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Susta i n abl e Ph i l a d elp hi a CLEAN YOUR CUPBOARDS

Three recipes to try without leaving your house

family heirlooms

International seeds help grow more than a garden

March 2014 / issue #59 gridphilly.com

FARMBOOK 2014

Profiling the business behind local farms

Common Threads

MADE Studios empowers Philadelphia’s dreamers, doers and makers to design their own path one stitch at a time


The energy to save…

At Philadelphia Gas Works we’re developing new ways for residential customers to save more money and use less energy, without sacrificing comfort. That’s why PGW rebates of up to $2,000 are available for homeowners, landlords and even renters who replace their old furnace or boiler. Find out how to save green by being green at: www.PGWEnergySense.com


PASSION

You feel called to work with and for others. DelVal’s Master of Arts in Counseling Psychology prepares passionate, culturally competent mental health practitioners to work in a wide variety of social and clinical settings. The curriculum is designed to prepare you to apply as a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) in Pennsylvania.

Specializations include: • Social Justice Community Counseling • Child and Adolescent Counseling

Pursue your passion – at DelVal.

Master of Arts in Counseling Psychology Terry Jackson p: 215.489.2324 e: terry.jackson@delval.edu

delval.edu/grad-cp

700 East Butler Ave., Doylestown, PA 18901


Things Can Only Get Better The unbridled optimism that fuels our lives

M

y friend scott would probably consider himself a pessimist. He says that each time you cross the road, there’s a 50-50 chance you’ll survive. You either get hit by a car or you don’t. Obviously he’s not a mathematician, but he is a computer programmer, and an adulthood spent troubleshooting code and computers has understandably produced a wariness in him. Nothing works, everything falls apart. But I think Scott is actually an optimist. Ten years ago, he left our suburban hometown to live in Philadelphia, even though he was, at one point in his life, deathly afraid of cities. When he makes a breakthrough in his understanding of code, he’s positively euphoric. At last, everything is going to work perfectly! Last week, Scott declined my lunch invitation because there was a possibility that he might have lunch with a woman he’s “absolutely mad about.” That sounds like an optimist to me. We’re all optimists—at least to a certain degree. We change jobs, buy houses, get married, join gyms, go on diets—all because we think that our future can be better. Every month I enjoy reading Grid because it is brimming with optimists. Our cover story this month on MADE, Rachel Ford’s Old City sewing studio, is no exception. Ford walked away from a high-paying job to pursue something that might seem unrealistic. While large factories around the world churn out oceans of cheap, throwaway clothes and then ship them to ubiquitous retail outlets, Ford imagines a system that, through skilled—and fairly paid— labor, produces high-quality pieces made right here in Philadelphia, perhaps in part by an immigrant community that might otherwise find it difficult to secure employment. And is there a more hopeful and optimistic group than farmers? How much faith does it take to earn your livelihood by putting a seed in the ground? In this year’s Farmbook, which we produce in partnership with Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture, Mike Brownback of Spiral Path Farm mentions his

publisher

Alex Mulcahy alex@gridphilly.com 215.625.9850 ext. 102 managing editor

Sara Schwartz sara@gridphilly.com 215.625.9850 ext. 103 art director

Danni Sinisi danni@gridphilly.com 215.625.9850 ext. 104 distribution / ad sales

Jesse Kerns jesse@gridphilly.com 215.625.9850 ext. 100 copy editor

Andrew Bonazelli writers

Bernard Brown Emily Brooks Michael Fichman Adam Forbes Emily Teel Molly O’Neill interns

Danielle Wayda photographers

Donna Connor Dustin Fenstermacher Christian Hunold Gene Smirnov Emily Wren Albert Yee optimism several times, but raises a critical point: “It isn’t about avoiding catastrophe—it’s about what are you gonna do when it happens, because it happens on a daily basis.” Our optimism will be tested. Storms come. Machines break. Computers crash. The hopedfor romance may or may not happen. The world will take the wind from our sails. But we keep dreaming, because deep down we know things can be better.

illustrators

Kirsten Harper controller

Nicole Jarman nicole@gridphilly.com published by

Red Flag Media 1032 Arch Street, 3rd Floor Philadelphia, PA 19107 215.625.9850 g r i d p h i l ly . c o m

alex j. mulcahy, Publisher alex@gridphilly.com

cov e r IL LUSTRATION STITCHED BY Rache l fo rd / p hoto by dustin Fe nstermac her


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community

Plain Sights

What’s in a Name? William Allen wielded a lot of influence in colonial Pennsylvania—he was a merchant who built upon his father’s fortune, he helped finance the construction of Independence Hall, and he was a one-term Philadelphia mayor and a longtime chief justice of the Province of Pennsylvania. Mount Airy, his nine-acre estate, gave the neighborhood its name and is fronted on Germantown Avenue where the Lutheran Theological Seminary now stands. Despite Allen's prominence, his legacy isn't honored uniformly. For example, to get to the Allens Lane Art Center, one might take the train to Allen Lane station and walk two blocks down Allens Lane. The inconsistency of the thoroughfare’s designation seems as historic as the name itself. (The sign for Allens Lane Art Center uses an apostrophe.)

According to the city’s street signs, the street running perpendicular from the site toward Wissahickon Creek is Allens Lane. But maps as early as 1808 label it as Allen’s Lane. And SEPTA’s Chestnut Hill West signage? That’s Allen Lane, dating back to the Pennsylvania Railroad’s branch that opened in 1884. Local lore suggests the railroad’s sign painter misspelled it, but perhaps he was influenced by the railroad’s printing firm: Allen, Lane & Scott. Whatever the explanation, no plan exists to anoint an official appellation—the only consensus is that there is no consensus.

For more on this story, visit the Hidden City Daily, hiddencityphila.org .

In partnership with Hidden City, Plain Sights highlights historic structures with compelling stories hiding in our midst.

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sto ry an d p hotos by b radley maule


Media

ON THE AIR JACK'S FARM RADIO edible philly

edible PHILLY

at Aimee Olexy’s Table • Jose Garces’ Next Act • Inside Di Bruno Bros. • Christmas City USA • Hidden Tamales • craft cider

Food & Community in Philadelphia and Beyond

Number 1 Winter 2013/14

At Aimee Olexy’s Table Jose Garces’ Next Act Inside Di Bruno Bros. Christmas City USA Hidden Tamales craft cider

Number 1 Winter 2013/14

Member of Edible Communities

Seasons Eatings Philadelphia food world welcomes Edible Philly

RECENT B R OA D C A ST 1/14 : 1:03:25

by emily brooks

David Siller Forager

By the Farm

Organic farmer creates niche podcast that connects food producers to consumers by michael fichman

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f you’ve ever wanted to learn more about the farmer who pruned your peaches and cultivated your kale, now you can. Since October, Chester County USDA-certified organic vegetable farmer Dan Heckler has hosted Jack’s Farm Radio, a weekly podcast in which he interviews organic farmers, sustainability advocates, local chefs and old friends as a way to connect food producers to the consumers. “I work in the field alone and listen to podcasts practically all day long,” Heckler says. “I thought, ‘I can do this.’” The podcast takes its name from Heckler’s own farm, which refers to the “Jack of all trades” phrase. Episodes have featured discussions on foraging by David Siller, sustainable farming practices and family reminiscences of childhood farm life. Guests have included “a true pioneer in the urban farming movement,” Greensgrow’s Mary Seton Corboy, and Jon Entine of the Genetic Literacy Project, who spoke p hoto by em i ly wr en

about genetically modified seeds. Jack’s Farm Radio subscribership has grown since October, signaling an interest on the backstories of food producers. Heckler, who operates his farm with his wife, Deb, is spending the winter stockpiling content before the growing season forces him to trade his microphone for a hoe: “You can’t get farmers to talk to you from April until October.” Jack’s Farm Radio is available from iTunes, Stitcher and jacksfarmradio.com .

Those champing at the bit for more local food culture news can now scoop up Edible Philly. Edible Communities, the family of more than 75 publications dedicated to connecting consumers to the vibrant world of healthful local food, added the new member in November. Joy Manning, a James Beard Award– nominated food writer, has taken the helm as editor, alongside publishers Nancy and Ray Painter (Edible Jersey and Edible Hudson Valley, respectively). A project in the works for several years, Edible Philly was waiting for just the right time to make its debut. “The city’s food scene deserves a publication that delves deep into our region’s food culture—not just chef news and restaurant openings,” Manning says. “Edible Philly helps connect people to their food and inspire them to learn more about it with every issue.” The premiere issue of Edible Philly features an inside scoop on chef Jose Garces’ latest venture, a visit to Di Bruno Brothers' original shop in Philadelphia’s Italian Market, and recipes using wintertime’s freshest produce, giving readers a healthy taste of what’s to come. The free publication will be published seasonally four times a year, and made available at more than 100 restaurants and markets around Philadelphia and the Lehigh and Delaware Valleys. To view a digital edition of Edible Philly’s premiere issue, visit ediblephilly.com .

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ENVIRONMENT

Track Records Morris Park preservation allows animal prints to be seen once again

by bernard brown • photos by christian hunold

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he first snow of winter sits heavy and wet as photographer Christian Hunold and I explore Morris Park by the rich light of dawn. The snow clings to every branch and twig, surrounding us in a tunnel of glowing white as we walk the path along the west branch of Indian Creek. Overbrook’s Morris Park follows the two branches of the creek from City Avenue to Haverford Avenue, just upstream of their confluence with Cobbs Creek. In other seasons, I’ve caught toads in the underbrush and followed the trails to the top of one of the quarries, which today looks like a rocky cliff cut down into the hillside. Together with the ruined remains of old mills, it all hints at the land’s industrial past. According to Dan Gasiewski, cofounder of the Morris Park Restoration Association, it took nearly a century of advocacy to ensure a more natural present and future for the park. Through the 1960s, neighbors fought off housing developments and anti-aircraft installations. Toward the end of the 1990s, though, the park had fallen into disrepair as involved neighbors either aged or moved away. The trails had been neglected, blocked by fallen trees and undercut by creeks that surged with runoff after storms. Ten years ago, Dan and his brother, Tom, both Overbrook natives, started by pulling out invasive Japanese knotweed, and soon found themselves spearheading the rebirth of the park. The city responded by increasing maintenance, and the duo were able to use federal stimulus funds in 2010 to overhaul the trail system. More recently, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has been working just above Haverford Avenue to return the west branch of Indian Creek to its original above-ground course—a process called daylighting—helping to reduce flooding and improve the creek as an aquatic habitat. Together, the restoration association, the city and the Army Corps are working to get the park to a more natural state. Aside from a crew working on the stream restoration project, Christian and I were the only creatures stirring in Morris Park, but paw prints 8

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Evidence of white-tailed deer is seen in freshly fallen snow.

scattered along the bank hinted at more. Midsized carnivore prints all look similar to me (Dog? Cat? Red fox? Grey fox?), but Christian identified them quickly. Later, from the cozy comfort of my apartment, I matched the arrowhead shape to the red fox description in a book of animal prints. The deer prints we saw on the main path were much easier to identify. I catch glimpses of foxes and deer now and then, but the prints, left over only a few hours of darkness, make it clear how


Each time you use SEPTA, you make a choice that improves the environment. Leave the driving to SEPTA. For more info visit ISEPTAPHILLY.com The muted prints of a red fox run along Indian Creek in Morris Park.

common these animals are, even when they stay out of our view most of the day. On a more recent outing, I found it much more difficult to identify prints left in drier, looser snow. Even though I quickly lost feeling in my toes as I tried to make sense of ambiguous tracks, the presence of them warmed my heart with the proof that something else was awake in the woods. Voles—small rodents with stubby little tails—tunnel be-

neath the snow. Foxes pace the floodplain hunting them, leaving behind their arrowhead prints, and white-tailed deer step through the woods looking for buds to nip off the ends of low branches, leaving behind the twin teardrops of their hooves. Snow is undeniably beautiful, but has always struck me as sterile. The tracks, however, prove that life persists despite the freeze. The next time it snows, come out and leave some of yours as well. bernard brown is an amateur field herper and bureaucrat. He writes about urban natural history and sustainable eating. m arch 20 14

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Join us!

Acquiring Tastes Brewer’s Plate connects locavores and beer enthusiasts to their favorite subjects by molly o’neill

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hiladelphia foodies and beer buffs can join like-minded others and head to the Brewer’s Plate, a Fair Food fundraiser that showcases pairings from local brewers and chefs. The event, which will be held March 9, began 10 years ago as a small festival at the Reading Terminal Market, and has outgrown one venue after another with its rising popularity. In celebration of its 10th anniversary, this year’s gala will be held for the first time at the Kimmel Center, where more than 1,000 guests can gather to drink, dine and dish about the local food scene. The Brewer’s Plate will showcase an evergrowing list of vendors. The Garces Group, owned and operated by Chef Jose Garces, is heavily represented, alongside smaller shops such as the Franklin Fountain and newbie cider-makers Frecon Farms. Local breweries small (Prism, Roy Pitz) and large (Victory, Yards) will offer their prizewinning brews. And this year, a new sponsor will round out the craft

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beer offerings: the Boston Beer Company, brewer of Samuel Adams. Victory Brewing Company is planning a collaborative ale with the Boston group, which has actually been brewing most of its beer in the Lehigh Valley since the mid-2000s. Victory founder Bill Covaleski says the partnership will give the Samuel Adams brewers a chance to educate Pennsylvanians about their local operations. VIP tickets will include access to a sausageand-beer pairing competition between the Garces restaurants. The chefs plan to offer several alternatives to pork, including a vegan sausage. This omnivorous theme will be repeated throughout the venue. VIP admission will also include access to a Fair Food forum to be held on the Kimmel Center’s terrace an hour before general admission access. Fair Food Executive Director Ann Karlen says, “We’ve been doing this for 10 years, and it dawned on us a few years in—as the event grew and got popular—that the event started to take on a life of its own. For the last few years,

M arch 9 , 2 01 4 B r ewe r ' s P l a t e Kimmel Center General Admission $55 and up VIP tickets starting at $115

we’ve worked to do every- Above: Attendees pack the 2013 thing we can to connect it Brewer's Plate at back to us and to local food.” the National Karlen says that bars will Constitution Center. be integrated throughout the Right: The event two event tiers, and a Loca- highlights local vore Lounge will offer spirits brewers and chefs, including for those less inclined toward Victory Brewing beer. And Samuel Adams Company, center. will feature the top three bartenders from its upcoming Angry Orchard Cider cocktail competition to mix drinks at the event. “What we have at Brewer’s Plate is a platform for each brewery and restaurant to speak in terms of what’s important to them,” Covaleski says. “It’s bringing a room of people who care about quality food to all these stations where engaged people offer information about the integrity of their products.” Visit kimmelcenter.org to order. To learn more about the fundraiser, visit brewersplate.com .

Photos by Do n na connor


From microgreens to microfinancing Customers who pay their grocery bills ahead of time fund financial growth for a New Jersey farm by emily teel

B

lue moon acres farm has built loyalty among Philadelphia’s chefs with their vegetables and microgreens, which chefs use to add color and flavor to restaurant dishes. Now, they’re rebuilding their farm with Winter Market Dollars, a customer loyalty program. Jim and Kathy Lyons opened a retail mar- says, but as they developed the program, a ket on their farm in Pennington, New Jersey, secondary—and more ambitious—goal during peak growing season in 2011. Though emerged. they closed the first winter, their Market After Hurricane Sandy, the Lyons lost a Manager Natalie Rockwell had an idea for high tunnel—a moveable structure similar a new business strategy, and urged them to a greenhouse—that allowed them to exto keep the farm open year-round, though tend the season of autumn crops through the it took some conentire winter. If vincing. “[The they could gather one hundred one hundred KB46279860 I Lyons] were nerenough support Blue Moon B5 Acres vous about being for the Winter open through the Market Dollars KB46279860 I winter with nothprogram from ing of our own extheir customers, WINTER MARKET DOLLARS cept for carrots, they would be garlic [and] microgreens,” Rockwell says. able to earn the $12,000 it would cost to reSoon, the Lyons saw Rockwell’s vision, and place the high tunnel they lost. They started sign-ups in November and together they developed the Winter Market met their goal two months later. “It was Dollars program. The program mimics a community sup- a very pleasant surprise,” Rockwell says, ported agriculture (CSA) membership, but adding that before this winter is over, they instead of getting a fixed box of vegetables can make an upgrade that will make even every week, customers go to the Blue Moon more variety available to their customers Acres Market, either in Buckingham, Penn- next winter. sylvania, or Pennington, where they whittle The new high tunnel will allow Blue Moon down their credit every time they shop. Acres to maintain winter production of such Membership is free, and participants can late-autumn crops as kale, broccoli and cauchoose to invest in $100, $300 or $500 incre- liflower. Effectively, the farm is borrowing ments, with perks at each level. With a $300 from itself, from its own future vegetables, investment, they can put Blue Moon’s eggs instead of from a bank, and it’s because of on hold, and at $500 they get a $25 bonus to their customers investing in them. It brings a apply to a farm-to-table dinner, workshop whole new meaning to the idea of seed money. or event. The whole idea, initially, was to keep For more information about the Winter Market people coming through the winter, Rockwell Dollars program, visit bluemoonacres.net.

$100

$100

Small-Batch Distillery Opens Many people think that they have great ideas while drinking, but the founders of Manatawny Still Works, a new craft distillery in Montgomery County’s Pottstown, may have actually been onto something. The group of friends, including John Giannopoulos, one of the managing partners of Sly Fox Brewhouse & Eatery, was drinking last winter and someone said, “Wouldn’t it be great if we could make a whiskey, too?” They’ll do just that with the spent barley from Sly Fox this spring. To learn more, visit manatawnystillworks.com .

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Year round, Russet chef-owners Andrew and Kristin Wood serve an extremely local menu.

RESTAURANT SPOTLIGHT

RUSSET Where’s the Beef ? Russet brings the farm to the table all year long so you never have to ask by emily teel • photos by albert yee

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his time of year, the word “russet” calls to mind potatoes and perhaps their dusty, tuberous and root vegetable brethren. Fortunately for Philadelphia locavores, Russet is also the name of the rustic, elegant Rittenhouse BYOB operated by chefowners Andrew and Kristin Wood. At the height of summer, it may seem as though many chefs are devotees of farm-to-table cooking, but as the weather cools and the glut of offerings slows to a trickle, most of them jump off of the local-sourcing wagon. Not Russet. 12

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All year, the couple serves an extremely local menu, buying very little from further than a few hundred miles. The exceptions? “Olive oil, citrus, spices and cane sugar,” Andrew says. “But we’re trying really hard to use local honey or maple syrup.” With limited local offerings, winter presents a challenge at Russet. Andrew remembers opening in February and not having “anything,” but now, having celebrated the restaurant’s second anniversary, they’ve established a pantry that keeps their winter menus as dynamic as their summer counterparts. Kristin, who manages the sweet side, and Andrew, who manages the savory, make their own paprika, dry herbs, brew vinegar, can fruit and tomatoes, mill flour, ferment sauerkraut, smoke fish, bacon and speck, and cure salami, prosciutto and scallop bottarga. They even dry their own beans. Andrew's ethos on farm-to-table cooking has become inseparable from his style of cooking: “I wouldn’t know how to do it any other way.” He can cook this way in part because he has a serious technical foundation in butchery, which he learned from Chef Michael Tusk at Quince restaurant in San Francisco. Instead of buying a case of hanger steaks for convenience, Andrew buys whole animals. The afternoon that Grid spent in the Russet kitchen happened to be the day that Marylandbased St. Brigid’s Farm delivered a whole veal. The restaurant will serve the organ meats first: veal heart tartare, seared liver with smoked and pickled red onion, brussels sprouts and sunchokes, or ricotta ravioli with calf’s brain ragù. “There’s not a lot of chefs who know how to use a whole animal that way,” says Judy Gifford of St. Brigid’s Farm. “It takes a chef with some courage to put calves’ brains on the menu.” An alumna of Fair Food, Philabundance and Greener Partners, emily teel is a food freelancer dedicated to sustainable, delicious food in Philadelphia. See more of her work at emilyteel.com .


Seared calf's liver served with brussels sprouts, sunchokes and red onion.

FARM PROFILE

The Appeal of Veal

W HAT A DI SH !

St. Brigid’s Farm delivers conscientiously raised cows to restaurants' kitchens St. Brigid, the patron saint for dairymaids and scholars, is an appropriate namesake for the 55-acre farm belonging to Judy Gifford (the dairymaid), and Robert Fry (the scholar ... er, veterinarian). Employing their combined talents, the pair pastureraise Jersey dairy cows at St. Brigid’s Farm in Kennedyville, Maryland. While their milk currently goes to the Land O’ Lakes cooperative, they also raise their male calves for grass-fed beef and veal (the female ones enter the milking herd). Conscious consumers who feel squeamish

about eating veal because of the extreme confinement practices in industrial veal production can rest easy knowing that St. Brigid’s veal is raised thoughtfully. “Most people imagine calves in a dark barn,” Gifford says. But she says that St. Brigid's veal is raised closer to pastured dairy cows than typical veal. The calves are born throughout the winter, Gifford says, and, “In the spring, the ones that are on the nurse cows are out on pasture for five months, and then they go to Russet.”

With a Kick Homegrown health tonic finds national success by emily teel As cold and flu season drags on, it’s prudent to shore up one’s immune system. Some swear by zinc, some opt for Echinacea, and others grab Jin+Ja. Invented in 2009 by former patent lawyer Reuben Canada in his Philadelphia kitchen, Jin+Ja is a sixingredient non-alcoholic beverage that touts the immune-boosting goodness of green tea, along with cayenne pepper and fresh ginger in a lemony, minty tonic. Though some drink Jin+Ja because they believe it has health benefits, Canada originally mixed up the refresher as a cocktail mixer. Jin+Ja started out as a ginger syrup, but eager for something distinctive, Canada kept adding to the flavor profile until he reached

Try this the next time you visit Russet

MUSHROOM RAVIOLO WITH PICKLED CRANBERRIES Though whole-animal cooking is one way to approach sustainable omnivorism, so is choosing entirely plant-based meals, such as Russet’s mushroom raviolo with pickled cranberries and locally foraged hickory nuts.

a balance of bitter, sweet, sour, cool and spicy. It quickly caught on in Philadelphia after one of his friends, an employee of Food & Friends, a neighborhood market, passed on some to her boss, owner Jay Choi. He offered to start selling it, and 20 bottles moved in a matter of days. Canada quit his day job and began focusing on Jin+Ja full-time. With the help of the Rutgers University Food Innovation Center, Canada was able to scale up production in 2011. The beverage has gained so much popularity—in 2013, it won Specialty Food Association accolades as Outstanding Cold Beverage—that it’s now sold nationally. It's also bottled close to Philadelphia, in Northern New Jersey. Jin+Ja is citrusy and aromatic, and while some like it hot, it’s equally good chilled or paired with a liquor. Canada recommends trying the Sweet Jin+Ja Brown, which is two parts Jin+Ja to one part bourbon, shaken with ice and garnished with lemon. True, mixing booze with Jin+Ja might defeat the purpose of drinking it to improve one’s immune health, but we’ve heard that the placebo effect is powerful too, right?

Available at Green Aisle Grocery (1618 East Passyunk Avenue) and Whole Foods Market. 23.5 oz for $9.99. For more information, visit drinkjinja.com

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The Philly Pantry Project Even in the bleakest months, find inspiration for exciting meals story and photos by emily teel

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few years ago, I moved to Italy to study gastronomy, and it was there that I confronted my food-hoarding habit. I lived in a charming Parma flat with a former advertising executive from Australia by way of Singapore, and, on weekends, her Columbian fiancée. Collectively, we had a problem. We were powerless as consumers when faced with such novel delights as savory Sicilian sun-dried tomatoes, olive oil-packed sardines, and gemcolored jars of jam and honey. As our time there dwindled, it became clear we needed to stop saving and start eating. We called our endeavor the “Parma Pantry Project.” The results were meals that were creative and ambitious. Even now, when winter drags on, I challenge myself to use my precious ingredients. Each of these recipes features pantry staples with a few fresh ingredients. The crostata makes use of jam, almonds and flour; canned tomato and olive oil soften stale bread into the Tuscan pappa al pomodoro; and the Sicilian bucatini con le Sarde pulls punch from canned sardines, breadcrumbs, saffron, raisins and pine nuts.

WH AT 'S IN TH E BO X?

Lancaster Farm Fresh All-Season CSA The Lancaster Farm Fresh Cooperative runs an all-season community supported agriculture (CSA) that pulls vegetables from several farms, so even in March it can offer a great selection. It offers 5 to 8 of the following every week, with other vegetables that become available as the weather warms up. lancasterfarmfresh.com »» Rutabagas »» Parsnips »» Jerusalem artichokes

»» 3 to 4 mushroom varieties

»» Winter radishes »» Kale »» Chard

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»» Mustard »» Collard greens »» Microgreens »» Beets »» Turnips »» Potatoes »» Cabbage »» Purple and

orange carrots

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Bucatini con le Sarde 1 2 ¼ 2 1 1

¼ 1 ¼

tin Pacific sardines, packed in olive oil anchovy fillet teaspoon chili flakes cloves garlic, minced large onion medium fennel bulb, including fronds cup dry white wine medium lemon, zest and juice cup raisins

½ pound bucatini ¼ cup pine nuts ¼ cup breadcrumbs pinch saffron olive oil salt

DIRECTIONS: ˜˜Bring a large pot of water to a boil and salt it heavily. ˜˜Plump the raisins by pouring hot water over them and allowing them to soak while you prepare the sauce. ˜˜Using a mandolin slicer, carefully slice the onion and the fennel very thinly. ˜˜Warm a wide, deep skillet over medium heat. Open the tin of sardines and drain the oil from it into the skillet. Add more olive oil if necessary to make up about a tablespoon. ˜˜Add anchovy fillets, garlic and chili flakes and sauté gently until anchovies have melted into the oil. ˜˜ Add onion and fennel, and increase heat to mediumhigh. Cook until everything has softened and has begun to caramelize, about 5 to 8 minutes. Add sardines, breaking up slightly, and lemon juice.

˜˜Add white wine and saffron. Drain the raisins and add them as well. Lower the heat to medium-low and allow the whole mixture to simmer together and reduce. Taste and add salt if necessary. ˜˜Meanwhile, add bucatini to boiling water and cook 9 to 12 minutes, or according to package instructions. ˜˜In a separate small skillet over medium heat, toast pine nuts and bread crumbs with lemon zest, stirring often until fragrant and lightly browned. ˜˜When pasta is al dente, reserve a cup of the cooking water. Drain pasta and add it to the skillet, tossing gently to combine. Splash in the cup of cooking water as needed to maintain a loose, silky texture. ˜˜ Serve pasta and top with breadcrumb mixture and a drizzle of olive oil.


Pappa al Pomodoro 3 cloves garlic, crushed ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper 1 onion, minced 2 28-oz cans New Jersey canned tomatoes

1 cup water or stock 4-6 slices stale white bread or baguette, crusts removed

extra virgin olive oil fresh basil (about 20 leaves, torn) salt

˜˜In a medium-sized pot over medium-high, heat three tablespoons of olive oil and add onion, red pepper, garlic, and a pinch of salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is softened and just beginning to caramelize. ˜˜Add both cans of tomato and water or stock, and bring the mixture to a simmer, crushing the especially large chunks of tomato against the side of the pot.

˜˜Add bread and stir to incorporate. Return the mixture to a simmer and cook until bread begins to disintegrate. ˜˜Serve topped with torn basil leaves, a grind of fresh black pepper, and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.

Jam Crostata 2 cups flour ½ cup sugar 1½ sticks (12 tablespoons, 6 oz.) butter, chilled 2 eggs ½ teaspoon salt 1 teaspoon orange or lemon zest 2 cups (2 half pint jars, 16 fl. oz.) high-quality jam ½ cup sliced almonds

˜˜Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Rub citrus zest into sugar until color and citrus oils are distributed. ˜˜In a food processor or stand mixer, pulse sugar, flour and salt until combined. Add butter and continue pulsing until mixture forms a coarse meal. Add eggs and mix until just combined. Your dough should look like a mass of pebbles. ˜˜Empty mixture into a 12-inch tart pan with a removable bottom. Press crumbs into an even layer. ˜˜Spread jam evenly over the dough, and sprinkle almonds over top. ˜˜Bake 30 to 45 minutes, or until crust is golden brown and the jam is bubbling. Jam will still appear quite liquid. ˜˜Remove from oven and allow to cool at least 30 minutes before slicing. m arch 20 14

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

Brian Fox of Salem Mountain Farms

Minding Their Business There’s no single way to run a farm profitably. These farmers reveal the many ways it takes to make it work.


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Urban farmer, Adrian Galbraith-Paul from Herritage Farm, rests after harvesting crates of heirloom tomatoes.

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Good Connections What it takes to succeed in farming

Farming today is in a perpetual state of rethinking and revision—indeed, the only real constant is change itself. It can even be difficult to keep track of where the leading edge of this change is to be found, and when the older methods are being left behind. The “look” of a farm is no longer the best indicator of its success, if it ever was. What distinguishes a successful farming operation from one that may be languishing, or just getting by, is an invisible factor that can be summed up in the term “connection.” And the connections required for a successful farm flow in two directions, both upstream and down. Show me a successful farmer, and I’ll show you someone who understands the context of the farm in the natural environment, and has developed personal relationships with those who purchase and consume the farm’s products. So-called “modern” industrial farming assumed from the beginning that such connections were not so important, and that farmers could do best working in isolation from concerns for the environment and marketplace. This attitude led to a dramatic period of consolidation, decreasing the number of farms across the country, and to the emergence of mega-farms that served national and international markets in a relatively faceless way. And yet, this prevailing system

still requires much state and federal assistance in order to survive. But look at the farms highlighted in this section and you’ll see a different, more promising story emerging. They are run by farmers who have connected themselves in a multitude of meaningful ways, and are constantly looking for new ones. They understand their place in nature and, more importantly, the needs of their customers, treating them almost like family. Maybe that’s the ultimate lesson here: that a vibrant and successful food system really is a family, made up not only of farmers and eaters, but the businesses that thrive between them, and all the native plants and critters—including in the soil—that allow us to borrow the resources of their domain, and to whom we must also return those resources in kind. Brian Snyder, Executive Director PASA (Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture) pasafarming.org

Your neighbor’s our farmer.

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Three Springs Fruit Farm

ben w enk

Family Trees Innovation bears fruit for seven generations by emily teel • photos by albert yee

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the unusual distinction of living on a street named after his family. Three Springs Fruit Farm on Bendersville Wenksville Road in Aspers, Pennsylvania, has been in operation since 1818 and there, with his father and uncle, Wenk grows apples, cherries, peaches and pears. ruit farmer Ben Wenk has

Seven generations of Wenks have called Adams County home, and it was Ben’s great-great-grandfather, Ferd Wenk, who first planted four of the family’s acres in apples. Ben’s grandfather, Donald Wenk, built on that legacy when a group of apple growers in the area formed a cooperative and bought Musselman’s, a nearby apple processing company.

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Ben recognizes his grandfather’s entrepreneurial vision. “He saw an opportunity, [so he] took out a bank loan to buy enough trees to plant the balance in orchards,” he says. Donald took a risk by filling the rest of the property with fruit trees, and he worked double shifts in order to pay back the loan while getting the orchard established. Donald farmed during the day and worked the night shift at a cardboard factory for more than a decade when Ben’s father, Dave Wenk, was a kid. “What we have now is built on that sacrifice,” Ben says, referring to the fruit farm. The Wenk family now owns 257 acres, and through a complex array of leases with their neighbors, they farm a total of about 485 acres in apples, peaches, pears and cherries. Ben also grows vegetables to diversify the farm’s selection at the eight farmers markets they attend weekly during the growing season. Whereas vegetables are annual crops that will grow, produce and wither in the course of a single season, an apple tree is a 25-year investment. Though young trees begin yielding fruit after just three or four years, they take


located in

Aspers, pa Approx. people served annually

500,000 Major products

apples, pears, cherries & peaches business model

farmers markets, wholesale, direct to restaurant, co-packed and processed fruit

2009

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longer than that to come into full production. Ben says his father is, only now, planting trees a second time on land that he planted when he was Ben’s age. The 25- year life-cycle of an orchard outpaces that of a person. “You only get a couple shots at it,” Ben says. Added to this is the complication that the apple harvest occurs during one breakneck month, and that means, “All your income is based on that one month,” Ben adds. By also growing and selling vegetables such as kale, tomatoes and peppers, the farm is less vulnerable. Another safety net for their business is that

they’re members of an apple-growing community and they have the option of selling some of their fruit to nearby processors. Another company, Rice Foods, supplies East Coast fruit to large supermarket chains. The presence of these companies means that Three Springs almost always has a buyer for their products. They make less on the factory option than they would had they been able to sell the fruit through another outlet, but having the processors means that they seldom have a crop that results in a total loss. While having these outlets as options might provide some sense of security, they can also dull creativity. “You can sustain a business growing entirely for the factory, [but] you cannot grow a business that way,” Ben says, adding that it’s nice to have a safety net. “What you get from the factory is completely tied up in variables that you have no control over.” Ben’s goal for Three Springs is to take as much control over the sale and marketing of its products as possible. “It’s more time, more effort and more capital,” he says. ”But I’d rather risk our business on our own success or failure than leave that on a variable I can’t control.” As a musician who very nearly went to Penn State to study trumpet performance, Ben changed his major to the School of Agriculture following a brief conversation with his father, who said, “We never really talked about this, but the farm’s always gonna be here for you if

you have an interest in it.” After he graduated in 2006, he returned to the family farm. Slowly, he picked up more responsibility, taking on such projects as expanding Three Springs’ access to the urban markets in Philadelphia and in the Washington, D.C., area. “I was still trying to establish myself as a worthwhile investment to the business,” Ben says, about entering into Three Springs as a partner with his father and his uncle, John. Even if he once made novice mistakes, his projects have proven to be profitable for the farm. Pound for pound, direct sale to consumers is their most lucrative outlet, followed by wholesale to businesses, such as Kimberton Whole Foods and Greensgrow. Ben has been able to strengthen these relationships through his friendly presence at markets such as Headhouse, and by using Twitter and Instagram. Although running the markets calls for a significant time investment, he loves the lifestyle that farming offers him, and recognizes that it would be far more difficult without the expertise of his father and uncle. Having them to lean on means that he can focus on innovation and his own projects. And farmers markets end up being good for him as well. He’s a gregarious guy who relishes the social stimulation they provide. “It is so good for me professionally to go to the city to hear about what people are cooking, to pick up on the latest trends. ... I learn a lot from [my customers].”

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COUNTRY TIME Farm paul a nd ember cr i v el l a ro

Pork Life

Connections, smart decisions plump up production by emily teel • photos by albert yee

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affectionately about the city’s most highly regarded chefs as though they’re the neighborhood kids with a lemonade stand. Ember, and her husband, Paul, are some of the preemminent porcine professionals of Philadelphia. Country Time Farm’s customers include Le Virtu, South Philly Tap Room, American Sardine Bar, Southwark and the eateries of Jose Garces and Marc Vetri. mber Crivellaro speaks

located in

Hamburg, PA Approx. people served annually

1,000 s Major products

Pork business model

farmers markets, CSA, direct sales to customers & restaurants

2004

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Paul worked for years as a meat cutter at local chain grocery stores, and they started raising pigs on the side. “We got into it as a parttime venture.” Paul says. “My father always had a couple, and said if you want to make a little extra money, raise pigs.” When the couple moved to their Hamburg, Pennsylvania, farm in 1989, they carefully scaled up production. Even in their phases of growth, they’ve intentionally kept their operation modest so they can keep their work as hands-on as possible. The Crivellaro’s breeding program includes about 30 sows, and they produce about 600 pigs each year, Paul says. The business itself is focused. “I see people raising chickens, eggs, meat birds, steers, gardening ... and 90 percent of them can’t do it properly, so we specialize on one thing and we try to do it correctly,” he says. Even so, they’ve had to be creative to stay viable in the industry. In the early 1990s, during the height of pork as “the other white meat,” they saw massive consolidation.

“The big boys wanted to get rid of small farmers,” Ember says. “We ended up selling pigs for 10 cents a pound, live weight.” At that price, the Crivellaros couldn’t even break even on what it would cost to get a pig to processing weight. “If Paul didn’t have a full-time job … we would have lost this farm,” she adds. This led Paul to reach out to Drew Keegan, who at the time was the director of PA Preferred, a publicprivate partnership between the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture and companies in the state that helps to promote the state’s agricultural products. “He connected me with St. Joe’s food marketing students ... and a project to connect the farm to restaurants,” Paul says. Those students helped the couple brand their product. “We got two restaurants that way, and the rest was word-of-mouth,” Paul says. Soon, the Crivellaros found themselves at the forefront of farm-to-table distribution that would become a standard sourcing practice for many Philadelphia restaurants. On one hand, they started distribution in 2004 at the right moment, and they never had to look for customers. (“We didn’t have to! They called us!” Ember says.) But they’ve also had to pave the way: defending pricing that was higher than the industrial average, and politely declining requests for donations of their products and their skills. Despite the challenges, the pair has settled into a comfortable rhythm with their wholesale, restaurant and farmers market customers. When asked about what’s next for Country Time, Paul ensures that “as long as I can do it, we’ll do it.” Which is good news for Philadelphia chefs and diners who, having enjoyed a decade of Country Time pork on menus, might not know what to do without it.


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SPIRAL PATH Farm

brow nback fa mily

Living The Dream

An idealistic vision becomes an dynamic business

by emily teel • photos by albert yee

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piral Path Farm is a well-oiled machine. Tidy

rows of kale, tomatoes and broccoli line sections of the farm in Loysville, Pennsylvania, and when you see their community supported agriculture (CSA) operation, it’s clear that a considerable amount of planning and organization went into the farming and the business. But it wasn’t always so well-coordinated. Though aspiring sustainable farmers now have a wealth of resources at their disposal, Terra and Mike Brownback had to learn on the job. “We both grew up in suburbia,” Terra says. As an idealistic couple with a vision of living off the land, they wanted “to save the world, [and] to farm environmentally,” so in 1978 they purchased the farm. But they soon found they had little knowledge of how they would actually make that vision a reality. Sustainable agriculture networks, such as the Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture (PASA), didn’t exist yet, and though their neighbors were helpful, they didn’t share the Brownbacks’ vision for ecologically balanced farming. “We got into farming because of our optimism, [but] we got in over our heads,” Mike says. Beyond that, the 8 pa s a

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property’s 1880s farmhouse was run down, it lacked a bathroom, and critters had taken up residence in it. They had their work cut out for them. “Our parents had a fit,” Terra says, recalling when the couple broke the news to their families. But the Brownbacks were determined. “We had an 11-month old baby, but we had our dreams.” They started by raising pigs, having had some success raising feeder pigs from 1973 to 1977 at Mike’s grandmother’s small farm in Montgomery county. For the Brownback’s first 15 years as farmers, through the birth of two more sons, Spiral Path Farm practiced conventional livestock agriculture, raising pigs and cultivating 60 acres of cereal crops that included oats, corn, hay and wheat. With this, the Brownbacks felt economically safe, but they had diverged from their original inspiration to become farmers who didn’t use the chemicals that they found themselves dependent on. In the early ’90s, they started to question themselves. “We were approaching 40 and we’re like, ‘When are we gonna have our dream?’” Terra says, recalling their vision to farm environmentally. They had “knowledge of organic, but no concept of how to pay the bills that way,” Mike adds.


located in

Loysville, pa Approx. people served annually

CSA with more than 2,000 members Major products

more than 50 varieties of usda certified organic vegetables & annual fruits business model

farmers markets, wholesale & CSA

1992

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But even if the kind of agriculture they were practicing didn’t reflect the idealism that inspired them to buy the farm, “We were making a living,” Terra says. “The organic thing felt like jumping off a cliff.” So the couple decided to leave the decision to a coin toss. Heads, they would stay the course. Tails, they would reinvent the farm as an organic produce operation. “The coin toss said go,” Mike says. Their business plan was to get out of the pig business and convert the farm to organic agriculture. They attended a workshop on how to operate a CSA at the second annual conference held by PASA. The couple decided to start with five acres of chemical-free vegetables to support the 22 households in the Harrisburg area that signed up for the farm’s first CSA. The change has been a good one. For Terra and Mike, 2013 marked their 20th anniversary as a certified organic CSA farm. The barn has been converted into a packing house where employees load vegetables into half- and fullshare boxes. Those boxes are sent to 40 pick-up sites in Harrisburg; Silver Spring, Maryland; and Bethesda, Maryland, providing food for more than 2,000 households, according to the Brownbacks. To an outsider, operations on the farm appear slick and professional, and the Brownbacks are adamant that it’s all the result of the same making-it-work approach to business that led them to farm in the first place. “A lot of this has been seat-of-the-pants and

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unbridled optimism,” Mike says. “It’s not about avoiding the catastrophe—it’s about what are you gonna do when it happens ... because it happens on a daily basis.” Spiral Path’s story, like many other entrepreneurial ones, includes days where they wanted to quit, and one in particular. “There’s an unparalleled tragedy in our life—losing our son,” Terra says, referring to their eldest son, Arias, who died in 2001 of a heroin overdose at the age of 24. “The day he died, I had cabbage I had just planted. It was August 11, hotter than hell, and the cabbage was gonna die because it was so hot,” Mike says. “I had to get pipes in that field and get water on them … I just lost my son. I’m not gonna lose the cabbage, too.” The needs of the farm forced the Brownbacks to put one foot in front of the other in the face of their grief. “In some ways, the farm has held us together,” Terra says. Arias is memorialized every year at PASA’s annual Farming for the Future Conference. The Arias M. Brownback Memorial Scholarship Fund, founded in 2001, offers small grants to young farmers to facilitate their attendance at the annual conference, is meant to inspire and support young farmers and help them fulfill their potential. Today, their sons, Will and Lucas, are taking on the mantle of the farm and the CSA operation. Succession planning to formalize the eventual transfer of the farm is one of the few things that the Brownbacks insist does not align with their “seat-of-the-pants” approach. The family is working to make sure that the transition from their leadership to that of their sons is a smooth one, and with good reason—the farm represents a life’s work of blood, sweat and tears, too. “We’re getting to the age where we’d both like to have more time to pursue ... other pursuits,” Terra says. “And it’s not seat-of-the-pants.”

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Peterson & ShANER Farms r a ndy sh a ner

Retail Value

Improvising on sales gets to the meat of the business by emily teel • photos by albert yee

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to the Manatawny Creek in Berks County is ideally suited for grassland, and even in Pennsylvania, grassland means cattle. Here Randy Shaner, his father, Bob Shaner, and his cousin, Chad Hoffman, raise grass-based, grain-finished 100 percent Angus cattle on 900 acres located in at the Peterson & Shaner Farms in Douglassville, PA Douglassville, Pennsylvania. he red shale soil sloping down

Approx. people served annually

150 customers Major products

Naturally raised black angus beef business model

Direct sales

2009

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The business, started by Robert Shaner Sr. (Bob’s father, Randy’s grandfather) and his business partner, Edward Peterson, is now in its third generation of operation. It’s the experience that accompanies that longevity that Randy thinks, in part, gave them the confidence to make a challenging business decision to try using an untested commerce model. When Randy was growing up, his family had a retail shop on the farm. After their cattle was processed and inspected at Smithfield Meats in Quakertown, Pennsylvania, they brought the

whole sides of beef back to the farm, where they butchered and sold the meat in their retail shop. But soon, they found themselves competing with pre-packaged grocery store beef, even if the two products weren’t comparable in quality. “We had a premium product, but we weren’t getting a premium price,” Randy says. “We started tracking costs and realized we were losing money in the retail store … especially in the summertime when we should be making hay,” he says. Eventually, this spurred the family to close the retail shop. “Your labor is worth money, too,” Randy adds. The shop’s closing prompted some customers to ask whether the farm could process animals one at a time and freeze the meat for them. “We had enough interest that, in ’93, we started doing freezer halves,” Randy says. A “half” is a side of beef, and the farm’s alternative to operating their shop was to sell their steers by the half and break down halves into portions for customers to store in their freezers, creating their “freezer halves” model. The farm still sends cattle to be processed and USDA inspected at the slaughterhouse, but it’s returned to their own refrigeration, where it’s dry-aged. A few times a month, customers visit the farm to purchase an entire side of beef—a forequarter, a hindquarter and the rib section, yielding between 350 and 450 pounds of meat—at once (though two to three families often divide up that quantity), for the hanging weight of about $2.55 per pound. About 60 percent of that total weight is what they take home once the bone and fat are removed, so the actual price per pound ends up being about $4. That means $4 per pound of ground beef, for prime rib and for filet. Even the most inexpensive grocery store beef can’t beat that price. On freezer-half day, a former meat cutter at a Genuardi’s supermarket helps with the butchering. Buying this much beef at once is a big expense, but families get a major price break from what a similar quantity of beef would cost at a supermarket; and because they’re face-to-face with their butcher, they can specify what cuts they want. The farm benefits, too. They only butcher cattle that they know they’ll be able to sell, and the direct-sale model is increasingly popular. “We did about 12 the first year, now we’re up to about 70,” Randy says. His father, Bob, is encouraged. “The opportunity in agriculture has never been better,” he says. “It’s such an exciting, positive time.”


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Salem Mountain FarmS sa m a nd br i a n fox

located in

Waymart, PA Approx. people served annually

2 summer farmers’ markets per week / 1 winter farmers market per week Major products

Garlic, Asparagus, Salad greens, carrots, beets, radishes, turnips business model

farmers markets, direct sales to customers And restaurants, Wholesale & CSA (beginning this year)

2002

was going to be a challenge. “We didn’t want to take on debt to start the farm,” says Sam, whose family includes three young children. “If I was by myself, or if it were just my wife and I, it would be different. But when you have a couple kids, you need to have the steady income.” Though Sam and his family live on a property down the road from the farm, he works a day job at a Walmart distribution center. When people ask why he doesn’t just “go farm,” he brings up the unpredictability aspect. “We could have a rainstorm and lose everything, and then what do I do?” In the meantime, Sam bides his time farming on weekends, hoping that at some point he’ll be able to focus on farming full-time. Brian, too, has worn two hats. From 2005 through 2007, for the first several seasons of their fledgling agricultural operation, he continued to work as a graphic designer in Washington, D.C. Every Thursday night during the season, he would drive 4.5 hours from the city to the farm. “Friday, Saturday and Sunday, we’d slam in 2,500 bales of hay, I’d jump in the car at 8 p.m., drive back to D.C. and recover at my desk job,” he says. In 2008, the brothers bought their beef cattle and Brian transitioned into full-time farming, although he still moonlights as a graphic designer in the off season. Brian and Sam are definitely still working long hours, nce

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Their Own Design Brothers change the blueprint of their family farm by emily teel • photos by albert yee

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were raised on a conventional dairy farm in Northeastern Pennsylvania, Brian Fox took a completely different career path before realizing that he’d rather be farming. Brian spent his days as a graphic designer in Washington, D.C., before delving full-time into tending vegetables and cultivating garlic. But ask him today what he thinks of swapping a desk job for this and it’s clear he made the right move: “I’d rather be this kind of worn-out.” hough he and his brother, Sam,

The brothers own Salem Mountain Farm in Waymart, Pennsylvania. Sam had always had the agricultural dream, but their parents ended the dairy operation in the 1970s. He and Brian knew that starting their own agricultural business, even if it was on the family land,

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So you wanna be a farmer... but they’ve made an investment in those early days that is now paying off. When they started, they began with planting a few hundred dollars’ worth of garlic, a crop that’s relatively low-maintenance, but has high value at harvest time. In the beginning, Brian says they didn’t have any way to sell it, so they just kept replanting it. “Within three years, we were planting 500 pounds,” he says. That multiplication of an initial investment has been a good one. Even if they sell three-quarters of their finished garlic to a wholesaler, the remaining seed garlic would cost them about $7,000 if they had to buy it now. Currently, they sell most of their garlic to a wholeasaler in New York, but they’re looking into the possibility of making a value-added product with it—possibly pickled garlic. Their lean, dynamic 115-acre farm also includes an array of vegetables, 40 acres of hay, grass-fed beef cattle, egg-laying hens and a few pigs. The brothers are still trying to hone in on their best business strategies. They do two farmers markets a week during the summer and one during the winter, and they’re toying with the idea of offering community supported agriculture (CSA) shares. The money they get for wholesaling the garlic gives them enough to keep farm operations going. “[But] we’re not

Before you bet the farm on buying the farm, consider this advice:

quite rich yet,” Brian says, laughing, adding that it’s not about the money. “You have to want to farm—honest to god, it is a vow of poverty,” he adds. “We’re not making tremendous money here, but we’re making enough to keep going. We’re pay-as-you-go, if we can’t pay for it now, we don’t do it.” Sam agrees that many new farmers convince themselves that they need more than they actually do. “[They’ll say] ‘If we only had a bigger tractor, we’d be able to make more money’ and that’s the lie that farmers get into.” (At Salem Mountain, the newest tractor is from 1976, and they paid cash for it just a few years ago.) Mostly, they’re trying to take the process one season at a time, and not get ahead of themselves. It’s a time of challenges, but also of possibility. “You have to be an optimist to be a farmer or to be an entrepreneur,” Brian says. “The farm will take every bit of work and money you throw into it. … I usually say that I want to quit at nighttime, but in the morning I say, ‘Let’s do this.’” Asked whether or not he misses the predictability of a day job, Brian laughs. “I miss the paycheck,” he says. “But I don’t miss taking anybody’s bull----, and the bull--- that I do deal with I can compost and put on the vegetables.”

Be flexible:

You may find that, once you begin your operation, your best laid plans need to be rethought. Keep your mind open about revenue streams you may not have considered.

Be financially smart: There are going to be circumstances that are out of your control, but budgeting can help prevent your plan from being derailed. “There’s a lot of hidden costs. … Count your costs every step of the way,” advises Randy Shaner of Peterson & Shaner Farms.

Value yourself:

Ben Wenk of Three Springs Fruit Farm says to compensate yourself for your time. “Your time is worth something,” he says. “If you are not budgeting for your time you’re going to be completely exhausted and penniless.”

Rest:

It’s not all work and no play. “Take your day off when you can, and cultivate another interest besides the farm,” says Terra Brownback of Spiral Path Farm.

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BUCK RUN FARM, COATESVILLE, PA

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Look for items labeled from around here to find products grown, raised or crafted within 100 miles (or so) as the crow flies.

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s d e e S e h t g n i w e S OF n o i t c u d o r P An Old City sewing studio nurtures budding stitchers beyond the basics

An Old City sewing studio nurtures budding stitchers beyond the basics

story by Molly O'Neill photos by Dustin Fenstermacher 18

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mid the hum of sewing machines and chatter of their operators, in a space nestled away from the sidewalk in Old City, a small-scale production movement is taking on steam. Âś MADE mid the hum of sewing machines and dio is a workshop, school and colStuchatter of their operators, in a space neslaborative space where emerging tled away from the sidewalk in Old City, a and advanced designers can give small-scale production movement is takshape and texture to their dreams. ing on steam. Âś MADE Studios is a workYoung fashionistas come to learn shop, school and collaborative space where emerging basic sewing. Suburban mothers take intermediate courses to and advanced designers can give shape and texture to refresh long-lost skills. Design school grads tackle advanced their dreams. Young fashionistas come to learn basic draping and corsetry not offered in their classes. sewing. Suburban mothers take intermediate courses to refresh long-lost skills. Design school grads tackle advanced draping and corsetry not offered in their classes.


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Rachel Ford, the founder of MADE Studios, wanted to create a community learning space.

Fashion intimidates, and that’s what I’m really trying to fight. I wanted this to be a place with a sense of community, collaboration— not competition.” —

Rachel Ford

Owner, MADE Studios

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The owner and self-described “mother hen” of it all is Rachel Ford, a 2004 Drexel University graduate who makes costumes for the Opera Company of Philadelphia. A devotee of draping, beading and all things couture, Ford also teaches Advanced Sewing and Fashion Design for Continuing Education at Moore College of Art. In 2006, she moved toward a career in costuming and education after an unfulfilling stint with Free People, one of the five brands in the Philadelphia-based Urban Outfitters retail empire. At the Urban Outfitters company, Ford says, “My job was emailing China and India all day,” sourcing fabrics and negotiating production logistics. There was no time for actual designing—that had to happen at night, at home. “I paid my dues that way,” Ford says. But before long, she yearned to handcraft beautiful pieces again. Ford found a job making costumes at the Arden Theatre, where she excelled in elaborate draping, beading and tailoring. Through her work there, she crossed paths with Richard St. Clair, costume director for the Opera Company of Philadelphia. St. Clair asked her to complete a difficult task: draping and sewing a gown in one day. Ford succeeded, and St. Clair hired her. Funding for the arts in Philadelphia, however, is never a sure thing. When the Opera was forced to scale back, Ford and the other designers scrambled to find freelance work. She began hosting sewing classes in her Old City loft, taking on four Moore graduates who were looking to advance their dressmaking skills. The students showcased their work at the monthly art event First Friday, which grew so popular that the landlord became concerned about the amount of foot traffic. “Something had to change,” Ford says. She began

scouting buildings in the neighborhood and noticed a vacancy right across the street. Friends and family arrived to lug sewing machines, cutting tables and plumbing-pipe shelving into the high-ceilinged, white-walled space. MADE opened its doors in November 2013 at 305 Cherry Street, outfitted with 10 sewing stations, two large cutting tables, several dress forms, an eclectic mix of fabrics and threads, and one well-fed orange cat. Although MADE’s classes were originally intended for more advanced designers, Ford has gradually introduced more foundational courses. Introductory Sewing, a sixweek course of three-hour classes, provides instruction on stitching, finishing and basic sewing machine operation. From there, students can move through Intermediate and Advanced Sewing classes, then strengthen their creative muscles with Patternmaking, Tailoring and Draping/Evening Wear. “Fashion intimidates, and that’s what I’m really trying to fight,” Ford says. “I wanted this to be a place with a sense of community, collaboration—not competition.” And while the students are benefitting from study with highly skilled sewing teachers (many of Ford’s instructors are Opera colleagues) the teachers are benefitting from a fair wage. “I believe in paying my teachers really well,” Ford says. “At the Opera, these people couldn’t find jobs. And they really are the best in the business.” Ford’s dedication to supporting the workforce extends far beyond her own studio. She recently began teaching Burmese women in South Philadelphia to sew. The program, part of the Philadelphia Burmese Women’s initiative, was launched in 2013 by social worker Jessica Lee, with funds from the Women’s Way Turning Point Prize.


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Places like MADE make the dream possible for designers like me.” —

Avi Loren Fox

Creator of the JANEY

“We intended to just run a pilot sewing class with 25 women,” Lee says. “However, there was a great deal of interest, so we decided to start with two sections of class.” She adds that there are currently 43 Burmese women enrolled, and because of the popularity, a third section, also taught by Ford, will A model wears the start in March. JANEY hood scarf, “In the first class, there were 50 created by Avi Loren Fox. women and 24 machines,” Ford says. “Nobody speaks English, and they speak two different types of Burmese, so we had to The JANEY project was right in line with Ford’s ideolhave two translators. And I’m very conversational, so I ogy. Fox wanted her garment to be made from natural, had to learn to be really concise, and do a lot of demon- recycled cotton and cashmere sweaters collected from strating. But these women, they were immediately pick- friends and thrift stores. She wanted beautiful, one-of-aing it up! I’m so beyond excited about what this could be.” kind pieces that would be with the buyer for years. And Ford, long a champion of local production, sees an she wanted to adhere to a triple-bottom-line model, which inkling of hope in this program for a new manufactur- calls for increasing social good and maintaining environing system. People, such as the Burmese women, who mental sustainability, while earning a profit. desperately need jobs but have limitations—language bar“I think it’s important to put the type of energy out riers, large families to care for and cultural mores that there that you want to receive back,” Fox says. She aspired keep them in the home—could do piecework from home. to find local producers who would respect her ethics, but Collars, cuffs and other pieces could be made separately, her company was too small for most manufacturers to take on as a client. Several different people pointed her collected within the community and sewed together. Is there a need here for such alternative production to Ford, and when they met, Fox says, “I was so amazed processes? Absolutely, according to Ford. “There are only at her immediate support.” three places to manufacture in Philly,” she says. “And they In keeping with the idea of a fair wage, Ford offered her won’t take small designers’ work because it’s too expen- students $15 per hour to produce the first run of JANEYS. And while several expressed interest, nobody showed up sive for them to do a small run.” But what about all those art school graduates looking for the job. Ford rolled up her sleeves and went to work for work? hand-cutting and sewing each piece herself. Less than “Everybody wants to be a designer,” Ford says. “No- three weeks later, 30 JANEYs were ready to find their body wants to sit here and sew.” She originally wanted to homes. offer small production jobs to her students so they could Today, JANEYs are made by several small indepenearn a reasonable wage while practicing their skills. So dent producers in Philadelphia. Labels are printed on when Avi Loren Fox came to MADE in 2013 looking for eco-friendly cotton by a small studio in Massachusetts, help producing her hood scarf, the JANEY, Ford jumped and the hang tags and Fox's business cards are printed on on board. 100 percent recycled, made-in-America paper at Philadel“Places like MADE make the dream possible for de- phia’s Casa Papel. And Ford has learned her lesson about signers like me,” Fox says. local manufacturing jobs.

Getting It on Paper

Local paper and design shop adds a finishing touch Often the final touches of any garment—the hang tag, for example—are afterthoughts, tacked on by someone who has no relationship with the designer. Not so with the JANEY, Avi Loren Fox's hood scarf. In October, Fox chose Casa Papel, a Northern Liberties design and specialty paper store, to create her business cards and hang tags, which are printed on 100 percent recycled, made-in-America paper. The shop is a full graphic design studio that specializes in small print runs, and sources paper from all

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over the world. Beyond creating hang tags for the JANEY, Casa Papel featured the hood scarf for its first pop-up shop on December 6, 2013, which corresponded with the Northern Liberties Holiday Shopping Spree. “We find complementary merchandise that we think our customers would enjoy, and we did that with her product," says owner and principal designer Cecilia Torres. —Sara Schwartz For more information, visit casapapel.com.

P hotos by Av i Loren Fox


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Deane Nanni is learning to create more difficult pieces at MADE Studios.

Philly has not only the space, but also the talent. There are tons of budding designers right here in the city, as well as abroad, looking to avoid the overly saturated boundaries and expenses of New York.” —

Alicia Walker

Handbag designer

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“The hurdle is going to be people wanting those jobs,” she says. “We have to do it in a way that’s noninvasive, and pay people enough to want to have those jobs. American workers need to be paid a certain living wage, and that is twice minimum wage.” She also thinks that “restoring a bit of cool factor” is a way to encourage people to return to a handcrafted mindset. “We’re very much back to an industrial revolution of sorts,” she says. Ford envisions a workshop that would facilitate learning and working—open space, natural light, collaborative energy. And, she adds, “It’s got to be a shift in quality. Right now, we have this need to buy a new thing every two weeks, instead of buying life pieces. And it’s going to take designers spending more and making less product.” Ford’s students are starting to see the light as well. Alicia Walker, a handbag designer, says there’s a future for fashion production in Philadelphia. “Philly has not only the space, but also the talent,” she says. “There are tons of budding designers right here in the city, as well as abroad, looking to avoid the overly saturated boundaries and expenses of New York.”

The studio's well-fed resident cat, dubbed "Little One"

Deane Nanni—whose knitwear and unisex style caught Ford's attention—started his fashion career hand-making pockets and sewing them onto shirts he bought on clearance at Marshalls, a national department store chain. Now he’s learning the techniques he needs to produce a full line. “I made a button-down from scratch in Advanced Sewing, and when I finished, it was a surreal moment,” he says, adding that he hopes Philadelphians can find a way to start producing their own goods. “I would love to be able to advertise [that] my brand was made in my own city. It wouldn’t get much better than that.” While Ford has big dreams for fashion in Philly, she’s pleased with what she’s created so far. Looking around MADE, she says, “I think the more people want to sew here, the more they don’t want to stop. I’m loving every day of it.” 


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feb

12

Reception with The Humane League: The Future of Food

The Humane League’s Philadelphia office is hosting a reception and cocktail hour to talk about its events and campaigns in 2014. Wine, soft drinks and appetizers will be provided. →→ Wed., Feb. 12, 6 - 8 p.m. $15. Real Food Works,

224 N Juniper Street. Space is limited, RSVP to Lydia@thehumaneleague.com .

feb

Starting Seeds Indoors Class

Learn how to plan and plant with a demonstration by master gardener Nelson Valentine. Discuss using lights to encourage plant growth. Also learn when and how to transplant seedlings outdoors.

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mar

→→ Thurs., Feb. 13, 6:30 p.m. Camden County

Environmental Center, 1301 Park Blvd., Cherry Hill, N.J. Pre-registration required. For more information and to register, call 856-216-7130, email njgarden@camdencounty.com or visit camden.njaes.rutgers.edu.

feb

The Center for Architecture will honor Ed Rendell with the 2014 Edmund N. Bacon Prize. The evening will also celebrate the winners of the 2014 Ed Bacon Student Urban Design Competition.

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Marie Crawford from Blue Bell Farms will teach a starter course on how to raise your backyard flock sustainably. Learn how to choose the right chicks, build a coop, and how to keep the chickens happy and healthy. She will bring a few members of her flock and the nursery will also be selling baby chicks this spring.

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Edmund Bacon Prize ceremony

Tending to Your Backyard Chickens

Society Art Salon Forum Benefiting Families Affected by Fracking

Prometheus Radio Project and BalletX dancer Colby Damon present the second Society Art Salon, a forum that features music, dance, film, theater, poetry and stories from local activist groups. All proceeds will be donated to the Shalefield Organizing Committee, helping to aid families that have been affected by fracking operations in Sullivan County.

→→ Sat., March. 1, 10 a.m. $10. Primex Garden

Center, 435 West Glenside Avenue Glenside, Pa. 19038. To register, call 215-887-7500.

→→ Tues., Feb. 18, 7 to 8:30 p.m. $15.

Pennsylvania Convention Center, 1101 Arch St., Room 114. To purchase tickets, visit philadelphiacfa.org/events .

feb

20

The American Way of Eating Author Delves in to Our Food System

Tracie McMillan, journalist and author of The American Way of Eating: Undercover at Walmart, Applebee’s, Farm Fields, and the Dinner Table, investigates our food system, from the field to kitchen, with Sponsored by the Feinstein Center for American Jewish Studies. →→ Thurs., Feb. 20, 3:30 p.m. Free and open

to the public. Paley Library Lecture Hall, Temple University, 1210 Polett Walk. For more information, visit whatisyourfoodworth.com .

PENCIL IT IN! For a full list of more calendar events, visit gridphilly.com

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→→ Fri., Feb. 21, 7:30 p.m. $20. The Gershman Y,

401 South Broad Street, second floor. For more information, email rcdamon@yahoo.com .

feb

Caring for Fruit Trees Class

feb

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Create Your Own Fairy and Miniature Garden

Learn how to care for your home orchard, including planting, pruning, and pest and disease prevention at a class taught by Anne Myers. Dress warmly for a hands-on pruning demonstration in the nursery.

Elizabeth Leo will demonstrate how to create a miniature garden with fairy-sized accessories. Cost includes all materials, including planting materials, garden dish, three miniature plants and two mini accessories. This class is open to children (and the young at heart).

→→ Sat., Feb. 22, 10 a.m. $10 fee includes $5 gift card.

→→ Sat., Feb. 22, 1 p.m. $40. Primex Garden Center,

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Primex Garden Center, 435 West Glenside Avenue Glenside, Pa. To register, call 215-887-7500.

feb

22

Learn How to Prune Ornamental Trees and Shrubs in the Winter

Primex Garden Center Nursery Manager Tom Horn will teach a class on how to prune ornamental trees and shrubs during the dormant winter months. Dress warmly for a hands-on pruning demonstration in our display gardens. →→ Sat., Feb. 22, 1 p.m. $10. Primex Garden Center, 435

West Glenside Avenue Glenside, Pa. To register, call 215-887-7500.

435 West Glenside Avenue, Glenside, Pa. To register, call 215-887-7500. RSVP required.

feb

Take Part in a Saturday Wellness Walk

Adults can participate in an invigorating, moderately paced walk along one of the Schuylkill Center for Environmental Education’s wider and more level trails.

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→→ Sat., Feb. 22, 2 p.m. Cost is free for members,

$5 for non-members. Schuylkill Center for Environmental Education, 8480 Hagy’s Mill Road. For more information, visit schuylkillcenter.org .

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feb

22

Free Lecture on the Benefits on Making Your Own Juice

Juice Girl Christine Patton will deliver a free lecture on which juices can detox, prevent hangovers, rejuvenate skin, boost your energy and immune system. →→ Sat., Feb. 22, 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Free.

Greensgrow Farm, 2501 East Cumberland St. For more information, visit greensgrow.org .

feb

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→→ Tues., Feb. 25, 7 to 8:30 p.m. Mariposa Food Co-

op, 4824 Baltimore Ave. Free and Limited space available, registration required. To register, email education@mariposa.coop .

Through this event, explore the tiny wonders in your own backyard. This event is

→→ Sat., Feb. 22, 9 a.m. to noon. Bucktoe Creek

Preserve, 432 Sharp Road, Avondale, Pa. Free, but registration required. To register, visit tlcforscc.org/community-read-2014 .

Volunteer Workshop

Those who run volunteer programs or host community events can attend a lecture by Brittany Campese on how to identify your target audience and use proper communication methods to get the word out about your program. Troubleshoot issues that you may have had in the past.

Explore the Wonders of Your Backyard

part of a series of events related to a community reading of Aldo Leopold’s A Sand County Almanac, which explores the themes of environmental conservation and community engagement.

feb

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The Hands that Feed: Jewish Perspectives on Food Workers

A panel will discuss food workers and recent efforts to secure fair wages and working conditions. Sponsored by the Feinstein Center for American Jewish Studies, the Jewish Farm School, Kol Tzedek and Fair Food Philly.

mar

A Look at Mollusks

Paul Callomon will discuss the collection of shells and mollusks of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia’s Malacology Collection

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→→ Mon., March 3, 6 to 9 p.m. Cost is $25 for

members, $30 for nonmembers. Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University, 1900 Benjamin Franklin Parkway. To register, call 215-299-1060.

mar

06

Learn About and Walk the Red Clay Greenway

Gwen Lacy, executive director of The Land Conservancy, and Tom Janton, from the Kennett Trails Alliance, will discuss walkable communities. Following the lecture, walk the Red Clay Greenway to see the growing trail connectivity in Kennett Square. →→ Thurs., March 6, 6:30 to 8 p.m. Bayard Taylor

→→ Wed., Feb. 26, 7 p.m. Free. Hosted at Cafe Olam at

the Impact Hub, 1227 North 4th Street. For more information, visit temple.edu/feinsteinctr .

Seed Starting Workshop

Library, 216 East State St., Kennett Square, Pa. Free. For more information and to register, visit tlcforscc.org/community-read-2014 .

At this hands-on workshop, learn how to grow plants from seed. Seed selection, seed starting materials, planting, watering, lighting, hardening off, and transplanting into the garden will also be discussed. Select and start about a dozen plants from a wide variety of seeds included. Attendees will also learn how to care for them at home.

Learn how to maintain your small fruit orchard. Anne Myers, who has years of experience from working on a family farm, will go over planting, pruning, and pest and disease prevention.

The 2013 tri-state sustainability symposium, hosted by Temple University Performing Arts Center and the Delaware Valley Green Building Council, brings together industry, university and community leaders to share best practices.

→→ Tues., Feb. 25, 10 a.m. Burlington County Lyceum

→→ Sat., March. 1, 10 a.m. $10. Primex Garden Center,

→→ Fri., March 7, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Cost is $60, $40 for

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of History and Natural Sciences, 307 High Street, Mt. Holly, N.J. $10, pre-registration required. To register, email burlcogardeners@gmail.com or call 609-291-1382.

mar 01

Learn How to Care for a Small Fruit Orchard

435 West Glenside Avenue Glenside, Pa. To register, call 215-887-7500. For more information, visit primexgardencenter.com .

mar

Sustainability Symposium

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Joel Salatin, a full-time farmer in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley, is featured in American Meat.

mar

Vine Day at George Lorimer Preserve

Volunteer with the Open Land Conservancy to tackle the invasive vegetation that limits development of the tree canopy layer at the George Lorimer Preserve. Come prepared wearing protective clothing, gloves and, if you have them, armed with tools such as loppers, pruners and hand saws.

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→→ Sat., March 8, 9 a.m. to noon. George Lorimer

Preserve, 1812 Hawkweed Way, Malvern, Pa. For more information and directions, contact Ray Clarke at 610-578-0358 or visit openlandconservancy.org .

mar

Preserving Tree Canopies Symposium

Despite outbreaks of insects and diseases in certain tree species, there are success stories of replanting, managing and sustaining the tree canopy. Model programs with demonstrated success against some of the known pathogens affecting trees such as elm, ash and London plane will be addressed in this day-long symposium. The symposium will cover how Pennsylvania State University manages its tree canopy and how to prune to avoid spreading canker stain disease in London planetrees, among other topics.

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→→ Tues., March 11, 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Stokes

Hall, Haverford College, 370 Lancaster Avenue Haverford, Pa. 19041. Cost is $125, which includes lunch. To register, visit online.morrisarboretum. org/canopy or call 215-247-5777 ext. 125.

mar

Ikebana demonstration

A demonstration on Ikebana, the Japanese tradition of flower arranging, will be taught by Anna Nakada, a master of the Ichiyo School of Ikebana, at the monthly Horticultural Society of South Jersey meeting.

11

mar 11

Sustainability Expo and Film Series at Pennypack Farm Pennypack Farm & Education Center continues their fifth annual sustainability expo and film screening with American Meat, a documentary that looks at an alternative agricultural model for chicken, hog and cattle production.

→→ Tues., March 11, 6 to 10 p.m. Ambler Theater, 108 E Butler Avenue, Ambler, Pa. $10. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit amblertheater.org/pennypack .

mar

Intro to Orchids

This introductory class taught by Margie Robins is an overview of basic orchid growing techniques for beginners and will cover watering, fertilizing, light requirements, repotting, and methods to encourage re-blooming. Students may bring an orchid to class for a consultation.

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→→ Sat., March 15, 10 a.m. $10. Primex Garden Center,

435 West Glenside Avenue Glenside, Pa. 19038. To register, call 215-887-7500.

mar

Urban Sustainability Conference

This year’s urban sustainability conference will focus on the theme, Sustainability: Emerging Trends, Emerging Jobs.

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→→ Tues., March 18, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saint Joseph Hall, →→ Tues., March 11, 7 p.m. Carmen Tilelli Community

Center, 820 Mercer Street, Cherry Hill, N.J. 08002. Free. For more information visit: HSSJ.org .

mar

Friends and Family Safari Overnight

Bring your 7- to 14-year-old children to enjoy a night of interactive activities and encounters with live animals. Sleep next to the lions, tigers or Tyrannosaurus rex.

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→→ Fri., March 14, 6:30 p.m. Cost is $40 for members,

$45 for non-members. Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University, 1900 Benjamin Franklin Parkway 19103. For more information and to register, call: 215-299-1060.

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Chestnut Hill College, 9601 Germantown Avenue. For more information and to register, contact Sister Mary Elizabeth Clark at 215-248-7289 or mclark@chc.edu.

mar

Backyard Beekeeping

Learn about the state of beekeeping in South Jersey, discover what is involved with being a beekeeper. The program is presented by Rutgers Master Gardener Association of Camden County.

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→→ Thurs., March 20, 6:30 p.m. Camden County

Environmental Center, 1301 Park Boulevard, Cherry Hill, N.J. 08002. $10. Pre-registration required. For more information, call 856-216-7130 or email njgarden@camdencounty.com .

mar

Bucktoe Restoration Hike

Get a behind the scenes look at how the preserve came to be and what’s in store for Bucktoe’s future as an environmental education hub. This event is part of a series of events related to a community reading of Aldo Leopold’s A Sand County Almanac, which explores the themes of environmental conservation, land stewardship and community engagement.

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→→ Sat., March 22, 9 a.m. to noon. Bucktoe Creek

Preserve, 432 Sharp Road, Avondale, Pa. Free. For more information and to register, visit tlcforscc.org/ community-read-2014.

mar

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Leveraging Private and Public Dollars for Lasting Impact

Reading, Pennsylvania, mayor Thomas McMahon and community developers from across the region will discuss how a leveraged private investment is leading to a transformation of one of the city’s poorest neighborhoods centered around the redevelopment of a 200,000 plus square foot state of the art cultural center, GoggleWorks. →→ Wed., March 26. 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Cost includes

lunch and travel and is $50 for members of the Philadelphia Association of Community Development Corporations, $75 for non-member. Bus leaves from Broad and Walnut Streets at 8:30 a.m. for Goggleworks, 201 Washington Street Reading, Pa. 19601.


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Chards of Conversation

A chance encounter with former farmers spurs a community garden in Philadelphia with an international appeal by adam forbes

I

t all started after overhearing a conversation in Nepali. The Bhutanese couple behind me on the bus was talking about their first days in America. I had learned bits of the language years ago when I worked on organic farms in Nepal after high school, so I turned around and said, “Namaste.” Almost immediately they asked what I did, begging me to help them find a way to get their hands back in the dirt. Many of the Burmese and Bhutanese refugees who live in Philadelphia come from a long history of subsistence farming that ended when violence forced them from their homes. Despite years of challenges, farming is still a part of who they are, and they speak with intense pride about their lost farms. It was a chance encounter that reflected my life’s passion. Having grown up in suburban New Jersey, my history of farming is much different, but I was drawn to the hard work since I was young. My first day of real farming came in high school, when I pounded fence posts that surrounded acres of Jersey tomatoes. My hands bled with blisters, but I was hooked. Throughout college, I studied sustainable agriculture, and devoted myself to farming and community gardening. I wrote my thesis on the loss of genetic diversity in seeds, and on a post-college fellowship, I studied the preservation of heirloom varieties around the

world. I went to eight countries, visiting remote regions to farm alongside some of the greatest seed-savers left. I became a passionate part of the quiet revolution to preserve history and ensure sustainable farming in the future. That conversation with the couple on the bus spurred so much more. I began eating at their home, volunteering with the Nationalities Service Center (NSC) and biking around South Philadelphia to find land for an urban garden. After countless meetings with city agencies, we gained access to a plot that was central in the neighborhood. While contentedly staring at it, a Burmese woman showed me seeds she had brought with her through multiple refugee camps on the arduous journey from her homeland—one of the few possessions she had managed to keep. To encourage the seeds to grow, we rented greenhouse space. Many of the seeds were infertile, but some grew. And all of the stories and memories carried with those seeds thrive today in our gardens and murals. Now, three years after meeting that couple on the bus, more than 95 families garden in our urban plots. Although the Bhutanese couple moved to another state, as a whole, we’ve come a long way from that first season of challenges. On a particularly cool October night, I drove up to the NSC’s Growing Home Community Gardens, and

saw at least eight Burmese families and 10 Nepali elders watering and harvesting mustard greens, cilantro and lettuce in the raised beds. The families are a vibrant part of the neighborhood. They painted murals, formed churches, started a Nepali store and made friends with diverse neighbors. Some struggled and left the gardens as they become overburdened with the stresses of an American life. And while mustard greens may not solve all the woes of a refugee community, I know our days of shared meals and bountiful harvests have helped many to transition and feel rooted. As their children go off to college, I see a bright future. Doctors, nurses and leaders emerge, and I am certain they will bring fleeting memories of this garden with them. Like their parents, who brought memories of their farms in mountainside villages, they have embraced the lives they live in America. And to think that all of this was the result of a shared passion for farming and a chard of a conversation. But growing food tends to do that. adam forbes is a teacher with the PA Migrant Education Program and garden organizer with the Nationalities Service Center’s Growing Home Community Gardens. He has worked with Bhutanese and Burmese refugee communities in Philadelphia for four years in various capacities.

Each month, Dispatch features personal reflections on adventures in sustainability. Have a story you’d like to share? E-mail getinvolved@gridphilly.com

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illustrati o n by ki rsten ha rpe r


a winning combination

When sports and sustainability team up.

Dan Schupsky Master of Environmental Studies ‘14, University of Pennsylvania To learn more about how MES students are inventing creative solutions to sustainability challenges in their community, visit www.upenn.edu/grid

Staff from Penn’s MES Program are here to answer your questions face-to-face on the second Wednesday of each month and every Wednesday in March. Walk right in.

Dan Schupsky, Assistant Swim Coach at the University of Pennsylvania, had been a passionate advocate of the environment in his earlier career as a high school science teacher. However, he’d never linked green issues and his coaching work – until he started his studies at Penn’s Master of Environmental Studies program. “A little lightning bolt went off!” Dan says. “I envisioned an eco-rep program, in which student athletes on each team would lead student-based projects to make our sports teams more sustainable.” Dan’s idea found enthusiastic support both in the MES program and in the University as a whole. Dan’s MES advisor encouraged him to pursue it as an independent study project. He worked alongside Penn’s Environmental Sustainability Director, Dan Garofalo to develop his idea further and Penn Athletics warmly welcomed the new program. Last year, 12 eco-reps on 11 different teams worked to improve recycling in locker rooms, at games, and on the road. Next up: greening the Penn Relays. For his capstone project, Dan is replicating the model at other schools in the state. “You can make sustainability work anywhere,” Dan says, “and I’m lucky that MES gave me the support and creative freedom to prove it.”

www.upenn.edu/grid

www.upenn.edu/grid

www.facebook.com/UPennEES

@PENN_EES

Grid Magazine March 2014 [#059]  

Common Threads: MADE Studios empowers Philadelphia's dreamers, doers and makers to design their own path one stitch at a time