Sustainable Philadelphia -
march 2011 / issue 24 gridphilly.com
m b l oto to the sticks i frackers story by jac o l a m b e rt
Practicality + sustainability = Hazel House â€Ś Madame Fromage goes nuts for Nutcracker
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Green Enough For Ya?
hile i was pondering the possibility of taking the job of editor in chief of Grid, I kept returning to the same question: “Am I green enough to take the reins of my favorite urban sustainability mag?”
Sure, I’d been agitating for cycling in the pages of my old employer, City Paper, since Al Gore was just a bone-dry Vice President. And yes, I absolutely consider myself environmentally conscious: I save envelopes and eschew bags; I’ve gone nuts with weather stripping and plastic sheeting in the doors and windows of my South Philly rowhome; and I get absolutely giddy when I find recycling numbers on plastic I was about to throw away. But I know for damn sure my carbon footprint is at least a few sizes bigger than it ought to be. We’re living in a world designed for easy choices, not necessarily responsible ones. So imagine my morbid embarrassment when I showed up to Red Flag Media’s Arch Street offices to help publisher Alex Mulcahy spruce up my new digs with, gasp, a bag full of scented, chemical-y cleaning products. I’d grabbed them from a corner store while I was cleaning out my old office, thinking sort of dopily, “Why shouldn’t the carpet smell like fresh linen?” As the depth of my faux pas became apparent to me, Alex, understanding soul that he is, simply said, “Well, I wouldn’t choose it myself,” then related a story about a seminar about cleaning products that asked participants, “What does clean smell like?” He kindly made a point of insisting that he, too, is still figuring this stuff out.
Which I think is the point of all of this. I’m decidedly not green enough. And neither are you, most likely. Ultimately, “green enough” probably isn’t even the target. This isn’t a contest; it’s a process. Maybe “ever greener” is what we should be shooting for. To wit: Just last weekend, after the return of my girlfriend’s (very warranted) annual complaints about the heat — or more to the point, complete lack thereof — in the bathroom in the morning, I hopped a bus down to ye olde big box home improvement store and purchased one of those fancy-pants programmable thermostats. After struggling to remove the paint-flecked copper-colored dinosaur dial on my dining room wall, I was pleasantly surprised at just how idiot-proof the installation was (and trust me, it needed to be). Now, after winters of post-shower shivers, the heat is on when we want it on, and off when we want it off, all without ever having to think about it. Green enough? Nah. But ever greener is pretty good. What are you doing to become ever greener? E-mail me at email@example.com.
Alex Mulcahy 215.625.9850 ext. 102 firstname.lastname@example.org editor-in-chief
Brian Howard email@example.com editorial assistant
Ariela Rose firstname.lastname@example.org art director
Jamie Leary email@example.com designer
Melissa McFeeters distribution
Ariela Rose 215.625.9850 ext. 100 firstname.lastname@example.org copy editors
Andrew Bonazelli Patty Moran production artist
Lucas Hardison writers
Bernard Brown Tenaya Darlington Dana Henry Hollie Holcombe Jacob Lambert Marisa McClellan Natalie Hope McDonald Ariela Rose Sue Spolan Lee Stabert Char Vandermeer Samantha Wittchen photographers
gridp hilly.c o m march 2011 / i ssue 24
06 Green Building | Postgreen gets constructive 08 Green Living | Home office efficiency; Recycle that toothbrush
16 Cover Story | West Philly water activist Iris Marie Bloom takes on big drilling 20 Design | Hazel House mixes sustainable and practical
10 Energy | Energy Co-op beats PECO; PWD shines on; EnergyWorks helps you get efficient
22 Shoots & Ladders | It’s seed season!
12 Food | Madame Fromage goes nuts for Nutcracker; Germantown Kitchen Farm’s pipe dream; One Paradocxical vineyard; Three incredibly edible egg recipes
26 Events | What to do and when
24 Urban Naturalist | Squirreling away
Steven Carter Lucas Hardison Gene Smirnov Albert Yee illustrators
Kelly Franklin Melissa McFeeters ad sales
Mark Syvertson email@example.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
30 Dispatch | Lessons from living among the birds c over ph oto by gene smirnov
PENNSYLVANIA CLEAN TECHNOLOGY FORUM |
MONDAY, MARCH 28, 2011, 11AM – 6PM CROWNE PLAZA HOTEL, HARRISBURG
Small Business Opportunities in a Growing Market The Clean Technology Resource Center’s ﬁrst annual Clean Tech Forum is geared toward users and providers of clean technology. CTRC staff as well as clean tech start-up business owners and experts in the ﬁeld will discuss topics including: common challenges facing clean tech start ups, how to implement clean technology in a small business, commercialization hurdles, and how to secure ﬁnancing. The forum will culminate in a networking reception and clean-tech focused business exhibition. R EG I STER O N LI N E ►
www.pasbdc.org/cleantechforum 1-877-771-CTRC (2782) www.pasbdc.org/cleantech
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Pane Threshhold A low-cost alternative to expensive window replacement by char vandermeer
A strawbale home by New Frameworks Natural Building in Vermont.
Beyond the Bale
A new organization seeks to build green in Philly by natalie hope mcdonald
he reverse foundation — a new organization that plans to put Philly on the map as a green city with straw-bale home building, salvaging and other eco-friendly construction methods — is officially kicking off the year with a Natural Building Lecture and Natural Paints and Finishes Course. Although these are the organization’s firstever events in February, the family behind ReVerse — David Belasco and son Mike — have been laying the foundation for the past year and a half. “The idea of creating this organization started in 2009 when I was in Vermont training at the Yestermorrow Design/Build School,” says Mike. “I realized that I wanted to bring people like them to Philadelphia, as well as draw from the local Philadelphians who are experts in the fields of natural building.” Part of the inspiration behind ReVerse comes from permaculture, the practice of producing food, energy and housing without depleting the earth’s natural resources. “Jacob Deva Racusin, owner of New Frameworks Natural Building and one of the instructors I hired for the upcoming lecture and course, is actually my biggest inspiration to get into this work,” Mike explains. “His approach to natural and community building is nothing short of a spiritual endeavor.” Mike spent time at Racusin’s straw bale and timber frame home during a heat wave last summer when temperatures in Vermont reached nearly 100 degrees F. “His house has no air conditioning, but because of the design and materials he used,” says Mike, “the inside of his home didn’t reach above the low 70s at any point during the heat wave.” This year, ReVerse would like to work with Rebuilding Together Philadelphia, an organization that helps people rebuild houses that have 6
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fallen on hard times [See “Fixer Uppers,” Ariela Rose, Grid, February 2011]. ReVerse is also offering a class on super insulation, in which volunteers will retrofit a home to learn how to save on energy. “The idea is to create a tight thermal envelope that causes the demand for climate controlling machines to be severely diminished, because indoor and outdoor air are being effectively separated,” says Mike. “With proper planning and installation, even someone’s own body heat could be a factor in warming the room they are in.” For more information about the classes or to volunteer with the organization, please visit thereversefoundation.org
Postgreen Goes Hybrid
You’ve caulked the cracks, weather stripped the doors, pumped your attic full of insulation and replaced pesky energy-sapping light bulbs. Short of investing thousands to replace those old-school windows with lowemmisivity (low-E) panes, you’ve done it all. With a sigh of relief, you plop yourself on the couch, feeling righteous and eco-savvy. After a moment or two, a cool draft wafts over your shoulders. But hey, you’ve just weatherized your home! Can’t hurt to pump up the heat by a degree or two, right? Wrong. According to John Siegel, COO of Malvern’s Quanta Technologies, Inc., manufacturer of QuantaPanel, a new generation of low-E storm windows, you’ve fallen victim to the “rebound effect,” wherein homeowners are lulled into a false sense of security and wind up using more energy than they did prior to their weatherization efforts. According to Siegel, over 30 percent of the energy produced by your heating and cooling system flies right out the window. QuantaPanel plugs that hole by offering individual homeowners and organizations that provide weatherization assistance programs, such as the Energy Coordinating Agency (ECA), a cost-effective system that works with existing windows, is easy to install, and is highly reliable and accessible. “Essentially, the benefit of QuantaPanel is to improve the homeowner’s comfort, and monthly energy savings, at a very low total installation cost,” says Siegel. Liz Robinson, executive director of ECA, notes, “In the past, low-E storms were not stable. The windows would fog up. We were persuaded by the testing done by the Department of Energy that this window has a lot of promise. We’re very excited about it.”
For more information, visit quantapanel.com
In August 2010, Kensington-based developers Postgreen — creators of the 100k House — formally launched Hybrid Construction. The green construction, rehab and design/build arm was formed to satisfy Postgreen’s own building needs, as well as make their high-quality green building construction available beyond the Postgreen brand. Hybrid is already at work on Postgreen’s 2 point 5 beta, Skinny Project, Ardmore Energy Star and Liberti Church Rehab, and will be tackling the developers’ much-talked-about Avant Garage and Awesometown endeavors. “We initially started Hybrid to have better control over the execution of our rather unorthodox construction details,” Nic Darling, director of marketing, says. “It was the only way we could meet our high expectations for quality while carefully controlling costs.” —Samantha Wittchen
Guess who will benefit most from organizations like PASA?
Not uNtil diversity is made the logic of productioN will there be a chaNce for sustaiNability, justice aNd peace. cultivatiNg aNd coNserviNg diversity is No luxury iN our times: it is a survival imperative.” — Vandana Shiva
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Green living 3 7
7 Energy-Saving Tips
by sama ntha witt chen
1 Use Energy Star-qualified products This includes computers, printers, scanners, fax machines and even desk lamps! An Energy Star labeled computer powered down to sleep mode uses 70 percent less electricity than a computer that does not have a power management feature.
2 Get a space heater If your office is one-third the size of your house or smaller, you can safely assume that space heating that room will be more cost effective than heating the entire house just to keep you toasty in your office.
3 Use task lighting If you spend a lot of time in one place in your office, such as a desk or other workstation, consider purchasing a good desk lamp instead of relying on whole-room lighting. According to the Edison Electric Institute, task lighting allows you to use fewer light bulbs at the same time, meaning more energy savings.
4 Put your office equipment to sleep Allowing your computer, printer, scanner and other electronic office equipment to enter sleep mode automatically not only uses less energy, but it allows them to run cooler. The cooler your equipment runs, the longer its lifespan. Depending on how much office equipment you have (and how hot it usually runs), it might also save you a few bucks on cooling costs in the summer, too.
5 Scrap the screensaver
Even when you shut down your computer and other peripherals for the day, they continue to use a small amount of “phantom” power. According to Energy Star, that amount can range from a few watts to as many as 40, depending on the equipment. Using a power strip allows you to completely disconnect from a power source and shut off that supply of phantom power.
7 Ditch the desktop
According to the Department of Energy, there’s a common misconception that screensavers reduce energy consumption of monitors. This isn’t true. Turning the monitor off when you’re away from your computer or setting it to go to sleep will save the most energy.
6 Use a power strip as a “turn-off” point
If it’s time for you to upgrade your computer, and you currently own a desktop, consider switching to a laptop. Laptop computers use far less energy than desktop computers, and they have the added bonus that on those nicer days, you can ditch the office, too!
A used tooth-brush can’t be put out with the regular recycling.
by samantha wittchen
Toothbrushes The average toothbrush is used for 10 months and then tossed, equating to 50 million pounds of trashed toothbrushes each year.
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Toothbrush handles are made of No. 5 (polypropylene) plastic, and the bristles are made of nylon. Polypropylene can be recycled into numerous different products, including tableware, cutting boards, food containers and yes, more toothbrushes. Similar to last month’s solution for Brita filters, the best solution for toothbrushes is to send them to Preserve, a leading manufacturer of 100 percent recycled consumer household goods. You can ground ship your toothbrush to Preserve Gimme 5, 823 NYS Rte. 13, Cortland, NY, 13045. You might also want to consider switching to Preserve’s toothbrushes. They’re made from recycled No. 5 plastic, are manufactured in the United States, and come in a nifty “Mail Back Pack” that doubles as a postage-paid return envelope for your old toothbrush.
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Brewer â€™s Plate
MET FOOD UNITE WHERE CRAFT BEER & GOUR
march 13, 2011 PENN MUSEUM | PHILDELPHIA
Join us, and over 50 LOCAL restaurants, breweries & distilleries for a delicious & unforgettable evening!
The 7th Annual Fundraiser for Fair Food Dedicated to bringing locally grown food to the marketplace and promoting a humane, sustainable agriculture system for Philadelphia.
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The Raystown lake dam supplies 88 percent of the energy from EcoChoice.
Works for You New program offers efficiency guidance to building owners by dana henry
Caps off, rates down
Green energy made more affordable by Energy Co-op by dana henry
or the first time in years, The Energy Cooperative is offering 100 percent renewable electricity at a cost below PECO’s non-renewable electricity average. EcoChoice100, the co-op’s green electricity program, purchases 88 percent hydroelectric from a dam in Huntington County, 10 percent from windmills in Western and Northeastern Pennsylvania and the remaining 2 percent from the solar roofs of their members The Co-op, which began in 1979, has supplied members with electricity since 1998. Although Pennsylvania’s Electricity Generation Customer Choice and Competition Act of 1996 allowed consumers to choose electricity suppliers, suppliers were reluctant to compete in PECO territory due to rate caps. The Co-op’s faithful members held on, purchasing green electric at above PECO cost. Now that the caps are off, the Energy Co-op has provided fixed-rate supply contracts by aggregating member demand and purchasing green electric on the wholesale market. These contracts help ensure that if you purchase EcoChoice100 at the current rate, the price will not change during 2011. A cost chart
is available on their site (theenergy.coop) and does not include annual membership fees, which range from $15 to $30. Since October 2010, EcoChoice100 has seen membership jump from 1,000 to more than 2,500. According to Blaine Martin, electricity program manager, the co-op’s nonprofit structure helps keep prices affordable. There are no shareholders to answer to and the co-op’s small staff are members, subject to the same prices. “[The staff’s] best interest is to provide the lowest cost products,” Martin explains. “Offering EcoChoice100 at a cost savings to PECO is tremendously exciting to us.”
A building is a complicated system. Countless variables contribute to the energy-use equation. Factor in financing, and efficiency changes can seem overwhelming. Residents and business owners in the five-county area (Bucks, Montgomery, Delaware, Chester and Philadelphia) can streamline the process with EnergyWorks. The energy education and solutions program guides home and building owners through a comprehensive energy overhaul and connects them to vetted professionals. Steps include an energy audit, explaining the energy report, finding contractors and arranging financing. EnergyWorks rebates residential customers up to 75 percent of the audit cost if the owner implements recommended changes, and offers loans at rates as low as 0.99 percent. Business owners may receive grants for up to 75 percent of energy analysis services, and loans at rates as low as 3.5 percent. A third party-consultant will double check the efficiency changes. The program — funded by a U.S. Department of Energy grant, Keystone HELP, the Reinvestment Fund, the Philadelphia Industrial Development Corporation and the Energy Coordinating Agency — hopes to create a self-sustaining network of skilled auditors, vendors and contractors. “Five years ago [contractors] were making money installing gourmet kitchens,” says Andy Rachlin, the Mayor’s deputy chief of staff for economic development, says. “Five years from now, we want them to be making money by helping people be more energy efficient.” energyworksnow.com
For more information, visit theenergy.coop.
Shine On, You Crazy Water Department Greenworks, the City of Philadelphia’s sus-
tainability master plan, aims to increase our alternative energy supply to 20 percent by 2015. That’s just four short years away! With that impending deadline looming, the Philadelphia Water Department (PWD) broke
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ground on a 250 kW solar photovoltaic center — enough to power 28 homes — at its Southeast Water Pollution Control Plant in December. The project, largely funded by an $850,000 chunk of our Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant from the U.S. Department of
Energy, is part of Solar America Cities, a federal effort to promote solar infrastructure in 25 urban grids. When the center is completed this spring, Philly will receive its first big shot (of many, we’re hoping) of solar energy supply. —Dana Henry
energy audits interior design commercial residential
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Farm Profile by Char Vandermeer
Paradocx Whitewash If you’re a sucker for unusual wine labels, then you’ll love Paradocx Vineyard’s paint cans. We took 3.5 liters of their chardonnay, pinot grigio and vidal blend Whitewash for a twirl, pairing the sweet, apple-tinted concoction with simple pasta. And while the southern Chester County winery, run by four practicing physicians (Pair of Docs — get it?) shows a fondness for puns — Whitewash is joined by a Pail Pink and a port-style red is labeled Op-port-une — they make great conversation starters, especially after a slug or two. You can get a bucket of your own at Old City’s Pinot Boutique, or by ordering directly from the vineyard. paradocx.com
cheese of the month by tenaya darlington, madamefromage.blogspot.com
house there and every time we stick a shovel in the ground it’s just rubble everywhere. But the good thing about being abandoned for so long is that it’s been sitting compost for 30 years. Worms everywhere!” Last year the garden supported their household of 12 friends and produced enough food for an eight-family CSA. This year they hope to expand the CSA and launch a regular farmstand. “I remember an exact moment where we were washing vegetables to pack for the CSA, and I was like, ‘We’re actually doing this!’” recalls McFarland. “My dream for it was just to be. We wanted to start a little business growing and selling food. Just two people in the city.”
Black walnut trees tower above the frolicking Nubian goats at Yellow Springs, Catherine and Al Renzi’s dairy farm. Once a year, the Renzis gather the nuts from these trees to make a liqueur, nocino, which is a key component in their award-winning Nutcracker. The cheese wheels are aged two to three months in the spent “must” of fermented walnuts, infusing this semi-soft cheese with a glorious sweetness. While Madame Fromage is not generally fond of flavored cheeses, Nutcracker is an exception. The nuts creep into the flavor profile without overpowering the milky taste, and there is a pronounced woodsy smell (imagine a squirrel nest). Pair this cheese with a nut brown ale or barley wine — don’t fuss with bread or crackers. In 2010, Nutcracker won the Marinated Goat Cheese category at the prestigious American Cheese Society (ACS) Conference. The Renzis produce more than 25 varieties of cheese, sold through a CSA program that delivers to Philadelphia. The dairy also operates a farm store, where you can sample the wares. Other Yellow Springs cheeses to try: Red Leaf, Nobiolo and Cloud Nine. Look for a new blue that’s been aging in the spring house.
Keep up with the farm at
Yellow Springs Farm, 1165 Yellow Springs Road, Chester Springs, Pa., 19425, 610-827-2014,
Germantown Kitchen Garden
t started out as a pipe dream. After all, there aren’t too many Philadelphians making a living off the land. But after five years and a handful of internships, Matt McFarland and Amanda Staples began living that dream in October 2008 on a halfacre lot on East Penn Street they’ve dubbed the Germantown Kitchen Garden. After discovering their soil was safe for planting — it had been hidden under 30 years of jungle-like city overgrowth — the couple gratefully accepted plants and compost from the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society. “When I say it was overrun, we couldn’t even see it! When we first saw it we said, ‘No, we’re not buying it. I can’t even imagine what it would be like.’ But for some reason, we bought it. And we have gotten so much done,” says Staples. “There used to be a huge stone brick 12
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Poached Eggs in Tomato Spinach Sauce Serves two 3 1 1 3 4 2 1
Incredibly edible D
Three egg dishes to cluck about. by marisa mcclellan,
uring the first years of their marriage, my parents lived in an oceanside bungalow in Santa Cruz, Calif., and kept chickens. By the time my sister and I came along, their chicken days were, sadly, long since over. Still, we loved hearing stories about that backyard coop and stream of fresh eggs that appeared each morning like a dependable miracle. Because of those early days of egg abundance, my mother’s cooking incorporated eggs into every meal of the day. I grew up eating wedges of crustless quiche bursting with vegetables for lunch. Dinner was often a bowl of chicken soup with an egg swirled in for body and protein. To this day, my comfort food of choice is a bowl of steamed white rice topped by a runny-yolked fried egg and a bit of pickled ginger. (I blame a summer spent in Hawaii when I was 10.) These days I buy the best eggs I can afford and turn them into mealtime stars. I regularly rely on this basic egg bake for potlucks or as a simple meal for brand new parents. When there’s a glut of hardboiled eggs in the house, I choose this slightly sophisticated egg salad (if you want to be extra fancy, you can make your own mayonnaise). If you’re looking to make dinner in a snap, try poaching a few eggs in a quickly cooked sauce of tomatoes and spinach. Eat up! 14
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Marisa McClellan is a food writer, canning teacher and dedicated farmers market shopper who lives in Center City Philadelphia. Find more of her food (all cooked in her 80-square-foot kitchen) at her blog, foodinjars.com.
tbsp. butter small onion, finely minced tsp. sea salt tsp. crushed red chili flakes 28-oz. can of crushed tomatoes cups loosely packed baby spinach leaves eggs thick slices of rustic bread, toasted garlic clove, halved
Heat a 12-inch skillet over medium heat. Add butter and melt until it foams. Add the onion, salt and red chili and cook gently, so that you take the crunch out of the onion without cooking it to a crisp. When the onion has softened, add the can of tomatoes. Simmer the sauce for five or six minutes, until it thickens. Stir in the spinach and cook until it wilts into the sauce. Shake the pan so that the sauce is spread evenly in the pan. Use the back of the spoon to create four evenly spaced divots for the eggs. You don’t want to expose the surface of the pan with these divots, you just want to create hollows for the eggs to settle into. Gently break the four eggs into the spaces you’ve created for them. If your sauce has gotten very thick, add a splash of water to the center of the pan so that there’s enough steam to cook the tops of the eggs. Put a lid on the pan and cook for 4 to 5 minutes, until the whites of the eggs are cooked but the yolks are still runny. When the eggs are cooked to this point, remove the pan from the heat. Take your garlic rubbed toast and place the slices on plates. Carefully scoop up two of the eggs and some surrounding sauce, and place it over a slice of toast. Repeat with second slice and remaining eggs. Let it sit for 2 to 3 minutes prior to eating, to allow the sauce to soften the toast a bit. If desired, grate a bit of parmesan cheese over the eggs at the table.
Grown-up Egg Salad
Egg Bake Serves 6-8, makes a very good brunch dish for a crowd 1 1 1 1
12 4 4
tbsp. butter leek, rinsed well and cut into half moons sweet onion, cut into long, thin slices red pepper, minced lb. baby spinach leaves eggs, beaten oz. goat cheese oz. hard cheddar, grated
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter a oneand-one-half-quart casserole dish and set aside. Heat a large skillet over medium high heat. Melt the butter in the skillet. When it foams, add the leeks and sweet onions. Cook the leeks and onions for 4 to 5 minutes, until they brown. Add red peppers and cook for an additional 2 to 3 minutes. Add the spinach to the pan and cook until it wilts. In a medium bowl, beat the eggs. Crumble the goat cheese into the eggs and fold it in. Scrape the cooked vegetables into the casserole dish. Pour the beaten eggs on top. Add the grated cheese and gently stir to incorporate all components. Place the casserole dish on a cookie sheet and put into the oven. Bake for 25 to 35 minutes, until the top puffs up and there’s no jiggle when you gently shake the pan.
8 hard boiled eggs 2-3 green onions, finely sliced 1 celery rib, minced cup flat leaf parsley, minced cup mayonnaise tsp. sea salt 3-4 grinds of pepper greens for serving
Peel and finely chop the eggs. Place them in a mixing bowl. Add the green onions, celery, parsley and mayonnaise, and gently fold them until integrated. Add the salt and pepper, and mix to incorporate. Taste the egg salad and adjust the seasonings if necessary. Serve over salad greens. Mayonnaise
1 1 2
egg yolk (use eggs that you trust) tsp. Dijon mustard tsp. lemon juice cup neutral oil (sunflower or grape seed work well) tsp. salt
Place the yolk in the bowl of a blender. Add the mustard and lemon juice. Set the blender to its lowest speed and turn it on. Slowly stream the oil into the carafe while the blender runs. When all the oil is fully incorporated, add the salt and run the blender until it’s just integrated. Stop the blender and taste. Add an additional squeeze of lemon juice or a bit more salt, if necessary. Homemade mayonnaise will keep 3 to 4 days in the refrigerator.
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Become proficient in Green Building Materials, Energy Efficiency, Construction Systems and Sustainable Design
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“What we need is for everyone that’s reading this article right now to call their state representative and their state senator and demand that there be a moratorium on gas drilling.” …
Stepping on the Gas West Philly dynamo/water activist Iris Marie Bloom leads the local charge against environmentally irresponsible drilling. story by jacob lambert
portrait by gene smirnov
ris marie bloom is busy. Seriously busy. The night before we meet near her West Philadelphia home, she was in Warminster, screening a documentary and organizing residents. Three days before, she was at a rally in Harrisburg. As we talk, she occasionally checks the time; she has another interview that morning, and after that, her weekly radio show. “I’ve been working 17-hour days,” she says, smiling over her coffee. Her hazel eyes, however, show little sign of fatigue. She sits straight in her chair, articulate and focused. File folders, filled with articles and fact sheets, are neatly stacked at her elbow. For someone who works so hard, Bloom seems perpetually energized. Those endless hours of work — interviews, research, articles for the University City Review and Weekly Press, radio broadcasts, organizational minutiae, long drives through the night — are waged in an attempt to counterweigh Pennsylvania’s natural-gas boom, which Bloom, 50, sees as an environmental threat unlike any the state has known. As the director of Protecting Our Waters, a grassroots group founded in late 2009, she is a leading advocate of slowing down a process that has spun out of control. “[Natural-gas drilling] is such a huge issue
that it’s taking all of our resources and all of our time,” she says. “It’s top priority.” Sixty percent of Pennsylvania lies above a rock formation known as the Marcellus Shale. It’s rich in gas accessible only through a process known as hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking.” In 2008, the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources leased 74,000 acres of state forestland to a throng of oil and gas companies, all of them eager to drill. Fracking, which for shale has only recently become economically viable, forces water, sand and chemicals deep into the ground; the pressurized materials then blast the shale apart, releasing the gas within. In the past three years, 2,400 such wells have sprouted across the commonwealth, and thousands more have been granted permits. And while gas companies expend great effort promoting fracking’s safety, in 2009, ProPublica found “more than a thousand reports of
water contamination from drilling across the country” and “dozens of homes in Ohio, Pennsylvania and Colorado in which gas from drilling had migrated through underground cracks into basements or wells.” Despite such dangers, in Pennsylvania “there are no requirements for chemical disclosure; no requirements for greenhouse gas emissions,” says Bloom. “We’re fighting for more public comment and more public hearings.” Perhaps most crucially, Protecting Our Waters supports the extension of a Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC) moratorium — the deadline for public comment is, at present, March 16 — on drilling in the Delaware Watershed until thorough environmental-impact studies are conducted. “[Drilling] is being done in a big rush because it’s underregulated,” she says, “and that’s the problem.” With Republican Governor Tom Corbett — who as a candidate accepted $1.2 million in gas-industry donations — now in power, she adds, “I think there is very little chance of getting anywhere near adequate regulations.” Real-world problems brought by this laxity are already beginning to mount. Spills of salty, toxic wastewater — a nasty byproduct of fracking — have become almost routine; one company, Atlas marc h 20 11
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Resources LLC, was responsible for seven spills This theme — the plight of common people in by the Chesapeake Bay Foundation in May 2009. and several other violations between December the face of callous authority — has been a con- “I had never heard of Marcellus Shale or frack8, 2008, and July 31, 2009. When wastewater isn’t stant for Bloom. Born in El Paso, Texas, she grew ing,” she remembers. “But there was a keynote being spilled, it’s allowed to be partially treated up in northern Virginia before attending Welles- address by [then-secretary of the Pennsylvaand dumped into waterways, despite uncertainty ley College, in eastern Massachusetts. English nia Department of Environmental Protection] as to the practice’s safety. In January, the Associ- degree in hand, she made her way to New York, John Hanger. He said in a thundering voice that ated Press reported, “Of the roughly 6 million where she began a life in activism. [fracking] was the biggest environmental issue of barrels of well liquids produced in a 12-month “I’ve always cared about big-picture issues,” our time.” She shakes her head. “Someone yelled period … the state couldn’t account for the dis- she says. “War, peace, justice, the environment.” from the back of the room, ‘Then why are you posal method for 1.28 million barrels, about a She worked with the American Committee on letting it go forward?’ ” fifth of the total.” What’s more, also according Africa and the War Resisters League before movThis institutional hypocrisy, combined with to the AP, “Regulations that should have kept ing to Philadelphia in 1989. In the mid-’90s she her nascent love of water, propelled her. “I startdrilling wastewater out of the important Dela- founded and developed WAVE (Women’s Anti- ed to dig into it, and I was horrified,” she says ware River Basin, the water supply for 15 mil- Violence Education), a women’s self-defense of her research, which expanded to include the lion people in four states, were circumvented for program that continues today. Delaware Watershed and the damage that drillmany months.” As a likely consequence, many Bloom’s work at WAVE was emotionally ing would bring. “We’ve fought for decades to state waterworks now struggle “to stay under wearing, and after 15 years, she says, “I needed clean the Delaware … so why should we pollute the federal maximum for contaminants known to fall in love with the world again. So I became it now?” She asked a friend at the National Park as trihalomethanes, which can cause cancer if a sailor.” She laughs. “Cheap little boats, but big Service if Marcellus drilling was as potentially swallowed over a long period.” adventures.” Bloom navigated the Delaware disastrous as it seemed. “I asked him, ‘Is it true? And people are getting sick. Thanks to its River and the Chesapeake Bay, sailed down to Is it as bad as it looks?’ He said, ‘Yes, be afraid. starring role in the Josh Fox documentary the Bahamas. She outran ocean storms and rode Be very afraid.’” Gasland, the town of Dimock in Pennsylvania’s alongside dolphins. These hours spent at the tilDespite such warnings, Bloom’s colleagues northeast corner has become notorious for its ler, observing the tides and fish, brought about describe her as fearless — or rather, as Anne tainted aquifer. A June 2010 Vanity Fair article a passion for water — and steered her toward a Dixon, a Protecting Our Waters volunteer, puts (“A Colossal Fracking Mess”) described a place new career. it, “Everyone has some fear, but she puts it aside in which “people’s water started turning brown Her subsequent study of the region’s water- quite well. She’s very tenacious.” Denise Dennis, an historic preservationist and making them sick, one woman’s water well ways attuned her to their precariousness. “I spontaneously combusted, and horses and pets was really devastated by the state of emergency from Northeast Pennsylvania, says, “I really mysteriously began to lose their hair.” The piece that the Bay was in,” she says of the Chesapeake, admire what Iris is doing; she’s way out on the summarized the fears held by Bloom and those of which has been in decline for decades. forefront on this. She has the courage of her consimilar concern: “The rolling hills and farmland Her concern led her to a conference organized victions when it’s not the easy thing to do.” of this Appalachian town are scarred by barren, square-shaped clearings, jagged, newly constructed roads with 18-wheelers driving up and down them, and colorful freight containers Data provided by the Center for Healthy Environments and Communities labeled ‘residual waste.’ ” at the University of Pittsburgh’s Graduate School of Public Health Bloom has witnessed such scenes. She’s been to Dimock and also to Hickory, home of Towanda Dimock fish kills, cattle deaths and ruined farmland. She’s been to Wilcox Clearville, where one woman Scranton told of having her yard coated by an “unknown substance” that spewed from nearby gasprocessing equipment. “The company came out, cleaned it and paid her for her Allentown vegetables — but they never Altoona Pittsburgh told her what the substance was,” Bloom says, incredulous. Hickory Harrisburg “When you have the level of Lancaster secrecy and unresponsiveness York Philadelphia that’s endemic in this industry, Clearville these kinds of ‘events’ symbolize the powerlessness that Delaware River marcellus oil & gas people feel when they’re up major city drilling town Watershed shale violations against these companies.”
Gas Land: Drilling the Shale
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Hydraulic Fracturing at a Glance
“Fracking” is the process used to extract natural gas from shale. Source: Grid research
A mix of sand, water and chemicals is pumped into the well under high pressure.
The water mixture that returns to the surface is stored in open pits.
Natural gas flows out of the well, and is trucked to storage locations, from which it will eventually reach the market through pipeline.
Natural Gas 3
2 When the fluid is forced through holes in the well, the pressure fractures the rock.
The sand fills into the cracks of the fissure, allowing the previously trapped natural gas to escape into the well, and simultaneously forcing the fluids back up to the surface.
Jerry Silberman, another volunteer, says, “Iris delphia is in Columbia County, 90 miles away. drilling in the watershed until proper “cumulahas more information on the tip of her tongue on Few city dwellers have likely heard of drilling tive impact studies … are completed, assessed, this than anyone I know. She’s an exciting person towns like Towanda, Wilcox or Ward. Yet the and publicly debated.” While the recommendato work with because she’s always upbeat and Delaware Watershed covers the state’s urban tion is not binding, it adds a strong official voice her energy is infectious.” southeast as much as its rural northeast, and gas to the ranks of fracking opponents — and was Indeed, Bloom exudes a cona heartening validation of all Bloom trolled determination, a warm and strives for. Thanks in large part to her, eager drive. She knows what she’s the City of Philadelphia has, in her up against — gigantic corporations, words, “embraced the ‘precautionary acquiescent legislators, a statewide principle’: Until something is proven “Frack Radio,” Bloom’s weekly program: wfte.org. hunger for jobs — yet she feels comsafe, it shouldn’t be done.” pelled to resist. She tells me of deaths As our interview winds down, Protecting Our Waters: protectingourwaters.com in Colorado, possibly due to frackBloom mentions Wyoming, where a Delaware Riverkeeper Network (another activist group): ing, in a tone of rational outrage. At decade of citizen action resulted in a delawareriverkeeper.org one point, while discussing a family law requiring chemical disclosures so wracked by gas fumes that their by natural-gas companies. FracTracker, a project of the Center for Healthy Environment noses wouldn’t stop bleeding, she “What about you?” I ask. “Would and Communities: fractracker.org had to gather herself. She takes these you spend 10 more years on this?” Frack Track, City Paper’s coverage of natural gas drilling: wrongs personally. Without hesitation, she responds: citypaper.net/blogs/clog/category/fracktrack “It’s about people,” she says of her “Oh yeah. I have no choice; we have work. “As I’ve traveled across Pennno choice. We have to fight.” sylvania, it’s so clear that rural people She leans forward slightly, adding,. are feeling abandoned and unprotected.” Those extraction in the latter could ultimately impact “What we need is for everyone that’s reading this least able to afford the costs of drilling’s fallout both. With that in mind, Bloom began educating article right now to call their state representative are the same people who will, in the months and City Council members, notably Curtis Jones, Jr. and their state senator and demand that there be years ahead, find themselves most affected. As and Blondell Reynolds Brown, on the issue late a moratorium on gas drilling.” with war, apartheid and sexual assault, “It’s a last winter. Before Bloom’s arrival, she says, it She looks at my pad as I try to get it down. justice issue. It’s part of what’s kept my motiva- seemed that “nobody in City Council had heard “Do you think you can write that?” she asks. tion so intense.” of fracking.” Which made it all the more impresI smile and say that I’ll see how the piece goes, For many Philadelphians, natural-gas drilling sive that late this January, Council unanimously if I can find a place for her entreaty. Considering and its attendant ills might seem a distant mat- passed Resolution 100864, which, among other Iris Bloom’s unflagging, hopeful effort, the favor ter. Of the 2,400 new wells, the nearest to Phila- recommendations, urged the DRBC to disallow seems to be the least that I can do.
Get Informed, Get Involved
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W. Philly’s Hazel House mixes tradition with sustainable innovation by sue spolan
ome neighborhoods exert a magnetic pull. You return over and over. At the far reaches of University City, Hazel House sits proudly in one such district, at the corner of 51st and Hazel. Brand new construction arising from a previously empty lot, Hazel House’s modern goals of sustainability and efficiency join forces with traditional West Philly rowhome styling. If the house is a body, and the body is a temple, Hazel House stands as a spiritual center of conscious construction. Hazel House is slated for completion later this spring. After a four-year process of green design and construction, the three-story brick home will pursue LEED Platinum certification. Every effort was made to balance sustainability with practicality. “This is not an elite green project,” explains coarchitect Laura Raymond, working alongside business partner and architect Dan Garofalo (also the Environmental Sustainability Coordinator at Penn). The team has made every effort to use locally sourced and green products, yet the occasional trip to a big box store provides much-needed value on the construction dollar.
On the path from dream to reality, Laura and Dan selected Calfayan Construction, headed up by Reis and Laura Calfayan. Originally, Dan and Laura sought a completely conventional contractor who might be trained in green building. Through word of mouth recommendations, Reis Calfayan came on board. He is a smart contractor who is able to negotiate green dreams to fit the bottom line. “Sustainability is a balancing act between what’s morally right and what’s achievable,” says Reis. “Some items on the wish list don’t make sense financially.”
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Laura and Dan opted for soybased spray foam, which, Laura says, “is like a blanket. It’s a solid sheet that eliminates gaps at the joints, resulting in less thermal bridging.” An extra 1-inch layer of insulation board along the outer walls further increases the R-value. With an R52 rated roof and R28 insulated walls, the house is comfortably warm, even though the thermostat is set at 63 degrees.
The second and third floor layouts are essentially the same. Dan explains that Hazel House uses advance system framing. Instead of 16-inch spacing between studs, the gap is widened to 24 inches, and every joist lies precisely on top of framing below. The resulting point to point load means 20 to 25 percent less wood overall, and more room for insulation.
A light-flooded great room provides plenty of cooking, eating and lounging space, with floor to ceiling windows and a sliding door overlooking the garden.
Mixing sustainability with a hint of romance, the character-filled wood floors are salvaged from the disused Divine Lorraine Hotel on Broad Street in Philly. Paint-coated planks have been sanded and milled, and brought to new life. The woodwork and cabinetry is fabricated from bamboo, a renewable resource.
Laura and Dan designed Hazel House from the subground up. In fact, the house’s guts reach 350 feet into the earth using a geothermal ground source heat system. Laura and Dan supervised the drilling of the well, inserting a closed loop tube filled with glycol. Thiscirculating fluid remains at a subterranean 55 degree F temperature year round as it returns to the basement from middle earth, and connects with a heat exchange system. Laura explains that winter air never has to be heated much more than 10 or 15 degrees, and summer cooling is effortless, thanks to the geothermal system.
An Energy Recovery Ventilator (ERV) completes the efficient ground source heating system, adding fresh air to the mix. The house is entirely electric. “We took a leap of faith in not installing gas,” says Laura.
The house is set up with a central spine, carrying all pipes, wiring and vents up from the basement. Even the plumbing looks like a diagram of the human circulatory system, with a maze of half inch red and blue tubes connecting from the basement to each individual outlet upstairs.
The crowning glory of the home is at the very top level. Laura and Dan have installed a spacious roof monitor with electronically controlled windows that open to allow a natural escape route for summer heat.
Photovoltaic panels and a green roof are planned for a later phase of the project.
Up the wide stairs, designed for ease of moving furniture, the main floor of the house is spacious, yet deeply reminiscent of neighboring homes built 100 years ago. A small parlor room in front and bay windows at the sides reference typical University City housing stock
In the kitchen, a Solatube© uses highly reflective material to bring natural light from the roof.
Spray foam is used beneath the poured concrete slab to increase R-value (insulating performance). The foam also acts as a moisture barrier to prevent water from seeping into the basement. The concrete basement walls are prefabricated, and at every potential gap, more spray foam keeps outside forces at bay.
Views from the upper bedrooms are sweeping. Metal sunshades will be installed on the front of the house, angled to catch the best of all seasons, providing relief from summer sun and promoting warmth in the winter.
In the front section of the basement, Laura and Dan have installed a full bath, and the adjoining room could be the perfect man or woman cave.
Once construction is complete, Laura plans to move in for a while. She says Hazel House is her and Dan’s science experiment. She’s planning on getting roommates who will join her in waking from green dreams to another sunny day in this vibrant and changing cityscape. marc h 20 11
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by char vandermeer
Seed money T
he storm door creaks open. There’s a rustle, then a clang as Dan the mailman slips a welcomed stack of seed catalogs through the mailslot. They land on the living room floor in a foomp of hopeful glory. First the winter solstice and now this special ray of hope. Spring is on its way. So many seeds! So little room. This is the blessing and the curse of an urban container gardener. Not enough room to plant everything you want, but plenty of chances to indulge a gardener’s whims and desires. With that in mind, now’s the time to surround yourself in a mountain of catalogs, grab a pen, and start planning those indulgences. First, figure out what your tiny patch must have to call itself a self-respecting garden. For example, there’s a certain roof-bound garden in Pennsport that simply couldn’t look neighboring treetops in the eye if it didn’t sport at least three varieties of tomatoes, two types of green beans, plenty of radishes, a few pots of lettuce, and, oh yeah, cucumbers. Next, survey your partner, friends and coworkers, and plant a few things built for sharing — things you’ll grow enough of to give away, or won’t miss when the squirrels get at them. Say, basil, parsley, peppers and thyme. And maybe eggplants, because they’re kind of gross, but awfully pretty. Last, pick out at least one “why the hell not” challenge, like muskmelons.
Thus prepared with your preliminary list, it’s time to crack open the catalogs. Try to keep an eye open for companies that proclaim their commitment to organic or heirloom seeds and only patronize those who have signed the Safe Seed Pledge, as they’ve vowed not to buy or sell genetically engineered seeds. A few good sources include Johnny’s Selected Seeds, an employee-owned Maine company that focuses on the home gardener; Seeds of Change, based in New Mexico, boasts 100 percent organic seed stock and donates a portion of their net sales to worldwide sustainable agriculture; Missouri’s Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds is the perfect source if rare heirlooms are your thing; and Oregon’s Victory Seed Company farms and packages many of their seeds, and their website offers
an incredible wealth of gardening information. Finally, Pennsylvania’s own D. Landreth Seed Company features a fantastic selection of seeds exclusively for the “patio gardener.” Incidentally, they’re the source of this gardener’s delightfully sweet, adorably wee Minnesota Midget melon. Swiss chard If you’re looking for someseeds thing a little more local (or just don’t feel like getting gouged on shipping), then hop on your bike and head over to Bartram’s Garden, where dedicated staff and volunteers have packaged up some oldies but goodies just for your little garden. Give lactuca sativa (miniature “tennis ball” head lettuce), atriplex hortensis (red mountain spinach), solanum melongena (surprise, we’re talking eggplant here), or barbarea verna (early winter cress) a go and see what happens. Happy seed dreaming! Char Vandermeer tends a container garden on her South Philly roof deck; she chronicles the triumphs and travails at plantsondeck.com.
An sssortment of seeds including green beans, lettuce, cucumber and eggplant.
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Meet members of the pennsylvania association for sustainable agriculture, working to bring fresh, delicious food to local eaters
Turning Roots Farm
does the chicken dance • page 6
Two Gander Farm’s bee-line to the city • page 10 Table Talk PASA member restaurants dish
on their partners • page 22
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Natural By Nature produces the freshest organic dairy products you’ve ever tasted. Whether it is our authentic Italian Ricotta Cheese, our deliciously decadent Whipped Cream, or our delightfully smooth Sour Cream, our fresh organic Milk is the secret behind the best-tasting and healthiest dairy products available. Natural By Nature is committed to producing the freshest organic milk and dairy possible. Our milk is not ultra-pasteurized. It’s fresh, not sterile! It comes from cows that are grass-fed, living on small family-owned farms giving us milk that is higher in nutrients, and offering a healthy ratio of Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids. It’s a great feeling to know that using sustainable farming practices brings you top-quality dairy products...and has been for over 15 years.
Natural Dairy Products Corp. | P.O. Box 464 | West Grove, PA 19390 | PH 610.268.6962 | FX 610.268.4172 | www.natural-by-nature.com 2
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from PASA’s executive
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For Food Safety, Go Local! Over the past two years, few topics have re-
ceived such consistent national attention as food safety, with recalls of everything from spinach, tomatoes and sprouts to hamburger, eggs and even peanuts. Of great interest has been the extent to which the size, location and distribution patterns of production and processing facilities affect the severity of the threat to the public. Do you care where your food comes from and how it was produced? If not, then you needn’t read any further, especially if you also believe our state and federal governments have sufficient knowledge and power to keep us safe, or that it’s even desirable if they could. But if you do care, you’ll want to consider one of the relatively unsung advantages of buying your food as locally as possible. When I speak of “local,” I mean in terms of the farms that produce your food, the facilities where it may get processed and the retail locations where it is purchased. If all three are within a “stone’s throw,” as they say, of your home, you and your family can partake with greater confidence that the food is safe, and that problems will almost immediately be identified and addressed if not. If your food is not procured, produced and processed locally, then let me proffer that your risk is greater. Your relationship with the entire value chain, from “field to fork” as we often hear, is diminished, just as the task of tracking and solving food safety threats becomes more difficult. This is to say nothing yet of the risk to the public at large when a particular food item is distributed to 30 or 40 states before a problem becomes apparent… or the economic loss to communities in all of those states when their food dollars leave town, with only the illusion of wealth left behind. Simply put, even without the occurrence of a food safety incident, we are already pummeled by a poor risk/benefit ratio when the food we eat is shipped across the country, or even around the world, on its way to our dinner tables. You can take the first steps toward keeping your families safe, strengthening your communities, saving farmland that you can even bike to on a Saturday afternoon, and improving your quality of life in general, by supporting local farms and retailers featuring locally produced and processed foods each and every time you shop! Brian Snyder Executive Director Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture (PASA) www.pasafarming.org
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Seven Stars Farm
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curvaceous horns, those thick, lustrous eyelashes. Beautiful may not be the first word that springs to mind when pondering a cow, but the Jerseys at Phoenixville’s Seven Stars Farm are absolutely gorgeous. The herd of 70 produces organic, grass-fed milk for the farm’s simple, delicious yogurt — the recipe for which includes nothing more than milk and cultures. Edie and David Griffiths have worked the land across from the Kimberton Waldorf School for 23 years, thanks to a longterm lease with the school. When they moved from New York state, they started making a small amount of yogurt. At the time, the property hosted a farm store — it eventually moved and became the local institution Kimberton Whole Foods (no affiliation with the chain). “We had the trucks coming from distributors,” recalls Edie. “They started picking up our yogurt. We were one of the first organic dairies around.” At the time, their herd was mostly Guernseys and red-andwhite Holsteins, but they needed higher milk fat content for the yogurt, so they transitioned to those comely Jerseys. Edie has an easy, infectious laugh, and her gentle touch is instantly apparent. On this particular morning, she — and her fulltime helper Mark Dunphy — are correcting a magnesium imbalance in a new mother. She cradles the cow’s head as a makeshift IV is administered; the day-old calf sleeps at its mother’s feet. Ten years ago, David had a serious farming accident which left him in a wheelchair. Mark came on board to help out, and has been at Seven Stars since. The business has continued to grow. “We’ve never really advertised,” she says. “It’s really been word of mouth. We’ve got people who move to a different part of the country, can’t find [our yogurt], and they get all distraught. They’ve become addicted! [laughs] We get wonderful letters from customers — ‘I never wrote a letter to a food company before’ — we get a lot of letters and phone calls.” The famous yogurt is rich and creamy, but not overly thick, mimicking the European style. It tastes of the very essence of milk, undercut by the tang of the cultures’ work. The flavored varieties — they make only vanilla and maple — are just the slightest bit sweet, allowing the simple, humble pleasures of the product to shine. Seven Stars Farm is certified organic, but the Griffiths also practice biodynamics — functioning on the principle that the whole farm should operate as a single organism. Edie and David actually met in England at a course on biodynamics. p h otos by dan m u r p h y
Leaving the horns on is something people just don’t really do anymore. Everyone comes to our farm, and they think we have a barn full of bulls. —Edie Griffiths “We don’t buy in cattle,” says Edie. “We raise our own. And we raise as much feed as we can. What we’re really doing is looking to enhance the vitality of the soil and the animals. For example, leaving the horns on is something people just don’t really do anymore. Everyone comes to our farm, and they think we have a barn full of bulls. “It is difficult to manage a herd of cows this size with horns,” she explains. “They do damage to each other. But, to me, when I look at them, they’re just so beautiful. But also, I (and other people) have noticed that [the horns] seem to do two things in a very real way. They help with their digestion somehow; they’re able to make good use out of everything they eat. And also, when it’s hot, hot summer, they act like little cooling towers.” Happy, healthy cows — given plenty of rest, rotated on pasture, cared for with a gentle hand and staggering work ethic (Edie is up before 4 a.m. every day) — make for healthy, tasty yogurt. “Routine is important to cows,” says Edie. “It makes them very happy. I have to [take] them across the road to the other pasture; they walk single file. I had a guy stop one day and say, ‘I want my kids to behave like that. Can you help me train my children?’” It should come as no surprise that Edie agrees on the subject of her cows’ beauty. “They’re born with makeup,” she says with a smile, her hand fingering the tuft of hair atop Sunny Sue’s horned head. “They’ve already got the mascara. That’s what I love about Jerseys. We’ve bred some Swedish Reds; if I showed Edie Griffiths with you them you’d see the difference. Their eyes are kind full-time helper of like pigs’. [laughs] They don’t have the same big, Mark Dunphy beautiful eyes.” —Lee Stabert
Turning Roots farm
turningr ootsfarm .com
eggs & produce
pasa membe r since
hris Henwood Costa and tj Costa
are educators by trade, so it’s kind of fitting that their first two years at Turning Roots Farm have been quite the learning experience. In the spring, the couple will leave their off-site jobs to farm full time, a giant step forward for this fledgling enterprise. If this is the next generation of small, sustainable growers — young, motivated and committed to a difficult and rewarding lifestyle — this movement has legs. Turning Roots specializes in produce and eggs; they also keep bees. The Costas sow two vegetable plots, and the chickens have the run of the rest of the four-acre Chester County spread. They’re rotated on different sections of grass, foraging for bugs and other goodies. “I’m a big egg-eater,” says TJ. “When we first started going to farmers markets and eating fresh eggs, I said, ‘Man, as soon as we have space…’ So, we started just for us. Pretty quickly, we got more and more chickens and started selling the eggs.”
The precious orbs — cradling stunning yellow yolks — are available at their on-site farmstand and through a small egg CSA offered at a North Star Orchard (see p. 8) CSA pickup site. “At the stand, it’s just taken off,” says TJ “The flavor is fantastic. [This summer] we were transitioning between the two flocks and we had a little bit of lag time. We would have, maybe, two dozen in the fridge. A lot of people have gotten used to buying their eggs here, so everyone’s like, ‘Where are the eggs?!’” Chris and TJ met during a medical training seminar while working for Outward Bound. “We’ve been very connected to nature for a long time, but it’s been such a shift turning to farming,” says TJ “The real connection to the season and the cycles is so much deeper on a farm.” PASA was key in transforming their backburner ambitions into reality. Chris’ parents have a hay farm in central Pennsylvania, and they got involved with the organization. One year, Chris accompanied them to the annual Farming for the Future conference; then TJ came along, too. “There’s a very ‘Yes, you can’ attitude,” recalls Chris. “It’s amazingly inspirational. We had these ideas before we met — that it would be cool to farm — but I used to think you had to marry a farmer to start farming. And that wasn’t happening.
I used to think you had to marry a farmer to start farming. And that wasn’t happening. But then we started going to PASA, and there were all these farmers willing to share. —chris Henwood costa 6
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Chris Henwood Costa and TJ Costa (opposite) and their chickens.
[laughs] But then we started going there, and there were all these farmers willing to share.” As she talks, Chris reaches down and scoops up one of the brown layers darting past her legs. They call all their birds “Mama Girl,” but this was Henrietta — their very first hen. When they transitioned the flock, she got to stay. The older chickens went to a farm in Oxford, Pa. (a real farm, not a euphemism). Chris and TJ are bracingly warm and thoughtful, so it’s not surprising to learn of their passion for meditation and yoga. The property’s spring house has been transformed into a private studio, and TJ has even considered offering private yoga classes at the farm. “We’re interested in the contemplative piece of farming,” says Chris, “connecting more to ourselves and the land through the act of farming.” They’ve also begun experimenting with biodynamics. The last two years have involved a lot of hard work and sacrifice, especially with them both working other jobs. There were moments when it became overwhelming. “It has always felt right to do this,” explains Chris. “But there was a point at which we wondered, can we make a living? Should we just be homesteading? Because that’s the heart of what got us going on this — we wanted to be more connected to our food and we wanted to raise animals.” But this year, as they continued to develop their skills and fine-tune the operation, things got better. “Something that turned the corner for me, this year, was the Lansdowne Farmers Market,” says TJ. “That market is, for us, what we really imagined ourselves doing at a farmers market. It’s this really diverse community; the people are awesome. They have music playing every week and art. And we started developing relationships. It’s actually really helpful for me to go down there — every time I go, I realize why we spend all the hours out here.” “One woman told me, ‘You’re the reason we come to this market,’ ” adds Chris, putting her hand on her heart. “I think that’s the thing about this choice, and this life. It’s so real. It’s all right there in front of you.” —Lee Stabert
Highspire hills Farm Glenmoore, Pa.
dreh meye r@ve rizon .net, 610-9 42-96 34
pasa membe r since
ighspire Hills Farm’ s Duane Rehmeyer has
dubbed his henhouse “the chicken hotel.” “They check Rehmeyer in in,” he says. “And then they do check out at some point.” the coop. Currently there are not quite 1,000 birds living in the grand old building behind his Glenmoore home. The hotel was more of a hovel when he and his wife moved in almost 20 years ago. “It was in a state of disrepair,” recalls Rehmeyer, an engineer by trade. “One of the ways I justified putting money into it was to have a business that we could use to write off the maintenance.” Highspire Hills has something of a vintage business plan, selling only to nearby Kimberton Whole Foods (no affiliation with the chain), local restaurants and drive-up customers. In another nod to old-school agriculture, Rehmeyer picks up unsellable fruits and vegetables from Kimberton Whole Foods weekly to augment the birds’ feed In July, Rehmeyer intalled — it’s one reason Highspire Hills’ the farm’s brand-new eggs are in such demand. solar rig (approximately “It’s been fun because we know 9,000 kWh). His electric bill our customers,” he adds. “My wife now averages around $10 and I are both convinced that per month, down from $200. people should know where their food comes from.”—Lee Stabert
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North Star Orchard locati on
northsta rorchard .com
apples, pears, peaches, vegetables
pasa membe r since
e don’t grow Red Delicious, Golden
Delicious, McIntosh or Granny Smith — you can get those anywhere,” says North Star Orchard’s Lisa Kerschner. “We have all different varieties. And some of them are what many people might consider odd-looking, even ugly. It takes some education, but people get hooked on it. At this point, people who know us come up and say, ‘Ooh! What’s that weird variety?’”
Lisa and her husband, Ike, started farming in 1992. They didn’t have a lot of money, but they were able to secure longterm leases on two properties, one in West Chester and one near Avondale. The Kerschners recently bought their first piece of land — the trees went into the ground in 2008. Since his teenage years, Ike had always wanted an orchard. “You can get into vegetables or even animals pretty quickly, but fruit trees take years, and infrastructure,” explains Lisa. “Then you have years of training the trees, mowing, taking care of trees, and no income. So, it’s not something that can be entered into really easily. And I think that’s why there aren’t that many new orchards around.” North Star has more than 100 varieties of tree fruits, though only (only!) 40 or 50 are currently in production.
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They specialize in new and old varieties alike. But choosing a favorite is no easy task for Lisa. “I love Goldrush apples [a new vari- Lisa Kerschner ety] and Golden Russet apples [an al- (above) watches most-400-year-old variety],” she mus- over her orchard. es. “There are a lot of plums out there — Rosy Gage is really fabulous. Then there are other apples, like Esopus Spitzenburg; that’s a real antique that Thomas Jefferson loved. We prefer really flavorful apples. … They hit you in the face.” North Star also boasts two acres of mixed vegetables. With the addition of a hoop house, they hope to keep production going year-round. “A couple years ago I bought some kale at the grocery store and it tasted like nothing,” says Lisa. “So, we’re kind of doing this for selfish reasons — yes, to supply the markets — but also because we want good stuff to eat.” Everything North Star grows goes directly to customers, either through their CSA or local farmers markets. Their loyalists serve as eager test subjects for the Kerschners’ experimental bent. “There’s this one white peach variety called China Pearl,” says Lisa. “And it’s small, it’s fairly lean and unappealing looking — and it’s amazing. I asked the CSA members, and they were just blown away. So we’re planting more of them.” —Lee Stabert
photos by albert yee
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two gander farm & apiaries locati on specia lty
treyf lemm ing@y ahoo .com, 610-81 2-258 2 pasa membe r since
wo Gander Farm & Apiaries’ honey
Flemming studied wildlife biology and got into farming to have a deeper connection to the land. “I wanted to do someis labeled simply with the season of its thing where we were being stewards,” he says. His life as an origin — spring, summer, fall. As such, apiarist began by chance — a friend needed help with his it comes in an evolving spectrum of rich, hives. “I kind of fell in love with the beekeeping part of it. golden colors. But the flavor of the honey … It’s an interesting way to think about the whole environalso varies: month by month, hive by hive, ment, beyond what’s happening on the farm. The bees are covering a lot of territory.” and depending on what nectar the bees have Last year, Two Gander brought 15 hives into Philadelphia been nipping. for a summer vacation of sorts. They were placed all around Run by Trey Flemming (pictured) and Rick Rigutto, the city: on rooftops and in backyards. “We wanted to proTwo Gander has hives in seven different locations, mostmote the local honey from Philadelphia,” says Flemming. ly in Berks County, but also in Chester and Montgomery “It’s good for allergies. But also, cities are a wealth of nectar counties. The focus is on organic farms, forming a symbiotic sources; they’re underutilized. So, you get a honey flow that’s relationship with farmmuch stronger. The bees ers looking for a polliare healthier. They don’t Within a few weeks, Summer in nation boost. They also get the kind of contamigrow their own organic nation you get in the the City hosts were putting lawn produce, sold at farmers country, with certain chairs out, having their coffee markets and through a kinds of agriculture — and watching the bees. CSA. like pesticide exposure Rigutto and Flemfrom neighbors.” —Trey flemming Any apprehension ming met on this same hive hosts may have farm about eight years ago, working for what was then a 350-member CSA operfelt about their new neighbors quickly dissipated. “Within ated under the name Covered Bridge Produce. They went four or five weeks, they were putting lawn chairs out,” retheir separate ways for a few years, but when the owner went counts Flemming, “having their coffee and watching the out of business, they decided to lease the land. bees.” —Lee Stabert
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p h otos by dan m u r p h y
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yellow springs farm locati on
Chester Springs, Pa.
yellowsp ringsfar m.com
pasa membe r since
figures Yellow Springs Farm’s Catherine Renzi: Once that first pair of Nubian goats arrived, she and her husband, Al, just couldn’t stop. t’s the potato chip problem,”
These days, the Renzi homestead in Chester Springs is home to 27 very friendly goats. The herd provides milk for a line of artisanal cheese inspired by the local terroir. From an infusion of fermented black walnuts (Nutcracker) to a wrapping in local sycamore leaves (Red Leaf ), Yellow Springs’ products are steeped in the microclimate. The Renzis weren’t always living a bucolic life. Catherine worked in financial services and Al in the pharmaceutical industry. About 10 years ago, they started looking for an old farmhouse to ease their Conshohocken commute. This property was once a 200-acre dairy farm boasting a beautiful 1850s farmhouse. “We had an interest in land conservation,” says Catherine. “We wanted a place where we could donate a conservation easement on the land as our small contribution to land preservation. So, this fit that bill — it wasn’t conserved; in fact, it had two appraised building lots on it.”
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Their first project was a native plants nursery, a business that has continued to flourish. They eventually started tackling design work, as well, planting meadows and rain gardens. Catherine’s undergraduate degree is in architecture and design, so this felt like a homecoming. She wasn’t the only one reconnecting with an early calling: “My background is in microbiology, but I was working on the business side of the industry,” says Al. “But now I’m back doing microbiology with cheesemaking.” When one enters the goat paddock, the animals rush to socialize — nibbling and bleating, their iron bells clap in the fading afternoon light. “I was a premature baby born to 20-something parents in Chicago, and I was fed goat milk to survive,” says Catherine. “So, I was raised on the legend of goat milk.” They were given their two original animals by a neighbor, and started making cheese in the house. They took the fruit of their labors to a few dinner parties, and eventually pondered the possibility of a small cheese business. Unfortunately, the regulatory roadblocks seemed insurmountable. PASA was instrumental in helping them formulate their plan. Executive Director Brian Snyder came to the farm for a meeting, and helped them
p h otos by dan m u r p h y
O N – SAT 8 ~M –6
SH & LO
15 -9 22 -231 7~
“Themarketisa one-stopshopfor mealinspiration.”
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plot a roadmap to success. Catherine (above) It still took three years to and Al (opposite) get off the ground. You can Renzi tend to now buy Yellow Springs’ their herd. sublime cheeses at local farmers markets, or at one of their weekend open houses. They also offer a cheese CSA, goat milk caramel and chocolate goat milk truffles. From the first delicately aged bite of Red Leaf, Catherine’s favorite variety, it’s clear the effort was worthwhile. The cheese has an enthralling depth of flavor — and the tang only goat’s milk can provide. “The cheeses are a reflection of a place,” explains Catherine. “They’re of this place, first because of pasture, but also because of the other products that go into them.” —Lee Stabert
OUR PUBLICATIONS Philadelphia Local Food Guide The Wholesale Guide to Local Farm Products
Shop year-round at the Farmstand, located in the Reading Terminal Market, for a wide variety of fresh produce, meats, poultry, dairy, cheese, and eggs from over 90 local farms.
OUR CONSUMER CAMPAIGNS Buy Fresh Buy Local Heritage Breed Education Project
Fair Food is dedicated to bringing locally grown food to the marketplace & to promoting a humane, sustainable agriculture system for Philadelphia.
OUR EVENTS Brewer’s Plate Farm Tour Series Local Grower Local Buyer
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Summit valley farm locat ion
New Holland, Pa.
sum mit val ley far m.n et
ade Esbenshade’s family has owned this farm in New Holland, Pa., for more than 100 years, but it wasn’t until 2003, when he and his wife, Jen, returned from a three-year sojourn in Guatemala, that Summit Valley embraced an organic approach. Wade studied agronomy in school — and spent a lot of time learning which sprays kill which weeds. “During our time in Guatemala, we did a lot of reading on sustainable living, and that’s when we started learning more about organic agriculture,” he says. “We learned more about all the chemicals in the food system, and what it’s doing to our health. That’s really when we started changing our mind-set.” After three years abroad, they wanted to be close to family — and start their own. At the time, Wade’s father was growing conventional field crops; the transition to organic took three
pasa member since
or the past 30 years, high school sweethearts John and Sukey Jamison have been raising some of the country’s most sought-after lamb on their 210-acre farm in Latrobe, Pa. The Jamisons raise their lambs on a natural diet of blue grass and white clover. They use a method known as intensive rotational grazing that nourishes both animals and land, and results in healthy, abundant grass without the use of chemicals and pesticides. In the mid-1980s, the duo began placing ads in national publications like the New Yorker and Gourmet Magazine about their farm. Soon, they were shipping lamb meat to home chefs all over the country. In the late ’80s they began selling to world-renowned restaurants in New York, Las Vegas, Washington, D.C., and Pennsylvania. One such restaurant was D.C.’s Jean-Louis, owned by Jean-Louis Palladin, the man credited with revolutionizing French cuisine in the U.S., and popularizing the farm-to-table movement on the East Coast. The Jamisons have found that the key to their success lies in close attention to each detail of their business, from raising the lambs through connecting with local and national 14
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organic produce and field crops
pasa membe r since
more years. Summit Valley now sells or- Wade and Jen ganic soybeans, corn and hay to dairies Esbenshade with in the area. “It’s been a slow process of their children on the farm. educating our family,” explains Wade. “My father is a little bit more of a businessman, so he liked the fact that farming organically can be more profitable. He’s mostly come on board.” This year, they added organic produce — sold at an on-site farmstand — to the operation. “We’d always been really into gardening,” says Jen. “Friends would ask us where we got our organic produce. And we’d say, ‘well, we grow it.’ We do a lot of talking with people about heirloom varieties. We feel like part of our job here is to educate. People gravitate toward what they know from the grocery store, but it just doesn’t taste as good.” —Lee Stabert
Jamison farm restaurants. In 1994, the couple purchased a John Jamison meat processing plant so they could oversee herds their product from beginning to end. his flock. “We were awash with our local farmers who were farming conventionally with a lot of chemicals, and using a lot of fertilizer,” explains John. “We were both English majors in the ’60s who bought tickets to Woodstock. [laughs] We were interested in learning about farming, [but] the conventional methods at the time — and still to a large degree today —were not the way we wanted to do it.” —Ariela Rose
S u mmit va l l e y p h otos by a l b e r t y e e , jamison fa r m p h oto by matt h e w p. h u nt
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Charlestown farm locati on contac t
charlest owncoop erativef arm.org
pasa membe r since
es, Charlestown is a working
farm, but it’s also something of a community project — a place for apprenticing, picking your own produce and low-key gatherings.
The heart of the enterprise is a 150-member CSA. While picking up their share on-site, participants can also collect a cheese CSA share from Yellow Springs Farm up the road (see p. 12) or shop for grass-fed beef, lamb and broilers from Broadwater Farm across the way. Bill and Liz Andersen, who own both Broadwater and Charlestown, are true ambassadors for the area’s local food culture. They helped found the Phoenixville Farmers’ Market (three miles up the road), widely considered one of the best in the region. It runs year-round, offering
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a venue for the tender baby Farm manager greens coming out of Charles- Melissa Ingaglio town’s high tunnels and hoop gathers eggs. house. “Next year is our 10-year anniversary,” says manager Melissa Ingaglio. She started three years ago as one of the farm’s many apprentices. Though she spent her childhood on a small Christmas tree farm in Schuylkill County, it wasn’t until she attended college in New York City that she developed a passion for local food systems. “I wasn’t interested in it at all,” she says of the farm of her youth. “So, my parents find it amusing that I came back to this. They’re thrilled and excited.” —Lee Stabert
p h otos by dan m u r p h y
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Blooming Glen farm locati on
blooming glenfarm .com
pasa membe r since
om Murtha and Tricia Borneman tell
a tall tale that they started their farming career by living with the animals.
“Over the first summer, we always joke, we lived in a chicken coop, and we only had an outhouse, and the farmer was kind of a gnarly old dude,” laughs Murtha, “but we loved farming.” That was 11 years ago, after the wide-eyed couple embarked on an agricultural journey, taking internships on farms in Connecticut, Oregon and New Jersey before landing in Pennsylvania, where Borneman is originally from.
If you can grow it around here in season, our philosophy is kind of like, ‘Well, let’s give it a go.’ —Tom murtha By 2006, the nomads were ready to settle down, and started Blooming Glen Farm on 25 acres in Perkasie, Pa. The farm’s focus is vegetables, but when it comes to what kind, they don’t discriminate. “If you can grow it around here in season, our philosophy is kind of like, ‘Well, let’s give it a go,’” says Murtha. The farm produces more than 75 different varieties of vegetables, fruits, flowers and herbs that provide unique diversity to their 300-plus-member CSA, and illuminate their Headhouse Square farmers market stand with a rainbow of
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freshly plucked colors. Each variety is Murtha (top) at grown with respect for the local ecosys- the Headhouse Market; Borneman tem, and without chemicals. “You’re only going to be as healthy as (above) with their daughter, Dakota, the plants that you eat,” says Murtha. in the field. “We’re trying to create an atmosphere for our plants on the farm that’s as nurturing and sustaining as possible.” This creed is instilled in the farm’s yearly crop of interns, who fill 10-hour days with field work, greenhouse operations and marketing duties. Four interns a season are picked to live in the property’s restored farmhouse. “Each year we try to make the experience of the interns here on the farm a little more in-depth,” says Murtha. “It’s difficult. I don’t think you can get a full skill set in a year, but I think the people who come and work here know by the end of the year whether or not farming is something that is going to speak to them.” —Ariela Rose
p h otos by T r i c ia B o r n e man and T u r t l e J u l ian
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4 SUYUNDALLA FARMS
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VEGETABLE AND BEDDING PLANTS 1848 Clearview Rd. Coplay, PA. 18037
The Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture (PASA) is a non-profit 501c3, promoting profitable farms that produce healthy food for all people while respecting the natural environment since 1992.
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15 St. Andrew’s Lane, Glenmoore, PA 19343
Working toward a local, sustainable food system COMMUNITY SUPPORTED AGRICULTURE Sign up now for our 15th season
The Conservation Concert Local Food, Local Music June 11th & 12th, 2011
Proudly supports the work of PASA in promoting good, clean, and fair food in our region
Visit us at www.slowfoodphilly.org to learn about upcoming events and opportunities to get involved in the food movement
Shares still Available
Chemical free, fresh picked veggies for 15 weeks Kennett Square, PA
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OrganicMechanicSoil.com 110 East Biddle Street | West Chester, PA 19380 | 610.692.7404
Red Hill Farm CSA
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ACCEPTING MEMBERS FOR THE 2011 SEASON! (610) 558-6799 Aston, PA www.redhillfarm.org
VENDORS WANTED for 2011 SEASON! Now seeking meat, dairy, and mushroom providers for our growing Saturday market, held Memorial Day Voted through Halloween. #2 boutique market in Featuring organic and the US! locally grown vegetables, fruit, bread, meats, cheeses, flowers and baked goods.
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The Mitchell Organic Farm Program at St. Gabriel’s Hall, Audubon PA. Assist with all aspects of our beautiful Organic Garden. Horticulture and Social Therapeutic Atmosphere. For adjudicated male youth, ages 12–18. For details, contact: Dagmar Holl, 610-666-7970 x217 firstname.lastname@example.org
Helping you start your planting season, organically! Plants you’d buy for yourself 295 Park Drive West, Kintnersville, PA 19830 P: 610-847-8152 F: 610-847-5287 www.peacetreefarm.com
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not just for farmers
tne rs by tau ran ts dis h on the ir par thr ee of PAS A’s mem ber res
Arie la ros e
Victory Brewing Company victorybeer.com 420 Acorn Lane, Downingtown, Pa., 610-873-0881 Location
Brewery specializing in craft beer, made with locally grown, whole-flower hops, that complement the brewpub’s seasonal dishes What
PASA Member Since
Permanent Business Member
Vista Farms, Triple Tree Farm, Cordivano Brothers, Highspire Farms, Cedar Meadow Swine, Milky Way Farm/Chester Springs Creamery Partner Farms
Beer ice cream made with Chester Springs dairy products
“We believe in supporting locally grown hops as a means for farmers to diversify and hold onto their farms, while holding off development. Making our customers aware of the enormous significance that natural agriculture ingredients play in our daily lives is critical to harnessing their energies for protecting those resources.” — Ron B a r c h et, brewmaster and CEO “We on the restaurant side of the business feel very strongly about using local ingredients as the quality is far superior, and the positive impact we have on the local economy is greater. We reduce our beer prior to fermentation and blend in dairy products from Chester Springs Creamery to make beer ice cream. It has no alcohol, but it does have great malted flavor. Eating great ice cream made from locally made dairy and locally made beer is the best way I can think of to enjoy the fruits of Chester County!” — M att K ru e g e r, restaurant general manager
The Whip Tavern thewhiptavern.com 1383 N. Chatham Road, Coatesville, Pa.,
What Award-winning pub specializing in traditional English fare and American favorites elevated by local ingredients PASA Member Since
Partner Farms Lancaster Farm Fresh, Buck Run Farms, Buffalo Run Ranch, Doe Run Farm, Green Meadow Farm, Troika Farm Stand-Out Dish Beef Wellington made with Lancaster County grass-fed beef and a blend of mushrooms grown in Kennett Square
“I would have to say that one of my favorite products is grass-fed beef. We source it from various locations throughout Lancaster County; it just has a flavor that can’t be matched by larger corporations. I actually have a hard time consuming commercially raised beef, because of the flavor difference.” —Wyatt Lash , executive chef
The Point of Destination (POD) Café thepodcafe.com 6460 Greene St., Philadelphia, Pa., 215-849-7771 Location
Mt. Airy Café in the 150-year-old Upsal Train Station that specializes in homestyle breakfast favorites and refreshing vegetarian dishes What
PASA Member Since
Lancaster Farm Fresh, Grumblethorpe Historic Gardens, Cherry Hill Orchards Partner Farms
Stand-Out Dish Veggie Reuben prepared with organic mushrooms, carrots and crisp spinach harvested from Lancaster Farms, topped with roasted red peppers, sauerkraut and a homemade remoulade sauce
“As hard as it may be to choose a favorite locally supplied product, we all agree that we enjoy Pink Lady apples, which we use to bake our homemade apple turnovers, the most. It is important for us to provide these local products, because we believe that your food source should never be a mystery.” —Jennif er Joh nson, greening consultant 22
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Master of arts in Food studies Chatham University’s Master of Arts in Food Studies is one of the few graduate food studies programs in the U.S. and the only one to offer both sustainable agriculture and culinary arts and cuisine within a liberal arts environment. As part of Chatham’s new School of Sustainability and the Environment, the program emphasizes a holistic, interdisciplinary approach to food systems. You’ll study how food, from farm to table to compost, affects us and our global environment. The curriculum connects real world problems with ethics, theory, history, communication, research skills, and experiential knowledge as well as offering concentrations in food politics, history and culture, and food markets and marketing.
Big thinking for a big world Woodland Road Pittsburgh, PA 15232 800-837-1290 email@example.com
Think about food from field to table
Recipe for a Sweet and Savory Philly Homegrown™ Weekend • Start with a visit to the Reading Terminal Market and the Italian Market, two of Philly’s most famous markets, for your ingredients
• Sprinkle in stops at restaurants wowing diners’ taste buds with farmfresh cuisine sourced from Amish Country to the Atlantic Ocean
• Blend in delicacies from one of Philly’s 45+ producer-only farmers markets
• Season to taste while satisfying your sweet tooth with refreshing gelato, gourmet chocolates or a locally produced canelé
• Shake things up at a few of our many wineries and breweries
ob ot Ph
Plan your Philly Homegrown™ visit from scratch at visitphilly.com/food. And be sure to friend us at facebook.com/phillyhomegrown.
ed y enn .K R y
TM for GP
Are you dreaming of farming? Are you A looking for land? Or, do you B have land you’re tired of mowing? Would you rather see someone growing wholesome food on your unused land? Create opportunities for yourself through “FarmFutures,” an emerging PASA program linking landowners to beginning or expanding farmers. FarmFutures brings together motivated farmers, landowners, land trusts, and land managers to create new sustainable farm businesses on leased land across southeastern Pennsylvania.
The FarmFutures program “blends eBay with eHarmony” to create a community of landowners and farmers dedicated to restoring the highest use to land—the creation of healthy food for healthy neighborhoods. Growing is better than mowing! Enroll in FarmFutures as a landowner or farmer by completing a simple, free online application with no obligation. Visit www.pasafarming.org and click on the FarmFutures button.
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by bernard brown
One day soon, squirrels will rule us all.
am convinced that when squirrels figure out how to cross the street they will take over the world. ¶ They’re already smarter than most bird feeder designers. I was staking out the bird feeder over at the Cobbs Creek Community Environmental Education Center with local birder and environmental educator Anthony Croasdale. We saw downy woodpeckers, mourning doves and a variety of fun-to-pronounce small birds: juncos, titmice and chickadees. Of course, as Tony pointed out, he’d been feeding the local squirrels as much as any of those birds.
wife’s late grandfather, an otherwise gentle man who collected squirrel-proof bird feeders. I met a local environmentalist who wages a losing battle against the squirrels of Northern Liberties that have been mauling his backyard succulents. YouTube provides an endless parade of squirrel vs. bird feeder videos. Many show feeders that whirl around and fling squirrels off. Others show squirrels that have mastered such squirrel-proof feeders, one avoiding the flinging mechanism by dangling acrobatically by its hind paws from the feeding holes while delicately reaching in to fish out the seeds. If you can’t beat them, use them for art? A retired mechanical contractor in Narberth, William McHugh (backyardinmotion.com), builds squirrel-powered kinetic sculptures. They enter the outside of the wheel-shaped-cage in the Whirla-Squirrel (think of the space station from 2001: A Space Odyssey) and must run around the inside to get to the peanuts, spinning the whole contraption in the process. McHugh notes that the youngsters learn by watching their elders, and that they verify that there are nuts before jumping in. Squirrels might perform for peanuts, but never for free.
Urban life is both good and bad to the squirCombine this dexterity with apparent intelrels. Yes, they roll the dice each time they step ligence (remembering all those cached acorns) off the curb, but the abundant food boosts their and dogged (squirreled?) determination, and population density. All squirrels put on a show you have a creature that gets what it wants. On of bravado for predators (wheezing/squawking a recent squirrel fishing (see below) expedition at hawks, cats, even people, while giving us the to Washington Square, I was amazed by their evil eye), but a researcher in Baltimore recently tenacity. You would think that a squirrel might found that squirrels get more aggressive toward freak out when the peanut fights back, but no! each other as they pack into small urban parks. They hold on tight and, indeed, quickly figure On the way home from Cobbs Creek, I watch out the game, eating the bait before letting go of for dead squirrels. From the bike lane, I get a the empty shell. good view of flattened fauna. Squirrels start off Perfectly mild-mannered, even-keeled people readily identifiable, but over time the fur on the go apoplectic when I bring up squirrels. I recall my tail wears away, leaving pancaked squirrel nearly identical to roadjerky rat. Both are rodents, but squirrels are organized into a difStart with a stiff fishing rod and tie a peanut on the end of the line (no hook). Find a squirrelly tree, ferent branch of the family, distincast your line and toss some peanuts around the base as chum. guished from most other mammals This should get them on the ground. Stay as still as possible until by their ability to go down a tree the squirrel takes the bait, and then either reel it in or lift. headfirst by swiveling their hind feet Success is lifting a squirrel off the ground. around to grip as they descend.
g r i d p h i l ly. c o m
Bernard Brown is an amateur field herper, part-time bureaucrat and director of the PB&J Campaign; read about his forays into the natural world at phillyherping.blogspot.com. ph oto by st eve n ca rte r
TickeTs are nOw On sale!
valenTine TO The markeT Gala Fundraiser • February 26, 2011 Join us for an evening of dancing, food & drink, & entertainment. Proceeds benefit the Reading Terminal Market Preservation Trust. For more information and to order tickets, visit www.PartyTicketsOnline.com/valentine
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Urban Sustainability Forumfrom the Start 17 Green Are we focused enough on teaching our region’s future generation how to live more mindfully? February’s Urban Sustainability Forum will demonstrate the importance of instilling sustainable knowledge and skills in the minds of all children, whether they are in kindergarten or high school. Examples from local programs that are taking on this challenge and region-wide organizations addressing the connection between students and sustainability will be featured.
Artist Edward Maeder will hold a series of workshops on creating art from found paper and vintage silks at Green on Greene in Mt. Airy. This is your chance to create accessories, hats, and Valentines from seemingly common objects including Q-tips, printed napkins, 1940s silk fabrics, and other recyclables. An illustrated talk titled “Color: Historic Inspiration” will also be presented by Maeder during the Feb. 12 workshop day. →→ Feb. 5–20, Green on Greene, Greene St.
and Carpenter Lane, for a full schedule and to register, visit maedermade.blogspot.com
→→ February 17, 6 – 8:30 p.m., Academy of
Natural Sciences, 1900 Benjamin Franklin Pkwy., to register visit, sustainabilityeducationforum.eventbrite.com, ansp.org
Sixth Annual Delco Summit 19 Environmental This year’s summit, presented by the Delco Concerned Citizens for Environmental Change, will focus on energy efficiency. The event will feature a number of breakout sessions including, “The Home Energy Audit” and “Residential Solar Energy.” Presenters will include the DVGBC and Philly’s deputy chief of staff for economic development, Andy Rachlin. Breakfast and lunch will be served. →→ Feb. 19, 9 a.m.–3 p.m., John Heinz Wildlife
Refuge, 8601 Lindbergh Blvd., for a full schedule of the day’s events and to register, visit delcoenvironmental.tripod.com
Free Lecture with Tom Skazy TerraCycle Inc. 15 of Tom Skazy is an award-winning sustainable entrepreneur who founded TerraCycle, a company that upcycles trash into consumer products. The company works with over 14 million people, collecting over four billion formerly non-recyclable items, in 11 countries. These recycling “Brigades” have raised over $2 million for schools and non-profits. Most recently, Skazy starred in the National Geographic Channel’s “Garbage Moguls.”
Greensgrow Farms’ Farmstand 19 Winter Greensgrow will host a farmstand in their warm and toasty greenhouse on Saturdays through April. Expect to find an eclectic mix of seasonal produce, meat and cheese from Natural Meadow Farms, Polish Goodness Pierogies and North Port Fishington’s vegan cookies. Future farmstands will be held on March 5 and 19, and April 2 and 16.
→→ Feb. 15, 6–7:30 p.m., CBS Hall,
→→ Feb. 19, 10 a.m.–2 p.m.,
Urban Organic Workshop 20 Gardening Start planning for the warm weather at this Sunday afternoon workshop sponsored by the Neighborhood Interfaith Movement and Mishkan Shalom. Instructor Anna Herman will teach participants about crop rotation, seeds, healthy soil and irrigation. She will also discuss site and garden planning, as well as crop recommendations. →→ Feb. 20, 2–3:30 p.m., $10, Mishkan Sha-
lom, 4101 Freeland Ave., to register, visit nimphilly.org/sustainingcreation or contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Orphan Support Africa Open House In celebration of their new offices at 2424 Studios, Orphan Support Africa is hosting an Open House. The organization, founded in 2004, works to restore the futures of children orphaned by HIV/AIDS in areas of Sub-Saharan Africa, by creating enterprises whose revenues provide the children with comprehensive care and self-sustaining tools. In its seven years, the organization has assisted more than 55,000 orphans.
→→ February 24, 6 – 8 p.m., 2424 Studios,
2424 E. York St., for more information visit, orphansupportafrica.org
Wild and Scenic Film Festival Creek Outfitters presents the 24 Trail fourth annual Wild and Scenic Film Festival, a night of environmentally minded film screenings to benefit the Stroud Water Research Center in Chester County. Fifteen short films have been handpicked for the festival, ranging from one that explores the world of conservation photography, to an animated feature about an adorable, energy-efficient penguin. Talula’s Table will provide food for the fest, and Victory Brewing Company will bring the beer. →→ Feb. 24, 6–9 p.m., $20 in advance, $25 at
320 S. Broad St., to register, visit corzocenter.ticketleap.com; for more information, visit terracycle.net
URBAN ENERGY Kick Off Community Design Collaborative 17 The is turning 20. To celebrate, the organization is hosting a series of special events to commemorate the collaborative’s two decades of strengthening neighborhoods through design. Enjoy a thought-provoking film screening, discussion on the history of the Collaborative and, of course, plenty of birthday cake.
Greensgrow Farms, 2503 E. Firth St., for more information, visit greensgrow.org
Second Annual Energy Fair 19125, NKCDC’s Housing 19 Sustainable Counseling Department and Kensington South NAC have all collaborated to host this second annual fair. Learn about greening your home, alternative energy options and what money-saving incentives are available. The housing department will be giving away energy-saving kits to residents and running weatherization workshops throughout the day. Free recycling bins and CFL light bulbs will also be available.
→→ Feb. 17, 5–7 p.m., reception to follow, Center
for Architecture, 1218 Arch St., for more information and to register, visit urbanenergykickoff.eventbrite.com
→→ Feb. 19, 11 a.m.–3 p.m., Kensington CAPA High
School, Front and Montgomery Sts., for more information, visit nkcdc.org, or ksnac.org
the door, Chester County Historical Society, 225 N. High St., West Chester, for more information and to purchase tickets, visit stroudcenter.org/calendar.htm
Valentine to the Market Terminal Market invites you to 26 Reading celebrate your love of the Market with a night of dancing, dining, entertainment on three stages and celebrity chefs. Ticket offers include a pre-party VIP Event beginning at 6 p.m., the Valentine to the Market Party at 7 p.m. and a late-night Dancing and Dessert Party at 10 p.m. →→ Feb. 26, 6 p.m.–1 a.m., $45–$300, Read-
ing Terminal Market, 12th and Arch sts., for more information and to purchase tickets, visit readingterminalmarket.org
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Philadelphia International Flower Show The theme of this year’s show is “Springtime in Paris,” and featured displays will highlight opulent, romantic, gourmet, artists’, underground, and timeless Paris. You don’t want to miss the event’s 150 free gardening presentations, dozens of educational displays, and a wellstocked marketplace, where you can gather materials to create your very own home garden.
→→ March 6–13, Pennsylvania Convention
Center, 12th and Arch sts., visit theflowershow.com for times and ticket information
Community Recycling Training 09 Activist In partnership with RecycleBank, the company behind the Philadelphia Recycling Rewards program, RecycleNOW Philadelphia is now training community recycling activists. Recycling activists will assist in helping others sign up for the RecycleBank program to ensure that more of the city’s residential waste is recycled.
Small Space Gardening with limited space presents 12 Gardening its own rewards and challenges. When your entire garden can be viewed at once, there is no room for error. Philadelphia master gardeners Lucille Amadie and Sue Sipos will share creative and innovative ways for your small garden to make a big impact. →→ March 12, 9–11 a.m., $10, Fairmount Park
Horticultural Center, N. Horticultural and Montgomery drives., visit philadelphia.extension.psu.edu under horticulture and second Saturday gardening for more information and to register
Brewers Plate 2011 not miss out on Fair Food’s seventh 13 Do annual Brewers Plate, an unrivaled gathering of the region’s most celebrated and sustainably minded craft breweries, restaurants, farmers and artisanal producers. Each participating business is independently owned and located within 150 miles of Philadelphia. Enjoy tastings, a speakeasy featuring upscale cocktails and an expansive VIP tent. →→ March 13, 4–8 p.m., $45-$125,
→→ March 9, 6:30–8:30 p.m., Free Library of
Philadelphia, Northeast Regional Branch, 2228 Cottman Ave., to RSVP, visit recycle-
Penn Museum, 3260 South St., for more information and to purchase tickets, visit fairfoodphilly.org
Sweet, Savory and Bridal Show 10 Local Join Birchtree Catering for an evening of local and sustainable wedding vendors. Hosted at the Mask and Wig Club, the event will cover all the wedding bases, and feature businesses that specialize in flowers, tableware, music, photography, bridal wear and more. Birchtree will also highlight its selection of seasonal food offerings, so come with an appetite.
ANSP Town Square, Audits: Your Building’s 14 Energy Return on Investment This addition of Town Square will provide the information you need to start reducing energy costs in your condo or co-op building. The evening’s presenters will share tips on “whole building” energy audits for condo communities, how to securely finance your building’s green improvements, and how electric meters can reduce energy use and save money.
→→ March 10, 6–9 p.m., $10.22 online, $12 at
→→ March 14, 6 – 8 p.m.,
the door, Mask and Wig Club, 310 S. Quince St., for more information and to register, visit sweetsavoryandlocal.eventbrite.com, birchtreecatering.com
A Short Course on Beekeeping a day of hands-on learning about 12 Enjoy the principles of beekeeping at Wyck. Members of the Philadelphia Beekeeping Guild will lead the workshop and teach participants about bee biology, hive set-up, protective gear, use of tools, pests, diseases and more.
The Academy of Natural Sciences, 1900 Benjamin Franklin Pkwy., for more information and to register visit ansp.org
Hellebore Festival Linden Hill Gardens, a retail nursery that specializes in rare and unusual plants, invites you to celebrate the return of spring with their wide array of hellebores and companion plants. Hellebores are herbaceous, flowering plants widely used for decorating gardens, and perfect for growing in early spring.
→→ March 12, 9 a.m.–4 p.m., $45 for Wyck
members, $60 non-members, Wyck, 6026 Germantown Ave., to register, contact Bekka Schultz at email@example.com, or 215-8481690; for more information, visit wyck.org
→→ March 26 & 27, 8 a.m.–4 p.m., Linden Hill
Gardens, 8230 Easton Rd., Ottsville, for more information, call 610-847-1300 or visit lindenhillgardens.com
One Big Puddle Photo Exhibition
In honor of World Water Day on March 22, One Big Puddle, an organization dedicated to documenting and understanding the world water crisis, will host a photo exhibition. The exhibit will showcase the work of both amateur and professional photographers whose photographs address water issues in Philadelphia and beyond. The opening show and reception on March 18 are free and open to the public. →→ March 18, 5–7 p.m., The Rotunda, 4014
Walnut St., for more information, visit onebigpuddle.org
Pennsylvania Clean Tech Forum 28 Energy This first annual forum is hosted by the Pennsylvania Small Business Development Center’s Clean Technology Resource Center and is intended to educate small business entrepreneurs on clean technology innovations. Representatives from clean tech-related businesses, regulators and financiers will speak through a series of four panel discussions, and provide information on how to start a successful cleantech business. →→ March 28, 10 a.m.–6 p.m., $35–$200, Crown
Plaza Hotel, 23 S. Second St., Harrisburg, for more information and to purchase tickets, visit pasbdccleantechnologyforum. ticketleap.com/ctrc-forum
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Living with the Birds by hollie holcombe
t started innocently enough. When we bought our first house, I wanted pets and my husband wanted something green. Eventually he suggested the chickens. Since I like birds, and the hens would eat our table scraps and provide fertilizer, it seemed perfect. ¶ He started researching and found COOP (Chicken Owners Outside and in Philadelphia). One September day, he sent me a message asking if I wanted some chicks. That evening, we met a lady from COOP, and I picked out six unsexed five-day-old chicks from the bunch. She gave us some food and away we went! I gave the chicks spice names. Pepper, of the Cuckoo Marans breed, has also earned the title “Giant Velociraptor Chicken” due to her superior size. Cinnamon, one of the Araucanas, is brown. Nutmeg, her sister, is more of a redhead. Sugar, the little Papiseed, is white with rust and black. Ginger, the mutt who fell asleep in my hand, was golden, but turned white. And Lemon, the Rumpless Araucana, was yellow, but also turned white. First they lived in a plastic storage container with a heat lamp in the living room. They grew quickly, and after a couple weeks, we had to scrounge around for materials to build them a 3-foot wood cube. I held them each twice a day. We supplemented their Start and Grow Crumbles with various foods. They would jump up and grab a small pancake, then run around the box, peeping frantically to keep the treasure to themselves. Tomatoes, cucumbers, cooked potatoes and beets all sent them into a frenzy. Whenever they got the chance, they would jump up on our shoulders; we could tell they were planning something when they’d eye us up funny. Usually they aimed for my husband’s glasses, attracted by the shiny glint. By that Thanksgiving, we had put together a dog kennel in the backyard, added chicken wire to the walls and across the top, and put their little house inside. That’s when the neighbors started coming by to meet them. In late February, it was confirmed: Ginger and Lemon were roosters. The crowing began at 4 a.m. I foolishly had Lemon living inside after he became aggressive toward the hens. We found him a new home as soon as possible, and lived with Ginger, who we renamed Garlic, for a bit longer. As the weather warmed, the hens started laying eggs. The process was fascinating. Garlic would prepare the nest, and 30
then watch over each hen as she took her turn. They have three nests to choose from, but they ended up using the same one. For a while, we were getting four eggs a day, giving them away to family and even attempting to sell them to neighbors. I started baking a lot. In late spring, we decided to build a nicer fenced yard for the flock. We got our first zoning permit, put up wooden posts and stretched metal mesh. The new fence doubled their space, and they happily scratched and pecked all the grass into submission. The older couple next door became concerned we were going to get hundreds more chickens. We just laughed. Keeping chickens was becoming a lot of work. We found a new home for Garlic when he became aggressive towards me, and by August we were back to letting the hens out first thing in the morning. One neighbor across the street came by and asked what happened to the rooster. She said the crowing made her “feel alive” — it was so unusual compared to the area dogs barking. The older lady next door said she thought we’d gotten rid of all of the chickens. She said she was actually very happy to hear that we still have the hens, but that we shouldn’t tell her husband that. A younger lady in another house next door said she was sad we got rid of the rooster, and hoped we would get another! We have decided not to, though. Two more hens would be nice, but six chickens is definitely the limit for us. By September, Pepper started molting. It looked like a feather tornado whipped through the yard. It took her a long time to grow back all the feathers, and she hasn’t laid any eggs since. Two more hens started molting, at different rates, around November. The last one started dropping feathers for Christmas. Luckily, they are hardy and have adapted to this cold weather. Our year and a half of backyard chicken keeping has been transformative: We’ve met most of our neighbors. Between the birds and the compost box, we have absolutely no food waste. And the garden has been amazingly productive in the first year. We love our fluffy little friends; I can’t wait to get up each day to let them out. hollie holcombe, LEED AP, is an alumna of the Master of Architecture program at PennDesign currently studying for her license and working as an independent contractor out of her home. She and her husband raise a small flock of chickens between the vegetables and the bramble patch she designed in 2009 as part of her plans for their backyard forest garden. i llust rat i on by k elly fra nkl in
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