 2.2 people per household.” That kind of living is isolating—and not ideal for small city spaces. Given the tens of thousands of vacant lots in the City of Brotherly Love, production housing like this—housing that can be repeated—has a bright future. The hope is that other homes like 100K House will be designed around town, with custom elements adjusted depending on the homeowner’s goals and desires. “We’re very excited about the potential for small, super-efficient houses as a great option pho to by sh aw n c o rrigan

for urban buyers—especially in this economy,” says Phillips. “We like the fact that the tight budget allowed us to use exposed concrete and plywood finishes.” The units at 100K sold for $200,000 and $250,000, respectively—and were each built at a cost of $100,000. The architect describes the design as minimalist; he was inspired by cars, IKEA and products outside of the realm of architecture. “We know it’s landmark,” he says. “It demonstrates that high-performance houses can be affordable. We tried to minimize superfluous finishes and elements. But the resulting minimalism certainly feels like a more expensive product.” The building features many hallmarks of green design, such as Energy Star appliances, rainwater collection, low-flow, dual-flush toilets, solar thermal hot water, radiant and passive cooling, CFL lighting and low- or no-VOC finishes throughout. [↘] may 20 10

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“We wanted to prove that we could build a green home for the same or less than regular or new construction,” explains Darling. “We also wanted to create a housing model that would fit into these lots in between houses in Philly.” East Kensington is a particularly good place to build since so much of the neighborhood is blown-out and abandoned. Since 100K House went up and residents moved in, Postgreen has moved onto several other projects, including the Skinny Project, a modern home design (also on East Susquehanna Avenue) that’s configured to fit into narrow infill lots, and the Passive Project on Amber Street, the developer’s first crack at the German Passive House standard. That project consists of two adjacent rowhomes designed to reduce heating and cooling by a whopping 90 percent. “What we hope is that we’re doing things to bring up the value of the area and bringing more vitality to the neighborhood,” says Darling. “But we’re careful not to create something that’s hugely imbalanced.” Phillips sees 100K House as a sign of the times—both good and bad. “I like its honesty,” he says. “I think it’s a cool house, but it never attempts to be anything other than what it is, which is a super-minimal, flat box with great light. I also like the fact that some people really hate it. That’s a sign that we’re onto something quite good.”

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am Klein, senior technical consultant for MaGrann Associates in Moorestown, NJ, advised Postgreen about the project’s LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) goals. For housing to qualify for LEED certification, it must pass benchmarks established by the Green Building Rating System. “We score a home’s energy performance on a scale of zero to 100,” says Klein. “Zero is perfect because that means it consumes zero energy. And 100 is code. Most of our homes come in at around 70, or 30 percent improvement. The 100K House scored a 49, which is very good.” Another area that’s important for LEED certification is Indoor Air Quality. “Most projects do the bare minimum to meet the Indoor Air Quality portion of LEED,” he explains. “But 100K is part of a small group doing the right thing by adding continuous ventilation with a heat recovery ventilator.” This means the heating and cooling that a home normally loses through ventilation is captured by a device that transfers it from the outgoing air back into the incoming air. “The 100K House definitely proved that there’s a market for extreme green,” says Klein. “I think it’s a great example to all builders out there who think that they have to build green, but keep a

traditional aesthetic.” By moving into one of the units, the Ludemans essentially established a show home—and installed themselves as a show couple—in service of the company’s agenda. As mentioned, Ludeman sold his house to fund the company, so moving into the finished product—coming full circle—signaled a certain amount of success. The pride shows: The Ludemans (plus baby) post photos of life in their new, ultra-mod digs on the 100K Blog and Flickr page. “I have absolutely loved living in the home,” says Courtney. “It’s bright and airy, and very spacious." In addition to saving considerable money on energy costs, Courtney has also noticed a difference in the air quality. She’s currently building a spreadsheet that showcases their reduced energy bills—they’re paying 25 to 50 percent less depending on the season thanks to the home’s energy-efficient features. “This winter, our house below left (left to was very warm and comfortright) Chad able,” she says. “No drafts, hot Ludeman, or cold spots. In fact, I’m norNic Darling, mally bundled up in sweaters Courtney Ludeman; and covered in blankets—this below The has been the first year where Ludemans that has not been the case.” in the 100k kitchen. The two biggest advantages

port r a it by s haw n c o rri g a n


of the building model are energy-efficiency and healthy design. “Right now we’re starting to build up a case study of 100K,” says Darling. “Our energy model said utilities would be about $1,200 a year, but it’s coming in significantly less than that.” He says energy costs are about half that of the average home in the U.S., and have one third the operating costs of many old Philly rowhomes. Rating the health standards is a little more difficult. “We focus on low-VOC finishes, and the mechanical ventilation system is robust,” he says. “The air exchange has a filter that cleans the air. Our homes are a lot more hypoallergenic than others, and protect against molds and toxins.”

Right now we’re starting to build up a case study of 100K. Our energy modeling said utilities would be about $1,200 a year, but it’s coming in significantly less. —ni c darl in g

They also consume less water. “We’re building up the quality of how we deal with rainwater,” explains Darling. “That’s one areas where we’re really behind Europe. We lack the products, but we’re hoping the glorious thing called American ingenuity gets up and goes.” The demand for LEED-certified housing is on the upswing, which may signal more opportunities for builders like Postgreen, who are in need of products and concepts already being used across the pond that are difficult to get in the U.S. There are other logistical issues: Darling admits that with each new project being planned, including a sustainable, affordable housing project on Sheridan Street (slated to be the greenest publicly-subsidized housing project in the Commonwealth) and the development of a new green rental unit, Postgreen faces challenges for funding in today’s economic climate. Despite those challenges, Postgreen’s projects continue to go up in Philadelphia, transitioning from lines on paper to metal and wood. Darling admits he’s learned a lot from the company’s inaugural 100K House. “There’s nothing tangible at first, and then suddenly a house is being built,” he says. “The first time you build something, it’s a pretty shocking thing.” ■

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the

flour show

A 300-year-old mill helps revive a beloved brand by lee stabert 22

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ith the mill running, the whole building moves,” says Dave Poorbaugh, standing on the well-worn wooden floorboards of the 300-year-old Annville Mill in Lebanon County. “An old flour mill has a soul, because it moves. And when you walk in here, you’re part of it. You’re moving, whether you like it or not, so you become part of the machinery.” ¶ It’s quite a feat to build the foundations of a business on equipment that’s over 100 years old, but Poorbaugh, head of McGeary Organics, will be more than happy to explain the myriad reasons why his company mills Daisy organic flour on roller-mills that were installed before the first World War. After even a brief conversation with this voracious history buff, it becomes clear that not only is the choice rational, but it stems from a deep passion for his area’s agricultural legacy and a desire to do things the old-fashioned way. pho t o s by j o h n P. Herr

Daisy Flour—which is just one element of McGeary Organics’ business—is a brand that almost died, produced in a mill with nine (or more) lives. From the 1800s through 1982, Daisy Flour was the brand in Lancaster. “If you were a selfrespecting housewife in Lancaster in the period, and you didn’t have Daisy Flour in your cupboard, you couldn’t operate,” insists Poorbaugh. It was milled at Lancaster Mill, an operation that McGeary eventually bought. When they closed down that mill, they held onto the Daisy brand. Poorbaugh’s interest in organics began at a young age. When he was growing up in Quakertown, J.I. Rodale— publishing magnate and pioneer of the early organic movement—spent some time at his family’s kitchen table, chatting with Poorbaugh’s father, a vocational agriculture teacher. His uncle was a grain merchant, and he launched McGeary in 1952. The company always sold some natural products, but when the market for organics (especially local livestock feed) increased, they saw an opportunity. McGeary has now been certified organic for 14 years. In 2000, McGeary decided to revive the Daisy brand as an organic product, and set out to find a local milling option that would work. They eventually settled on the nearby Annville Mill due to its segregated storage system, which enabled them to keep the organic flour separate from the conventional output. Milling organic wheat was new for Annville. The former miller, Dave Brandt, practically grew up in the mill—he had been smelling and feeling flour there for 50 years. “The day that he started milling the first organic flour for us, he hadn’t been at it for an hour when he got so excited that called us up,” recalls Poorbaugh. “He said, ‘I can smell the difference between this flour and all the other flour I’ve milled. It smells so much fresher!’” [↘] may 20 10

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the

flour show

If you were a selfrespecting housewife in Lancaster and you didn’t have Daisy Flour in your cupboard, you couldn’t operate. ‹ dave poorbaugh

The mill itself (which McGeary bought from Brandt in 2002) is a special place. Built in the 1700s, it passed through the hands of some of the most powerful families in the Lancaster area—the Millers and the Herrs—before being acquired by the Brandts near the turn of this century. In 1907, David Groh Brandt overhauled the equipment. With the installation of roller-mills, Annville Mill was on the cutting edge of milling technology. Those same roller-mills are still there, churning out

Daisy Organic Soft-Wheat Bread 5 ½ ¾ ¼ 12

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cups Daisy White Pastry Flour tsp. salt tsp. dried yeast oz. water

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flour. The basic process at Annville hasn’t changed in over 100 years. For head miller Dan Neufeld—a Kansas transplant from a family of millers—his ears are a vital tool. If the hum of the machinery changes even a little bit, he knows something is happening somewhere. When things do go wrong, it’s not always an easy fix. He can’t just pick up a catalog; new parts have to be custom-built by a blacksmith. But this isn’t a museum; it’s a business. Beyond the

˜˜Stir water, salt and yeast together. Add flour and mix until moist. Cover and let rise six to eight hours. ˜˜Divide dough in half, kneading the portion to be baked for only half a minute. (This dough may be stickier than what you are used to.) Place on a

cooking sheet dusted with corn meal or use a silicone baking pad. Let dough rest for one hour while you preheat an oven stone to 450 degrees. ˜˜Dust the load with flour and slash the top with quarter-inch deep cuts. Slide dough onto a hot stone. Pour one cup of

above Head miller Dan Neufeld inspects the roller mills which gently extract flour from the wheat

hot water in a pan below the stone for moisture. Bake for 30 minutes. ˜˜The other half of the dough can be refrigerated for three to four days in a covered pan. Shape, let it rest and bake as directed. For more recipes, visit daisyflour.com.


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hard hen it comes to with soft wheat, of course. That vs. flour, here are the said, locally-produced flours soft from the 1700s and 1800s were basics: Soft wheat thrives in temperate, moist climates (like slightly different from what ours), while hard wheat flourwe find around here today: ishes in the Midwest. Soft wheat is milled Heritage soft wheats—something McGeary is into pastry flour, while hard wheat becomes currently cultivating in a pilot program—have bread flour. “All-purpose” flour—something slightly more protein content. “Even that small Dave Poorbaugh of Daisy Organics stridently amount of protein will make a huge difference opposes on principle, arguing, “I don’t think in the quality of the bread,” says Poorbaugh. many women buy all-purpose dresses”—is And that’s not the only thing that distinguishmade from a combination of the two. (Poor- es the heritage varieties: “Wheat around here baugh did finally relent due to consumer de- is two-and-a-half feet tall,” he explains. “The mand; Daisy now sells all-purpose flour.) heritage wheats are up to six feet tall.” So, what separates these varieties? It’s all So, for a history lesson—and a tasty alabout protein—hard wheats have much higher ternative—try baking traditional soft-wheat protein levels, leading to more gluten and elastic- bread. It took plenty of trial and error to arrive ity in the dough. This is the difference between at the recipe below, and Poorbaugh swears by two oppositional, and delicious, textures— it. “People expect really airy breads,” he exchewy (high gluten) and flaky (low gluten). plains. “The stuff at the grocery story is 50 Loaves made with bread flour have that fa- percent air. We’ve all been indoctrinated into miliar high, airy, chewy crumb, which raises these high loaves. If you bake with our soft the question: What did people in our region do wheat bread, you get a nice, dense loaf. Try before the 1850s, when hard wheat from the tearing a piece off and dipping it in your soup, plains became readily available? They cooked or smearing a little apple butter on it.”

charm of using a traditional, artisanal method, the milling process affects the way flour tastes, and behaves in recipes. The Annville Mill runs much slower and cooler than a contemporary, conventional mill—in fact, it still runs at the speed demanded, originally, by a water wheel. High speeds conversely create high heat, which actually toasts the wheat bit, leading to a different flavor and feel. Milling in small batches also makes a difference. “We make two to three truckloads of flour a week,” explains Poorbaugh. “A modern mill will make 20 to 30 loads a day.” According to Poorbaugh, Daisy Pastry Flour,

milled from locally-grown, organic soft wheat, makes a mean pie crust—with no cracks or fissures. And he’s not the only one loyal to the stuff. “A couple years ago, a lady came into the office and went around hugging and kissing everyone,” recalls Poorbaugh. “She must have been in her 70s. She had learned to bake from her grandmother when she was a young child, and had these old recipes that she couldn’t make anymore after we stopped making Daisy Flour, because the consistency of our flour is different from commercial flour. Now she could, so she brought us apple pies.” ■

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Hop Stars Local restaurants take beer into their own hands by lee stabert

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eer and food—a classic combination. Now, any restaurant worth its salt makes their own food from scratch, but what about beer? ¶ Brewing onsite is more of a challenge—you need space for equipment, storage for your liquid gold and a skilled brewer to transform a few simple ingredients into something special. That said, when the brewpub is pulled off, an intriguing hybrid emerges, somewhere between home brewer and production brewery—small batches lead to variety and experimentation while top-flight technique results in a superior product. ¶ As a budding beer mecca, Philadelphia is an obvious choice for this kind of business. These local brewpubs make sure their patrons eat—and drink—very well. 26

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above Beer and pizza at

Earth, Bread & Brewery

Earth, Bread & Brewery M t. A i ry | e arthbr e a d br e w e ry. c o m

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usband and wife Tom Baker and Peggy Zwerver have been brewing beer for a long time. For years, they ran Heavyweight, a production brewery in New Jersey that distributed up and down the East Coast. The couple had friends in Vermont who ran American Flatbread, a brewery and restaurant that specialized in artisan flatbreads. With that concept in mind, they decided to move into the retail side of things, opening Earth, Bread and Brewery on Germantown Avenue in October 2008. Earth always has four of their own beers on tap, and Baker, the restaurant’s brewer, never brews the same thing twice. After a year and a half in business they’ve done over 50 different beers. The restaurant has seven other taps, which they fill with local favorites. “Tom never wanted it to be all about just us,” explains Zwerver. “Plus, he’s very picky about the styles he brews—he doesn’t want to do standard styles, like pale ale— so those taps give him the freedom to do whatever he wants, and we can always bring something in from a great local brewery like Victory.” Nailing down a simple, satisfying menu was just as important for making their concept work. While the couple looked for a lo-


middle Head brewer Chris LaPierre at the new Maple Shade Iron Hill Brewery

Iron Hill Brewery and Restaurant e i ght lo c at i on s i n th e ar e a | i ronh i llbr e w e ry. c o m

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cation, Baker spent months working on Earth’s dough recipe (made with King Arthur Flour). They’re topping their flatbreads with everything from local turkey sausage to fresh arugula to banana pepper pesto to pumpkin seeds and roasted garlic. They also serve up creative salads—including one with wheatberries, citrus vinaigrette and baby arugula—cheese plates and dips (including white bean and artichoke). Desserts come from Night Kitchen Bakery up the road, and the ice cream is made by Chilly Philly, a Mt. Airy company. When launching Earth, controlling the restaurant’s environmental impact was a huge priority. “Tom and I have always been really environmentally minded,” says Zwerver. “We wanted a restaurant that reflected that. So many restaurants are so wasteful.” They use Philly Compost (for both food scraps and beer byproducts), and produce only about three bags of trash per week. “My whole staff knows the three places—recycling, trash and composting,” she adds. They also source locally whenever possible, getting produce from the (very) nearby Weaver’s Way Farm during the growing season, cheese from Lancaster County and chickens from Delaware. Mt. Airy was always on the couple’s wish list when they were hunting for a location—they found this large, two-story corner space on Craigslist. “The neighborhood has been really great to us,” says Zwerver, who lives less than a mile away. “We have locals who come at least once a week, and they’re the ones that keep us going.”

ron Hill Restaurant and Brewery is a different kind of animal—a local mini-chain with eight locations in the Philadelphia suburbs. They’ve developed a devoted following thanks to interesting brews, thoughtful food and a familyfriendly atmosphere. The brand new Maple Shade, NJ, location (only a 20 minute drive from Center City) is lucky enough to have veteran brewer Chris LaPierre at the helm. He’s been with the company for seven years, and worked at Dock Street before that. LaPierre also started as a home brewer. While studying journalism at Syracuse, he found himself with some time to kill. “During the summer semester, everyone would go home,” he explains. “So I needed a hobby.” After graduation, he worked in a brewpub to earn some money while sending out resumes. Eventually, as he became more passionate about the brewing trade, he stopped sending them out. Iron Hill has five house beers that are always on tap at every location, but there are usually five to six other options available. This leaves brewers with a lot of room for experimentation. Currently, at the Maple Shade location, LaPierre is working on a black IPA and a Flemish red (a sour beer) aged in wine barrels. LaPierre likes big beers, but he also has a soft spot for well-executed session brews with moderate to low alcohol content. “I have real appreciation for the lighter, more balanced beers,” he explains. “I think they’re more difficult to brew—there’s less margin for error.” LaPierre also loves Belgian beers and has dabbled a bit with “American Belgians.” Brewed with Belgian yeast and American hops, the resulting brews have a bright, fruity finish. Each Iron Hill has their own head brewer, which means that different locations have different strengths. “In West Chester they’re doing a lot of funky stuff,” says LaPierre. “The assistant brewer likes to brew with herbs and fruit, so you’re gonna see things like, say, jalapeno beer. Our brewer out in Media likes big Belgian styles.” The food at the restaurant is varied and approachable—and tastes great with beer. “Honestly, I think there are very few foods that don’t pair well with beer,” explains LaPierre. “I’m kind of on my soapbox—a lot of people know about pairing wine with food, but not as many think about pairing beer with food. I think any good food is going to go well with good beer.” [↘]

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Dock Street Brewing Co. W e s t P h i la d e lph i a | d o c k s tr e e tb e e r . c o m

D

ock Street head brewer Ben Potts was brewing beer before he could legally drink. “It was a lot easier to buy home brewing ingredients than it was to buy beer,” he jokes. “So, I got away with it.” Now 26, Potts is helping to carry on the Dock Street brand, something with a long, complicated history in Philadelphia. In the mid-’80s, Dock Street emerged as the city’s first craft brewery—at one point it was distributed in 23 states. After some years in the wilderness (including several changes in ownership), one of the original owners, Rosemarie Certo bought back the brand, and eventually opened this location in West Philadelphia. “In the new incarnation, we’re not necessarily doing the old Dock Street beers,” says Potts. “We’re starting fresh with a new attitude.” Like Earth, Bread and Brewery, Dock Street is deeply connected to its neighborhood. “A lot of brewpubs in the city are geared at more of a bar crowd,” says Potts. “So, it’s really neat to be in a building that was built in the 1800s, in a really eclectic area, with lots of artists and a really awesome community. I think the main clientele is local—they’re fostering us.” Dock Street’s menu focuses on wood-fired pizzas and rotisserie chicken. The pizzas provide the platform for some creative combinations, such as brie, pears and rosemary; caramelized onions, gruyere and fresh thyme; and leeks, spinach and crème fraiche. The restaurant sources their ingredients locally whenever possible—spent grains from the brewery even go to a

Dock Street head brewer Ben Potts (left) with brewer’s assistant Justin Quinlan

Montgomery county farmer who supplies their beef. And Potts often gets flavors for his brews locally as well; fresh herbs and fruit come from nearby farms and honey comes from a supplier in Berks County. There are certain staple beers always on tap (including RYE IPA, their top seller), but Certo allows Dock Street’s brew-

ers tremendous freedom. Potts has his favorite styles to experiment with. “I love to brew Belgian stuff,” he says. “That’s what I was into when I started as home brewer, and that’s what I like to drink. Those are interesting beers—they’re fermented at higher temperatures using different spices—so they’re always fun.” ■

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/recipes

Spears of Joy

Roasted Asparagus with Balsamic Vinaigrette

by marisa mcclellan, foodinjars.com

2

Asparagus signals the arrival of spring

E

ach spring, I celebrate the arrival of local asparagus. Those fat, green-verging-on-purple stalks mean that the season of verdant abundance has arrived. I binge on the stuff—much like my beloved grandmother Bunny did before me—buying armloads of asparagus, slightly fearful that it will disappear before I’ve had my fill. Humans have been cultivating asparagus since the days of ancient Egypt, both for its delicate flavor and purported medical applications. It is an herbaceous perennial plant, meaning that it returns year after year, but dies back to ground level after its growing season is complete. A single cluster of asparagus shoots can be harvested multiple times during their season. However, the first harvest will be the thickest and most tender. One joy of asparagus is the fact that it needs only the simplest of preparations to be heavenly. I prefer it quickly roasted or steamed, drizzled lightly with a quick vinaigrette and eaten with 30

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

my fingers. Add a gently poached pastured egg and you have a complete meal (with instant dipping sauce to boot). For an impressive presentation, consider a quick tart that uses frozen puff pastry as its base. Shallots lend pungency, and a bit of shredded Gruyère acts as the most delicious glue you’ll ever know. For those of you with an interest in preserving, asparagus can easily be pickled at home, providing you with a source of local asparagus all year round. Once you do it yourself, you’ll never go back to those overpriced, imported jars.

may 201 0

2

lbs. asparagus, washed and trimmed of the woody ends tbsp. olive oil kosher salt coarsely ground pepper

Vinaigrette:

¼ ½ 1 1/8 5 to 6

cup balsamic vinegar cup olive oil garlic clove, finely minced tsp. kosher salt grinds of pepper

˜˜Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. ˜˜Spread the asparagus out on a baking sheet in a single layer. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast for 10 to 15 minutes, until the tips of the asparagus begin to frizzle and the thickest part is fork tender. ˜˜While the asparagus roasts, prepare the vinaigrette. Combine all the ingredients in a jar with a tight-fitting lid. Shake briefly, until the contents are emulsified. ˜˜Serve the asparagus warm or at room temperature, with a drizzle of vinaigrette over the top.


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This month at The Schuylkill Center: Pour into jars on top of Roasted asparagus, leaving at least asparagus half an inch of headspace. above ˜˜Wipe rims, apply lids Asparagus tart left Pickled and screw on the rings. asparagus Process the jars in a hot water bath for 10 minutes. (You can skip this step if you plan on just putting your pickles in the fridge.) ˜˜Wait at least 24 hours before eating, to give the asparagus spears a chance to get sufficiently pickle-y. opposite

Pickled Asparagus 4

3 3 3 4 1 3 3 3

lbs. asparagus, trimmed to fit your jars and blanched in boiling water for approximately 10 seconds. Upon removal, quickly plunge them into a bowl of cold water to stop the cooking process. cups vinegar (half apple cider vinegar, half white vinegar) cups water tbsp. kosher salt tbsp. pickling spice (Penzeys makes a good one) tbsp. red hot chili flakes garlic cloves, peeled slices of lemon pint jars (If you use the taller, 12 oz. jelly jars, you don’t have to cut your asparagus quite as short, and you’ll probably fill four jars.)

˜˜ Sterilize your jars by boiling them in a canning pot for 10 minutes. Put the lemon slice in the bottom and pack the trimmed and blanched asparagus into the jars (it’s up to you to determine whether you want to go tips up or down). Tuck a garlic clove down into the asparagus spears. ˜˜Bring the vinegar, water and spices to a boil.

Asparagus Tart 2 1 2 4 2

The Schuylkill Center Farm Managed by Urban Girls Produce, The Schuylkill Center Farm offers a variety of fruits and vegetables grown in an organic, sustainable, and earthfriendly manner. Our fresh produce is available spring through fall at our Farmstand - stop by, and let us add a little something to your shopping basket! Farmstand Tuesdays (spring through fall) 2pm – 6pm

sheets of puff pastry tbsp. olive oil shallots, minced oz. Gruyère cheese, shredded bunches of asparagus, cleaned and chopped into approximately 1 ½ inch lengths salt and pepper

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˜˜Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. ˜˜Lay the puff pastry out on a parchment-lined cookie sheet so that the sheets of dough connect into a large rectangle. Brush the pastry with the olive oil. Spread the minced shallots over the pastry in a thin, evenly distributed layer. Top with a sprinkle of salt and pepper. (The salt helps draw out the moisture in the shallots, so they soften instead of browning.) Bake for 15 minutes. ˜˜Once the pastry has baked for 15 minutes, remove it from the oven. Sprinkle the cheese over the shallots and spread the asparagus out over the tart base, making sure to leave a rim of uncovered crust all the way around. Return to the oven and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the edges of the pastry have browned and puffed up. ˜˜Let cool for 10 minutes prior to cutting. ■

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/buy local

Young Garlic

G

SunnyGirl Farm SunnyGirl Farm is the fulfillment of a lifelong dream for Mary Ann Petrillo, and her partner Jennifer Cully is along for the ride. Growing on only an acre and a quarter near Kennett Square, the pair sell at farmers’ markets, supply local restaurants and offer a 20-share CSA. For Petrillo, it’s all about tomatoes—they grew 27 varieties last year—while Cully throws a huge portion of her efforts into growing 17 varieties of lettuce. The eclectic greens are the farm’s most popular seller. “People say it’s the best lettuce they’ve ever had,” says Cully. “It’s beautiful. There are so many different colors and a lot of flavor—it probably has something to do with our soil.” Cully is a professional golfer, and the pair spends the winter down in Florida, building a nest egg to last them through the growing season. “Being an athlete, I think there’s nothing better than feeding your body with good food,” says Cully. Both women love working outdoors and grew up in food-conscious families, with mothers that canned and instilled in them the values of home-cooking and wholesome eating. When they finally decided to take the plunge and buy a farm, they looked at properties all over the country, but eventually settled on this spot close to Petrillo’s family. They loved the agricultural zeal of the Kennett Square community, and found a piece of land with a pond—a top priority. Last year they grew potatoes for the first time—something Cully hadn’t done since childhood. “I grew them as a kid and remembered how much fun it was to dig them up,” she says. “A fresh potato is just so, so good.”

arlic is one of nature’s most wondrous miracles. I have never had a dish that I deemed “too garlicky”—I like it spicy (raw), sweet (roasted; I go through whole heads at a time) and anywhere in between. When most Americans picture garlic, they see the mature bulbs—taut little bundles of awesome, each individual clove gift-wrapped in its translucent shell—but spring offers the chance to enjoy baby garlic, toddler garlic and wily teen garlic. These young garlics are varied and go by many names: garlic scallions (due to their resemblance to green onions), green garlic, young garlic and garlic scapes (this is actually something a bit different—the curly green part that grows above ground, chopped off to discourage flower production). The season for this stuff is tragically short, and the flavor is something slightly sweeter than the dried bulbs we’re used to. It’s also easier to prepare—no cumbersome peeling to do. Slice the young garlic, sautee it in a skillet with olive oil, and use it as a topping for grilled meat or vegetables. It’s also excellent in Asian stir-fries, adding color along with garlicky twang. The scapes, meanwhile, can be pureed into a surprising and verdant pesto—just blanch and toss in the food processor with olive oil and a squirt of lemon juice (parmesan and pine nuts are optional). Serve it on pasta, tossed with small balls of fresh mozzarella as a side dish or smeared onto crunchy bread as a quick appetizer.

750 Wollaston Rd., Kennett Square, 727-599-4352 sunnygirlfarm.com

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t op: ca r l os a l e j a ndr o / b ot t om : flick r u s e r g ro n g a r


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The Story of Stuff:

How Our Obsession with Stuff Is Trashing the Planet, Our Communities, and Our Health-and a Vision for Change by Annie Leonard, free press (2010), $26

T

No Impact Man (2009)

B

ack in 2007, Colin Beavan (a.k.a. No Impact Man) had his 15 minutes—sitting for television interviews, being bandied about on blogs and earning a feature in The New York Times. (His book was reviewed in Grid’s October 2009 issue.) Along with his wife and daughter, Beavan attempted to live for one year in New York City with no net impact on the environment—no trash, no carbon emissions, no elevators, no subway, no products in packaging, no plastics, no air conditioning, no TV, no toilet paper and, for the final six months, no electricity in his apartment. The eponymous film (released last year) is an intimate portrait of this experiment, and a wonderfully engaging one. Beavan’s idealistic zeal is perfectly balanced by his wife Michelle Conlin (a writer at BusinessWeek) and her delightful skepticism. Her husband’s project has a massive impact on her day-to-day life—she starts the year a caffeine addict who admits to a love for shopping, take-out and reality TV. In an act of love and support, out goes the coffee (along with anything else not grown within 250 miles), the television and, eventually, in the story’s biggest point of contention, the refrigerator. Both Conlin and Beavan are deeply changed—and moved—on myriad levels by the No Impact Year, and when he asks, near the end of the film, “Is it possible to have a good life without wasting so much?” the answer is painfully clear. —Lee Stabert →→ Available to stream instantly (or on DVD) through Netflix

For information, visit noimpactdoc.com.

34

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may 201 0

he original “Story of Stuff” is a 20-minute animated documentary that took Annie Leonard 20 years of research to make. It’s a brilliantly simple dissection of our society’s relationship with stuff, and now she’s translated her message into book form. The premise is that most of us have plenty of stuff—phones, cars, jewelry and computers—but know little about where it all comes from, and where it goes when we’re done with it. Leonard uses stickfigure cartoons to illuminate the answers to these questions. Can her appeal to common sense wake us up from our consumer malaise? The video and the book tell a truth that we all intuitively know: Products don’t magically appear on store shelves before we buy them, and, sadly, they don’t magically disappear when we throw them into the nebulous place known as “away.” Leonard has traveled the world, witnessing ecosystems and communities devastated by mining, workers poisoned in factories and third world countries used as dumps. In one example, toxic incinerator ash from Philadelphia was dumped in Haiti in 1987. Finally, in 2000, thanks to increasing pressure on Mayor Ed Rendell, the ash was removed. But this small bit of justice is the exception, not the rule. Like the movie, the book is broken into the five sections: extraction, production, distribution, consumption and disposal. Exploitation of people and natural resources is the norm—as is the reckless use of cancer causing chemicals—but the real shocker at the center of the story is that, despite all our stuff, we’re not happy. In fact, Americans reached the peak of their happiness in 1957, right around the time that companies started designing products that are meant to be thrown away. What makes this book particularly convincing is its sense of perspective. For example, municipal waste makes up only 2.5 percent of the total garbage we produce, while industrial waste comes in at 76 percent. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t recycle, but Leonard warns that we can’t let small actions distract or satisfy us, because ultimately it’s about systems. As consumers, “there are no ten easy things [to do] that will save the planet,” she argues, but being involved politically, understanding the power of policy and questioning our basic growth-based capitalist paradigm are all essential. Yup, we have to discuss the current state of capitalism to get at the root of the problem. Nobody said this would be easy! —Alex Mulcahy


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apr

08 09

→→ April 17, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m., Clark Park, 43rd

→→ April 22, 6:30 p.m. – 8 p.m., $35, Conestoga

PHS Advanced Energy Leadership Conference

→→ April 8, 8 a.m. – 8 p.m. and April 9, 8 a.m.

– 1:30 p.m., Drexel University Bossone Research Enterprise Center, Market St. btwn. 31st and 32nd Sts., buy tickets and register at drexeladvancedenergy.eventbrite.com

14

beauty industry and help you choose products that are safe for you and the environment.

& Baltimore Ave., to volunteer, vend or participate call 215-387-0919 or email philly_flea@yahoo.com, uhurufleamarket. blogspot.com

This conference hopes to highlight the environmental benefits of next generation grid technologies. Speakers, including Mayor Nutter and Drexel University President C.R. Pennoni, will discuss the evolving future of energy for the Greater Philadelphia area and the Mid-Atlantic States. Veridity Energy and the Drexel University smart grid project will be featured.

apr

the African Village Survival Initiative and blackcommunity programs for sustainable energy.

Successful Sustainability: Green Buildings and Sustainability

apr 18

Manayunk kicks off spring with an Earth Day celebration featuring a special emphasis on clean water. From live music and eco-wares to pet adoptions, there are dozens of ways to have a great time and show your love for Mother Nature. Art + Science Salon & Spa will host a Cut-A-Thon, with all proceeds benefiting Clean Ocean Action. Kids’ activities will include face painting and a water balloon toss. →→ April 18, noon – 5 p.m., Main and Cotton

Sts., Manayunk. For more information, or to participate in a morning clean-up, visit Manayunk Celebrates Earth Day on Facebook.

apr

This event is the first in a series of Green Events presented by the Swedish-American Chamber of Commerce Philadelphia. Speakers from Sustainable Pittsburgh, the Mayor’s Office of Sustainability, the DVGBC and the Energy & Climate department at the Swedish Embassy will be present. Meet members of Philadelphia’s business community and others who share a passion for sustainability.

20

PECO Green Roof Tours

This monthly tour (the third Tuesday of every month) runs from April through October. Check out PECO’s downtown headquarters and learn more about how green roof technology works. Be sure to sign up at least two days before the tour. →→ Begins April 20, 5 p.m. – 6 p.m., limited

to 25 people, 18 years or older, $5 PHS members, $10 non members, 2301 Market St, 215-988-8869, register at pennsylvaniahorticulturalsociety.org

→→ April 14, 6:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m., $25

members, $30 non-members, American Swedish Historical Museum, 1900 Pattison Ave., register at sacc-philadelphia.org

Manayunk Celebrates Earth Day

apr

22

Demonstration: No Dig, No Till, No Kidding

This all-goat-cheese celebration will feature local cheese blogger Madame Fromage and cheesemaker Debbie Mikaluk, of Amazing Acres Dairy. The pair will bring the cheese love by offering recipes, pairing ideas and sharing their fondness for Nubian goats.

Suburban spaces are becoming greener all over Abington Township, at schools, pools and small parks. The best part is that it involves no digging or tilling. Instead, everyday household paper products and free compost are used to make garden beds. Diana K. Weiner from Meadowbrook Farm will show you how to create a garden in just one day.

→→ April 17, 4 p.m. and 6 p.m., $12, Quince Fine

→→ April 22, 10 a.m. – 12 p.m., $18 for members;

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Spring Cheese Tasting at Quince

Foods, 209 W. Girard Ave., for reservations, email quince@quincefinefoods.com, 215232-3425, quincefinefoods.com

apr 17

Uhuru Earth Day Fest & Flea Market in Clark Park

This all-day free festival promises to cover the ins and outs of sustainable living in a fun and inspiring way. Enjoy speakers and live music, workshops on environmental justice and community gardening, ethnic arts and crafts, The Food Trust’s weekly farmers’ market and activities for children. The flea market will benefit 36

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

$23 non-members, Meadowbrook Farm, 1633 Washington Lane, Meadowbrook, limited to 30 participants, 215-988-8869 to register, or meadowbrookfarm.org

apr

22

Mainline School Night: How to Green Your Beauty Routine

Living a sustainable, toxin-free life goes beyond the food you put in your body. Many beauty products, even those labeled as “natural” and “organic,” are highly unregulated and unhealthy. Professional make-up artist Beke Beau will guide you through the ins and outs of the

may 201 0

High School, 200 Irish Rd., Berwyn, register at mainlineschoolnight.org

apr

22

ANSP Town Square: Imagining Philadelphia’s Future: The Plans and the Realities

Join panelists, including Spencer Finch from the PA Environmental Council and Imagining Philadelphia author Scott Knowles, for an invigorating talk on the future of city planning. Participate in a discussion that will cover everything from planning in the days of Edmund Bacon to current issues like casinos and the Convention Center. →→ April 22, 6 p.m. – 8 p.m., Free, Academy of

Natural Sciences, 1900 Benjamin Franklin Pkwy., 215-299-1108, register at ansp.org

apr

24

EARTH SaturDAY Block Party

The Big Green Earth Store and Whole Foods Market are teaming up for a day of fun centered on sustainability. Those who attend can expect to hear live music from local artists, view local artwork, meet amazing animals ready for adoption and receive plenty of free gifts, including products from Sun & Earth. →→ April 24 (rain date is the 25th), 11 a.m. –

4 p.m., between the 900 and 1000 blocks of South St., biggreenearthstore.com

apr

24

Fishtown Shad Fest

This all-day event is jam-packed with activities that celebrate one of Philadelphia’s favorite neighborhoods. Peruse stands featuring local arts and crafts, excite your taste buds with some shad from Johnny Brenda’s and listen to live local music. Environmental groups such as the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society, the East Coast Greenway and the Pennsylvania Environmental Council will also be in attendance. Don’t forget to take advantage of Neighborhood Bike Works’ valet bike parking. →→ April 24, 11 a.m. – 6 p.m., Penn Treaty

Park, Delaware and Columbia Sts., fishtownshadfest.org

apr

25

Green Fair at Temple Beth-Am

This early afternoon event will feature free demonstrations and exhibits from green businesses, eco-activities for kids and experts talking about everything from green jobs to rainwater use. Sample treats from the green snack bar and check out hybrid vehicles including a green SEPTA bus. →→ April 25, 10:30 a.m. – 2:30 p.m., Free,

Temple Beth-Am, 971 Old York Rd., Abington, 215-886-8000, oyrtbetham.org


may 01

Spring Open House at Meadowbrook Farm

may 15

Bridging the Gap Green Walk

may 21

SCEE Nature for the Young: Let’s Look at a Log!

This free event will give you a chance to witness the beauty of spring outside of the city. Bring some friends and take a self-guided tour, enjoy delicious refreshments and enter for your chance to win great prizes. Children’s activities will be featured, along with chances to purchase spring plants, jewelry and beauty products.

Sponsored by the DVGBC and USGBCNJ, this 90 minute, 3.5 mile walk from the Comcast Center to the NJEDA RiverfrontTechnology Center in Camden hopes to create awareness about the built environment. Walkers will receive an eco-friendly T-shirt, breakfast snacks, light lunch and water as they gain knowledge about green practices and LEED.

Sure, logs might seem boring at first, but that’s until you hear the stories they have to tell. Bring your young naturalist to learn about the life cycle of a tree, then explore what happens to logs when they fall to the ground. A great chance for children and parents to explore nature together!

→→ May 1, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m., Free, Meadowbrook

→→ May 15, 9 a.m. – 2 p.m., $20 members,

→→ May 21, 10:30 a.m. – 12 p.m., $8 members,

Farm, 1633 Washington Lane, Meadowbrook, 215-887-5900, meadowbrookfarm.org

may

05

Spring Seasonal Walk at Chanticleer

Get out and stretch your spring legs as you take a guided tour of Chanticleer’s enchanting gardens. Horticulturalist Joe Henderson will show you the plant wonders of spring, including creeping phlox, foamflower and trilliums, examples of the tens of thousands of bulbs that cover the grounds. This is the first of three scheduled tours. →→ May 5, 6 p.m. – 8 p.m., limited to 25, $18

PHS members, $23 non-members, Chanticleer, 786 Church Rd., Wayne, 610-687-4163, chanticleergarden.org, register at pennsylvaniahorticulturalsociety.org/calendar or call 215-988-8869.

$25 non-members, $75 for teams of five and $50 for student teams, register at dvgbc.org

may 15

$10 non-members, The SCEE, 8480 Hagy’s Mill Road, call 215-482-7300 ext.110 to register, schuylkillcenter.org

may

Rainwater Harvesting Demonstration and Water Garden Open House

22

Cedar Run Landscapes, a company specializing in pond, patio and landscape design wants to show you how to create a sustainable environment at your home or office. Learn how to beautify your surroundings with rain gardens, permeable patios and water gardens. Plus, get a chance to view Cedar Run’s very own water garden. →→ May 15, 10 a.m. – 2 p.m., Free, Cedar Run

Maysie’s FarmFest 2010

Maysie’s Farm, located in Glenmoore is 80 acres dedicated to sustainable farming and ecological education. In order to raise money for its Conservation Center and programs such as youth gardening workshops, the farm is hosting a benefit concert. Music from over 10 local artists will be featured alongside a line up of delectable local foods. →→ May 22, 12 p.m. – 10 p.m., Maysie’s Farm,

15 St. Andrews Dr., Glenmoore, for more information visit maysiesfarmfest.org

Landscapes, 1054 Horsham Rd., North Wales, 215-653-0707, yourpond.com

Produced by The Food Trust, The Radian, The Rotunda, and University City District Sponsors PW and Grid Magazine

Philadelphia Gardens, Inc. GREEN + SUSTAINABLE GARDEN INSTALLATION + DESIGN TONI ANN FLANIGAN PHILADELPHIAGARDENS.COM 215.951.9193

may 20 10

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Passive Aggressive by ann cohen

W

ith tax abatements and

breaks galore, 2010 is a great year to move into an energyefficient home. It was a little bit different 30 years ago, when I built the first passive solar house in Philadelphia. If you weren’t around in 1980, let me give you a short history lesson: We had survived two energy crises and a recession sparked by the Arab oil embargos of 1973 and 1979. We waited in line at the gas station on the days we could buy gas. We had 10 months of Daylight Savings Time. The speed limit was 55 mph. Our national leaders called on everyone to do their part to conserve. People were turning out their lights and putting on sweaters. It wasn’t the ideal time, but I wanted a house. I found a neighborhood in Roxborough that I loved, a house I really liked— and was promptly outbid. My father convinced me to buy a lot. We’d build a house. That put me on my not-so-passive path to a solar house. I was a blue-collar city worker with an interest in ecology. I knew I wouldn’t have a lot of money for a mortgage and utilities after I bought my lot, so off I went to the AIA, looking for architects to interview. Only one, Philadelphian Walter Wyckoff, told me that I could build an energy-efficient house for $30 a square foot—if I built it myself. He also assured me that I would have to go with a passive solar system, converting sunlight into heat. An active system—converting sunlight into electricity—would be too expensive. I went to a solar conference and read everything I could find about house building. Walter designed the house and acted as general contractor. In the meantime, my father assembled the old guys to help me build it. Sited to the south, with a wall of double-pane windows, the house had a brick floor built over 35 tons of crushed stone and an exposed chimney to store thermal energy. It had six inches of wall insulation and 12 in the ceiling. I ordered the latest in insulated shades. We installed fluorescent lights throughout the house behind wood valances. I went to PECO and asked if there were any benefits for using fluorescent lights. They were very nice—even if they did look at

38

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may 201 0

me like I had three heads. In any case, there was no benefit. Then I called PGW and asked if they were installing new service. “What kind of house are you building?” they asked. I explained that it was a solar house and very energy-efficient. “SOOOL-LAAAR?” asked the PGW employee. “Yes, I’ll just need gas for cooking and backup heat,” I explained. After several days, I was advised that I could have gas installed, but would need to submit heat loss calculations and sign a release regarding the size of the heater, which PGW argued was too small. Then came the real kicker: “Where do you want your gas meter?” the PGW rep asked. I told him that I wanted it in the utility room at the rear of the house. “Ma’am, you can’t afford to have your meter in the utility room,” he replied, explaining that I would have to pay for each foot of gas line they installed. “We are a profit-making utility company and we don’t see how we can make any money from your sol-lar house.” I offered to open the windows during the winter, but they wouldn’t back down. They billed me for every foot of gas pipe they ran from the street to the front of the house, where they installed the gas meter in the living room. The heater was plenty big. My gas bill was delightfully low. I enjoyed my sunny, sustainable house for 16 years, until my family outgrew it. I built a new house two blocks away. It also faces south and has a solar green house. Recently, I’ve been eyeing the roof, thinking about finally installing some of those active solar panels. Maybe I’ll even get a tax break.

Ann Cohen is Manager of the West Philly Hybrid X Team, a group of students and teachers at West Philadelphia High’s Auto Academy building green cars that get up to 100 MPGe. For information, visit evxteam.org.

illu s t r at ion by da niel fi s h el


may 20 10

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E N V I R O N M E N TA L BIOLOGY

RESOURCE MANAGEMENT

E N V I R O N M E N TA L POLICY

E N V I R O N M E N TA L H E A LT H

E N V I R O N M E N TA L ADVOCACY & E D U C AT I O N

URBAN ENVIRONMENT

Expand your opportunities by earning a second master’s degree at the same time through the Wharton School or the Fels Institute of Government.

Arrange internships or do research at such renowned facilities as the Academy of Natural Sciences, the Stroud Water Research Center, or the Morris Arboretum.

Get involved in the Philadelphia Global Water Initiative, Greenworks Philadelphia, and other environmental initiatives.

Study with a distinguished faculty of professionals who are among the most respected figures in the fields of environmental research and practice.

Change Your Life, Change the World Channel your passion for the Earth into a career devoted to saving it. The University of Pennsylvania’s Master of Environmental Studies will arm you with the knowledge you need to solve the world’s environmental problems. And you can complete your degree by going to school full time or part time, taking classes during the day or in the evening.

Find out how Penn’s Master of Environmental Studies can help you make a difference.

pennlps.org/grid

an ivy league degree is closer than you think

Grid Magazine May 2010  

Towards a Sustainable Philadelphia

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