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Sustainable Philadelphia

take one!

3rd annual farmbook Pennypack Farm • spring wood and Why farmers farm

march 2012

Earthly concerns and religious commitment spark the growing green faith movement

It’s a bird… it’s a plane… it’s an eco-friendly Earthship!

Feed six for $12? Recipes for delicious and inexpensive one-pot meals

What matters most? The urban environment matters.

Walk-In wednesdays Walk-In wednesdays Environmental Studies featured the first Wednesday of each month

The University of Pennsylvania’s interdisciplinary Masterwednesdays of Environmental Studies program poises graduates to take on the myriad issues of the urban environment.


Coursework in such areas as Urban Ecology, Metropolitan Food Systems, Land Use, and Big City Politics prepare our students

The Environmental Studies Certificate within Penn’s Master of Liberal Arts program allows you to combine environmental studies with interdisciplinary coursework from the arts and sciences.

to change the face of cities through careers in community redevelopment, government administration, or urban education.

Give purpose to your passion at Penn. or search penn mes


February 23 Trinity Memorial Church 22nd and Spruce Sts. DOORS OPEN AT


5:30 p.m. SHOW STARTS AT 6:15 P.M.




Order online at


Marilyn Anthony Eastern Regional Director for PASA


Alex Mulcahy Grid Publisher

Nic Esposito

Urban Farmer and Novelist

Mary Elizabeth Clark, SSJ Director of the Sisters of Saint Joseph Earth Center and Sustainability Assistant to the President at Chestnut Hill College





The Great Unknown




g rid ph illy.march 2012 / is s ue 35


Green Building The sustainable Earthship design has landed in Philly

10 Community Map Quest: A Haverford professor maps Philly’s solidarity economy | New Roots: Home Grown Institute launches conference to teach sustainable skills | A Real Tweet: Local birds find sanctuary in Spruce Hill | Community Chest: Three ways to show your love for the environment 12 Media Reviews of High Line, Plastic Ocean and The Atlas of Climate Change


Reason to Believe

Faith and sustainability connect in Philadelphia communities

28 Haven on Earth Pendle Hill, a model ecocommunity that welcomes all

13 Green Living Recycling Challenge: Batteries and Light Bulbs

16 Agriculture Kensington Farm: North Philly neighbors sow seeds of community 18 Food Hearty one-pot meals that won’t break the bank | Cheese of the Month: Oldwick Shepherd | On Tap: Belgian Freeze and the new Philly Farm & Food Fest

32 Urban Naturalist The Philly pigeon, a surprising player in the city food chain 34 Events Winter wildlife tracking, an evening with Hidden City Philadelphia’s founder, an environmental film festival and 18 other events to brighten your winter! 38 Dispatch Mary Elizabeth Clark, SSJ reflects on how family and the environment influenced her faith

2012 In our third annual Farmbook, meet Pennypack Farm and Spring Wood Organic Farm, Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture members who are helping lead the sustainable local food movement. Plus, hear from PASA members about their passion for farming and learn about the new land leasing program rolling out in 2012. cover illu st r at i o n by m e l is s a m c feete r s

photos by (clockwise from top left) Shirley Dodson, albert yee and blair seitz

14 Energy Biofuels are gaining popularity, but how much will they help the energy industry?

BarberGale designing sustainable brands brand development and graphic design immersed in sustainability



The Living Principles

When was the last time Physics was taught in Phys Ed? How do you inspire a young mind? With an engaging curriculum that approaches every lesson from the vantage point of each subject taught, yielding a powerfully effective methodology. And powerfully hungry learners. Not just memorizers. But original thinkers. Prepared for life.

Have Faith


Alex Mulcahy 215.625.9850 ext. 102 managing editor

it was a great month, but time to get back on the publishing merry-go-round! Since we were so busy plotting and planning, I’m reluctant to call it time off, but the month we spent not producing a magazine was very fruitful. One of the “problems” we discussed is having too many great things happening in our city we want to share with you. So, expect to see Grid evolve over the next few issues to include even more of the inspiring stories we love to tell and you love to read. On a personal level, I’m feeling an extra spring in my step; after looking at our “Beyond the Bacon” issue for the last 60 days, I’m beyond eager to have a new copy of Grid in my hands. This month, our cover story looks at the growing movement in all faiths toward sustainability. Pondering religion brings me back to the pews of Holy Name Church in Forty Fort, Pa., listening to sermons by Father Dacey. True, my mom dragged me there, and I would have been happier playing football, but some of his stories stuck. One I remember is about an old religious man who thinks God is going to save him from a flood. He refuses one rescue boat, and then another, and finally, turns down a helicopter that would have saved him. When face-to-face with the Almighty, he asks, “Why didn’t you help me?” To which the Almighty responds, “I sent two boats and a helicopter. What did you expect?” Unlike the old man in the story, the religious leaders we interviewed—whether Quaker, Catholic, Jewish or Muslim—believe our fate depends upon our actions. They’ve determined that protecting creation, and our place in it, is essential to their beliefs, and a cause for which we must fight. For those who want to see widespread change, this is great news. A coalition made only of secularists isn’t nearly as powerful as one that unites with believers.

Liz Pacheco art director

Jamie Leary designer

Melissa McFeeters distribution

Claire Connelly 215.625.9850 ext. 100 copy editor

Andrew Bonazelli production artist

Lucas Hardison writers

Another major part of this issue is Farmbook, our annual love letter to the farmers of Pennsylvania. This is our third year doing the section, which we produce in partnership with our friends at PASA, the Pennsylvania Association of Sustainable Agriculture, who advocate on behalf of our state’s farmers. Every year I love hearing their stories, but my favorite this year is the MBA student who, taking the advice of a famous banker, dropped out of his program to become a farmer. Talk about a leap of faith! One last note: Please join us for our new event Grid Alive, where we will be bringing some of the people featured in this issue to the stage. Expect a fun, talk show-like affair, with drinks provided by Rolling Barrel Events. It’s on Thursday, February 23, at the Trinity Memorial Church (22nd and Spruce); doors open at 5:30 p.m., and the show will start at 6:15. See you there!

Shaun Brady Bernard Brown Tenaya Darlington Samantha Drake Lucas Hardison Dana Henry Jacob Lambert Marisa McClellan Katherine Silkaitis Katie Winkler Samantha Wittchen photographers

Dan Murphy Gene Smirnov Emily Wren Albert Yee illustrator

Melissa McFeeters interns

Joe Koran Anna Louise Neiger Kimberly Richards Marisa Steinberg ad sales

Alicia McClung 215.625.9850 ext. 114 alex j. mulcahy, Publisher


Alicia McClung 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

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Down to Earth The sustainable Earthship design lands at Emerald Street Urban Farm


he new greenhouse at the emerald street urban farm in East Kensington is an experiment in the innovative Earthship design. Developed in New Mexico in the 1970s, Earthships employ recycled materials, like cans, bottles and earth-packed tires, to create inexpensive and energy efficient structures. The 90-square-foot greenhouse at Emerald Street BELOW: A view of the isn’t an official Earthship, but is made with plastic bottle bricks and Earthshipearth-filled tires, requiring no water, electrical or gas hook up. Ininspired stead, the greenhouse relies on passive solar power; the tires cregreenhouse at Emerald ate a thermal retaining wall that absorbs and holds heat, acting Street. RIGHT: as batteries that charge all summer and radiate warmth long into Recycled the colder months. Members of the Earthship Philly movement tires packed with dirt and hope the Emerald Street structure will encourage future projplastic bottles ects, particularly an Earthship Embassy that would train builders bricks keep the and support sustainable building experimentation. “Earthship is structure warm. more than a home; it is a powerful movement,” says Rashida AliCampbell, the Earthship Philly leader. “Our hope is that the city embraces the structure and makes it a permanent part of the Philadelphia landscape.” —Katie Winkler Learn more about the Philly Earthship movement at


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N 11th St

W Main St

Map Quest A

How to find Philadelphia’s solidarity economy ny doubt that the Philadelphia region has a thriving alternative economy, complete with cooperatives of all kinds, can be answered by a look at the map created by Craig Borowiak, political science professor at Haverford College. ¶ The Philadelphia Mapping Project illustrates the evolving “solidarity economy,” which, according to Borowiak, includes “economic activities that prioritize relationships of reciprocity, democratic participation and community needs.” Perhaps the most prominent co-op in the region is Weavers Way Co-op, with locations in Chestnut Hill and Mount Airy and more than 4,900 member households. But Weavers Way isn’t alone. Philadelphia has dozens of childcare and preschool co-ops, artist co-ops, community development organizations, community land trusts, community gardens, credit unions, food co-ops, housing co-ops and other organizations.

New Roots

Imagine an entire weekend dedicated to teaching sustainable skills of all kinds—backyard chicken raising, beekeeping, composting, gardening, healthy cooking and home energy efficiency. The Home Grown Institute, whose inaugural conference is this March, has planned to do just this. The conference is tailored to provide attendees with the skill sets and motivation to transform their own lives through workshops, tours and hands-on experience. Sarah Gabriel, founder and Wyncote native, envisions the HGI not as an educational vehicle, but as a “container” through which community partners—Weavers Way Co-op, Pennsylvania Horticultural Society and Friends of the Wissahickon are already on board along with more than two dozen others—can instruct individuals in the types of methods and approaches they can carry back to their own Matt Feldman, Home Grown presenter, instructs students communities. and planners of The Home Grown Institute in the building Gabriel stressand maintenance of Kenyan Top Bar beehives.

Home Grown Institute offers skills, motivations for sustainable life


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N 17th St

N Park

W Market St



The map was created using Google Maps and Google Earth software, but Borowiak hopes to shift to an open-source platform to allow community input. Efforts are also underway to make the map more interactive, allowing organizations to get directly involved and make the map searchable. The map is intended to help consumers find solidarity economy producers, create supply chains and spur social networking. The map’s web page went live in September 2010 with the help of Cameron Scherer, a 2011 political science graduate of Haverford, and since then has become a resource for researchers, academics and local governments. Borowiak launched the project primarily to raise awareness of alternative economies that exist largely under the radar. “I was surprised by how many activities fit in our parameters,” he says. “There is a lot going on.” —Samantha Drake Learn more about the solidarity economy project and view the interactive map at politicalscience/solidarityeconomy/mapping/ philadelphia.php.

es composting, rainwater catchment and growing food, but the conference will feature programs on backyard chicken coops, beekeeping, aqua/hydroponics and other related concepts. The two-day conference includes classroom workshops and “Tour, Learn and Build” field trips to nearby homes already employing the techniques. There will be screening rooms with documentaries and TED lectures, a marketplace and an awards ceremony. While the annual conference will be HGI’s main focus, Gabriel plans to continue the mission yearround with regular classes, tours and sustainable activities. “Each person that comes in is going to have a different experience,” says Gabriel, “and my fantasy is that you come out of the Home Grown Institute with a bigger sense of that oneness in your own life.” Learn more about HGI and register for the March conference at

A Real Tweet Spruce Hill neighborhood welcomes local birds

Think winter is a bleak time for enjoying the Philadelphia outdoors? West Philly bird watchers in the Spruce Hill neighborhood would disagree. Residents, who are rehabbing a patch of urban forest as a bird sanctuary, have seen Carolina and Black-capped Chickadees, House Sparrows, Northern Cardinals, House Finches, and Whitebreasted Nuthatches. The Spruce Hill Community Association purchased the lot in 1981, and last spring received a $3,000 Sustainable Community Initiatives–West Community Grant from the University City District. With this help, the community removed hazardous trees and invasive plants, and developed a master plan with paths, sitting areas and native plantings. They’ve even written a short field guide on common year-round birds available through the community association for $5. “It’s so much better than it was,” says Anne Froehling, a community board member who helps run the project. “[But it’s] a work in progress. We’ve gone from bad to ok. We’re working on going from ok to great.” Interested in contributing? The community association gratefully accepts bird food, plants and donations. —Liz Pacheco The Spruce Hill Bird Sanctuary is at Spruce and Locust, 45th and Melville Streets. Learn more at

Spotted at Spruce Hill...

White-breasted Nuthatch


bird call

Nasal yaank, yaank, fast wahwahwah wahwah color

Gray blue on back, white breast, black cap behavio r

Creeps along trunks and branches, turns upside down on vertical branches excerpted from the “birds of spruce hill field guide.” photo by christian hunold

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

Become proficient in Green Building Materials, Energy Efficiency, Construction Systems and Sustainable Design

Co m m u n it y Che s t Master the great outdoors Interested in sharing your passion for the great outdoors? The Master Naturalist program is a great place to start. This state program is part of a national initiative designed to connect people with their local ecosystems. Here in Philadelphia, The Schuylkill Center for Environmental Education is hosting the year-long natural science training and volunteer work. Application deadline is February 17. To join the Master Naturalist program, visit or contact program coordinator Jennifer Everhart (, 610.724.6443).

photo by christian hu n o ld

Canine casting call Calling all canines in Northern Liberties and Queen Village! The Philadelphia Water Department (PWD) is looking for two pooches to promote dog waste pick-up practices in their Best Friend Spokesdog Competition. Dog may be man’s best friend, but dog waste is no friend to the environment. During rainstorms and snow melts, dog waste is washed into the water system via storm drains, causing bacteria, parasites and algae to collect in local waterways. A winner from Northern Liberties and Queen Village will be chosen. Deadline is February 15. For more information, visit

Friends of the Wissahickon ask: How are we doing? Help improve visitor experiences to the Wissahickon Valley by taking the online My Park Counts survey. Part of a larger in-depth study, the survey, created by Friends of the Wissahickon (FOW), will be used to obtain future funding and enhance programming and outreach efforts. Filling out the survey enters you into a drawing to win a popular gadget, but if you’re lucky, you’ll win one of the 10 FOW memberships they’re giving away. Survey ends February 28, visit

VISIT mar c h 20 12

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book reviews

Plastic Ocean

How a Sea Captain’s Chance Discovery Launched a Determined Quest to Save the Oceans by Capt. Charles Moore with Cassandra Phillips (Avery, 358 pp., $26, October 2011)

26th Street Viewing Spur, recalling the billboards that were once attached to the High Line, a frame now enhances, rather than blocks views of the city, at West 26th Street.

High Line

The Inside Story of New York City’s Park in the Sky

when cap t. charles moore set sail from Honolulu in 1997, he and his crew stumbled upon a floating phenomenon. Estimated at two million square miles, the North Pacific Subtropical Gyre is home to nearly three million tons of plastic debris. Here marine life share space with fishing nets, glow sticks and oyster spacer pipes as well as more mundane detritus of modern life, like pens, coffee stirrers and plastic bags. In Plastic Ocean, Moore and co-author Cassandra Phillips use the Gyre’s discovery to talk about the scary side of plastics. They discuss the chemical effects of plastic breakdown—which happens more slowly in cool ocean waters than on land, adding to its longevity—and the potential effects on human and animal health. In some ways, however, the most distressing aspects of the book are the issues of plastic production, use and disposal. Moore finds recycling a charade and argues that producers have left consumers responsible for disposal. This becomes a major point in the book and it’s what the authors of Plastic Ocean want to inspire readers to address. —Katherine Silkaitis

by Joshua David and Robert Hammond (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 339 pp., $29.95, October 2011)


hen new york city’s high line opened in June 2009, it was the culmination of a decade’s worth of work spearheaded by two unlikely West Side residents. Joshua David, a travel journalist, and Robert Hammond, an entrepreneur, both wanted the city’s unused elevated freight line—which ran uninterrupted for more than 15 blocks—to be saved and repurposed, instead of torn down. High Line is David and Hammond’s story in their own words, accompanied by images of the High Line after its construction in the 1930s, its abandonment in the 1980s, and its rebirth as a public park. The book serves as a blueprint for action and a call-to-arms for anyone engaged in civic activity. High Line captures the energy, dedication and passion David and Hammond had for their work, but also lays out their pitfalls and rocky moments. Perhaps most importantly for Philadelphia, High Line provides a detailed look at what’s involved in turning an elevated freight line into a park. Those interested in our city’s Reading Viaduct Project, organized to turn the abandoned Reading Viaduct into a High Line-like park, can look to this account for a vision of a potential final result. —Katherine Silkaitis 12

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The Atlas of Climate Change

Mapping the World’s Greatest Challenge (Third Edition) by Kirstin Dow and Thomas E. Downing (University of California Press, 128 pp., $21.95, November 2011) the atlas of climate change is a deftly illustrated and informative reference book about the state of the global climate today. With wvords, diagrams, maps and captions, the book transforms decades of data into easily consumable and powerful information. From receding glaciers and automobile driving habits to global greenhouse gas policy and renewable electricity production, The Atlas of Climate Change succeeds in simplifying a complex and multifaceted issue. —Katherine Silkaitis

Ph oto by Barry Munger—Courtesy of F rien ds of th e High L ine

by samantha wittchen

Batteries & Light Bulbs Each year, the average American discards eight batteries, and about 600 million fluorescent light bulbs make their way to landfills.


Batteries and light bulbs contain heavy metals that can leech into the soil and groundwater around landfills. Things have changed since the last time we discussed batteries and light bulbs (April 2009 and May 2009, respectively). Many places no longer accept single-use (alkaline) batteries for recycling. The same is true for incandescent light bulbs, although there are a number of options for compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs).


For batteries, the Big Green Earth Store (934 South St.) and area Whole Foods still accept the single-use variety. If you have worn-out rechargeables, you can take them to Best Buy, Radio Shack, Staples, Office Depot, Lowe’s or Home Depot. You can recycle CFLs at IKEA and Lowe’s, and Home Depot accepts incandescent in addition to CFLs. (Before you haul your batteries and light bulbs to the store, call to make sure they take exactly what you have.) You can also save up rechargeable batteries and CFLs for one of the City’s Household Hazardous Waste events (2012 events start April 28, But sorry—they don’t take single-use batteries or incandescent light bulbs! 


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The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 mandates advanced biofuels supply

Biomass Appeal

Can the biofuels industry create energy without causing food prices to rise? by samantha wittchen


ou may have read about some mechanically-inclined eco-activist who has transformed an old, beat-up diesel Mercedes to run on used fryer oil. But biofuels aren’t just for the small-scale garage DIYer anymore. Biofuels are gaining traction nationally and here in Philadelphia. So while a biofueled car is probably not in your immediate future (unless you’ve already bought the conversion kit—in which case, go for it), you could be hearing more about this green industry’s growth in the Philadelphia region in the near future.

What are biofuels?

gallons of

fuels corn



sewer grease




1 Reduces our dependence on foreign oil. Biofuels are the only renewable liquid transportation fuels available. 2 Creates far fewer greenhouse gas emissions. While burning biomass releases about the same amount of carbon dioxide as burning fossil fuels, that carbon dioxide is largely offset by the carbon dioxide captured during biomass growth. 3 Supports the domestic economy if the biofuels used are produced in the U.S.

1 Producing biofuel requires a large amount of water, another precious resource. A Pacific Northwest National Laboratory study found that 350 gallons of water per gallon of oil—a quarter of what the U.S. currently uses for agriculture—would be needed to produce the 21 billion gallons of algal biofuel required to meet the EISA mandate. 2 Using food resources to create fuel could potentially cause a spike in prices of key commodities, such as corn.*

The local biofuel

Philadelphia’s central location within a major transportation corridor gives the region the opportunity to play a key role in the development of biofuels and biopower. Here are three companies leading the local biofuel industry:

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broken down


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Biofuels and biopower are derived from biomass, which can include a range of raw materials, like plants, corn, sugar, algae and even sewer grease. Biomass is converted biochemically (using chemicals and enzymes to break down and ferment the biomass into alcohol fuels, like ethanol) or thermochemically (using heat and pressure—or chemicals—to break down biomass into a bio-oil or synthetic gas). Once converted, the biomass powers vehicles, or can be efficiently burned in gas turbines to generate energy.



BlackGold Biofuels is a company specializing in converting food, oil and grease found in wastewater into diesel fuel. Philadelphia, Pa.

by 2022. This is equivalent to 17 percent of the petroleum we currently import. In 2011, a study by the Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory reported that the U.S. could replace this exact amount by growing algae for biofuel.

*This criticism may become less salient. The DOE is already developing technology that produces “secondgeneration” biofuels from agricultural residue, such as corn cobs, husks and straw. Since petroleum is used heavily in the agriculture industry, if these new biofuels are applied in the very industry from which they originated and increase agricultural yields, the food versus fuel argument may become irrelevant.

Renmatix has developed technology to convert non-food biomass into sugar, which is then used for fuel. The company recently moved its headquarters to the region. King of Prussia, Pa.

BARD Holding announced last March it’s begun the commercialization phase of algae oil production. Their first commercial plant was built in Bucks County. Morrisville, Pa.

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Growing Their Own North Philly neighbors pick their own produce from a new urban farm by dana henry


his past april, kevin musselman, coordinator for the Kensington Area Neighborhood Advisory Committee (KANAC), approached neighbors at Frankford and Cambria Streets in Kensington. “We’re going to start a farm in that lot over there,” he told them. The lot he was referring to, like many derelict parcels in the area, was frequently the site of drug activity and prostitution. “A farm? In the hood?” the neighbors questioned. “Yeah, a farm, right in your neighborhood,” responded Musselman. This neighborhood, where KANAC currently facilitates grassroots community projects, is part of the first congressional district in Pennsylvania which in 2010, ranked fourth highest in the nation for food hardship—meaning households don’t have enough money to buy all the food they need. In 2009, the district had ranked second. Recently, the Food Trust’s Healthy Corner Store Initiative, which helps stock fresh produce in underserved areas, has aggressively targeted Kensington, but for decades residents have had trouble finding much to eat besides chips, Honey Buns, hot dogs and other highly processed meats and starches. In 2010, after a group of neighbors—including members of neighborhood organizations such as Philly Tree People, Harrogate Tree Tenders and Kensington Food Co-Op— attended an annual Community Leadership Institute conference in Louisville, Ky. held by NeighborWorks America, they decided it was time for Kensington to get a farm.


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march 2012

“[Farming ] was a new idea,” says Musselman. “This is a part of Kensington [that’s] faced with a lot of challenges in terms of crime, drug sales, vacant land, and urban blight and decay. When neighbors saw a group of people working together to do something positive, a lot of them got excited.” KANAC’s initial meeting brought in just a handful of people. Since then, five families have taken the lead on the project. The Fresh Start Foundation, a neighboring transitional housing program for adults in recovery, has involved up to 30 residents to provide daily waterings and weekly clean-ups. The farm planted snap peas, arugula, spinach, radishes, turnips, carrots and garlic for the colder season, and any neighbor can come by and do their own seasonal picking. Scott Cox, a Fresh Start supervisor and KANAC board member, says keeping the farm open has helped more residents join in and learn about farming. “It’s a great idea,” Cox says of the project. “The farm is only one house unit size, but it has a big impact on the community.” Musselman and members of KANAC hope the project, funded by a small grant from NeighborWorks America, will extend the emerging movement of urban food production past the Lehigh Avenue boundary. “We just want to make neighbors aware,” says Musselman. “If someone has been hesitant to get involved, but at any point they know they can go over and grab a ripe tomato—and it’s the first time they’ve ever done that—they get enthusiastic.” 

“When neighbors saw a group of people working together to do something positive, a lot of them got excited.” kevin musselman







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Simple Sustenance One-pot meals to brighten the long winter months by marisa mcclellan


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inner parties get a bad wrap. Just about everyone I know dismisses them as overly fussy, expensive and entirely too much work. For me, there’s nothing more pleasant than an evening spent with a handful of friends around the dining room table. My secret to hosting stress-free dinner parties? One-pot meals. Combine protein and vegetables in a single dish and serve them with rustic bread, a simple pasta or an easy salad. Invite your friends to bring wine and dinner is served. These simple stews and skillet meals have an additional virtue beyond their taste and simplicity. They are also surprisingly inexpensive. Each one of these recipes clocks in right around $12 for six full servings. For your meat-eating friends, cook up a skillet full of hearty sausage, kale and white beans. The dish uses sausage for flavor while relying on tender cannellini beans for bulk and satisfaction. Bread is a must for sopping up all those tasty juices. If you prefer poultry, the chicken and zucchini stew is for you. Do all the chopping first; once you start cooking, this dish comes together quickly. I like this one paired with some whole wheat couscous. Finally, here’s a riff on macaroni and cheese that includes blanched cauli-

flower and frozen green peas. Though it’s plenty good all on its own, a small arugula salad served alongside it is quite wonderful, too.

Sausage, Kale and White Bean Skillet 1 2 1 1 2

lb mild Italian sausage ($4) medium onion, chopped ($.75) cloves garlic, minced ($.25) bundle kale, washed and chopped ($2.50) 14-oz can chopped tomatoes ($1.50) 15-oz can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed ($2) Salt and pepper to taste

˜˜Place a large skillet over medium-high heat. Remove sausage from casing and add to the pan. Using a spatula, break up the sausage as it cooks to make a pan of sausage crumbles. When browned, remove the sausage to a plate with a slotted spoon. ˜˜Using the oil the sausage released, sauté the onion and garlic until fragrant and golden. Add the kale and tomatoes. Stir to combine. Put a lid on the pan and reduce heat to medium. Let cook until the kale wilts and becomes tender. ˜˜Return the sausage to the pan and add the cannellini beans. Cook with the lid off until the liquid in the pan looks quite thick. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Macaroni and Cheese with Cauliflower and Green Peas 1 1 2 2

Chicken and Zucchini Stew 1 1

Tbsp olive oil ($.15) lb boneless, skinless chicken thighs, chopped ($5) 1 medium onion, chopped ($.75) 2 garlic cloves ($.25) 3-4 carrots, chopped ($.50) 1 lb zucchini, quartered and chopped ($2) 1 28-oz can fire roasted tomatoes ($2.25) tsp dried basil ($.10) Salt and pepper to taste

˜˜Place a large, heavy-bottomed soup pot over medium-high heat. Add olive oil and heat until it shimmers. Add chopped chicken thighs and cook until brown. ˜˜Add onions, garlic and carrots to pot, and stir to combine. Cook until the onions and garlic are fragrant and the carrots begin to soften. ˜˜Add zucchini and stir to combine. Pour tomatoes and their juices into the pot. Measure out one can of water and add it as well. Season with dried basil, salt and pepper. ˜˜Reduce heat to medium and simmer stew until the liquid reduces and the vegetables are tender. Serve hot. Garnish with shredded Parmesan cheese if your budget allows.


lb shells pasta ($1) head cauliflower, broken into small florets ($3) cups frozen green peas ($1) cup butter ($.50) cup all-purpose flour ($.25) cups milk ($1) lb cheddar cheese, grated ($2) tsp freshly grated nutmeg ($.10) cup seasoned breadcrumbs ($1) Salt and pepper to taste

˜˜Bring a large pot of water to a boil and salt generously. Once boiling, add pasta. When the pasta is approximately five minutes from being done, add the cauliflower. ˜˜While the pasta and cauliflower cook, melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Once melted, sprinkle in the flour and whisk until incorporated. Let butter and flour combination (the roux) cook for a minute, whisking regularly. ˜˜As soon as the roux begins to darken, add a third of the milk and whisk to incorporate, until it thickens. Repeat twice more with remaining milk. Once all the milk has been incorporated, whisk in the cheese. Season with nutmeg, salt and pepper. Remove cheese sauce from heat. ˜˜When pasta and cauliflower is done, drain thoroughly and return to pot. Add peas and cheese sauce. Stir to combine. Pour into a baking dish. Top evenly with breadcrumbs and bake in a 375-degree oven until the cheese sauce bubbles and the top is a crunchy, golden brown.

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food cheese of the month

Oldwick Shepherd Last year, Valley Shepherd Creamery in New Jersey appeared on my radar and quickly became a favorite source for rustic, raw-milk cheese. This Pecorino-style wedge made from the milk of pasture-raised sheep is a good choice for February, when your disposition needs sweetening and your palate craves dense, nutty cheeses. Tuck a wedge of Oldwick Shepherd into your down

vest pocket and go for a walk in the woods. Pair this with a flask of scotch, and you’ve got a mood lifter—call it the ultimate staycation package. Oldwick Shepherd has a natural (edible) rind and a dense paste like a Pecorino, but it tastes more like a cave-aged Gruyère crossed with a clothbound cheddar. The wheel I tried was caramel-sweet and herby; near the rind, I detected pronounced walnut notes. Unlike other sheep cheeses, there isn’t a muttony finish. As one friend from the Garden State recently told me, “This cheese makes me proud to be from New Jersey.” —Tenaya Darlington,

Look for cheeses from Valley Shepherd Creamery at Di Bruno Bros. and Fair Food Farmstand in Reading Terminal Market. Valley Shepherd Creamery, 50 Fairmount Rd., Long Valley, N.J.; 908-876-3200

on tap

Belgian Freeze River Horse Brewing Co., Lambertville, NJ. Belgian Style Ale / 8.0% ABV

forty miles or so up the Delaware, just across the bridge from New Hope, you’ll find Lambertville, N.J.—home of River Horse Brewing Co. and apparently, the abominable snow hippo. Don’t let the beast on the bottle fool you, his snarl is worse than his snap. Turns out he’s actually rather friendly for a Belgian dark ale. For those afraid of Belgian styles, this one is quite mellow on those sharp yeasty flavors, tending

more toward malty and warming with a crisp quick finish. But keep in mind it’s still an eight-percenter, so be careful not to provoke him. —Lucas Hardison More at

Mark your calendar

Philly Farm & Food Fest Local food powerhouses Fair Food and the Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture are teaming up for a blockbuster event this spring. An expansion of Fair Food’s annual Local Grower Local Buyer, Philly Farm & Food Fest will cater to both buyers—restaurants who use local food—and the public. Expect a family-friendly time with delicious food, educational workshops and great opportunities to meet your favorite local farmers, producers and food artisans. April 1, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. Pennsylvania Convention Center. 1101 Arch St.


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m ar c h 2 0 1 2


r e s e n t s


Meet members of the pennsylvania association for sustainable agriculturE, working to bring fresh, delicious food to local eaters


farm Jessica Gerani

and her fellow farmers connect families with local food

also inside

Spring wood farm

Tradition meets technology at a fourth-generation farm

Why We Farm

PASA members share their passion for farming

The School of Sustainability and the Environment (SSE), established in 2009, provides the necessary expertise in social justice, economic development, and environmental studies to support sustainable goals and practices from the individual to the global level. The vision of the school is in keeping with the legacy of Rachel Carson, Chathamâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s most distinguished alumna, whose work led to the founding of the modern environmental movement. Currently based at Chatham Universityâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s historic Shadyside Campus, the school will eventually be housed at a new, 388acre carbon-neutral Eden Hall Campus in Richland Township, PA, which is just 33 minutes north of Pittsburgh. MASTER OF ARTS IN FOOD STUDIES MASTER OF SUSTAINABILITY GRADUATE CERTIFICATE IN SUSTAINABLE MANAGEMENT

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Recipe for a Sweet and Savory Philly Homegrown™ Weekend œKlYjl oal` Y nakal lg l`] J]Y\af_ œKhjafcd] af klghk Yl j]klYmjYflk L]jeafYd EYjc]l Yf\ l`] AlYdaYf ogoaf_\af]jk¿lYkl]Zm\koal`^Yje% EYjc]l$ log g^ H`addq¿k egkl ^Yegmk ^j]k` [makaf] kgmj[]\ ^jge 9eak` eYjc]lk$^gjqgmjaf_j]\a]flk ;gmfljqlgl`]9ldYfla[G[]Yf œ:d]f\ af \]da[Y[a]k ^jge gf] g^ œK]YkgflglYkl]o`ad]kYlak^qaf_qgmj H`addq¿k ,-# hjg\m[]j%gfdq ^Yje]jk ko]]l lggl` oal` j]^j]k`af_ _]dYlg$ eYjc]lk _gmje]l [`g[gdYl]k gj Y dg[Yddq hjg\m[]\[Yf]d… œK`Yc]l`af_kmhYlY^]og^gmjeYfq oaf]ja]kYf\Zj]o]ja]k ob ot Ph

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Choose from 12 pick-up sites including Fair Food—Reading Terminal!

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Feeding the future

d i r e c to r

These days, politics and mass media are

all full of warnings about things we must do, or else face dire consequences. If you pay attention to everything that comes over the Internet regarding how to improve your health, save the environment or increase your child’s scores in math, you’re likely to start each day with an entirely new strategy. Figuring out what must be done to solve any problem can be frustrating, which is why it’s so nice to find things that tend to help solve a whole list of our society’s most difficult issues. Buying food produced and processed in your local community is one such thing. When you buy local, you’re eating more nutritious and better tasting food. It improves your sense of community, the environment and your local economy. Put simply, almost every aspect of your life will benefit from purchasing food sustainably grown by a local farmer. How do you know food has been “sustainably” grown? It’s not a black and white determination. Sustainability begins with the concepts of transparency and accountability, whether you’re talking about food or anything else. Do you know who grew your food and under what conditions? Do you know how it was processed, and what

may have been added? Do you know the ways in which your community will benefit if you buy this food? When you buy food directly from a farmer, you can ask for yourself. It’s hard not to be worried about the future right now. Our national and international economies are severely challenged, dramatic climate change is all but a scientific certainty, and the threats to our food supply seem to increase with each passing year. But it’s nice to know that something you do three or four times every day can have a significant impact in every one of these areas. And who knows, the food choices you make may increase your child’s math score to boot! Brian Snyder, Executive Director Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture

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THE BREWER’S PLATE March 11, 2012

National Constitution Center Fair Food once again brings you a celebration of our region's craft breweries, restaurants, farmers, and artisanal producers - all independently owned and located within 150 miles of the city! Join us for an 8th year of The Brewer's Plate: a one-of-a-kind tasting event that pairs craft beer with local gourmet food for eaters of all kinds.

Featuring Philly’s own IRON CHEF, Jose Garces All proceeds benefit Fair Food, a 501(c)3 dedicated to promoting and sustaining a healthy local food system for the region!

Demonstrating Symbiosis between Sustainable Agriculture and Nature

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Wisdom and technology power Lancaster Countyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s fourth-generation Spring Wood Farm


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story by shaun brady photos by albert yee


oman Stoltzfoos emerges from the barn where his cows are milked and is faced with dozens of turkeys waddling aimlessly towards his driveway. A gate has been left open, and he calls to his eight-year-old daughter, playing nearby, to help herd the wayward birds back into their pen.





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Stoltzfoos’ youngest is hardly the only one of his 11 children working on this mid-September afternoon. His oldest, Dwight, 31 (assisted at the moment by his 13-year-old brother Raphael), is managing the dairy operations that are the focus of Stoltzfoos’ Spring Wood Organic Farm, the main supplier for Lancaster County’s Natural by Nature milk. Joshua, 19, is gathering eggs from the four mobile, solar-powered coops used for laying by the farm’s 2,400 chickens. Clifford, 21, transforms a small percentage of the milk and eggs into gelato and yogurt. And their 15-year-old sister Althea rides by on a tractor, which she’s been using to turn the farm’s compost heaps. “I want them to experience what I did,” says Stoltzfoos, 54, of his children, who are the family’s fourth generation to work on Spring Wood Farm. “They aren’t all going to want to stay here, but I want to give them the opportunity.”

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The Spring Wood Ideal

Roman Stoltzfoos tends to the compost piles.





There’s certainly no shortage of opportunities for work on Stoltzfoos’ 220-acre farm, near Kinzers in Lancaster County. In addition to the cows, turkeys, chickens and a handful of pigs, Roman and his wife Lucy operate a small rental property, the “Little Stone Cottage,” just up the road. Visitors are welcome to a farm tour, which Stoltzfoos hopes will help spread his philosophy to those accustomed to getting their meat and dairy from supermarket aisles. “We want to get the message out to people about what really happens on farms,” says Stoltzfoos. “I think we have too many Americans who don’t quite understand that food comes from farms, not the grocery store or a manufacturing plant somewhere. Normal agriculture has done farmers a bad turn by separating them from their consumers, so they don’t even know what Americans really want. And Americans don’t really know what they want either because they’ve been sold a bill of goods. It’s amazing how many people enjoy that aspect, understanding a little bit more where food comes from and what some of the hassles are with it.” The quaint cottage is for married couples only; with one bedroom it’s too small for families, and those living (or only visiting) in sin aren’t welcome. That restriction is a reflection of the Stoltzfoos’ Mennonite faith, which plays into Roman’s decision to farm organically and sustainably. 20 11 farmbo ok

“We feel the whole idea of soil stewardship goes with an appreciation of who we believe created it,” he says. “Large-scale agriculture and using chemicals for every answer is ignoring the fact that there is a feeling and a soul for this whole thing. We believe that we can actually do things the way they should be done rather than the way they’re dictated to us.” A 21st Century Farm

Anyone expecting Spring Wood to be a throwback, frozen in time as it was run by Roman’s grandfather when he bought the farm in 1941, is in for a surprise. There are solar panels on four roofs at Spring Wood, almost eliminating the Stoltzfoos’ electric bills for the year. There is also a panel apiece on the four mobile coops in which the farm’s hens lay their eggs. All four are moved on a daily basis to follow the grazing cows, which benefits both the chickens and the fields. “If you don’t manage things right, the chickens can damage pasture, just wear it down and destroy the grass,” explains Joshua, who runs the family’s chicken business and designed the pens. “We move them every day. They also help fertilize, coming along behind the cows and spreading the manure all over the place. They’ll pick through it for grain or anything

that runs through the cows. And they reduce the fly population.” Every afternoon, Joshua wades through the thicket of chickens clustered around the four pens to collect six to seven dozen eggs. The eggs are not certified organic; while their feed is GMO-free, a particular passion of his father’s, organic feed is too great an expense to justify. “If we were organic, we probably couldn’t have as many chickens,” says Joshua. “I’m not sure people want to pay quite that price.” In addition to his solar panels, Stoltzfoos also puts the sun to work composting manure and hay into fertilizer. “It’s a very healthy way to dispose of manure,” he says. “It moves the nutrients into the matrix of the carbon so that they become very stable; the plant roots can get them out, but water can’t. You end up with a product that is extremely homogeneous and has very little of its original smell or composition.” Only days after Hurricane Irene and the torrential rains

Joshua, 19, gathers eggs from a solarpowered chicken coop.

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I was told it’s t possible absolutely no turkeys. No to do organic d drugs to do way. You nee long story turkeys. But s later we’re r a e y 4 2 t, r o sh nd have still doing it a ney.” never lost mo

that surrounded it, Stoltzfoos points out the value of compost, which, unlike other fertilizers, won’t be washed away in a downpour. The composting also helps to transform the waste materials any dairy farm has to deal with. “All these Lancaster County farms, the soil oltzfoos —roman St is filled up to the max with raw manure,” says Stoltzfoos. “Phosphorous and nitrogen are too high, and tons and tons have to be hauled for miles to get it far enough away from the source. Whereas this system is so redemptive to the soil and so kind to the whole environment.” A vigorous proponent of grass-fed cattle (he rents an additional 280 acres of grazing land in the area), Stoltzfoos was an early adopter of organic approaches. He took over what was at the time a conventional dairy farm from his father in 1982, finding it infested with weeds. “It was so bad that in many fields we couldn’t even get corn to make an ear,” he recalls. When chemicals couldn’t provide the solution for the farm’s issues (and carried unnecessary toxins), Roman turned to organic methods. “[W]e decided for the safety of our family and the safety of our neighbors, we were going to do organic. We were betting that there were enough people who appreciated organic food that we could survive on that. And there really were.” More Than Corn and Chickens

Within his first few years, Stoltzfoos began diversifying the farm’s output, beginning with the turkeys. “I needed something to make more cash income. The dairy price was really low at the time. But number one, I thought cows were a little too boring.” His initial decision to raise organic turkeys was met with considerable skepticism, Stoltzfoos recalls. “I was told it’s absolutely not possible to do organic turkeys. No way. You need drugs to do turkeys. But long story short, 24 years later we’re still doing it and have never lost money. There’s quite a bit of demand for organic turkeys, but these days there’s a lot of so-called organic where they never get green grass like our turkeys do.” Spring Wood’s nearly 12




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5,000 turkeys are rotated among six pens on a two-week cycle. They’ll grow to roughly 20 pounds before being sent to market, chiefly through four outlets based in Pennsylvania and New York. The family’s most recent enterprise is their partnership with Washington, D.C.-based Pitango Gelato, which has five stores in Baltimore and the D.C. area. The farm’s milk and eggs go into the mix which is turned into gelato at the retail outlets. They’ve since expanded from gelato to yogurt and Icelandicstyle skyr, a very soft cheese, similar to a strained yogurt, which goes into B’More Organic brand smoothies. He would also like to sell raw milk, and sees a demand, but regulations are simply too onerous at present. “Most of our milk that leaves this farm goes in a truck, just like a normal farm,” says Stoltzfoos, walking around the pasteurizing and separating machines in a small building between the dairy and the family’s home. “Only about 10 percent goes through this plant. But there will come a time when that will be 50 percent. We’re only five years into it.” The Future for Farming

While he protests that the time is coming for him to slow down, it’s apparent that Stoltzfoos still has a vision for the future—and fears for his family’s continued involvement in it. He praises eldest son Dwight’s aptitude for managing the dairy, but regrets he doesn’t share his father’s passion for sustainability. “He does a good job managing the farm, but he doesn’t quite have the vision for organic that I do. He’s a little more profit-driven, but that’s partly where he’s at in life.” For the most part, though, Stoltzfoos’ family seems to have taken his lessons to heart and embraced the farm, perhaps more than many in the county. “Most of my friends’ children want nothing to do with their farms,” he says. “I’ll be honest, I have a couple of boys who think it’s absolute drudgery. But they don’t know how much drudgery’s out there in the real world. Once they find that out, this will look a little simpler to them.” 


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Andy Andrews, Pennypackâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s farm director, prepares the fields





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K id s a n d pa c ro p s a re n t s f lo c k to t Pe n n y t p a c k Fa h e rm s to r yb pho y s h au n b r a dy tos by e m i ly w r e n

On spring, summer and fall afternoons, Pennypack Farm is the hot spot for local families. Parents gather at the Montgomery County nonprofit to examine the selection of crops laid out farmers market-style in the harvest house. Kids head straight for the U-Pick crops and start on rows of green beans, raspberries and other coveted produce. But fresh fruits and vegetables are not the only goodies these member families will return home with, says Margot Bradley, the administrative director and one of Pennypack’s founding members. “Every time somebody sets foot here, they’re going to learn something. We look at every visit to the farm as an education.” Pennypack’s suburban location in Horsham has been a key to fulfilling this mission. Convenient to Ambler, Fort Washington, Willow Grove and even Chestnut Hill, the 24-acre site, hosted by The College Settlement of Philadelphia, provides locals an opportunity to visit their food at its source without spending more precious time or gas money than they would on a trip to the supermarket. Not Your Average CSA

“We don’t box up and deliver,” explains Bradley, drawing a distinction between what Pennypack offers and conventional CSAs (community-supported agriculture). “We get to do that because we’re right here in the ’burbs.” For Bradley, the difference this makes comes with families not only eating healthier, but

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understanding where that healthy food comes from. “I like it when people really connect to the soil and realize just how much work it is to get your food,” she says, strolling through the farm on a chilly September afternoon. “I want them to know that strawberries are in June, they’re not now. I want them to know that there are predators and that when food is grown organically, sometimes it’s got some holes in it. I like it when they know the farmers and appreciate how much labor it is to harvest and wash.” That knowledge comes firsthand at Pennypack, as each CSA member family is asked to contribute four hours of volunteer duty per season. With roughly 400 families receiving shares, that makes for a lot of amateur agriculture, which can prove a challenge to Pennypack’s full-time farm staff. “You never know who you’re going to get,” laughs farm manager Katie Fotta. “Any time that you’re saying, ‘Come volunteer whenever you want to,’ you take whatever comes through the door. Sometimes we might get amazing work out of that person, sometimes it’s interesting to see how they’ve interpreted my instructions. Suddenly, there’s a bunch of turnips that aren’t there anymore. But as much as it’s a challenge, it’s at the same time so beautiful.”

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An Unlikely Beginning

Pennypack Farm began in 2000 when Bradley and like-minded locals responded to a letter to the editor in the local Ambler Gazette newspaper touting the CSA concept. “There were 30 people…with lots of different interests,” she recalls. “Sustainability, eco-people, people like me who were just into organic food. And we decided we just plain wanted to see a farm like this happen here. We had no money, no farmer, and no land, but we were very persistent.” That persistence paid off when the Natural Lands Trust connected the group with The College Settlement, who owned the largest tract of open space in Eastern Montgomery County and wanted to promote community-based farming

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on the land. The lease was formalized in 2003, when Pennypack’s 11-member board of directors was formed, a farm manager was hired, and the farm was chartered as an educational nonprofit corporation. The program has expanded exponentially over nine growing seasons; now the waiting list for a summer/fall CSA share numbers 600 names. A recently-initiated college-age internship program last year boasted 22 applications for three positions. What was at the time nothing but “unrelenting field corn” is now 15 cultivated acres, and there’s hope of doubling the acreage with more land in the area. Pennypack’s ongoing evolution and the board’s dogged fundraising is apparent all over the farm. “We’re continually working on figuring out the best way of doing things here with the equipment that we have,” says Andy Andrews, Pennypack’s farm director. “Hopefully we’re getting a little bit better at it each year.” One example is the farm’s latest innovation—a movable hoophouse. The metal, plastic-paned frame built on a roller and track system essentially allows for cover over successive patches of crops, with the ability to easily shift the covered area to speed crop rotation. “You can’t do that in a typical greenhouse,” explains Andrews. “We typically plant the same thing in the winter and in the summer, and we can’t give that land a break. This way we have three possible spaces. There’s lots of advantages to this thing.” The Learning Curve

Afternoons are busy times at Pennypack as community families pick up their CSAs.





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Across a pathway from the new hoophouse is Pennypack’s “edible classroom,” a microcosm of a farm where children’s educational programs are held. Here, farm educator Raina Ainslie helps kids plant and tend their own crops, and leads farm-centric lessons, like teaching students to dance like bees to guide their classmates to hidden items. Education happens off the farm as well. Pennypack holds cooking and knife skills lessons

for teens in the nearby kitchen of a local church. And at times, the kids aren’t the only ones learning. “When I first started doing education programs here, a lot of the parents who brought their children were very much into CSAs and understood what that meant for them, their family and their community,” says Ainslie. “But as time went on, we had more families coming that didn’t really understand food. There were a lot more parents that were learning just as much as the kids. I enjoyed the fact that we were reaching further into the community.” Families arriving for their CSA shares all had stories of how coming to Pennypack changed their families’ approach to eating. “I had been trying to find a way to get more fresh and local food into our diets,” said Socorro Rivas, a volunteer greeter in the harvest house. “Now we have a lot more access to fresh and organic vegetables, which our budget wouldn’t permit us before. And my girls come here, they know exactly where their food is coming from, and at home when it’s time to eat there’s no ‘I don’t want to eat my veggies.’ We’ve gone from being a conventional packaged-food type of family to making almost everything from scratch. It’s changed everyone’s health for the better.” Mary Tobkin, an internal medicine doctor at Abington Memorial Hospital who also serves on Pennypack’s board, has seen her own practice impacted by spending time at the farm. “I didn’t know what a Jerusalem artichoke was,” she says, referring to the time it showed up in her CSA share. “I often challenge people who are vegetable-inhibited to go to a grocery store every week, buy something new and figure out what to do with it. I got that from the way you live here.” 

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Hand Crafted Cheese from the Farm Contact Dru Peters, for more information


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Slow Food is a grassroots movement that unites the pleasure of food with responsibility, sustainability and harmony with nature. To learn more, visit


We provide educational seminars, a website resource, social events, and we strongly support activities from other organizations that do great work, especially PASA, and post their events on facebook and our website calendar.


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The Farmin h g exh ours a isn’t e k n o a u s t i n r e l o n g a s y. w g, ,t Nat what c and yo he wo r u u r r e v why e b u neve k wil farm would l throw all Mot r her ?W nex any to s e a s ke b o d y w t . S o, o d a th nt t Pen me fa o rm at qu ns wha ylvania ers her estion e in t th , an ey h d ad t here’s o sa y.


e chose to farm not knowing how really difficult a job it is. It is threecentered… involving your intellect, your body and your heart. The activities of farming… are very intellectually stimulating and demanding work, [and] tending living beings, both plants and animals, produces an open, receptive and balanced effect on one’s heart.

Mark and Judy Dornstreich


farm for the joy of it. I love the physicality, the emotional intensity and the mental challenges. Plus we create one of the most indisputably useful things around: food!


y interest in farming first came from the economic side. […] I once went to hear a famous investor, Jim Rogers (who started the Quantum Fund with George Soros), speak at Wharton. In answer to a question about career advice, he told the group of mostly MBA students to quit school and become farmers… I may be the only person there who took his advice.  

Dean Carlson, pasa member since 2010 Farmer/Owner • Wyebrook Farm • Honey Brook, Pa. farm favorite: I think the most interesting animal to raise is the pig. I feel like the outcome of the meat produced can be affected by the farmer’s decisions more than with other animals. I find it exciting to experiment with different breeds and with different feeds.

PASA Members Since 1996 Farmers/Owners • Branch Creek Farm • Perkasie, Pa. Judy’s Farm Favorite: My current love is baby turnips. They are seriously delicious. The aphids also think they’re seriously delicious.

Jeffrey Frank & Kristin Illick PASA Members Since 1999 Farmer/Co-Owner • Liberty Gardens • Coopersburg, Pa. Jeffrey’s farm favorite: My favorite veggie to grow is tomatoes. So much anticipation. So much reward.



’ve been working in nonprofits and I was very interested in communities for a long time. I was very interested in the built environment, and the biggest point of impact on a community is food and where it comes from. And that’s what started my interest in farming.

Jennifer Brodsky, pasa member since 2003 Chief Operating Officer • Greener Partners - Longview Center for Sustainable Agriculture farm favorite: For me perennial crops…so tree fruit, blackberries, raspberries and blueberries, because they have a long life and feed for such a long time. They’re also totally delicious, which is a bonus.





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farm because I like hard work, good food, and building community. I think that farming can play an important role in reviving communities and creating a better future.

Stephanie Roberts, PASA Member since 2009 Farmer • Hemlock Creek CSA - Skoloff Valley Farm • farm favorite: I love growing vegetables, but if I had to pick a favorite, I’d pick our Dutch Belted dairy cows. 

e are called to farming as a way of life; called by the soil that nurtures and manifests health and goodness in people. We farm to give back to our community by deepening their relationship to the earth and food. We farm to nurture ourselves, the elemental spirits in nature who guide us and for those after us.

Heidi Secord and Gary Bloss PASA Members since 2000 Farmers • Josie Porter Farm farm favorite: Hands down, garlic is our favorite crop on the farm! 



he reasons we farm have to do mostly with enjoying livestock, especially the sheep, and wanting to eat fresh, local, responsibly-raised food. We actually don’t eat very much meat, although we produce a relatively large amount of it on this small farm. Still, when we do eat meat, we want to eat it knowing that the animals that provided it were well cared for, and even loved.

Philip and Dorcas (Dee) Horst-Landis PASA Members Since 2004 Farmers/Owners • Sweet Stem Farm • Lancaster, Pa.

farm because I think it’s one of the most important and meaningful things for a person to do with their time! I believe in supporting a local food economy, preserving open spaces, fostering community, encouraging good nutrition by growing and marketing real food, etc. I like the way my mind has to work in this job, troubleshooting all the different aspects of growing, from the fields to the tractors to the office. It is fun (except for when it’s not, haha!). You work outdoors, it’s great exercise, you meet amazing, interesting people as the years go by.

Mira Kilpatrick, pasa member since 2002 Co-Manager • Red Hill Farm • Aston, Pa. farm favorite: Right now, I’m loving cooking greens! The ones that are still holding on in our fields, or the tender ones in the tunnels. Asian greens, broccoli raab, collards, kale, spinach, bok choy, etc. So delicious.

farm favorite: The sheep are the best!


first got into farming for environmental reasons. The link between a healthy ecosystem (air, soil and water) and its ability to produce healthy [fruits and vegetables] is a very concrete and clear connection between the health of the earth and the health of humanity. I was hoping I could inspire social change in regards to environmental protection with my sustainable agricultural operation. Now my reasons for farming have become much more spiritual. I need to farm in order to be happy, as simple as that sounds.

Claire Murray, pasa member since 1995 Farmer/Owner • Inverbrook Farm • Kennett Square, Pa. farm favorite: I like growing beans, especially haricot vert.


farm for many reasons: It is physically demanding, has tangible results, provides endless opportunities for learning and problem solving, and most importantly, allows our family to use our land to provide healthful food for our community.

Liz Anderson, pasa member since 2002 Farmer/Founder • Charlestown Farm and Broadwater CSA, Phoenixville Farmers Market • Phoenixville, Pa. farm favorite: I love our whole farm, but I particularly enjoy raising our hens. These comical creatures give us eggs with the brightest orange-yellow yolks day after day. There is nothing like a pasture-raised farm fresh egg.

s w eet s t e m f arm photo by Jen n a S ta m m P h o t o g r a ph y, i n v er b r o o k fa r m p hot o by Ca r l os A l e j a ndr o

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PASA launches land leasing program for farmers and landowners

Farming statistics in the U.S. are

grim. Less than two percent of the country actively farms. And the average age of these farmers? 57. For new farmers, the number one barrier to breaking into the business is lack of access to affordable land. In the past, young farmers grew up in or married into a farm family, then inherited some or all the land. But today, the cities and suburbs are giving rise to a new generation of farmers. Young, educated and concerned with the health of their environment and communities, these farmers need land.

Make It Certified Food Alliance has teamed with PASA to bring their third-party certification to the region’s farms, food buyers and consumers. The certification ensures local food is grown and processed with socially responsible and sustainable practices. Learn more about the certification, including how your business can become a Food Alliance Ally and download a pocket guide for making informed purchases at 22




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Since 2009, PASA has been developing a land leasing program based on research by Temple University’s Fox School of Business. The Farm Lease Connection, launching in early 2012, is a web-based program to link landowners with new farmers—“a blend of eBay and eHarmony,” explains PASA. Enrolling your land is free and carries no obligation. Once enrolled, PASA helps determine what farming your land is best suited for and what farmer has the qualifications and business plan to meet your goals. Whether you own a sunny, flat, half-acre of good soil, or 350 acres of rolling, partially wooded hills, PASA can help. Learn more at and join today to contribute to Pennsylvania’s sustainable agriculture movement.

Back to School Learn the necessary skills for homesteading, homemaking and backyard conservation with Sustainable Schools, a new initiative under PASA’s community outreach program Good Food Neighborhood. The courses, taught in communities throughout Pennsylvania, will include composting, backyard poultry and beekeeping, home energy efficiency, food preservation, and even homebrewing and fermentation. “These courses are about learning how to do more things for ourselves,” says Katherine Watt of Spring Creek Homesteading, a Sustainable Schools partner. “In this time when families are feeling so stretched from a contracting economy, rising energy prices and the impacts of extreme weather conditions, building a safety net using local resources of time, skill and land can make all the difference.” To find out what’s being taught in your community and to register for workshops, visit sustainabilityschools

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Food Alliance partners with the Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture (PASA) to deliver its trusted, third-party certification to farms, food companies, and consumers in the Chesapeake Bay watershed.

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The sustainability movement takes root in Philadelphiaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s religious communities story by Jacob


Lambert â&#x20AC;˘

illustrations by

melissa mcfeeters

he idea of environmentalism can be found in all sacred texts,” says Stacey Kennealy, the certification program and sustainability director at GreenFaith. “However, it’s only recently that the religious environmental movement has taken root.” Nowhere is this movement more apparent than in Philadelphia, where local religious groups have taken up sustainability issues. Their work is striking and subtle, involving everything from energy efficiency to protesting natural gas drilling, but more importantly their actions show that now, more than ever, religious faith and environmentalism are deeply connected. The local go-to for “green faith” Based in Highland Park, N.J., GreenFaith is a national nonprofit that works to integrate environmental stewardship into the life and work of religious communities. When Christian and Jewish clergy formed the organization in 1992, its focus was small and local—helping religious organizations in New Jersey purchase wind power for their facilities. Over time, that focus has expanded to a national scale and includes environmental justice advocacy, energy conser-

vation, environmental education and a green certification program. “We’ll work with houses of worship to integrate environmentalism into every aspect of their community, from the services they hold to the coffee they serve—right down to the flowers,” says Kennealy. Although it is a national organization, GreenFaith does a lot of work locally. Last April, the nonprofit helped to host “Ground for Hope— Philadelphia,” a two-day event designed to educate religious leaders. The event was a col-


laboration among various Philadelphia-area organizations, including the Academy of Natural Sciences’ Interfaith Environmental Network— an online directory meant to facilitate communication and collaboration on sustainability among faith-based and religious groups. Another local GreenFaith program is the Environmental Health and Justice Tours. Started in 2005, these tours bring interfaith groups to visit contaminated sites in cities such as Newark and Camden. The tours, now held twice a year, allow participants to witness environmental problems firsthand as well as interact with community activists. “We’ll have Muslims, Hindus, Jews and Christians on the same bus… having —Rabbi Arthur Waskow a very rich conversation on the topic,” says Kennealy. “While everyone is affected by environmental burdens, the most vulnerable communities are at the most risk. We feel it’s important for people of faith to learn about this fact and to take action around it.” This sort of work dovetails with the most basic of religious tenets: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Yet Kennealy admits she often contends with the popular view that religion and environmentalism are conflicting. “When people find out what I do for a living, I often get that confused look at first,” she says with a laugh. Nonetheless, she sees great potential in the union of those words. “I believe that the religious community is going to be a game-changer in the wider environmental movement… it will be the group that helps turn this ship around.”

“The Hebrew word for human is adam; the word for earth is adama. You can’t say either one of them without hearing the other one. They’re intertwined.”

Environment and faith: an age-old link Rabbi Arthur Waskow, founder and director of


West Mount Airy’s Shalom Center, agrees with Kennealy. “We have a responsibility to God’s sacred creation to make sure it’s going okay,” he says. Established in 1983, one of the Shalom Center’s stated aims is to “help create a world of peace, justice, healing for the earth, and respect for the interconnectedness of all life.” Since the center’s founding, Waskow has been at the vanguard of religious activism in the region, beginning with his opposition to nuclear arms in 1983. By the 1990s, he had become focused “more on major environmental issues, especially the climate question and the connection with big oil and big coal,” he says. “One of our major concerns is the power relationship behind the dangers of the [climate] crisis.” Rather than seeing current events as isolated from religious history, Waskow views them as continuations of age-old problems. He relates BP’s behavior in the Gulf to the Pharaoh’s response to the plagues in ancient Egypt. “The plagues resulted from a systemic response of the land of Egypt to an oppressive and exploitative ruler. In our view, [the BP disaster] wasn’t magic… it didn’t require God out of Heaven to point his finger and say, ‘The well is going to blow its stack.’ It was the underlying response of the interwovenness of life.” To Waskow, this connection is essential. “The Hebrew word for human is adam; the word for earth is adama,” he says. “You can’t say either one of them without hearing the other one. They’re intertwined.” To promote awareness of this bond, Waskow works tirelessly—protesting (on Capitol Hill and against hydraulic fracturing), writing (Trees, Earth, and Torah and Torah of the Earth are among his 22 books), and organizing events such as an interfaith Seder which, in his words, “refocused Passover” to reflect modern ecological concerns. When it comes to those concerns, religious groups are seemingly coming around to his point of view. Waskow recounts a story about Seasons of Our Joy, his 1982 book that connected the Jewish festival cycle with the natural world

or, as he puts it, “the dance of the moon and the sun and the earth.” “The first review, in a prominent Jewish magazine, called this Paganism,” he says with a chuckle, “but it would not happen today. There would be no Jewish magazine that would sneer at this idea.” He pauses before adding, “that’s my own private humorous measuring stick for measuring the degree of social change on this issue since then.” Faith (and action) for a green future This change is coming partly out of necessity, explains Khiet Luong, project coordinator for the Pennsylvania Environmental Council’s southeast office. For groups both religious and secular, “it’s impossible not to run up against things like green jobs and stormwater management,” he says. “Everyone’s talking about ‘green’ stuff because the nation is moving this way and the region is moving this way.” Luong, a practicing Catholic, praises his faith’s often-overlooked commitment to the environment. “The Catholic Church has done some amazing things to advance thinking on our connection to the natural world,” he says, citing Francis of Assisi—the Patron Saint of Ecology— and national groups such as the Catholic Coalition on Climate Change. But on all fronts, says Luong, much more must be done. “In the Christian and Jewish traditions, we need to reclaim that part of our tradition, the respect and care of creation,” he says. “The secular environmental movement could use the moral authority of the various faith traditions to help it. Any tool is a good tool, and we need all the tools we can get.” For Patricia McBee, director of development for Philadelphia’s Friends Center, green building methods are one of those good tools. Environmentally, she says, “Quakers are all over the map. They go from being aware of all the environmental issues that the heart can hold all the way to living the standard American life.” It’s obvious which side of that map McBee lies on. Her office sits amid a tidy Center City complex renovated


Enlightened Farmer Muslim faith inspires New Jersey farmer to grow organically

s a Muslim,” says Dr. Hisham Muharram, “we are taught that the Earth, the ecosystems and everything in them is a trust. This planet that we’ve been placed on is trusted in the hands of the human species.” In the spring of 2007, Muharram took his faith and academic learning—a bachelor’s degree in international agriculture and agricultural mechanization, a master’s degree in horticulture and a doctorate in plant breeding and genetics—and applied it to 55 acres in New Egypt, N.J. The Good Tree Farm, whose name comes from a chapter in the Quran, is a faith-driven, community-supported organic farm. The sprawling acreage houses crops for a CSA, sheep and goats, and two ponds for raising tilapia. This spring, Muharram plans to add a cage-free/free range poultry operation as well. Faith and community are the cornerstones of Good Tree’s organic farming. Its 19 investors, only some Muslim, range from physicians, engineers and financial advisers to teachers and homemakers with more modest incomes. Community

in 2009 to maximize sustainability. “The wars of the 21st Century are over water and resources,” she says. Thus, as Quakers—a group known for pacifism and progressivism—McBee and her colleagues felt that they had to build conscientiously. “There was some fear of adding a layer

support is critical to Good Tree’s success both financially and as a fulfillment of the Muslim faith’s commitment to maintaining the world’s balance and supporting the common good. “Besides showing we can cultivate successfully using an organic farm,” says Muharram, “[Good Tree] can reinvigorate local economies [and] structure societies differently so they’re more resilient and self-reliant.” To help with this mission, Muharram— who recently graduated from GreenFaith’s fellowship program—has started the nonprofit Good Tree Inc. to promote organic farming, environmental stewardship and social justice issues pertaining to food access. While the nonprofit will work locally, Good Tree is also going global. There are plans to start a farm with the American University in Cairo, Egypt and hope for similar projects to eventually be brought to Tunis, Libya, Syria and Yemen. —Liz Pacheco For more information on Good Tree Farm, visit

of cost and complexity” when planning the $16 million project, she says. “But in the long run, it wasn’t going to cost us any more to do the building right.” Today, the center’s three buildings— one of them more than 150 years old—produce zero emissions through an impressive combination of cutting-edge improvements. Six geothermal wells descend 1,000 feet


to deliver fossil fuel-free heating and cooling to the center’s offices. Six 600-gallon tanks redirect stormwater to the center’s toilets, at once reducing outflows and consumption of fresh water. A vegetated roof—seven species of green, orange and purple sedum—captures “100 percent of the rain from 90 percent of the storms,” according to McBee, while absorbing summer heat. Solar panels produce five percent of the buildings’ electricity, and offices were redesigned to let in ample light, further cutting bills. But the Friends Center’s worship room is, in its way, the complex’s most inspiring aspect. The high, dim sanctuary has changed little since it was built in 1856 (McBee says the heating system has only been changed about four times), but it speaks to an austerity that serves our current moment well. The white-walled space was designed for day lighting long before the concept became an architectural trend. The room’s quiet, comforting bareness fosters the sort of —Khiet Luong inward thought the Quaker religion—and, at their best, all religions—strive to facilitate. The environmental answer that Kennealy, Waskow and others in the area seek may lie as much in religion’s past as in its future. “In part,” says McBee, looking around the worship room, “we’re trying to keep up with what our forebears already knew.” 

“The secular environmental movement could use the moral authority of the various faith traditions to help it. Any tool is a good tool, and we need all the tools we can get.”


How to bring sustainability to you r

religious community elow are six easy and effective ways to green your religious community. These steps, meant to be followed in order, are from GreenFaith’s “Start-up Kit for Houses of Worship.” For more information and additional materials to fulfill these steps, visit 1. Form a Green Team

Create a team sufficiently large (at least five to six people) and as diverse as possible. This will help keep your institution’s environmental efforts strong, focused and continually moving forward. 2. Show a religiousenvironmental film.

Give your community an inside glimpse into environmental problems and the work being done to solve them. GreenFaith recommends Renewal—eight stories about environmental efforts in diverse faith communities in the U.S. Available for $15 at 3. Publish eco-tips in your newsletter or worship bulletin.

Easy-to-understand eco-tips help members recognize environmental stewardship as a religious responsibility, and take steps in their homes to reduce their environmental footprint. 4. Save energy in your own facility.

Most congregations can significantly reduce their energy and

save money with several easy and no-cost energy conservation steps. Publicize the environmental and financial successes in your newsletter or on your website and through press releases to local media. For energy conservation steps successfully taken by houses of worship, visit the “Resource Center” at 5. Conduct an educational series.

A religious-environmental educational series can build awareness and help identify interested leaders for the Green Team. GreenFaith offers a three-session adult series called SPLENDOR, and a curriculum for teens based on Annie Leonard’s animated film, The Story of Stuff. 6. Preach a “green” sermon.

A great way to kick off green efforts is a sermon focused on creation. Whether offered by your ordained leader or by a guest, it sends a clear message to members that environmental stewardship is a religious value.



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H av e n

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Pendle Hill, a Quaker oasis and model eco-community, welcomes all story by Dana Henry | photos by albert yee

The campus of Pendle Hill , a Quaker retreat center near Swarthmore, Pa., has a storybook-like serenity. Colonial-style stone walls are tucked into the lush green grounds and bordered with dense, wild foliage that blocks the roadway, leaving only the soft voices of Friends (Quakers) and the chatter of birds. The retreat center, purchased as an estate and arboretum, was founded in 1930, and it doesn’t appear much has changed since then. Houses are painted an unadorned white. Deer and fox pass through the property. Trees are stories taller than any building. The calm exterior, however, belies the impassioned discourse, activism and action happening there. At Pendle Hill, it’s not uncommon to hear people talking about urban food production or expressing concerns over hydraulic fracking. In fact, the principles and work of the center demonstrate that traditional religious beliefs have led many to precisely the same ideas embraced by the modern sustainability movement: a focus on community, a pull toward activism, attention to agriculture and food, and an aesthetic of simplicity and reuse in design. Core Values For many Quakers, these beliefs are rooted in a concern with being in “right relationships,” or living in a way that preserves the integrity of Earth’s gifts for all living beings. They predict that if current lifestyles are maintained, future wars will be

fought over diminishing natural resources—oil, water, metals, even food. They hope that renewable energy and moving beyond growth economics will help the world be at peace. Jennifer Karsten, the center’s interim executive director, explains that “current carbon-based energy use is on a collision course with [current] lifestyle and the resources available to sustain it, and the harmful effects are irreversible. That’s why you’ll see pockets of Friends who are deeply participating in issues of sustainability.” Activism has always been at the heart of Quaker spiritual life. The faith is decentralized and doesn’t emphasize afterlife. Spiritually grounded work occurs through individuals who are true to their “calling” and guided by Quaker testimonies (values): simplicity, peace, integrity, community, equality and stewardship of resources. Spiritual fulfillment occurs through worship and authentic living in this world, not the next. Quakers have helped to establish more than a hundred humanitarian organizations, including Oxfam, Greenpeace and Amnesty International. The movements that define our nation’s development—religious tolerance, women’s equality and suffrage, the abolishment of slavery, the civil rights movement, anti-war “pacifism”—have roots in non-violent Quaker leadership. More recently, Occupy Philly participants

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Current carbon-based energy use is on a collision course… and the harmful effects are irreversible. That’s why you’ll see pockets of Friends who are deeply participating in issues of sustainability. —Jennifer Karsten

received extended support from neighboring meeting houses (places of Quaker worship), including donations of food, use of a kitchen, bathrooms and showers. Considering their scant numbers—globally, there’s probably less than a few hundred thousand—the faith continues to have an outsized impact. Pendle Hill contributes to activism as a place where individuals find spiritual renewal in a natural setting. The center accommodates conferences, bed and breakfast stays, workshop retreats and student residency programs that last 10 weeks to a year. There are silent spaces for reflection, classes and workshops on nonviolent communication, spirituality and the arts, and moments of structured and informal discussion. These opportunities for spiritual grounding have attracted famous activists including Eleanor Roosevelt, Jean-Paul Sartre and associates of Martin Luther King Jr. Eulle Gibbons researched and wrote the first draft of Stalking the Wild Asparagus while employed as Pendle Hill’s head of maintenance. One intention of the Pendle Hill community is that those who visit will take a piece of what they learned back into the world with them. This phenomenon, according to Karsten, is part of how change happens. In an era when social justice is increasingly associated with environmental responsibility, Pendle Hill has a renewed role as steward of the Earth. A Model for Low-Impact Communal Living The retreat center also aspires to be a living “laboratory” where guests can learn about agriculture, energy and community. The lessons are motivated by a need to solve both short- and long-term sustainability issues Joel Fath, Pendle Hill’s garden coordinator and cook, a lean young man with shaggy brown hair and an earnest demeanor, explains his devotion to gardening: “The reason I garden is to be near plants and to work with their energies and spirits. The art of creating ‘whole’ foods at its root can show people what food does to our bodies. That’s something we’ve forgotten.”  Fath teaches courses on permaculture and is a practitioner of the no-till farming methods introduced by MasanoGRid Lexicon bu Fukuoka, the Japanese No-till farming • A method of growfarmer, and Emilia Hazlip, ing crops year-to-year without N the Catalonian gardener. tilling the land. This technique can The Pendle Hill garden, increase soil nutrients while minimizing erosion.


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GRid Lexicon

Hoophouse • A half-hoop, greenhouse-type structure made from flexible piping and plastic to give plants protection while maximizing the sun’s rays.

which Fath works on with fellow staff and resident students, focuses on year-round food production. Leafy greens, tomatoes and green beans are planted in trenches piled high with brush and composted organic food scraps—no pesticides or synthetic fertilizers. The garden also has a hoophouse and aquaponics system, and plans to add a pellet stove (For more on the aquaponics system check out Grid’s September 2011 issue). In the ’50s, the Quaker ideal of “living off the land” led members of Pendle Hill to plant fields of corn and tomatoes and to supplement their breakfast with house-canned tomato juice. Today, Fath incorporates native greens of the “foraged” variety in the garden. This includes chives, alliums, violet flowers and linden trees. He’s also working on a seed-saving program and a line of Pendle Hill seeds. Fath points to the political nature of traditional agricultural practices such as seed-saving, the age-old practice of retaining seeds for future growing. “We have international companies that take seed integrity and alter it in such a way that prevents farmers from using seed from year to year. It sets up an economic system that’s broken.” By saving seeds, Pendle Hill is supporting a natural local economy. “[I]t saves us money and connects us more with the land,” he says. Cur-


rently, Lloyd Guindon, grounds manager of 25 years, is investigating a tree that may be a rare American Chestnut (most were wiped out by blight) with hopes of further propagating native tree species. The garden supplements the larger menu, which Albert Sabatini, Pendle Hill’s chef, creates from ingredients grown within a 55-mile radius. This includes beef, poultry, dairy and soy products (Quakers believe in eating “low” on the food chain; only three meals a week include meat). A lunch in October included a spread of colorful delights, including borsch, sweet potatoes, fried tempeh with homemade kraut, and a tomato and goat cheese salad with wild greens. Staff and guests eat together at large tables, and guests are always welcome. After meals, food scraps are added to the compost pile and everyone on staff— even the executive director—takes turns washing dishes. “What struck me most about my experience at Pendle Hill is that it models a possible paradigm shift toward low—George Owen impact communal living,” says George Owen, a Quaker and retired architect who has lived at Pendle Hill for the last several years as the spouse of a resident staff person. During that time, he has taken workshops, taught courses and served as Pendle Hill’s volunteer sustainability coordinator. Owen credits Pendle Hill’s small ecological footprint to the efficiencies of sharing resources and labor. “But here is the key: the challenges and difficulties of communal living are overcome by the shared spiritual covenant of journeying together.” And furthermore, Owen explains, this communal living “is held and grounded by the beauty and stewardship of the land, trees and garden—a long-standing engagement with the earth.” 

What struck me most about my experience at Pendle Hill is that it models a possible paradigm shift toward low-impact communal living.

In Harmony With Nature, and Welcoming to All Deeply rooted in the Quaker ideology is the notion that material goods can distract from spiritual work. John Woolman, an 18th century Quaker businessman wrote: “So great is the hurry in the spirit of this world, that in aiming to do business quickly and to gain wealth the creation at this day doth loudly groan.” He encouraged Friends to strive to live in balance with nature and one another. Pendle Hill continues to carry forth the early Quakers’ ambition. They added geothermal pumps more than 20 years ago. Interior furnishings are adopted from fellow friends and repaired in an onsite woodshop rather than replaced. Fallen trees are cut into slabs of wood and crafted into benches. In October, Pendle Hill hired Re:Vision Architecture to develop the architectural core that will take their stewardship to the next level. The design process will take six months, and will include energy-saving renovations to three major buildings, land management strategies and improved use of outdoor space. Whether Pendle Hill adds a compostable toilet, green roofs or a windmill, they’re investing in a campus that’s “teachable” to their guests. Karsten first learned of the firm while Re:Vision was coordinating the LEED process at the Friends Center at 15th and Cherry Streets, where she and her husband are members. Re:Vision had salvaged nails from a previous demo and used them in the new construction. It was an example of lived testimony that Karsten says, “won our hearts.”  But an exemplary model of sustainable living is only valuable if it’s also inclusive. Pendle Hill continues to work toward “beloved community,” respecting divine spirit in everyone regardless of age, sexuality, race, nationality, gender or class, explains Karsten. The staff practices “radical” (meaning “at the root of”) hospitality that includes “providing an atmosphere of inclusivity and striving to increase our cultural competence,” says Karsten. The hope is to model being in solidarity—an essential aspect of sustainability work. “Sustainability can be defined as making life possible for future generations,” says Karsten. “This can be a personal and cultural focus. To the degree that we’re in solidarity with the underprivileged or can identify with the divinity in everyone, only then will we be able to unite and create a world that is fair or works for everyone.” 

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urban naturalist


bout a year ago, I was sent a video of a redtailed hawk plucking a dead pigeon on the roof of a car, right across the street from the Burger King at Eighth and Market. A crowd of cell-phone photographers surrounded the truck until the spooked raptor moved to another table (on a nearby light post). Hawks aren’t the only predators that like to eat pigeons. We domesticated the pigeon, or rock dove, originally a Mediterranean and Central Asian species, more than 5,000 years ago. As you watch the scruffy “rats with wings” begging for crumbs at your bench, it might be hard to imagine, but we brought rock doves here as food. Our urban pigeons are descendants of escaped livestock, later mixed with generations of pigeons bred for racing or showing. Wildlife observers tend to focus on individual creatures, but from an ecological perspective the relationships among species are more important. Follow a carbon atom from the sunny day when it gets sucked out of the air by a wheat plant in Central Pennsylvania and, utilizing solar energy, split from its two oxygen friends and worked into a seed. Our atom later finds itself harvested, ground into flour, trucked to Philadelphia and then baked into a pretzel. A bureaucrat, late for his morning conference call, buys the pretzel on the way out of Suburban Station, and brushes the atom free (inside a crumb) along with excess salt crystals. That crumb lands next to a trash can outside the Municipal Services Building. Enter the pigeon. He picks up our carbon atom in the crumb, and routes it into powerful breast muscle. The food web or carbon cycle diagrams in textbooks are typically of “wild” systems (grass → wildebeest → lion), but this food web has, until now, been entirely civilized. However, later that afternoon, a peregrine falcon, from its nest 32

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

march 2012

by bernard brown

When Doves Cry

above City Hall, blasts our hero out of the sky. Peregrines, unlike the generalist red-tails, specialize in spectacular aerial attacks on other birds, nailing their prey in dives topping 200 miles per hour. Like pigeons, they evolved nesting on cliff ledges, making them at home in urban canyons. “If you wanted to design a bird to be ideal as food for a peregrine, you’d design a pigeon,” says Dr. Arthur McMorris, peregrine falcon coordinator for the Pennsylvania Game Commission. Pigeons are just the right size. They’re fast, but peregrines are faster. Ancestral rock doves might have zig-zagged, but we bred their descendents to fly straight, making them easy targets. If you happen to see discarded pigeon heads and wings The lowly on the sidewalk, look up, says McMorris. You’re pigeon is probably standing under a Philly falcon’s pluckbird feed for ing post, where they unwrap their favorite food. resurgent Peregrines, native birds reintroduced to eastpredators ern North America after their pesticide-poisoning by bernard brown crash of the mid-1900s, were taken off the federal Endangered Species list in 1999. They have taken hold in urban areas thanks in large part to the feral pigeons we support with our crumbs and leftovers. So, as successive falcon generations disperse across the countryside, we can thank the lowly rats with wings. bernard brown is an amateur field herper, bureaucrat and director of the PB&J Campaign (, a movement focused on the benefits of eating lower on the food chain. Read about his forays into the natural world at phillyherping. ph oto by Crai g Stottl e my e r

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Community Art Workshop—Earth as Art: Examining our Footprint from an Aerial Perspective Tom Maxfield, art instructor and environmentalist, will lead a hands-on workshop exploring visions of land use as modern art to create a collage painting mural.


���→ Sat., Feb. 11, 10 a.m – 1 p.m., Nurture

Nature Center, 516 Northhampton St., Easton. For more information or to register contact Kate Brandes at 610.253.4432,


PSU Master Gardeners: 11 Vermicomposting Join master gardeners Lucille Amadie and Sue Sipos for a fun introduction to in-home worm composting.

Urban Sustainability Forum: Tunnels—A Sustainable Solution 15 High for Local Urban Agriculture Find out how high tunnels—non-electric temporary structures made from plastic and piping—could help improve access to affordable, nutritious foods in Philadelphia.

→→ Sat., Feb. 11, 9 – 11 a.m., $10, Fairmount Park

→→ Wed., Feb. 15, presentation 6:30 – 8:30 p.m., Academy


of Natural Sciences, 1900 Benjamin Franklin Parkway. Register at

Horticultural Center, N. Horticultural and Montgomery Dr. For more information, visit master-gardener


Backyard Chickens the benefits of keeping a small11 Learn scale backyard chicken coop. The workshop will cover coop designs, breed selection, and chicken care basics. →→ Sat., Feb. 11, 10 - 11:30 a.m., $10

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Rainwater as a Resource: Runoff and Flooding 18 Reduce Dottie Baumgarten, owner of Sustainable Choices, will teach how to reduce runoff and flooding and uses for rainwater from roofs, lawns and gardens.

Seventh Annual Delco Summit 18 Environmental This year’s annual summit will focus on stormwater management, including porous paving projects, rain gardens, planting native trees and shrubs, and residential landscaping.

→→ Sat., Feb. 18, 10 a.m., $10, Primex Garden

→→ Sat., Feb. 18, 8:30 a.m. – 2 p.m., John Heinz

Center, 435 W. Glenside Ave., Glenside. Register at Primex or by calling 215.887.7500

Wildlife Refuge, 8601 Lindbergh Blvd. For the full schedule of events and to register, visit


Rain Barrels McCabe, project manager at Penn18 Sally sylvania Horticultural Society, will teach about rain barrels, water conservation and their use in the garden.

Winter Wildlife Tracking the wildlife clinic’s Rick Schubert 18 Join for an introductory course in wildlife tracking. Event includes a separate kids’ hike.

→→ Sat., Feb. 18, 1 p.m., $10, Primex Garden Cen-

→→ Sat., Feb. 18, 1 – 3 p.m., free for members/

ter, 435 W. Glenside Ave., Glenside. Register at Primex or by calling 215.887.7500

feb 14


$8 nonmembers, Schuylkill Center for Environmental Education, 8480 Hagy’s Mill Rd. Register at

Sustainability Movie Series: Queen of the Sun Queen of the Sun examines the dire global honey bee crisis through the eyes of biodynamic beekeepers, scientists, farmers and philosophers.

→→ Tues., Feb. 14, film starts at 7:30 p.m., $10 single ticket/$24 series ticket, Ambler Theater, 108 E. Butler Ave., Ambler. Buy tickets at


march 2012


Go Green Committee: “Green Makeover” 21 Business Enjoy a video premier and discussion on greening commercial properties and a green business networking reception; hosted by the Main Line Chamber of Commerce Go Green Committee.


Farmer Mark Series: Crop and Garden Layout 25 Planning This workshop will discuss goals for your garden, lessons from last year and building a crop plan. There will also be time to work on individual garden plans. →→ Sat., Feb. 25, 11 a.m. – 1 p.m., $10/$8 for

→→ Tues., Feb. 21, 6 – 9 p.m., Villanova

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President emeritus of the American Horticultural Society, Katy Moss Warner, will talk about her experiences with America in Bloom, a nonprofit working with towns to create economic sustainability and improve quality of life by enhancing their outdoors.

→→ Wed. – Thurs., Feb. 22 – 23, 6:30 p.m.,

→→ Sun., Feb. 26, 2 p.m., free with


The Great Backyard Bird Count in the annual nationwide 20 Participate count of bird populations. Learn to identify common feeder birds, differentiate bird songs from calls, and how to attract birds to your yard.

Urban Sustainability Forum: Urban Highways 23 Reimagining How should cities change highways to meet 21st-century needs and urban lifestyles? Learn about successful urban highway removal projects and ways to mitigate highways in Philadelphia and the Bronx. →→ Thurs., Feb. 23, 6:30 – 8:30 p.m.,

→→ Mon., Feb. 20, 1 - 3 p.m., Schuylkill Center for

Environmental Education, 8480 Hagy’s Mill Rd. Register at


Trail Creek Outfitters 5th Annual Wild & Scenic 22 Environmental Film Festival 23 Watch independent films and documentaries on outdoor adventures, nature and environmental issues. Proceeds benefit The Land Conservancy for Southern Chester County and Stroud Water Research Center. $25 one night/$40 both, County Historical Society, 225 N. High St., West Chester. Purchase tickets at Trail Creek Outfitters or online at


PASA/Greener Partners/GFN Members, The Longview Center – Collegeville, 3215 Stump Hall Rd., Collegeville. For more information and to register, visit

Academy of Natural Sciences, 1900 Benjamin Franklin Parkway. Register at


Beautiful Landscapes: The Key to Healthy Communities

Arboretum admission, Morris Arboretum, 100 E. Northwestern Ave. To register, visit


The Brewer’s Plate 2012 Food’s annual event celebrating our 01 Fair region’s craft breweries, restaurants, farmers and artisanal producers. This year’s, special VIP experience: The Farmer & The Artisan. →→ Sun., March 11, 5 – 9 p.m., $75-125, National

Constitution Center, 525 Arch St. For more information and to register, visit


2012 Environmental Advisory Conference 03 Council Network and learn from Environmental Advisory Council members, elected officials, businesses and nonprofits on issues like how to better manage stormwater runoff, develop trails and conduct municipal energy planning. →→ Sat., March 3, 8:30 a.m. – 4 p.m., $20-

30 advanced registration/$35 day-of, Montgomery County Community College West Campus, 101 College Dr., Pottstown. For more information and to register, visit


Richmond Generating Station. Photo by Peter Woodall.

Thaddeus Squire: and Seek” 21 “Hide Thaddeus Squire, founder of Hidden City Philadelphia, will discuss the need to incorporate history in pop culture. Part of DesignPhiladelphia’s “Visibly Invisible” free public lecture series. →→ Tues., Feb. 21, 6 - 7:30 p.m., University of the Arts - Hamilton Hall, 320 S. Broad St. Register at

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Beekeeping for Beginners webinar course from Penn State Ex07 Atension to teach beginners beekeeping knowledge needed to start managing honeybees. The course is eight sessions over two months. â&#x2020;&#x2019;â&#x2020;&#x2019; Wed., March 7, 12 â&#x20AC;&#x201C; 1 p.m., $150. For more information and to register, visit extension.




Holistic Orchard Training Philadelphia Orchard Project is 10 The hosting orchard all-star Michael Phillips to teach holistic orchard care basics and demonstrate hands-on pruning techniques for healthy fruit trees.

PSU Master Gardeners: Gardening 10 Lasagna Master gardeners Cynthia Bailey and Andrea Lewandowski demonstrate a no dig way to create an organic garden. Learn to make your own soil, mulch and fertilizer.

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(left to right) Michael Mahan, Sister Miriam MacGillis, OP, Sister Mary Elizabeth Clark, SSJ and Marcus Mahan at the dedication of the Earth Center in 2010

I first recognized the connection between Catholicism and the environment in the 1980s when I worked at the Department of Human Concerns in Newark, N.J. During that time, I met Rev. Thomas Berry, a Passionist priest and leader in the eco-spirituality movement. Berry, who passed away in 2009, believed the universe needed a new story by mary elizabeth of creation—one that included science. This story would define people’s coexistence with Earth, showing humans clark, ssj as united with all of the planet’s species Around the same time, I met Sister Miriam MacGillis, n my parent’s house, faith and action went hand in hand. For today a “green religion” leader. In 1980, Miriam had been 15 years, my mother met monthly with an interfaith group to dis- inspired by Berry’s teachings to start Genesis Farm, an cuss the Middle East. Through that organization, she protested organic farm in Blairstown, N.J. I volunteered there for the treatment of Russian Jews by wearing black and demonstrating weekend workshops and retreats, learning from Miriam a new way of “organic” being. As a religious person, she downtown. My parents, both Roman Catholic, raised me with their could explain how our life of vows was in harmony with religion, but taught that “catholic” (lowercase “c”) means all-encom- Berry’s new way of thinking about creation. It all made passing. Therefore, Roman Catholics must have an all-inclusive love. sense. The wonders of a Creator were expanded rather than diminished by such scientific understanding. With that understanding, I felt a desire to learn about other faiths and I began to see my work in a completely new light. I felt traditions as enriching as my own. called to include Earth as among those vulnerable and in Another key part of my upbringing was my parents’ need. The words of Jesus, “whatever you do to the least of mine you do to me,” had new concern for the environment. Dad put solar panels on our meaning for me. As my earlier social justice ministry had taken me to El Salvador and Glenside house in the 1970’s for hot water. He never passed South Africa, my new assignment to environmental ministry brought with it another a paper on the ground without picking it up. We learned to mandate of faith: to mitigate the effects of climate change. garden in the backyard and, at birthdays and holidays, to Recently, I became a certified ambassador for the Catholic Climate Covenant to help give one another gifts from our own belongings. educate on moral implications of climate change as consistent with the Catholic faith. When I found my calling to become a Sister of Saint This is part of my larger mission to educate on the need for people of faith to take action, Joseph, I quickly felt at home. We all shared a spirit of change our consumerist lifestyle, and see the effects of climate change on the poor. unity and reconciliation—social justice ideals articulated Today, I view all life through this new lens. I find my work is very much inspired by since the order’s founding. My work centered on helping my parents. Their open views and all inclusive spirit help me see how I can best live my the vulnerable and in need. I went to South Africa and faith. And I’ve realized that my work with interfaith groups on climate change is really returned home with a renewed zeal to work on behalf of a reflection of their own. South Africans to end Apartheid. My ministry took me to the homeless in our own city, as well as El Salvador during Mary Elizabeth Clark, SSJ is director of the Sisters of Saint Joseph Earth Center and assistant their civil war. to the president for sustainability at Chestnut Hill College.

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Grid Magazine March 2012 [#035]