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Sustainable Philadelphia

take one!

Drink Up

A local duo tackles the water crisis september 2010 issue no. 18

This Woman’s Work Greensgrow Farm’s Mary Seton Corboy has energy—and anecdotes— to spare

D.i.Y. Home Weatherizing guide inside


Back to school lunch recipes

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D.i.Y WeatHerizing tips

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Slice of Heaven


his month’s cover story on Greensgrow Farm hits on a number of our favorite issues—cultivating community, repurposing vacant land, food and self-reliance—but, at its core, it’s about the joys of hard work. As my dad used to say, “Hard work ain’t easy.” He would know. With the help of my mom and their four children, my dad has anchored a family business for the past 33 years. The place is called Sizzle Pi, a pizza and hoagie restaurant in Wilkes-Barre, PA.

I’m not sure whether to speak of Sizzle Pi in the past or present tense. In May of this year, a handwritten sign made with marker and hoagie paper appeared on the front door. It read, “Closing for the summer.” There was no reopening date. Will Sizzle Pi return? That’s a question for my parents. But the possibility that it might not hit me pretty hard. I had to make sure I returned to the kitchen, and made pizza one more time. Putting on the apron and the blue painter cap I wore throughout high school, college and a few years after that was both jarring and familiar—like seeing Ronald Reagan speaking from the White House. Intensifying the déjà vu further was the presence of my good friend Scott. We both began working at Sizzle Pi when we were teenagers. We attended the same college in Wilkes-Barre, ran the radio station there together and, for a number of years, he worked for me as a web developer. When I moved the company from Northeast PA to Philadelphia, he came with me. We began the day by making dough. The water temperature is supposed to be warm, but with shards of cold running through it. The salt is added not by measuring cups, but by handfuls. Then I cut the dough into “helmets” (there is a whole vocabulary for the elements and processes involved in making our pizza). It took only a few tries before I cut one to exactly 28 oz. Still got it. 4

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Before we knew it, I stood before the ovens, baking knife in one hand and a hot pad in the other. Scott, one of the best “cutters and boxers” we ever had, and someone with an overdeveloped work ethic, stood by waiting for the pizza to finish baking. “It’s funny,” he said. “Even though I’m not doing anything right now, I don’t feel bad about it. I wouldn’t feel that way programming.” I knew exactly what he was talking about. Responding to email is like shoveling snow in a never-ending blizzard. Little digital snowflakes pile up in my inbox, reminding me that the job is never finished. Several months ago, we spotlighted West Philly’s Hybrid X team, a group shop of amazing high school kids who detalk veloped one of the coolest and most (left to fuel-efficient cars in the world. Durright) Alex Mulcahy, ing the research for that story, the book Scott Shop Class as Soulcraft by Matthew B. Hungarter, Crawford kept coming up. Crawford Jerry argues that grappling with the real, Mulcahy physical world—what we often refer to as blue-collar work—breeds intelligence, community and morality. And pride. Making and baking pizza again, I remembered the countless instructions everyone received under the employ of Sizzle Pi. Everything had to be done a certain way. When you build something from nothing, whether it’s a car, an urban farm or a pizza place, you understand how things operate in their totality. It’s hard work, and there’s nothing better.


Alex Mulcahy 215.625.9850 ext. 102 ad sales

Claire Connelly 215.625.9850 ext. 100 managing editor

Lee Stabert art director

Jamie Leary designer

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Claire Connelly 215.625.9850 ext. 100 copy editors

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Ariela Rose Mark Syvertson Sam Watson writers

Bernard Brown Julie Lorch Marisa McClellan Scott Orwig Lee Stabert Samantha Wittchen Char Vandermeer Danielle Zimmerman photographers

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Tim Durning Melissa McFeeters published by

Alex Mulcahy, Publisher

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r e c yc l i n g


Food and more

Recycling Revolution Big changes are coming to your curbside In an exciting move for Philadelphia’s recyclers—especially those who love yogurt—Waste Management, a national powerhouse, is set to take over the city’s recycling processing. As of August 1, they will replace Blue Mountain, saving the city money per ton of recyclables and drastically expanding the list of items you can toss into your blue bin; all plastics No. 1 through 7 will now be accepted curbside. For more information, visit Now accepted ì No. 1s & 2s with no neck ì No. 3 vinyl blister packs ì No. 4 lids, bottles, small toys, etc. ì No. 5 yogurt-style tubs, medicine bottles, caps and lids, etc. ì No. 6 any polystyrene that isn’t styrofoam ì No. 7 bottles and jugs plus ì Bottle caps ì Small plastic toys ì Five-gallon buckets/ kitty litter buckets ì Aluminum foil/pie tins/ baking tins ì Hardcover books

Update O

Philadelphia’s Farm to School program expands by lee stabert

ver the last few years, school lunch has scored a prominent place in the national dialogue—whether it’s Michelle Obama’s initiatives, Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution or “Fed Up With Lunch,” a Texas teacher’s disturbing blog documenting the daily menu at her school. It’s also an issue that’s poised to affect a growing number of local schools. Last September, Grid ran a cover story on the Institution manager Deb Bentzel. “I’m being specific state of school lunches in Philadelphia with special about that because there are a lot of snack programs focus on the school district’s nascent Farm to School and other things, but the district is really taking a program. We promised to bring you an big step towards actually changing the update, and are happy to be the bearers way they’re viewing what’s on the plate of good news. for lunch.” The schools will purchase Last fall, the pilot program—a partnerthe produce weekly through Common ship between Fair Food, the Food Trust Market, a Philadelphia wholesale disThe Farm and the Health Promotional Council— tributor specializing in local food. The to School served five schools: School of the Future, district has also committed $50,000 from University City, Overbrook, Central and their budget for the initiative. program The Farm to School program aims to Girls’ High. Now it has been announced expands that, thanks to increased funding from be comprehensive, going beyond simply this fall regional sources, including the Pennoffering the fresh option. “There’s going to 23 sylvania Department of Agriculture, the to be a lot of good marketing and messchools saging around this healthy food to the program will expand drastically this fall from just students, the parents and the school comto include 23 district schools. five in its “The schools will be purchasing localmunity,” says Bentzel. “The ultimate goal first year. ly grown fruits and vegetables for use in is to figure out a way to make a program their meals,” explains Fair Food Farm to like this sustainable in the long term.” ■



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/ local business

Smart Water Two Penn grads quench your thirst and address the global water crisis by danielle zimmerman


n Philadelphia, you can fill a glass with the flick of a faucet, or instantly run a warm bath to relax from a particularly rough day. But for people living in other parts of the world, those simple actions are still an unimaginable luxury.


water facts



the-go, everyday use. The commercial element is only part of their business model. The team’s water access arm, Operation Hydros, is funded using proceeds from the purchase of every Hydros Bottle. The contribution from each unit sold accounts for about 2,000 gallons of clean drinking water in the developing world. The initiative recently began its first spring water distribution project in Gundom, Cameroon. Parekh was familiar with the area—he led a project in a neighboring community as part of his work with Engineers Without Borders— and it’s miles from a water source. In recent years, worldwide aid organizations have tackled clean water needs, but Parekh explains that these endeavors often end up underutilized because they aren’t

developing country

Realizing the degree to which most Americans take water access for granted, University of Pennsylvania alums Aakash Makur and Jay Parekh began discussing a plan to raise awareness. They wanted to call attention to the global water crisis while also helping underserved areas address the problem. This two-pronged goal produced the Hydros Bottle, a reusable water bottle equipped with a filtering device. Makur came up with the idea as part of a class project on alternatives to wasteful, single-use bottled water. The bottle became a reality when he paired up with Parekh, who had been working on water issues as president of the Penn Chapter of Engineers Without Borders USA. Together they researched similar products and their limitations, designing the Hydros Bottle in response to consumer needs. What eventually emerged was a sleek, lightweight, quick-filtering bottle perfect for on-



An American taking a five-minute shower uses more water than a typical person in a developing country slum uses in a whole day

→ → Poor

people living in the slums often pay five to ten times more per liter of water than wealthy people living in the same city → → 3.575 million people die each year from water-related diseases → → 884 million people lack access to safe water; that’s approximately one eighth of the population From, a non-profit dedicated to solving the water crisis

executed with the community’s specific needs in mind. Operation Hydros relies on “sustainable development” to assure the long-term success of their projects. When approaching a project site, they form a local “water committee” composed of community leaders that manages all aspects of the project, as well as the long-term maintenance. “Our criteria is that the community needs to get together and agree that they all want clean water,” says Parekh. “Once that’s established, we are more than willing to support their efforts.” The pair hope to eventually establish a portfolio of ongoing efforts, allowing the consumer to personally allocate donations to specific projects. In addition to Hydros’ global efforts, Makur and Parekh strive to make every business decision within an ecologically and socially sustainable framework. All manufacturing is done in the tri-state area, reducing their carbon footprint, supporting the local economy and ensuring quality control. Whenever possible, Makur and Parekh take their product and message to the streets to spawn an ongoing dialogue about the importance of clean water access. “This idea of social entrepreneurship is really beginning to take root,” says Parekh. “We hope to be one of the success stories that continues to give it momentum.” ■

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/ gardening

Jungle Fever

This South Philly gardener goes vertical

by scott orwig


ometimes it’s easy to forget the simplest way to go green: plants. But for city dwellers whose outdoor space consists of a tiny concrete slab or rooftop deck, a lush, outdoor garden seems out of the question. There are plenty of easy ways to green up even the most meager of spaces— potted plants, window boxes—but if you’re really looking to maximize your space, look skyward. That’s where South Philadelphia’s Urban Jungle comes in. The brainchild of Curt Alexander, Urban Jungle works with gardeners to maximize their vertical space, creating dynamic green gardens in spaces most people would never think of using. A California native, Alexander spent his childhood on a vineyard, showing him that plants could flourish on all sorts of vertical structures. He developed his technical know-how while studying mechanical engineering at West Point, but it wasn’t until he moved into a South Philly rowhome that the seed for this business was sown. “I love gardening and felt that the front of our house could use more greening,” says Alexander. “I was familiar with drip irrigation and started experimenting with running irrigation up the wall to the second floor. After a summer of tremendous growth and a lot of compliments, I knew there might be something to this.” 10

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Alexander researched vertical landscaping’s growing popularity in urban areas, and eventually linked up with Gro2, manufacturers of lightweight panels called GroWalls used for vertical installations. The panels can be mounted indoors or out and accommodate plants ranging from grasses to edible crops. Once installed, the green walls are not only visually striking, but provide benefits similar to green roofs. “[Green walls] help buildings retain storm water runoff and provide extra insulation, keeping them cooler in the summer, especially those blazing hot southern-facing walls,” explains Alexander. Urban Jungle’s vertical gardens can drastically alter the appearance of a home or business. And, since they’re formed using individual panels, the gardens can be as big or small as the customer wishes. So far, Alexander’s largest installation is a 20-foot-long herb garden at Le Virtu on East

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Passyunk Avenue. No matter what the size, the gardens are surprisingly simple to install and remove. The GroWalls rest on wall-mounted brackets that can be hung or taken down as easily as a picture frame, making them an option for renters and homeowners alike. Urban Jungle provides free consultations, working with clients to design custom gardens for any space, no matter how challenging. With their help, an urban environment is no longer an excuse for letting that green thumb lapse. ■ High Life

Urban Jungle’s retail oasis (above); the green wall of herbs at Le Virtu (below)


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by char vandermeer

Late Arrivals


y mid-August, you probably know what works in your garden and what doesn’t. But fall is falling and seed catalogue season is a long ways away—this can lead to a case of the late summertime blues. Well, buck up little farmer! You’re actually heading into a whole new growing season. For those with limited space, late August and September is the time to pull the plug on mildewy cucumbers, peaked beans and those near-finished determinate tomatoes. Be ruthless. It’s okay—there’s more to grow. Get ready for lettuce, radishes, greens, kale, carrots, parsnips, kohlrabi and broccoli. Lettuce and radishes are easy, and you might even squeeze in a couple seedings and harvests before the first frost falls (generally early November, but who knows these days). Just push the seeds about a quarter-inch into the ground, cover and wait. Harvest the outer leaves of your lettuce first, and after a week or so, the inner leaves will flourish and you’ll have another full harvest waiting. Radishes will poke their heads out of the earth, advertising their readiness. Give Long Scarlets a try; the five- to seveninch magenta tubers are pretty stunning. Kale is another delightful addition to the kitchen come November. Seeds should be planted about a half-inch deep in late August. Harvest the leaves a couple months later when they turn a deep, dark green. Winterbor is a delicious, curly leaf variety, and tastes even better after a light frost. Mulch them well and you’ll be enjoying fresh kale well into the winter. Since carrots benefit from nutrients left in the soil by tomatoes, they are a good choice for vacant tomato pots. The same can be said for parsnips, which don’t require particularly rich soil and manage quite well in partial sun— something many backyard and roof deck gardeners endure late in the season. Last year, a crop of javelins (a hybrid known for its slender

root and hardiness) took 135 days to mature, but tasted like white gold by the end of December. They survived freezing temperatures and the first of two blizzards. Unlike parsnips, kohlrabi requires fertile soil and full sun, but the ugly brassica is edible

Season’s from tip to stem. In mid-Sepgreetings tember, seed at a depth of half Romanesco an inch, with about six inches is an between plants. Harvest them ideal fall vegetable a couple months later when the leaves and stems are tender and the bulb is two- to three-inches wide. Broccoli and cauliflower are fine, but why not give the wonderful, lime green, fractalshaped romanesco a go? Best planted in late August, this showstopper needs some growing room, so large containers are your safest bet. Odds are you’ll harvest an adorable brocco-cauli-nesco cone head by the beginning of November. So, feeling better about fall? ■


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/ bike culture

the route Perkiomenville Flea Market


O the


Flea Market by Julie Lorch

n one of the hottest days of summer, a friend and I embarked on a two-day bike trip to Perkiomenville. Every Monday, over 300 vendors gather at the corner of Route 29 and the Perkiomen Trail for what is widely considered one of the best flea markets around. We had our saddlebags ready for the 96-mile round trip, loaded with PB&Js, extra bike tire tubes and as much water as we could manage. The route to Perkiomenville is a mix of on-road, paved path and packed gravel. So, which bike to take? My companion chose a comfortable single-speed over his touring bike. I grabbed a lightweight road bike, ditching my city workhorse and its slightly fatter tires. Four and a half miles on the Schuylkill River Trail took us to Manayunk, where, based on our sleek rides, we favored Umbria Street over the gravel Towpath. At mile eight, we reached the Valley Forge Trail. Here, I let my buddy in on a favorite bicycling activity of mine: the Zoom. Coined on a trip through Sonoma, Zooming is the simple pleasure of speeding up to pass slow movers, including but not limited to tricycles, joggers, families and little kids. For maximum gratification, “Zoom” is whispered just before the act, “Zoomed” immediately after. We were so busy Zooming 10-year-olds with our skinny tires that the paved path to Valley Forge flew by. We pounded those PB&Js and refilled our water bottles at a picnic area around mile 21. For shorter trips, the trail network beyond Valley Forge offers options to Evansburg State Park and Phoenixville. The packed-gravel Perkiomen Trail was up next. It was shaded and much cooler than the sunny Valley Forge path. Our bikes handled surprisingly well on the gravel, allowing for decent speed. We even managed the occasional Zoom. At mile 35, we spotted a sign that sent shockwaves through my tired legs: “12% Grade Ahead.” As we made our approach, I released an audible wheeze of relief—it was downhill. We sped joyously along, tucking away our climbing anxiety until tomorrow. Near the end of the Perkiomen Trail, at mile 40, we breezed by the site of the flea market. But we weren’t quite done—we still had eight miles along Route 29 to reach the Globe Inn and its glorious A/C. (There is camping near the market, but we’re soft.) We tackled the final three hills in silent, sweaty despair. The Globe opened in 1895, and has operated on the same corner in East Greenville ever since.


Perkiomenville Auction & Flea Market Route 29 and the Perkiomenville Trail; open Mondays


The Globe Inn 326 Fourth St., East Greenville, 215-679-5948,


The Grand Movie Theater 252 Main St., East Greenville, 215-679-4300,


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MONTGOMERY Evansburg State Park Phoenixville



Valley Forge






Manayunk Schuylkill River Trail


95 676

476 95

We ate pizza around the corner and caught a movie at the Grand, a recently restored one-screen theater. We drank some water. Then we drank some more water. After a good night’s sleep, we hit the flea market. Row after row of dealers offered antiques, furniture and collectibles. Unfortunately, our saddlebags couldn’t handle the 1950s card catalogue or the 10-pound wire mesh seltzer bottle, but we still managed to accrue plenty of small trinkets, including a tiny silver perfume bottle once owned by a “Lynne Elkins”—the name was engraved along the face. Our legs were a little stiff when we got back on the Perki trail. Once we hit Salford, I noticed a father and son duo hot on our tail; the son looked to be about seven years old. But I only had one thing on my mind: getting up that 12 percent grade. Thank goodness we resisted the seltzer bottle. We built up some solid momentum at the base of the ascent, switching gears, spinning in the gravel. I was breathing hard, trying to push through the burn, when I noticed two voices getting progressively louder. Wait. Were the father and son going to Zoom us on a 12 percent grade? No. Yes. They absolutely were. In an incredible blow to our egos—and as karmic retribution for all the 10-year-olds we gleefully passed the previous day—we were Zoomed so badly it was almost a Zing. At the top of the hill (reached on foot; we had to get off and walk our stupid skinny tires), we couldn’t even look each other in the eye. Zing Zang Zung by the father and son. Our comeuppance, as oppressive as the July humidity, was palpable all the way home. ■


by Samantha Wittchen


Philadelphia University RECIPIENT OF THE USGBC AWARD 2009

fact The average American throws

away 68 lbs. of clothing per year!


Manufacturing new clothing uses water, oil, and emits VOCs, (volatile organic compounds) and some even use pesticides. Recycled textiles can be used for upholstery, insulation, polishing cloths, and even high-quality paper.


If you’re disposing of clothing that’s still wearable, a number of charities and consignment shops will take it off your hands. Goodwill, The Salvation Army, Circle Thrift (2233 Frankford Ave. or 1125 S. Broad St.) and Second Mile (214 S. 45th St.) are all good places to take your clothes. Goodwill and The Salvation Army have donation centers throughout the region and offer donation forms for taking a tax deduction.



If you’re a fashion maven, consider taking your clothes to Buffalo Exchange (1713 Chestnut St.)—they might even give you a few bucks for your duds. Other textiles, such as towels, bedding and curtains, can also be taken to Goodwill, The Salvation Army, Circle Thrift and Second Mile, but make sure they’re still in usable condition. For items that are completely worn out, consider taking them to a textile recycler to be transformed into a host of usable goods. Dumont Export Corporation is a textile recycler located in Southwest Philadelphia (5601 Pascall Ave., 610-667-2278). ■

“The principle of sustainability is reshaping the way we think about the world, encouraging us to improve the way we design, build and live in the 21st century”

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



Have a Recycling Challenge or a tip for us? Send an email to

Photography by Tom Crane & Dean Gazzo

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Proud Mary

Mary Seton Corboy and Greensgrow continue to set an example story by lee stabert


photos by jessica kourkounis

reensgrow, an urban farm and nursery in kensington, is a superstar of Philadelphia’s sustainability community. Having earned an abundance of recent national and local press, the pioneering farm’s name is always at the ready when conversation turns to the rising tide of urban ag. ¶ But Greensgrow is important because it’s not new. It’s not trendy. The farm has been around almost 15 years, long enough for legitimacy—predating the current surge of interest in “green” projects—and it still continues to push the boundaries of what it means to grow food in a major American city, while also being a good neighbor.


he major force behind the farm’s tremendous success is Mary Seton Corboy. A lithe woman with spiky gray hair, infectious energy and what some people might call “a smart mouth,” Corboy founded Greensgrow in the late ’90s with her partner Tom Sereduk. Grid sat down with Corboy in the second floor office of a townhouse across the street from the farm—the abandoned building was bought eight years ago for $1,500. Over the course of an engrossing conversation, she tells the story of how a polluted, vacant piece of land became a hub for both the neighborhood and the city. It’s a narrative driven by pragmatism, innovation and a whole lot of sweat. After all, farming is hard work. Doing it in a community that views you with confusion and skepticism—while actively trying to change that image—is even harder. A cancer survivor and practiced talker, Corboy is wily and wise. She is also funny. Very funny. It’s easy to understand why people want to work for this woman. ary Seton Corboy grew up in Washington, DC. Her parents were in the Peace Corps and then worked for the State Department. School was never her thing. “I was pretty uninterested in what was going on in the classroom—something that has come back to haunt me,” says Corboy. “I tell my nieces and nephews that hindsight, of course, is 20/20, or as my sister says, eighth grade is always better the second time around.” In a pattern that would emerge over the course of our conversation, Corboy claims to be terrible at/not know much about something, and then goes on to casually recount her eventual success. “I went to grad school,” she says, “just because I couldn’t figure out what you were supposed to do after you graduate from college. I mean, they don’t give you a blueprint exactly.” In college, she spent her summers cooking to make money. In grad school, the opportunity arose to participate in an internship at a fine dining restaurant. “I jumped at it,” she recalls. “I thought, ‘I can eat crappy food for $4 an hour or I can eat good food for $4 an hour.’ I took the good food, and became a chef.” A few years later, Corboy was invited to help maintain the Chester County estate of painter Andrew Wyeth—another task she felt ill-prepared for. “I told them that I didn’t know how to do anything in particular,” she says. “They said all I had to do was sit on a riding lawnmower and go up and down. After about three minutes I got bored, and started doing some circles. Next thing I know, I rode the lawnmower right into the river. I don’t know how that happened. But I didn’t know the lay of the land. So, they thought that it would be kind of humorous to keep somebody like me around, [messing *] up everything that I touched. I ended up staying there for a number of years, and learned a tremendous amount about things that I had never touched on before—trees and flowers.” Wyeth’s passion for the natural world was a good fit for Corboy: “If you know his art, he was not the kind of person who wanted fancy gardens,” she says. “There’s no way you’re going to confuse Andy Wyeth and [renowned Philadelphia socialite] Dodo Hamilton. He could look at a tree growing out of a stump of mud and think it was the most beautiful thing in the world, * Like

I said, smart mouth.

and he would look at a flower in a vase and go, ‘God, whose idea was that?’ So, I didn’t exactly develop my sense of aesthetics of flowers while I was there, but I did learn a little about planting tomatoes, peppers and onions and the seasons of things.” It was around this time that Corboy met Tom Sereduk. While she had little experience in farming or horticulture, Sereduk had a science background. He had always been interested in plants and flowers, and was experimenting with hydroponics. “It took me years to figure out what he was talking about,” says Corboy with a laugh. “So, I just kind of landed here by chance. I think I fell out of a lot of the other revolutions—but I can’t fall out of this one now, mary seton corboy because I’m in charge.”

I had been reading a lot

of articles in the Inquirer about vacant land. So, we reached an agreement: If I could find land in the city— and it made sense—then we could do it in the city.

reensgrow itself began with a simple question: How do you grow produce and get it to restaurants as quickly as possible, so it’s as fresh as possible? In 1998, the pair started growing on a traditional farm in New Jersey, but they were both living in the city. “I had been reading a lot of articles in the Inquirer about vacant land,” explains Corboy, “So, we reached an agreement: If I could find land in the city—and it made sense—then we could do it in the city.” Corboy wasn’t familiar with Kensington when she began her search. “I was driving around looking at the different neighborhoods,” she recalls. “I called my housemate, Al, and he said, ‘Where are you?’ I looked around the skyline—there were more factories then—and I said, ‘I’m not sure, but I think I’m in Pittsburgh.’” “It’s ironic, because now I’m a huge seller of this neighborhood,” she continues. “When I lived downtown [Corboy now lives in Fishtown], people would say, ‘You come down here every day?’ I was like, I didn’t cross the river in a boat. I could spit and hit my house. You can see it. I live downtown. But that was part of learning the culture here. They considered going downtown to be—like everybody had to get together and discuss it first. So, I kind of hid where I lived, because people were already judgmental about what we were doing—there were all kinds of crazy stories going around about who we were.” Eventually they found the small plot of land at the corner of Gaul and East Cumberland that would become Greensgrow—it was a brownfield site that had been cleaned up by the EPA. “It had a fence around it and it had sunshine, but it had nothing s e pt e m b e r 20 10

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Cook Top

Corboy’s culinary background has been an asset at Greensgrow

else,” says Corboy. “No gas, no water, no electric. No nothing. Just a fence. And we were coming in very close on our time limit. We had to get growing by a certain date in order to harvest by a certain date, otherwise the year was going to be a total wash.” In its infancy, Greensgrow focused on hydroponic lettuce, sold wholesale to local restaurants. It was not smooth sailing. “It was a comedy of errors,” explains Corboy. “The first year was such an unbelievable struggle. It was all the things that we never thought about—that people were going to steal from us, that we had no bathroom, we had no cover, we had no facility, no place to get a glass of water. We had nothing. And at the end of the year, we really walked away thinking we’re just not going to deal with this. It’s crazy.” But they regrouped, rented a Port-A-John and forged ahead. Year two they just barely broke even.

Let the people who have the eight kids get the big CSA with all of the cabbage in it. Let the vegetarians have those. I’ll make a CSA that’s got bread and cheese and good chicken and stuff like that. Corboy and Sereduk went to Wharton Business School at the University of Pennsylvania for help. “They said to us, ‘There is absolutely no way you guys can survive,’” recalls Corboy. “I mean, no way. There’s nothing to get my ire up like somebody telling me I can’t do something. So, we went right back to the drawing board, and came back for round three.” Over the next few years, things began to 16

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change—the original business model was untenable, so Greensgrow needed a new plan. “We built a greenhouse,” says Corboy. “We diversified the operation so that we grow very little hydroponic lettuce anymore. 95 percent of our business is retail and only five percent is to restaurants. I got so tired of paying parking tickets when we were delivering. You go out delivering, you get caught in traffic, and you’d be out with lettuce wilting in the back of the truck for seven hours. It was always going to be an uphill battle. So we got into the nursery business. I knew nothing about flowers.” But flowers were something people in Kensington did know something about. “That changed our whole relationship with the neighborhood,” explains Corboy. “People thought we were about as strange as we could possibly be. And they knew it was a brownfield site. They knew that the last people they had seen on the site had been dressed in full clean-up gear. And here Tom and I were out there in our shorts and flip-flops—two white kids burning up in the sun, picking little heads of itty bitty lettuce. They just thought we had it all wrong. But when we opened up selling flowers, that was something they understood.” It was around this time that the idea for a CSA developed. “I didn’t quite understand it, but more people were joining them,” says Corboy, adding to the list of things she was ignorant of before conquering. “A lot of people I knew were dissatisfied with them. You know, the whole joke about, ‘Oh no! It’s August; we’re going to get 35 heads of cabbage and 42 pieces of zucchini.’” “I was talking to a friend and he was saying, ‘I want to support the idea of a CSA—I love fresh food—but the kind of food I eat is the kind of food you deliver.’ So, I thought, that’s what this city needs: It needs like a ‘gay’ CSA. [Laughs] I mean, something geared towards the small ur-

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ban couple. Let the people who have the eight kids get the big CSA with all of the cabbage in it. Let the vegetarians have those. I’ll make a CSA that’s got bread and cheese and good chicken and stuff like that.” The CSA has become an integral part of Greensgrow’s business and identity. What started with 25 members now has 375 (525 if you count split shares). Eric Kintzel is the current curator, building the weekly baskets with care and a bit of creativity. Because of the high demand, Greensgrow compiles their CSA using resources from various local farms (within a 75-mile radius) that utilize sustainable growing practices—organic or Integrated Pest Management (IPM). Kintzel, who has a masters in environmental science, often designs the shares around specific holidays (a barbecue theme for Fourth of July) or a particularly beautiful product. When I spoke to him, the farm was readying pesto, and he was planning a South Philly/pasta-themed week. From the CSA came the farmers’ market. “I thought, what if someone can’t afford the CSA?” says Corboy. “If I’m already going to buy corn, I’ll just buy extra corn, and then I’ll sell it at a farmers’ market.” That was just one of a host of new ideas. “Tom left, and I just kept rolling down the road with it,” she says, “continuing to diversify the farm.” The current challenge with the CSA is expanding its reach to low-income neighborhood residents. The resulting program is called LIFE—Local Initiative for Food Education. “It’s born out of the fact that we don’t have a lot

of low-income shoppers utilizing our markets, and certainly the CSA,” explains Corboy. “I’m looking into why that is. I mean, is it perception issues? Is it education issues? Are we open at the wrong times? And it’s kind of a grab bag of everything. But just talking to my neighbors, they don’t cook fresh. How can we develop a program that can fit into their lives, get them food, and make it affordable?” To address a few of those questions, members will be able to use food stamps to purchase the CSA; the price is 21 dollars per week, or 12 percent of an average family’s food stamp budget. One key to accessibility is stripping away some of the puritanical tendencies of the local food movement. “Just because you have access to fresh green beans doesn’t mean you can only eat fresh green beans,” she explains. “I, personally, like green bean casserole. So, I like mixing things with greens. I like mixing things with life. I like to throw all of the [stuff] in the bucket together. If I don’t have homemade chicken stock, I have no problem with using canned chicken stock.” Recruiting participants for LIFE has pushed Greensgrow towards new—or, more acurately, old—outreach strategies. The farm again reached out to Wharton for advice and, after looking at the farm’s current plan, the experts remarked

that the they were doing an excellent job with social media marketing—Twitter, Facebook, etc. “Since I just learned what Twitter was last year, I was patting myself on the head,” says Corboy. “But then they said, ‘That’s just not going to work.’ This type of marketing has to be through church bulletins, word of mouth and local newspapers.” A cooking class is another important and innovative element of the LIFE program. Every ingredient used in every recipe must be available at a store in 19125. As Corboy puts it, “If I can’t find it at Thriftway, Food Fair or Pathmark—or some corner bodega—then we’re not going to use it as a cooking ingredient, because what’s the point?” The classes will take place at St. Michael’s, a neighborhood church. Corboy has been using their facilities for years. Once Greensgrow launched their farmers’ market, there were leftovers—surplus strawberries became jam and tomatoes became sauce. “I didn’t want to build a new kitchen,” recalls Corboy. “I was kind of tired of building stuff. I ran into the people from St. Michael’s and they were really open to new ideas. I rented their kitchen for a couple of days to make jam, and that went over really well. And then I started to think about using it on a regular basis, updating

it, getting it certified. I thought that if I’m going to go through all of that trouble, then I should make it available to other people, too, because other people might want to have food businesses.” The kitchen will soon serve as an incubator space for local culinary entrepreneurs. reensgrow has grown exponentially over the years—they currently employ 17 people. “When we reviewed our original mission statement at our last board meeting, it said, ‘Create employment opportunities for the underserved,’” says Corboy. “If the underserved are college graduates with degrees in Anthropology, then we have fulfilled our mission. [Laughs] This is one of the great hurdles urban agriculture is going to have to face. The people who are interested in urban agriculture are for the most part white, college-educated. They could be doing something else.” Meanwhile, urban farms tend to pop up in struggling communities, where cheap vacant land is prevalent. In terms of academic background, Corboy’s staff is a “mixed bag.” “But I would have to shake up the bag to find somebody who is not a college graduate,” she adds. “And that is not for lack of looking for people from this community. I could count on my fingers the number of applicants that

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we’ve had from the neighborhood. If you walk up and down the streets here in July or August, all you hear is the hum of the air conditioner.”

Full of Grace

Corboy samples a fig at Greensgrow [top]; Preparing eggplant for a LIFE cooking class [above]


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orboy is often at her most engaging when she’s on a bit of a rant. She has strong opinions—about food, cities, work and priorities. “We’ve noticed some hesitancy in a lot of local people, ironically, to start their own gardens,” she muses. “In an area where you think people might do more of that to save some money. But sometimes it’s very difficult to put yourself in a position to judge other people’s life choices. I will often have a conversation with someone around here about their financial woes, and they’ve got a can of beer or Diet Coke in one hand and a cigarette in the other. “I think it’s my job to try and put something here for them to have access to—making it as easy as possible. And try to do it without hitting people over the head, teaching them about how it’s helpful to all of us in the long run. That sounds so trite, you know, like I’m heading out to the Peace Corps. But, I see it in the 13 years that I’ve been here—the obesity in the children is phenomenal. Everywhere I go, I see it. It used to be that you saw a kid out there on the street all day long. All they were doing was throwing rocks at you, but at least they were getting some exercise. Now, the streets are bare.” Organizations like Greensgrow can only do so much—especially if they want to be sustainable. “I want to make this clear: Greensgrow is not a poverty organization, it’s not a hunger organization, it’s not even a food organization,”

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she explains. “That’s not why we’re here. That’s not why we started. I mean, we have been drawn in that area—and I’m glad that we are, I’m glad that we have social conscience that’s been growing and growing along with our growing and growing—but our mission, which we are getting ready to revisit now, is probably not changing a whole lot. And that is that ‘urban agriculture’— of which we have a really broad definition—has the ability to rebuild parts of the city that are underutilized and uninhabited, and by doing so, create a more livable city.” n a recently-recorded piece for WHYY’s “This I Believe” series, Corboy begins, “I believe in the power of physical labor, and I’m not referring to the intellectual idea of force used to move a rock or the defined formula—E=mc2—that creates the energy to turn a turbine. Instead, I’m talking about plain old knee-bending, bone-grinding, blister-making labor that most of the world’s human beings engage in.” Her three-minute talk is a beautiful ode to physicality, to marking days with visible progress, to digging ditches. “It’s something that I always knew,” Corboy says in reference to the WHYY essay. “It’s why I was happy. It’s why I became a chef. I thought that being a chef tied together the cerebral, the creative and hard physical work. By the end of the day, you were tired. And then working and taking care of the Wyeth Estate, it was the same kind of thing. And now this. To me it’s perfect.” ■


The Sustainable Business Network in partnership with Sustainable Fashion Designers present

Fashion Forward

engage employees in wellness

a Two-Part Series on Sustainable Fashion and Philadelphia 215.922.2525 work. health. communication.

Fashion Forward Part I: Sustainable Textile Design and Manufacturing in Philadelphia—Expert Panel Sponsored in part by Philadelphia Fashion Week

Hear local favorites from the Philadelphia textile and accessory industries discuss the challenges and advantages of incorporating sustainable, organic and fair-trade practices into their work. Learn what the City is doing to heighten visibility for designers who choose to create and manufacture in Philadelphia and find out what local buyers are looking for when stocking their shelves with eco-chic items. This is a must-attend event for anyone interested in designing, making and buying sustainable threads. October 7, 6-8pm, $20 for SBN members / $25 non-members

Fashion Forward Part 2: Design in Action

The National Association of Sustainable Fashion Designers and Grid Magazine, in Partnership with the Sustainable Business Network of Greater Philadelphia

This panel will feature designers who are working in the trenches to create a more sustainable fashion industry. They will share real life stories of overcoming obstacles and sticking to their values to create impact. Attendees will learn what it takes to get started and grow your fashion enterprise. Early registrants will receive a free booklet on sustainable fashion resources from Grid magazine and Sustainable Designers. There will be an industry social immediately after the panel. October 14, 6-8pm, $20 for SD members / $25 non-members Both sessions will be held at University of the Arts CDS Auditorium, Hamilton Hall, 320 S. Broad St. (Broad & Pine)


COFFEE BAR 15th and Mifflin Streets in South Philadelphia Mon-Fri 7-9 • Sat-Sun 8-9 • 215.339.5177

Handmade Cleaning Products & Green Cleaning Services Banish harmful chemicals from your home We mix and match cleaning formulae according to your needs. We use only natural nontoxic ingredients paired with essential oils

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Green Cleaning Service! Mention this ad and receive $10 off your first cleaning, and your 5th cleaning is free! • 215.740.5522 Also check out SAPOS, our line of natural cleaning products.

Betsy Spivak Insurance Services Individual & Small Group Health Insurance Life Insurance, Disability Income Insurance & Long Term Care Specializing in helping Individuals and Families, the Self-Employed & the Locally Owned Small Business Direct: 215.275.3033

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Do-It-Yourself Home Weatherizing Guide As part of Grid’s continuing effort to prepare you for the expiration of the PECO rate caps (see August’s cover story), we’re offering you this handy guide to weatherizing your home. The materials you’ll need for these projects, which cost between $5 and $20, are available at your local, independent hardware store. Implement these quick, inexpensive solutions, and you’ll save energy, decrease electric bills and free your house from drafts and leaks. Thank you to the Energy Coordinating Agency ( for allowing us to rework and republish their guide, and Rittenhouse Hardware (2001 Pine Street) for fact checking.

CEILINGS Hot air rises; caulk or patch holes in your ceiling to prevent air leaks to the outside.

WALLS Wall leaks often occur around baseboards, window frames and holes created for pipes and wiring; seal holes and caulk moldings if you feel air coming through.

BASEMENT Cold air is pulled out through the basement; seal all leaks to the outside—paying special attention to areas where gas and electrical lines enter the house—and all holes between the basement and the house proper.

Want to learn more? Don’t miss the Grid special event

D.I.Y. Weatherizing Tips See our ad on page 2 for more details.


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illus t r at ions by me lis s a m c feeters



Pipe Insulation

draft hood

hot water pipe

gas line

Insulation Wrap

cold water pipe

1. Starting above draft hood, twist pipe insulation onto hot water pipe. Don’t leave any spaces. 2. Hold ends tightly in place with plastic ties or tape.

pressure release valve

Water heater wraps are made of fiberglass insulation. Some pipe wrap insulation is still made with fiberglass, but you can also choose competing products made with foam or plastic.

Measure and Cut 1. Lay the heater wrap on the floor, fiberglass side down. 2. Measure the tank from the top down to the drain valve. 3. Measure jacket and cut any extra off the bottom. The top has a plastic flap. 4. Wrap the excess strip cut from bottom of jacket around water heater. Cut to fit exactly.

drain valve

5. Using strip as a guide, cut width of jacket.

Tape Jacket 6. Clean and dry top of tank 7. Wrap extra insulation jacket around water heater. Tape across seam at top, middle and bottom of jacket. 8. Tape plastic flap to top of tank. 9. Tape seam from top to bottom.

heater wrap


10. Use duct tape to make two “suspenders,” which reach across top of tank and down six inches on each side.

Final Cuts

11. Tape a “belt” of duct tape all the way around water heater across ends of suspenders.

14. If you have an electric water heater, cut open a flap for both access panels, and cover the top of the heater with extra insulation.

12. Put another belt of tape around jacket above control box.


13. Cut jacket away from pressure relief valve, burner box and controls.


Temperature Control Set your water heater temperature to make sure it’s not hotter than it has to be—you should be able to use your hot water without adding cold water. Use the dial in the control box to turn the temperature of your water heater down to warm (or low).


An electric water heater has two temperature controls behind the access panels on the front. To lower the temperature, turn off electricity, take off access panels and turn down both controls. The top control should be five degrees higher than bottom one. We suggest 125 degrees for top and 120 degrees for bottom.


Furnace Filters If you have heating vents, you have a hot air furnace and a furnace filter. 1. Check filter every month. 2. If filter is dirty, replace it with a new one of the same size.

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3. Filters have arrows on the top side. Put new filter in with arrow pointing into furnace. 4. If old filter is reusable, clean it and put it back.

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door stop

2. Measure top of doorframe and cut a strip of V-Seal to fit exactly. 3. Fold strip along centerline into a “V” shape. Paper backing should face out. 4. Stick strip onto frame with folded edge or point of “V” facing door. Peel paper off back as you go.


Door Sweep

Door sweeps on the bottom of exterior doors can help reduce uncontrolled air infiltration, moisture, dust and insects. Door sweep materials can vary, but typically they are made with an aluminum carrier you screw into the door and a vinyl weatherstrip.

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V-Seal weatherstripping helps create a tighter seal around windows and doors. It’s plastic with an adhesive backing on one half. 1. Clean doorframe. Wipe with all-purpose cleaner and dry.





5. Measure, cut and put up V-seal on both sides of door frame. 6. On lock side, cut V-Seal above and below latch plate. Put a small piece of V-Seal behind latch plate.

1. Measure the bottom of door widthwise. Cut the sweep to size.

3. Drill or nail at marks. Screw on the sweep.

2. Put the sweep against the door so the rubber gently touches the floor. Mark each hole for screws.

4. If door sweep is too high or too low, loosen screws, move sweep and rescrew.

WINDOWS Tube Caulk Tube Caulk seals inside: along drafty baseboards, between walls and along trim around windows and doors. Tube caulk seals outside: around window and door frames, between door sills and along front steps. Caulk outside when it is dry and above 40 degrees. Do not use tube caulk on moving parts. 1. Remove loose caulk and dirt with scraper or wire brush. 2. If the crack is bigger than your little finger, stuff it with insulation or old rope caulk.

1 3

2 caulk tube plunger



caulk gun trigger


3. Cut tip of caulk tube on an angle. 4. Put tube in gun. 5. Hold caulk gun at a 45-degree angle. Squeeze trigger and slowly pull tip of tube along crack. Make sure caulk fills crack and overlaps a little on both sides. 6. Smooth caulk with a wet finger if necessary.

Rope Caulk Rope Caulk is a non-hardening clay sold in rolls.

1. Thoroughly clean and dry the window surface, especially near the corners. 2. Measure the window and tear off a piece of rope caulk as long as the crack to be sealed.

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3. Press the rope caulk firmly onto the crack; if it’s very wide, two or more strands can be used together. 4. Seal all the cracks around window. Don’t forget the cracks between top and bottom sashes.

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Bag It

Spruce up that sack lunch with these easy recipes recipes and photos by marisa mcclellan,


he days are getting shorter. Labor Day is on the horizon. Soon there’ll be a hint of a chill in the morning air. This can only mean one thing: Fall is coming, and with it fresh school (or office) supplies, one or two new items of clothing, and another year of lunch boxes to prep and pack. ¶ Whether you’re in charge of a single midday meal or a family’s worth of brown paper bags, these recipes might just be the inspiration you’ve been looking for. First, an appetite-appeasing sandwich, constructed from sturdy whole wheat bread and a spread made with cream cheese, poached chicken (leftovers from a roaster also work nicely) and a few herbs for color and flavor. 24

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Next up, a hearty barley salad, stuffed with feta cheese, hunks of crunchy cucumber, cilantro (you can substitute Italian parsley if you’re a cilantro hater) and onion, bound by a slightly sweet mustard vinaigrette. And what lunch bag is complete without PB&J? Try this whole grain cookie bar, made with natural peanut butter, jam or jelly, whole wheat flour and plenty of oats. It satisfies the sweet tooth while all those whole grains give it a virtuous appeal.

Chicken and Cream Cheese Sandwiches 8 oz. softened cream cheese 1 cup of chopped, cooked chicken ¼ cup chopped herbs (parsley, basil or tarragon all work nicely) salt & pepper whole grain bread

Barley, Feta and Cucumber Salad Dressing:

1 tbsp. grainy mustard 1 tbsp. honey cup apple cider vinegar ¾ cup olive oil salt & pepper Salad:


cup of barley, cooked and cooled (barley gets cooked at a 1:3 ratio; 1 cup of barley to 3 cups of water) 1 seedless cucumber, cubed ½ sweet or red onion, chopped 4 oz. (approximately) of feta cheese, cubed or crumbled (depends on your taste) 1 bunch cilantro, chopped

˜˜In a small bowl or measuring cup, combine the mustard, honey and vinegar. Whisk until incorporated. Stream the olive oil into the other ingredients, whisking as you pour to create an emulsion. Add salt and pepper to taste. ˜˜In a large serving bowl, combine the barley with the dressing and toss to combine. Add the rest of the ingredients and stir to incorporate. Let sit for at least half an hour prior to serving so the flavors can mingle. ˜˜This salad keeps for up to five days in the refrigerator.

˜˜In a food processor, pulse together the cream cheese, chicken and herbs. Process until you’ve got a smooth-ish spread. Taste and add salt and pepper to your liking. ˜˜Spread on your bread. Add any additional toppings you’d like (cucumber, slivered red onion and lettuce are all nice). ˜˜This sandwich spread will keep in the refrigerator for up to a week.

Peanut Butter and Jelly Bar Cookies ¼ ¼ 1 ½ 1 1 ¼ ½ 1 1 1

cup butter (one stick) cup applesauce cup natural peanut butter cup brown sugar egg tsp. vanilla extract tsp. salt tsp. baking powder cup rolled old fashioned oats cup whole wheat pastry flour cup jam or jelly (any flavor)

˜˜Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a square brownie pan. ˜˜In a large mixing bowl, cream together the butter, applesauce, peanut butter and brown sugar. Once combined, add the egg and vanilla and beat to incorporate. ˜˜In small bowl, whisk the dry ingredients together. Add them to the wet ingredients in two stages, mixing well between additions. ˜˜Divide the dough roughly in half. Press the slightly larger half into the bottom of the prepared pan to form a crust. Spread your jam or jelly out in an even layer across the surface. Crumble the remaining dough out on top—this will form crispy clusters during baking. ˜˜Bake for 35-40 minutes, until the top browns. Let cool completely prior to slicing.

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/buy local Cheese Claudio’s Mozzarella of the


Claudio Specialty Foods

by tenaya darlington,


f you’ve never had fresh mozzarella—I’m talking one-hour-old—do yourself a favor and stroll down to Claudio’s in the Italian Market. It’s one of the few places in the city where you can still observe a food tradition in action. Like Nan Zhou (927 Race St.), the noodle bar in Chinatown where you can observe skilled technicians pulling dough into ribbons, at Claudio’s you can see people in shower caps making mozzarella by hand, Tuesday through Saturday. It all happens behind the counter of a small storefront, right next door to the familyowned shop, Claudio Specialty Foods. When you buy mozzarella balls from the grocery store, they’re often chewy and dense, but when you purchase them from the maker, they’re pillowy and light. The difference is time—that grocery-store mozz has been sitting around. When it comes to fresh cheese, the younger the better. (If you want to test this theory, try eating a cheese curd. A day-old curd is rubbery and tough, while an hour-old curd “squeaks” with freshness.)

Claudio’s specializes in house-made fresh cheeses, including ricotta and Burrata—a geodelike orb of mozzarella with a cream-filled center. Ricotta can be mixed with fresh herbs and a little lemon zest for an easy spread, and Burrata makes an impressive appetizer. Just serve it at room temperature, and wait until everyone is gathered before cutting it open. The oozy center is stunning. On a summer evening, these fresh cheeses are the perfect start to a light meal, and a great accompaniment to local tomatoes. Clau-

High View Farm

dio’s also sells wonderful pesto and gorgeous sun-dried tomatoes. For a quick appetizer, cut a baguette into rounds and top with pesto, tomato slices and a slab of fresh mozzarella. Bake at 350 for 10 minutes, and you’ll have a dreamy, gooey snack that will make people drool. If you want to test this theory, well, you know what to do. ■


Claudio Specialty Foods, 924-26 S. 9th St., 215627-1873,

In June, High View Farm’s Linda Geren brought half a hog to Reading Terminal Market for PASA’s “Snout-to-Tail” seminar. Local chefs made some miraculous creations with the rich, flavorful meat, but Geren’s humble homemade scrapple—served with homemade apple butter and new potatoes—might have been the star. Geren and her husband Michael McKay first started raising all-natural, hormone-free pigs for their own use. “The one pig was lonely, so we got three pigs the next year,” recalls Geren. They started sharing their meat with neighbors and friends through shares, and eventually bought a bigger farm. To satisfy Geren’s interest in fiber arts and spinning, High View added a few lambs to their menagerie. (The dye-free, all-natural wool yarn is also for sale.) Geren has a culinary background, so taste has always been the top priority. High View employs special finishing techniques to get just the right amount of marbling in their animals. In the fall, the pigs dine on ground-fall apples, acquired from Strawberry Hills Farm, a neighboring family-owned orchard. You can order High View’s pork and lamb directly from the farm, and McKay and Geren are looking to expand into Philadelphia retail locations in the near future. If you reserve a half-hog, High View will even arrange for custom butchering, giving you the exact cuts and styles you prefer—chops can be cut thick or thin, hams can be smoked or cured, and you get to cast your vote in that eternal debate: pork belly versus bacon. High View Farm, 166 Monmouth Rd., North Hanover, NJ, 609-758-6708,


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

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fresh, local food seasonal custom menus unique events

CommuniCation... Begins with a Conversation

Print | strategy | web 215/925.1980

We find solutions to . . . drafty houses high utility bills uncomfortable rooms

215-435-0331 /

“Most compelling reason to return to West Philly”

–City Paper Choice Awards 2008

Handmade gifts

Unique Wares By Unique People Local Crafts & Artful Goods Open Tuesday - Saturday

$25 off Energy Audit expires October 1, 2010


5009 Baltimore Ave.

Craft events on 2nd Saturdays! W e s t215.471.7700 Philadelphia 

jewelry, ceramics, baby, art, apparel, hats & bags, cards, bath & body, etc...

Fresh produce at Greensgrow Farmers Market (Saturdays, 10-3), Headhouse Farmers Market (Sundays 10-2), and throughout the city at select retailers. FROM OUR FARM TO YOUR HOME 717.677.7186


Eco-facilitators helps your organization develop ideas and facilitate changes in how you work by identifying fundamental convictions amongst your staff and building a measurable accountability plan to help your organization achieve positive environmental change.


s e pt e m b e r 20 10

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


Aug 19


Vegan Spirituality Retreat Presented by Artists for Animals and, this retreat focuses on compassion. Discuss veganism with like-minded locals, listen to panel discussions, enjoy guided meditations and feast on a professionally-prepared vegan lunch. Perks include free transport from the nearest train station and childcare.


→→ August 14, 11 a.m. – 3 p.m., Saunders

Woods, 1020 Waverly Rd., Gladwyne, $30 adults; $20 students/seniors; $15 youth (12-17); $10 children (6-11); free for kids under 6, to register, contact Lisa Levinson at lisa@ or 215-620-2130, for more information, visit


Mike McGrath at Greensgrow Farm Host of WHYY’s “You Bet Your Garden,” McGrath will teach a workshop entitled, “The Second Season: Gardens Get HOT When the Weather Cools DOWN.” He’ll guide participants through the wonderful world of forgotten late season crops like garlic, broccoli and edible pansies.


→→ August 14, 1 p.m., Greensgrow Farm,

2501 E. Cumberland Ave., to reserve a spot, email, for more information, visit Mike McGrath of WHYY’s “You Bet Your Garden”

A catering company focused on local food and earth-friendly events, Birchtree is celebrating its success—and a new website—with this launch party. Participating shops include Green Aisle Grocery, Buttercream Cupcakes, Urban Jungle and Square Peg Artery & Salvage. →→ August 19, 6 – 9 p.m., Fleisher Art Memorial,

719 Catharine St., to RSVP, visit Birchtree Catering on Facebook, for more information, email or call 215-435-0331

Aug 19

→→ August 19, 11 a.m. – 2 p.m., various

locations, $20; students and seniors eligible for $5 discount, to register, visit



Aug 15

→→ August 15, 11 a.m. – 7 p.m., Whole Foods

→→ August 23, 10 a.m., free for members; $5 for

each additional person; $20 for non-members, to register (deadline is August 20), email or call 215-386-5211 ext 106, for more information, visit

Jenkintown, 1675 The Fairway, Jenkintown, for more information, visit


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→→ August 26, 6 p.m., Urban Jungle, 1526-30

E. Passyunk Ave., $20, for more information and to register, visit; for more on Urban Jungle, see p. 10.


sep 01

Mugshots Sustainability Line-up: Green Roofs and Their Importance for a Sustainable City

Speaker Michele Dixon will explain exactly what green roofs are, and how they can create a more sustainable city. Dixon will also guide participants as they build a model. House & Café—Fairmount, 2100 Fairmount Ave., for more information, visit mugshots or call 267-514-7145

sep 11

Pennsylvania Coast Day

Enjoy all this interactive fest has to offer on both land and in the water. Experience the Delaware River with a kayak lesson, a ride on a RiverLink Ferry boat, a sail on New Jersey’s own A.J. Meerwald tall ship, or all of the above. If you’re more of land lover, check out the Independence Seaport Museum for a special $5 admission price. Penn’s Landing Walnut Plaza, Walnut and Columbus Sts., for more information, visit

sep 11

PHS Fall Garden Festival

This Pennsylvania Horticultural Society event boasts a Greensgrow farmers’ market, children’s activities, a Meadowbrook Farm Store and a Garden Café. It’s also your chance to meet new PHS president Drew Becher and sign up for a PHS membership; register at the Fest and you’ll receive free Flower Show tickets, a plant and a gift. →→ September 11, 11 a.m. – 4 p.m., Philadelphia

Urban Jungle: Shade Gardening

Nearby buildings and plants overshadowing your garden plot? Horticulturalist Erica Smith will guide you through the basics of plant selection and placement in a garden that is lacking in the sun’s warm rays.


4th St., $10, to register, visit (click on the event banner) or call 215-6259850 x100.

→→ September 11, 11 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.,

Fair Food Farm Tour

Fair Food is hosting this exclusive tour, offering an inside look at local farms and food producers including Smucker’s Meats, Maple Valley Organics and Meadow Run Farm. Don’t forget to bring a dish filled with favorite local ingredients to share at the potluck lunch!


→→ August 28, 1 - 2:30 p.m., Greenable, 820 N.

→→ September 1, 6:30 p.m., Mugshots Coffee

Urban Sustainability Tour: Innovations in Green Infrastructure

The Urban Sustainability Forum is hitting the road! Join them for a look at existing, new and planned green building projects throughout the city. Tour stops include the green roof at the Radian, Mill Creek Garden’s swale and retention basin, and Clark Park.


PASA Fresh Beets Music & Food Festival This all-day fundraiser for PASA will feature kids’ activities, live music and great food. Stop by to learn more about local growers and get your groove on to a number of different bands.

Birchtree Catering Launch Party

Grid Presents: DIY Weatherizing Tips Workshop

Presented by Grid and led by building analyst Rob Post, this workshop will offer easy, inexpensive and effective tips for making your living space more energy-efficient and comfortable.

Sep tember 201 0

Navy Yard, Marine Parade Ground, Broad St. and Constitution Ave., for more information, visit

Sep 12

BCGP Bike Philly

Ever dream of taking a leisurely ride through the city without the added aggravation of cars? The Bicycle Coalition will host this relaxed morning ride on car-free streets, open to bike enthusiasts of all ages. Choose from the car-free 10 and 20-mile loops, or the more challenging, shared road 35-mile loop. →→ September 12, 8 a.m., $35 Adult BCGP

member; $45 non-member; $15 student; $5 youth 12 and under, for more information or to register, visit content/bike-philly

Sep 12

GreenFest Philly

This annual fall fest is back, and 2010’s theme is “sustainable fashion.” Find out how to donate that old pile of clothes, support Philly’s local thrift store scene, learn about organic fabrics and pick up some tips from the Eco-Fashion Show. Plus, enjoy the regular lineup of live entertainment, local produce, yoga, green contests and kids activities. →→ September 12, 11 a.m. – 6 p.m.,

2nd and South Sts., for more information, visit

Sep 14

Pennypack Farm and Education Center: Preparing Your Garden For Winter

Despite this scorching summer, we must prepare ourselves—and our plants—for the frost-filled winter ahead. Pennypack’s Farmer Andy will teach you the best techniques for growing during the winter months. →→ September 14, 7 p.m., Pennypack Farm

& Education Center, 685 Mann Rd., Horsham, $10, to register (deadline is September 6), visit

Sep 15


This year, Philadelphia Live Arts Festival and Philly Fringe will host the first ever Feastival, a benefit mixing artistic performances with Philly’s food scene. The event, held at the Festival Hub in Northern Liberties, will be co-hosted by culinary big wigs Audrey Claire Taichman, Michael Soloman and Stephen Starr. Expect to taste offerings from Capogiro, Metropolitan Bakery and Pumpkin. →→ September 15, 6 – 9 p.m., Festival Hub,

SW corner of 5th and Fairmount Sts., $200 general admission; $300 VIP, for information and tickets, visit


PA Energy Fest

Learn the answers to all your energy questions at this three-day festival. Educate yourself on renewable energy, natural building, sustainable agriculture and more by engaging in hands-on demonstrations and interacting with exhibitors from all over the country.

17 18 19


Manayunk EcoArts Festival

This first annual event, an extension of the 21-year-old Manayunk Arts Fesival, has a focus on sustainable and artistic initiatives. The two-day fest will feature presenters from across the country and highlight the sustainable efforts of Manayunk businesses, including Winnie’s Le Bus, Mugshots Coffee House and Gary P. Mann Jewelers.

25 26

→→ September 25, 11 a.m. – 7 p.m. and Septem-

ber 26, 11 a.m. – 6 p.m., for more information call 215-482-9565 or visit



Primex Garden Center Fruit Trees Workshop

Taught by store manager Anne Myers, this workshop will teach you the basics of pruning and rejuvenation and offer tips for caring for your soon-to-be blossoming fruit trees. →→ September 25, 10 a.m., Primex Garden

Center, 435 W. Glenside Ave., Glenside, $10, register early at the store or call 215-887-7500,

→→ September 17-19, Kempton Community Cen-

ter, 82 Community Dr., Kempton, $12 adults; $6 ages 13-21; free for those 12 and under, for more information, visit

Potted cactus and succulents



ANS: Global Warming 2010: Creating Jobs and Saving the Planet

Led by environmentalist Bill McKibben, this discussion will cover the who, what, when, where and why of climate change and reveal its positive effects. Learn how a changing climate can “expand the economy, create green jobs and preserve the planet.” →→ September 20, 6 p.m.

The Academy of Natural Science, 1900 Benjamin Franklin Pkwy., to register, visit, for information, visit

Sep 14

PHS Gardening Series: Your Indoor Garden— Cacti and Succulents



DVGBC Master Speaker Series: Secretary Collin O’Mara

You’ve been pruning and watering your outdoor plants all season long, and now it’s time to give your indoor space a little TLC. Master Gardener Leomar Cooper will instruct you on how to best care for cacti and other succulent plants.

Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC) secretary Collin O’Mara knows a thing or two about sustainability. Join him as he discusses the benefits of connecting the built environment to a sustainable regional economy, and ask him your burning green building questions during the Q&A segment.

→→ September 14, 4 – 5 p.m., Marrero Branch

→→ September 23, 6:30 p.m., The Academy of

of the Free Library, 601 W. Lehigh Ave., for more information, contact Marilyn Reynolds at or 215-988-8872

Natural Sciences, 1900 Benjamin Franklin Pkwy., $35 DVGBC members; $45 non-members; $15 students/profession in transition, to register (deadline Sep 17), visit

Environmentalist Bill McKibben



PASA Bike Fresh Bike Local

This third annual event supports PASA’s work with family farms and allows participants to enjoy invigorating bike rides of 75, 50 or 25 miles. The routes vary in difficulty, but each offers scenic views of a countryside full of local farms. →→ September 26, varying times and locations,

$35 advanced registration (until September 20); $40 day-of registration, for more information or to register, visit

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


essay by bernard brown

The River Wild


waded in from a rocky bank in the mountains of Schuylkill County and quickly forgot what I was looking for. My plan on that hot afternoon had been to snorkel for turtles, a pursuit that involves actively investigating underwater boulders and snags. Instead, I watched the fish and rocks on the bottom scroll by like some angelic dream of flying, the sounds of the world cozily muffled by cool water. I’ve continued snorkeling for turtles—and blissfully forgetting about it—in the rocky Delaware upstream from Trenton ever since. So, as a committed West Philadelphian hooked on swimming in rivers, it’s only natural that I’d feel the urge to take a dip in the Schuylkill. Why drive almost an hour to frolic in other rivers when I’ve got a perfectly good one right here? Wipe that grimace off your face. It’s been a week since I took the plunge, and I feel fine. Surprised? You shouldn’t be. Once upon a time the Schuylkill deserved its reputation, but these days it’s a clean river. It’s not the microbes or the chemicals in the Schuylkill that will kill you; it’s the current. Beneath its placid surface, the river flows with a smooth, unrelenting force. The murky water could be two or 12 feet deep—you can’t tell until you step in. At the end of May, a teenager (who apparently didn’t know how to swim) drowned near the Strawberry Mansion Bridge. Of course, the power that makes the river so deadly also makes it incredibly fun for a strong swimmer. I’ve turned hundreds of miles of laps in pools; the calm chlorinated water just sits there while you plow right through it. The living current of a river wrestles you back. Working upstream is the swimming equivalent of


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

climbing—you must earn every foot of progress. On the way back, the flow boosts each stroke, a thrill equivalent to racing downhill on a bicycle in a high gear. I have spoken to other Schuylkill swimmers (they spoke anonymously; swimming in the river is generally illegal) who offered advice on where to jump in. Hordes of carefully shepherded triathletes race in the river every year—and some take it upon themselves to practice on the course. In fact, I based my plan on tips from a triathlon training blog. I approached the river cautiously, watching the Schuylkill’s flow and temperature on a United States Geological Survey website to find a warm and relatively calm morning for my first swim. I also checked the water quality on Philly RiverCast’s website. I brought a friend along to keep an eye on me. (I don’t want to give the impression that the river is 100 percent safe, even for careful swimmers. I decided it was worth the risk, but every person needs to make an individual evaluation.) According to Alice Ballard, an advocate for placing a pool in either the Schuylkill or the Delaware, local youth (interviewed on Kelly Drive) jump in on hot days—indeed the accidental drownings attest to the practice—confirming that the default human approach to a body of water is to get in. Her proposed river swimming pool offers the best safe, lawful bet for Philadelphians hoping to take full advantage of our rivers as green space. Imagine a pool-sized basket, reached by a floating boardwalk from the bank. The current could flow through it, but the rigid wood and mesh would safely contain the swimmers. The William Penn Foundation, as part of its broader effort to engage Philadelphians with our mag-

sep tember 201 0

nificent waterways, funded a feasibility study for the project. Now the proponents are working with the City’s Parks and Recreation Department to hammer out the gritty details. No public project should be counted on until it has been completed, but I’ve got my hopes up. Over the course of my careful consideration, I’ve become a little outraged that so many Philadelphians so readily accept that we should NOT swim in our rivers. Popularizing Philadelphia’s natural waters might take extra vigilance and attention to water quality, weather and currents; it might require asking more of us as swimmers; it might even require giant cages to keep us safe; but I think it’s worth the effort. We’ve done an admirable job bringing ourselves back to the banks with our parks and paths. Many of us flirt with the water, moving over it in boats, but we haven’t completed the project until we’ve moved through the water with our own skins—until we’re all the way in. I snapped on my goggles and slid into the water. Green was everywhere; not scary like pond scum, but vibrant and alive, sunbeams lighting columns below me as I passed beneath openings in the leafy canopy along the bank. That bank inched by as I worked towards the middle of the river—more than once I fixated on a particular tree to assure myself that yes, I was moving upstream. Eventually I stopped (or rather did a slow breaststroke to hold my position) and took in the green above the surface. The landscape term “river corridor” takes on a literal meaning from the water; I was walled in by willow, sycamore and maple. For a moment I hung there, feeling very alone with the river pushing against me, leaning on me. Then I turned and joined the flow. ■


illus t r at ion by t im d u rn i n g

Primex Garden Center

444 N. 4th Street

Philadelphia. PA 215-925-5080

Independent, family-owned and operated since 1943

“One of the city’s best new bruncheries.” —C RAIG L A B AN , P HILA . I NQUIRER

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

435 West Glenside Avenue • Glenside, PA 19038 • 215-887-7500



Businesses compost with Bennett.

If you produce food waste, let Bennett Compost reduce your environmental impact without increasing your costs. Call now for a custom quote.

B ENNET T C O MP O S T | 215.520.2406

Grid Magazine September 2010  

Towards a Sustainable Philadelphia

Grid Magazine September 2010  

Towards a Sustainable Philadelphia