Grid Magazine January 2015 [#069]

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North Philadelphia’s groundbreaking housing project and the community organization that made it happen










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08 No, Thank You: Corporate interests and aligned politicians look to build an “energy hub” in Philadelphia 10 Man of Many Talents: Volunteer handyman and grant writer brings skills to East Kensington’s Emerald Street Urban Farm


Cool It: Blue Cross RiverRink Winterfest creates a winter wonderland in Philadelphia

12 Fixer Upper: Kensington’s Philly Fixers Guild works to keep broken items out of the landfill 14 Comfort Food: Nourishing meals for short days 16 For Keeps: At Spruce Hill Preserves, Molly Haendler concocts delectable jams and jellies


18 Big Apple: Common Market uses a federal Farm to School grant to bring the bounty of sustainable local orchards to 30 local schools. 20 Love Skinks: Pier 53 could be host to a rare lizard not previously seen living in Philadelphia for decades 38 Mix and Match: North Star Orchard creates new fruit and vegetable varities from old mainstays 40 Events: Learn to make a bow or to sew and everything in between. 46 Dispatch: A woman dedicates a year to live as sustainably as possible

23 Tall Order: The Living Building Challenge leads to buildings that restore nature 32 Marking a Mark: Philadelphia’s 2014 energy benchmarking report for commercial buildings shows exciting results 34 Pay Dirt: Laurel Valley Soils creates the ground floor of green building

Green Scene

26 ↑

A new development in North Philadelphia shows that affordable, green housing proves the two can go hand in hand



17 Hop City: Old City’s newest pub brings brewing back to its roots

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A Zero Sum Game


Alex Mulcahy 215.625.9850 ext. 102

When green housing is done right, everybody wins


hat doe s green housing really like look like? A recent article in The New York Times titled “Exhausted by a House That Saves Energy”— with the alarming subtitle “Was It Too Soon to Be Sustainable?”—paints what might be a familiar portrait of environmentalists. The story is about the Brattstroms, an older but vibrant Caucasian couple living in Vermont who in their 70s decided they wanted to build a “net-zero” house, meaning it would create at least as much energy as it uses. Certainly that’s a noble goal, but they refused to “scrimp on luxury or size.” So, they spent between $500,000 and $600,000—on materials only, as they provided much of the labor themselves—and built a 5,000 squarefoot home complete with an indoor swimming pool. The home, infused with a smorgasbord of green technologies, requires significant maintenance, including the daily manipulation of 56 insulating interior shades. What the Brattstroms have created straddles the line between marvelous and monstrous. Their creativity, passion and commitment are laudable, but building a new, net-zero compound in the woods of Vermont misses the point. We don’t all have that much money, and even if we did, we only have one earth. There just isn’t enough land or resources to accommodate this version of a sustainable lifestyle. That’s why Grid is so proud to put a project like North Philadelphia’s Paseo Verde on the cover. It’s a mixed-use, mixed-income, highly energy-efficient housing project in a dense, urban community with easy access to public transportation. It also looks really cool. There were many partners in this project—it couldn’t have happened without the cooperation of the private and public sectors—but the project was spearheaded by the Asociación Puertorriqueños en Marcha (APM). This group, which was founded by several Puerto Rican veterans upon returning from the Vietnam War, was created to provide solutions to help their community at home.

managing editor

Sara Schwartz 215.625.9850 ext. 103 acting art director

Jamie Leary distribution / ad sales

Jesse Kerns 215.625.9850 ext. 100 Drew Brightbill 215.625.9850 ext. 114 copy editor

Andrew Bonazelli writers

In a city like Philadelphia, with such staggering poverty rates, one of the needs facing our community at large is affordable housing. In their 40-plus years, APM has been very successful in this arena, and each project they undertake has gotten progressively greener. The bottom line is this: As impressive as a net-zero home may be, we need sustainable housing for everyone. It can’t be a niche market serving the affluent and concerned—a subset of an already small group. Paseo Verde shows what is possible: affordable housing designed to respect the community, the environment and the people who live within it.

Alon Abramson Bernard Brown Gretchen Dahlkemper Dan Eldridge Naomi Huober Emma Jacobs Justin Klugh Megan Matuzak Brian Rademaekers Emily Teel Alex Tewfik interns

Francis Dumlao Jenine Pilla photographers

Jen Britton Stephen Dyer Jared Gruenwald illustrators

alex j. mulcahy, Publisher

James Heimer Mike Jackson Melissa McFeeters director of operations and strategic partnerships

Heather Shayne Blakeslee published by

Red Flag Media 1032 Arch Street, 3rd Floor Philadelphia, PA 19107 215.625.9850 G R I D P H I L LY . C O M




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A Crude Plan

A proposed “energy hub” threatens the air we breathe by gretchen dahlkemper


n november, Philadelphia residents voted to make the Mayor’s Office of Sustainability permanent. Indeed, the image of Philadelphia as the “greenest city in America” is attracting a variety of people to the region. Millennials are moving into Philadelphia in record numbers. And while other cities across the Commonwealth are suffering from “brain-drain,” Philadelphia is attracting new businesses, families are investing in blighted neighborhoods and suffering schools, and the entrepreneurial spirit of young professionals is driving a transformation of the city from East Passyunk to Kensington. But the moneyed power behind Philadelphia’s fossil fuel industry—including Phil Rinaldi, CEO of Philadelphia Energy Solutions, Rep. Bob Brady, and the CEO Council for Growth, which touts itself as leaders commited “to enhancing economic growth and prosperity”—is trying to keep our city firmly rooted in the past. As reported in the October 2014 issue of Philadelphia Magazine, the Philadelphia Energy Action Team, organized by Rinaldi and the CEO Council for Growth, hopes to build an “energy hub” by increasing the transmission of crude oil from North Dakota, fracked gas from Pennsylvania and New York, natural gas from the Gulf Coast, and crude oil from West Africa into the heart of Philadelphia. This plan to increase transmission of fossil fuels threefold would be used as the feedstock of the petrochemical industry and for the export of liquefied natural gas overseas. What is a petrochemical industry? It includes, but is not limited to, heavy manufacturing of plastics, fertilizer, industrial chemicals, steel mills, larger oil refineries, and the increased air, water and noise pollution that comes along with them. This is not the vision of a clean, vibrant and healthy city that Philadelphia is currently selling. The term “energy hub” creates an image of a bustling metropolis, low-cost fuels and money flowing into the region, but the reality is anything but. Dry natural gas, the desired product from northeast Pennsylvania and future New York state fracking operations, is the feedstock of the petrochemical, fertilizer and plastic manufacturing industries. 8


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While proponents of the “energy hub” laud the economic benefits, they ignore the costs incurred by the community. When heavy industry is expanded in the middle of the city, urban air pollution will increase. More smog and soot in the air will likely result in more frequent asthma attacks, heart attacks, premature death, increased respiratory infections, reduced birth weight and premature birth. For the climate, this proposal is devastating. Increases in oil and gas operations will drive up greenhouse gas emissions at a time when the United States is forging international agreements to cut our greenhouse gas emissions. In 2007, Mayor Nutter pledged to make Philadelphia the Greenest City in America. His Greenworks plan is a comprehensive and aggressive agenda to reduce energy consumption, limit greenhouse gas emissions, improve air quality, create and maintain green space and community access to parks, and increase the size of the regional green economy. The 2014 Greenworks progress report assesses that 160 of the 164 initiatives laid out by the Office of Sustainability are completed or underway. In addition, the report acknowledged that one big obstacle to achieving the Greenworks goals is the very real threat that a chaotic climate poses to the region. This vision of America’s next “energy hub” is the game changer for our region being heralded by the Chamber of Commerce’s CEO, Council for Growth, Philadelphia Energy Solutions and some of the area’s most influential politicians. But what

does it mean for the millennial moving to our city, for the family investing in the neighborhood public school, or for the families who have called the area home for generations? What does it mean for climate change, a threat that can only be solved by unprecedented cooperation between politics, business and communities? The city of Philadelphia is at a crossroads. Do we want to identify as a livable, healthy, vibrant and entrepreneurial region, and attract the industry of the future—or do we want to invest in the dirty industry of the past, where few reap benefits while the community breathes polluted air? In order for Philadelphia to be a truly sustainable city, and an economic leader in the future, it must reject the false promise of the “energy hub.” Groups such as Moms Clean Air Force have come together to form the People’s Energy Action Team (PEAT). Beginning in January of 2015, PEAT will be hosting a series of balanced public forums to discuss the “energy hub” and its implications—both positive and negative—for the city. Unlike the meetings being held by the CEO Council of Growth’s Energy Action Team, these meetings will be free and open to all who are interested in discussing Philadelphia’s economic future. For more information, visit gretchen dahlkemper is the National Field Manager for Moms Clean Air Force, a group of over 400,000 parents working to protect their children’s right to breathe clean air. IL LUSTRATIO N BY JAMES HEI MER

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Farmhand Handyman Jack-of-all-trades brings skills to East Kensington’s Emerald Street Urban Farm by jenine pilla the neighborhood, and by promoting the Clean Up and Green Space Committees that work to protect and maintain the local parks. This past spring, the farm received a $1,000 grant from the association to support the farm and their youth programming. “ESUF has given so much to the East Kensington neighborhood, all on a shoestring budget, and we felt it was time to give back,” Dych says in an email. Thompsonowak also wrote an application on Bryan Thompsonowak says volunteering at the Emerald Street Urban Farm has made him more invested in the neighborhood.



As part of the National Bike Challenge, a free nationwide event that encourages people to bike for transportation and recreation, Communities in Motion foundation bicyclists recorded 243,335 miles. Cyclists rode an average of 37 days through the challenge, which ran from May 1 to Sept. 30. Communities in Motion is a foundation of GVF TMA, a transportation management association, and its mission to build awareness and support for efficient and sustainable transportation in southeastern Pennsylvania through education and community outreach.




In November, Joe and Mark Jaconski, owners of Stanley’s True Value Hardware, were honored by the Philadelphia Water Department as the first Stormwater Pioneers. The program recognizes the best in stormwater management on private property. When the brothers rebuilt their property at 5555 Ridge Avenue, they worked with stormwater design team Ruggerio Plante Land Design, which was also recognized by the PWD. The site design includes two underground infiltration basins to capture runoff and store it for slow release. Above ground, a rain garden with a special soil mix promotes infiltration and plant growth.


The Pennsylvania Horticultural Society’s PHS Awards Celebration in November honored institutions and individuals for their devotion to achieving PHS goals, including Weavers Way and W.B. Saul High School of Agricultural Sciences, which were awarded the PHS Certificates of Merit. Weavers Way helped PHS start the City Harvest Growers Alliance and was instrumental in obtaining a U.S. Department of Agriculture grant for the program. Saul, a magnet school focused on agricultural subjects, has exhibited in the Philadelphia Flower Show for more than 40 years.



When Bryan Thompsonowak, 37, was young, his father, a EVERYDAY bricklayer and “all-around HERO handyman-type of a guy,” taught him to not be afraid of trying new things. He applied that lesson when he tackled the construction of a three-bin compost system and a rainwater catchment system at Emerald Street Urban Farm in East Kensington. The farm’s managers Nic and Elisa Esposito needed to expand their volunteer base because they were expecting their first child. That’s when Thompsonowak stepped up, volunteering on Mondays from May to October. “It’s nice to have a project close to home, and it’s not just the work; it’s the people that you’re there volunteering with,” says Thompsonowak, whose last name is a result of combining his and his wife Sharon Nowak’s last name. Founded in 2009 by Elisa Esposito and the former farm director of Marathon Farms, Patrick Dunn, ESUF reclaimed and transformed five vacant lots in East Kensington. The farm, which sits a few doors down from his home, offers produce through a weekly donation-based farmstand and several pick-your-own community garden plots. The core group of about a dozen volunteers also runs an outreach and education program. The East Kensington Neighbors Association has worked closely with ESUF and various other organizations, such as the Kensington Community Food Co-Op and Hackett Elementary School, to improve the East Kensington neighborhood. President Clare Dych helps lead the various sectors of EKNA in addressing the concerns and actions of the community by hosting monthly meetings to discuss zoning and planning within

behalf of ESUF for a grant provided by the Stanley Smith Horticultural Trust given to nonprofits that further the field of ornamental horticulture through education and research. Esposito was blown away: “This went beyond the commitment of coming out every Monday. If we get the grant, it will be a huge game-changer for us.” This winter, Thompsonowak, who’s also a graduate student of the Longwood Graduate Program in Public Horticulture, will continue the program through the University of Delaware with hopes of advancing his career within public gardens. But he won’t be too far from the farm. “Volunteering at the farm has made me more invested in the neighborhood,” Thompsonowak says. “Being a part of something that is 100 percent good for the neighborhood is great.”


Blue Cross RiverRink Winterfest 101 S. Columbus Blvd. Open through March 1

Market St. at Columbus Blvd. Hours vary; see website

Play It Cool Embrace the brisk weather by visiting the Delaware River Waterfront for the Blue Cross RiverRink Winterfest. The winter respite touts thousands of lights, great food and drinks, comfy rockers and couches, games and more. Building off of the success of the Spruce Street Harbor Park, the Delaware River Waterfront Corporation worked with Philadelphia partners Garces Group, Groundswell Design Group, and Art Star Gallery & Boutique to transform Penn’s Landing into a seasonal riverfront park. The centerpiece is the Blue Cross RiverRink, a 21-year-old outdoor ice-skating rink that offers public skating sessions, season-long special events, and skate rentals and sharpening. Surrounding the rink will be a winter garden and forest created by David Fierabend of Groundswell Design Group. Using locally sourced recycled shipping containers, hundreds of holiday trees and shrubs, woodchips, rustic furniture, market lights and fire pits, DRWC and Fierabend created an immersive holiday landscape that complements the majestic views of the Delaware River and Ben Franklin Bridge. Winterfest will also be home to a new light show, featuring the dancing lights from Spruce Street Harbor Park, reset and coordinated to play two shows on the hour and half-hour, starting at dusk. For a complete list of events and hours, visit


JAN UARY 20 15



COMMUNITY Philly Fixers Guild co-founder Holly Logan and founder Ben Davis created a long-term repair group to teach people how to fix their own broken items.


Kensington's Philly Fixers Guild works to keep broken items out of the landfill story and photos by megan matuzak




hat formerly dependable but now inoperable vacuum cleaner doesn’t have to go to the landfill, and neither does that broken necklace or anything else you have that doesn’t quite work. In Kensington, a determined pair is working to repair those items, and to teach others to do the same. ¶ Philly Fixers Guild founder Ben Davis and co-founder Holly Logan met in 2012 while on the steering committee for Sustainable 19125 & 19134, a nonprofit in the Fishtown, Port Richmond and East Kensington neighborhoods that aims to create the greenest zip codes in the city. After Davis, a commercial airline pilot, read a 2013 article in Wired about repair cafes on the West Coast, he started fixing broken items in his neighborhood, and Logan joined shortly thereafter. With some financial and moral support from Sustainable 19125 & 19134, and another local nonprofit, New Kensington Community Development Corporation (NKCDC), Philly Fixers Guild was established in November 2013. “I just thought, ‘why don’t we have one in Philly?’ So, we made it ourselves.” Davis says. Logan, a Kensington Community Food Co-op board

member and volunteer, adds: “Ben and I looked more into reducing the waste that was happening in the first place, like the mantra that we all grow up with: reduce, reuse, recycle.” Around the same time PFG got started, a Repair Cafe in Northwest Philadelphia was happening, although Davis says he had no idea there were other people trying to host repair events. But for Davis and Logan, the more the merrier— they both say they would like to see Repair Fairs and Repair Cafes pop up all over the city, and have a broader goal for the group.

Alex Whitchurch, a volunteer fixer, works on a broken item at a Philly Fixers Guild event in September.

“We want to turn PFG into multiple opportunities to engage with the community, whether that is through Repair Fairs or potentially through workshops,” Logan says. Serving neighbors in the area who have limited options for broken items is another goal, according to Davis. “I think in our community, our version of a repair organization in [the] Fishtown/Kensington area, is going to be more like something that somebody just can’t afford to buy a new fan.” The Philly Fixers Guild does not have brickand-mortar home base, but wants to host several Repair Fairs a year around the neighborhood, where volunteers evaluate and try to fix broken items. This past September, 12 fixers, a Guild vol-

Out of 35 items brought in, including a 1940s record player, a leaf blower and clothing that needed stitching, 18 items were fixed—a good first run according to Davis and Logan.

unteer, and Logan and Davis greeted 45 guests at the Sculpture Gym in Fishtown. The PFG Repair Fairs will be hosted throughout Kensington and Fishtown. Out of 35 items brought in, including a 1940s record player, a leaf blower and clothing that needed stitching, 18 items were fixed—a good first run according to Davis and Logan. Nick Stellato, a volunteer electronic fixer was surprised that people didn’t just want their items fixed—they wanted to learn how things worked, too. “It was really cool to see so many people interested in the mechanical wonders that they had, rather than, ‘just make it go,’” Stellato says. For their second Repair Fair in late November, PFG’s numbers increased and kids ages 10 to 12 got involved as “apprentices” coming with wires, sockets plugs and test bulbs. Approximately 85 people from the Philadelphia area, including Deptford Township in New Jersey, came through the door, to find 16 fixers waiting. Out the approximately 50 items brought in, 30 of them were fixed, including eight dining room chairs a family couldn’t afford to fix before Thanksgiving. Both Davis and Logan agree that the most instrumental function of the Repair Fairs is the interaction between fixer and guest. The guests and the fixers sit elbow to elbow as the broken item is evaluated. With each step, guests learn how the item works and how to repair it. “If we can teach them those sort of basics, maybe they’ll start to be able to repair their own things on their own and eventually not even need us,” Davis says. “That would be the ultimate success.”


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Flatbreads are great for an easy dinner on—or off—the grill. 14


Beans & Greens Stew; Savory Muffins with Prosciutto; Leek and Cheddar; and Vanilla-Roasted Winter Fruit are all nourishing and satisfying dishes perfect for a chilly January.

Warm-Up Winter Nourishing meals for short days

story and photo by emily teel


anuary can be cruel. The days are short and cold, and the contrast between the overindulgence of the holiday season and January’s asceticism always feels, to me, like a shock to the system. Instead of subjecting ourselves solely to salads in an effort to keep unrealistic resolutions, let’s use January instead as an opportunity, a chance to slow down, take care, and feed ourselves things that are nourishing and satisfying. Dishes like this simple soup that combines nutritional powerhouses legumes and leafy greens. Topped with meaty sun-dried tomatoes, a drizzle of good olive oil and a shower of cheese, it is resolutely healthy and deeply warming. Serve it with savory muffins—nutty from corn flour and rich from a little cured ham and cheese. For dessert, roasted fruit, flecked with vanilla, as good with whipped cream as without. emily teel is a food freelancer dedicated to sustainable, delicious food in Philadelphia. See more of her work at .

Beans & Greens Stew Active time: 1 hour, including vegetable prep. Serves 4. 2 bunches kale (curly, lacinato or a combination), stemmed and chopped into bite-sized pieces 1 large yellow onion, diced fine 2 carrots, diced fine 1 small bulb fennel, or 1/3 of a large one, diced fine 2 to 3 large cloves garlic, minced ½ teaspoon dried chili flakes (optional) ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil, with additional for serving 1 can chickpeas, drained 2 quarts rich stock Black pepper Salt 4 sun-dried tomatoes, julienned Pecorino, grated

In a large pot, heat 1/4 cup olive oil over medium high heat until shimmering. Add carrot, onion, fennel and a hearty pinch of both salt and black pepper. Cook vegetables, stirring periodically, until just beginning to brown and onion appears translucent, about 10 minutes.

Add garlic and chili flakes and stir to combine. Add stock and bring mixture to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and add chickpeas and kale, stirring to combine. Simmer 5 minutes more until kale is wilted and bright green. Taste and adjust salt and pepper as necessary. To serve, ladle into bowls and top each with a sprinkle of grated pecorino, a few ribbons of sundered tomato, and a drizzle of olive oil.

Savory Muffins with Prosciutto, Leek and Cheddar Active time: 20 minutes, total time: 45 minutes. Yields: 1 dozen muffins.. 1½ cup (200 grams) corn flour ½ cup unbleached all-purpose flour (or gluten-free alternative) 2 teaspoons baking powder ½ teaspoon baking soda 1½ teaspoons salt ¼ teaspoon chili powder ¼ teaspoon ground cayenne pepper

2 eggs 1½ cup buttermilk 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled 2 tablespoons maple syrup 1 leek (or 3 scallions), white and light green parts only, thinly sliced 1 cup grated cheddar (or any firm, sharply-flavored cheese) 6 ounces prosciutto, sliced thinly

Heat oven to 375ºF and line each cup of a 12-cup muffin tin with thinly sliced prosciutto, draping some over top of each cup. Combine corn flour, all-purpose flour, baking powder, baking soda, chili powder, cayenne and salt in a large bowl, and whisk well. In another bowl, beat eggs lightly. Add buttermilk, maple syrup, and melted butter, and whisk to combine. Stir wet ingredients into dry until just combined and fold in leeks and cheese, reserving 1/4 cup. Divide batter into ham-lined muffin cups and top each with a pinch of remaining cheese. Bake 25 to 30 minutes, until a toothpick

inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean. Allow to cool completely in muffin tin. Use an offset spatula or a butter knife to remove.

Vanilla-Roasted Winter Fruit Active time: 50 minutes. Serves 4. 4 Bosc pears, cored and sliced into wedges 3 apples, any variety, cored and sliced into wedges 1 pint (2 cups) cranberries, fresh or frozen 2 vanilla beans cup sugar ¼ teaspoon salt

Heat oven to 400ºF. Take vanilla beans and, using the back of a knife, scrape out seeds. In a small bowl, combine vanilla seeds, pods and sugar. Rub together until vanilla seeds are evenly distributed throughout sugar. In a large bowl, combine apples, cranberries, and pears. Sprinkle vanilla sugar and salt over top, and toss well to combine. Pour fruit into a single layer on a sheet pan and roast, uncovered. After 10 to 15 minutes, the fruit will release liquid. Continue to roast until liquid has evaporated and caramelized, about 30 minutes altogether. Allow to cool to room temperature and serve as-is, or spooned over unsweetened whipped cream. JAN UARY 20 15



Fruits of Her Labor

At Spruce Hill Preserves, Molly Haendler concocts delectable jams and jellies by alex tewfik


or a while, Spruce Hill Preserves carried itself like some sort of jam and jelly speakeasy, selling jams, jellies, fruit butters and preserves without any licenses, from Molly Haendler’s small kitchen in West Philadelphia. There, she sold her flavorful fruit concoctions under-the-table to family and friends, and then subsequently, to the friends and family of her family and friends, and so on, and so forth. Soon, word of mouth had built her a serious following. “People were telling me they had to go out and get another loaf of bread because it was so good they couldn’t stop eating it,” Haendler says. “People were approaching me.” So once Haendler hit the 300-jar count in March of 2014, she decided to make it official. She took the name from her neighborhood and got the necessary licenses. And she moved production to West Philadelphia’s Center for Culinary Enterprises, a commercial kitchen space and business incubator made available to the local budding food entrepreneurs of Philadelphia. For sourcing, Haendler buys from Beechwood Orchards in Biglerville, Pennsylvania, purchasing in-season fruits to make a better tasting product. “I like Beechwood because they have such a wonderful array of produce—especially apples,” she says. Haendler supplements her Beechwood purchases with produce from West Philadelphia’s Mariposa Co-op and from Taproot Farms, which has a stand near Haendler’s jam stand at the Tuesday N3rd Market in Old City. (She also sells online at But what really drives her dependence on farms is that because their produce is defined by the season, so is hers. “The original purpose of canning—to preserve fresh fruits and vegetables for us in times of food shortage—has always been best suited for home-use rather than retail,” she says. “I provide special treats that can be enjoyed immediately or stored almost indefinitely for future use.” Recently, food-cred in this town has been made attainable through chef collaborations and shelf space in specialty markets. The



scene has welcomed Haendler with open arms. Her products are available for purchase on her online store, or at the Fair Food Farmstand, Metropolitan Bakery, and Farm & Fisherman Tavern + Market. “There are lots of people making jams in Philly right now, but she’s one of the few doing it with local ingredients,” says Josh Lawler, chef/owner of Farm & Fisherman Tavern + Market. “She does savory jams, too, like her Carrot Jam with orange and cardamom. Her stuff is unique and provides sort of a nextlevel sophistication.” That same jam, because of its delicious utility, was featured back in August in a Vietnamesethemed dinner menu at Rittenhouse’s Twenty Manning Grill, mixed with dark rum and Vietnamese iced coffee. Haendler also found a great working relationship with another entrepreneur at the Center for Culinary

Enterprises, Megan Gibson, the founder and owner of PB&Jams. “We soon realized that not only were our products a natural match for each other, but our personalities and creative processes jived as well,” Haendler says. And Gibson agrees: “Her flavor combinations are really unique, and it just made sense. I was searching for local preserves, and we met at the Center for Culinary Enterprises. We just work well together—from menu conception to taste testing, we do it all together.” The collaborations and support are still somewhat surprising to Haendler. “I never thought I could do this. I spent years thinking I didn’t have the capabilities of doing this,” she says. “But I’m doing it, and I’m doing it well. I don’t want to stop. I’m going to make this a success, and I’m going to do whatever it takes.”


Hops grow at 2nd Story Brewing Company owner Debbie Grady’s Tilted Barn Farm in Pottstown.

From left, 2nd Story Brewing Company General Manager Ken Merriman, owner Debbie Grady, Executive Chef Rebecca Krebs and Head Brewer John Wible

Against the Grain

Old City’s newest pub embraces an old tradition by growing its own hops and barley by justin klugh


n 1850, 2.5 million of the United States’ 3.5 million lbs. of hops were being grown in New York state. By the end of the century, farmers harvesting the crop were chased out by pests, diseases and mold, forcing them to move operations to the Pacific Northwest. A 2014 approximation put 73.9 percent of the total hop production in Washington state, with 14.2 percent in Oregon, 9.7 percent in Idaho, and the last 2.2 percent spread throughout any states with the nerve to plant hops outside of the 40th and 50th parallel. The shifting center of hops farming in America has pulled it away from Pennsylvania, making it a more difficult crop to obtain locally, but 2nd Story Brewing Company, which opened in October, is bringing the crop back East. When farmer and mother of six (now adult) children Deb Grady bought the space left behind by Triumph Brewing Company in Old City this past August, she decided to make hops available in her own backyard. “Hops sounded pretty interesting,” she says, “because it has the right things for an old girl like myself. It’s not like you have to go out and pick anything, or harvest hops every day.” P HOTOS BY DA NIEL NEU NER

Grady’s Tilted Barn Farm sits in a valley on French Creek in Pottstown, where it is allowed wind flow and natural aeration that fends off threats like mildew. Now, 2nd Story can boast two acres (or around 8,000 lbs. of malt) of its very own. Over its first three years in the ground, the yield of a hops crop will increase, meaning 2nd Story will only be working with a greater personal supply as the years go on—and not just of hops. “There’s a two-headed barley that no one grows anymore; only a small farmer like myself would want to dedicate a field to it,” Grady says. “I intend to plant it this spring so we can make a beer with hops and barley from my farm.” With a restaurant to run, Grady brought in home brewer (and her son-in-law) John Wible to man the 2nd Story tanks. Wible, a former IT professional, offers a draft list of precise, “honedin” beers, the product of endless basement experiments. “We have a really unique ability here to do a lot of fresh hopped beers, and then possibly dry them and use them all year round,” Wible says. “The fact that it’s for us, it’s our hops, is really

attractive.” Wible has even talked with a malt manufacturer who is setting up an operation to malt the barley growing on any Bucks County farms that wish to be involved. For now, Wible is filling any holes with Taylor River Side Farm in Cinnaminson, New Jersey, where the grain used in 2nd Story’s brewing is composted, and Copper Fox Distillery in Virginia, which provides malted barley and was the inspiration behind the Colonial Porter’s name, given Virginia’s historical origins. 2nd Story’s menu casually suggests pairings of its house beers with its appropriately brief menu of pub cuisine: the Colonial Porter doesn’t rebel against a basket of King George’s finest beer-battered fish and chips; the roasted beets are balanced by the Tilted Farmhouse Ale; and the 117 Pale Ale complements the tomato jam and manchego cheddar on the house burger. It is clear that Wible and Grady are trying to get—and keep—their local hops involved in your meal. “There’s not really a malt scene or a hops scene in Pennsylvania,” Wible says. “Anything that we’re doing is either new, or we’re just going to figure it out on our own.” JAN UARY 20 15



A (Sliced) Apple a Day Local food distribution innovators Common Market honored for participation in federal Farm to School program by brian rademaekers


hen haile johnston needed to explain to his kids just how momentous an occasion it was to have U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack stopping by, he didn’t risk downplaying his guest’s stature one bit: “We described him as the ‘President of Food,’” Johnston says with a laugh. “It was a pretty big honor.” Johnston and his wife, Tatiana Garcia-Granados, founded a nonprofit food hub called Common Market in 2008 to connect the region’s sustainable farmers with institutions like schools and hospitals. They drew a high-profile visit from Vilsack at their North Philadelphia warehouse in December because of Common Market’s participation in the federal Farm to School program, which assists eligible schools with improving access to local foods. The U.S. Department of Agriculture is awarding more than $5 million in Farm to School grants, divided among 82 national projects—including Common Market’s “An Apple a Day.” Using the Erie Avenue location as a backdrop, Vilsack lauded Common Market’s “innovative” project as part of a movement to bring community partners together and “ensure a bright and healthy future for students and local farmers and ranchers.” 18


The $93,600 grant recently awarded to Common Market will be used to get locally grown apples to Philadelphia school kids in a new way: in bags of slices that bear the name of the orchard that supplied them. “We saw this as a great opportunity to add a new product line,” says Johnston. “We had been thinking about how adding a processed and packaged fruit line with the local source identification on the packaging could really augment the work we’re doing in schools and expand our ability to reach more students.” Common Market plans to have the “An Apple a Day” program in place at 30 public charter schools in the city in 2015—an effort that will reach 14,000 students. Bear Mountain Orchards in Aspers, Pa., Boyertown’s Shanesville Fruit Farm, and Weaver’s Orchard in Berks County will all be supplying fruit to the schools. Johnston says these growers were selected for their use of sustainable practices like employing integrated pest management over heavy pesticide use. A key part of Common Market’s plans center on Appeeling Fruit, a Berks County fruit processing operation run by Steve Cygan, who founded the small plant in 1991 to sell freshly sliced apples to gourmet bakers who didn’t want canned or frozen fruit. Since 1998, Cygan has also been selling his apple slices to distributors who put them in

Far left: U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack talks with Mayor Michael Nutter and Common Market co-founder Haile Johnston. Johnston, above, and Vilsack, left, address the media at Common Market in December.

the hands of consumers. That’s exactly what he’ll be doing for Common Market. Cygan says he’s accustomed to working with smaller-scale, family-run orchards and can see a program like this one having a big financial impact. “Half of our supply comes from what I would call sustainable farms,” says Cygan. “All of those suppliers would love to sell me more product, and this definitely puts us in a position to purchase more from those types of farms.” And when it comes to finding a place to unload their harvest, Cygan says he offers a premium price: “Dealing with us is a much better option for growers than selling it on consignment or to a juicer, which is something that some of these guys are forced to do. If they can sell apples to me at 30 cents per pound without having to worry about packaging or anything else, that sure beats selling to a juicer where they’re only getting six cents a pound.” For Common Market, having Appeeling Fruit slice and package the apples makes a real difference in getting kids to actually eat the fresh produce. “For younger children, who might not have the appetite for an entire apple or who may be going through some tooth loss, the packaged apple really works better,” says Johnston. “Offering the bagged apples gives us the opportunity to provide a product that is locally produced, and shows the kids where the fruit was grown.”

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Pier 53 had been abandoned for only 50 years before the Delaware River Waterfront Corporation (DRWC) brought it back to human use.

Did the Skink Ever Leave?

The once-abandoned extension of Washington Avenue Green is host to a rare lizard not previously seen living in Philadelphia for decades by bernard brown • photos by jen britton



tors stepped ashore there). Plants and animals took over the Pier after we gave it up. Fish found refuge in the pylons. Trees, grass, and weeds (mostly exotic species such as mugwort and mulberry trees) took root on the broken concrete above the water. Migrating birds following the Delaware River took a break on the green peninsula jutting out into the river. Washington Avenue Green opened in 2010 with a bicycle path and native plantings, and two years later the Delaware River Waterfront Corporation (DRWC) began work to expand the public space onto the abandoned Pier 53, according to Lizzie Woods, DRWC planner and project manager. The project, “blended a whole lot of goals,” according to Woods, creating a space for public use that would also serve as wildlife habitat. A walking path with benches stretches along the pier, looping out over the water on a boardwalk. A 55-foot tall sculpture by artist Jody Pinto called “Land Buoy” honors the site’s immigration history. The DRWC hired Applied Ecological Services (AES) to design the park, featuring native shrubs, trees and grasses.


Check out the Washington Avenue Green Facebook Page ( ) for volunteer opportunities.

According to AES Wildlife Biologist and Ecologist Michael McGraw, these plantings should provide food for migrating birds. I spotted tree sparrows and white-crowned sparrows on my visit this October, springing up from the bushes and low trees to zip across the path and melt into the vegetation on the other side. A garter snake slithered along the edge of the path near the base of Pier 68, which will soon be developed to provide even more public green space, this time with fishing at the tip and a channel cut into the pier to make visible the rise and fall of the tides below. Winter visitors can spot sparrows as well as a variety of other songbirds, such as pine siskins on land. In the water you can see ducks including buffleheads, golden eyes, ruddy ducks, and canvas backs. I didn’t see any skinks myself, but I don’t doubt they’re there. The question, as McGraw pointed out, is whether these skinks rode in with plants or supplies from outside Philadelphia when Washington Avenue Green and Pier 53 were renovated. Are they the last skinks left in Philadelphia, or are they the first to return?



he five-lined skinks drew me to Pier 53. The active little lizards that, when young, sport bright blue tails, hadn’t been documented to be living in Philadelphia for decades. Late this summer, though, observations and an actual photo by a contractor working on the new Pier 53 extension of the Washington Avenue Green—a park along the shoreline—documented a population there. Had they always been there, basking in the sun and picking off beetles on a decaying pier in a post-industrial river? Decay is in the eye of the beholder. A string of abandoned piers reach out into the Delaware from Washington Avenue south, green with vegetation above the waterline and otherwise falling into the river. Where a history lover might mourn the loss of heritage, a nature lover will welcome the return of plants and wildlife. Pier 53 had been abandoned for only 50 years before the Delaware River Waterfront Corporation (DRWC) brought it back to human use. I say “only” because that stretch of waterfront had been actively used since at least the early 1800s, most notably as a major immigration port from the late 1800s to the early 1900s (when my ances-


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LIVING BUILDINGS An artist rendering of Re:Vision Architecture’s concept for the Alice Ferguson Foundation’s multi-building complex.

Challenge Accepted The Living Building Challenge demands that teams exceed LEED requirements to create buildings that restore nature by sara schwartz


The Living Building Challenge is the black belt of the green-building rating systems. The international building certification program, philosophy and advocacy tool was conceived in 2006 as a way to exceed LEED requirements—the standard in green building certification—challenging designers, builders and architects to build advanced sustainable buildings. ¶ To be certified as a Living Building, seven categories must be met. The categories are represented as petals on a flower, and they are: Place, Water, Energy, Health & Happiness, Materials, Equity, and Beauty. Each petal is subdivided into 20 Imperatives. Nearly any building project—new or existing—of any scale in any location is eligible.


It’s so strict that there are only five structures certified as full Living Buildings in the world—all in the U.S. The impetus to create the Living Building Challenge occurred when Cascadia Green Building Council—the U.S. Green Building Council chapter in the Northeast U.S. and part of Canada—wanted to improve upon LEED standards, which started in 1998. The group has since spun off into a separate 501c3 organization, the International Living Future Institute, with offices in Seattle, Portland and Vancouver. Although there are no Living Building Challenge-certified projects in our city, Philadelphia firm Re:Vision Architec­ture is working—as either consultants or architects—on six that are in progress elsewhere. One soon to be completed, and about to begin its year-long performance period, is 150 miles away in Southern Maryland, at the Alice Ferguson Foundation’s Hard Bargain Farm, an environmental educational nonprofit and a 330-acre farm that works primarily with students. In 2006, the Foundation needed to replace its overnight lodge and construct a new education building. Initially aiming for LEED, the Foundation opted to go further, says Lori Arguelles, Executive Director of the Alice Ferguson Foundation. “We wanted to ‘walk the talk,’ ” Arguelles writes in an email. “Our goal is to help inform the next generation of environmental stewards and what better way to do than by embracing the Living Building Challenge.” The zero-energy, zero-water, zero-toxicity and carbon neutral educational facilities were designed to restore a healthy local ecosystem. The education building, which will generate energy using solar panels, and the overnight lodge, which will gather water for the complex, is expected to be completed in 2016. Scott Kelly, principal of Re:Vision, worked on the complex and appreciates that synergy: “Each building works very much like nature, they work collaboratively with each other.” Kelly is trained as an architect with a background in historic preservation and adaptive reuse. About a decade ago, he dedicated himself to only work on green building projects: “If it’s not a green project, don’t hire us because we don’t want to do it.” He’s one of the founders of the Delaware Valley Green Building Council


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(DVGBC) and he’s worked on many zero-energy buildings, zerowater buildings and zero-toxicity buildings, a “couple hundred” LEED projects and 30-plus LEED Platinum-level projects. “The goal of the Living Building Challenge is to challenge what we think is possible and to create the imagination to visualize a future that is ecologically restorative, socially just and culturally rich,” says Amanda Sturgeon, executive director of the International Living Future Institute.

PRIME DIRECTIVES To be certified as a Living Building, seven categories must be met—represented as petals on a flower.

2015 Tri-State Sustainability Symposium on March 6 Now in its fifth year, the Tri-State Sustainability Symposium brings together industry, university and community leaders to share best practices, ask challenging questions and provide cutting-edge information about sustainability in the Pennsylvania, Delaware and New Jersey tri-state region. This event, to be held at Temple University on Friday, March 6, will draw over 800 attendees and will feature sessions covering diverse topics such as net zero, water conservation, green leasing, commercial


real estate, art and sustainability, renewable energy, ENERGY STAR, LEED v4 and more. Early bird prices by Feb 1 are $30 for DVGBC members and $50 for non-members. After that, $40 for members, $60 for non-members. Students (with ID) are $10. Registration required at dvgbc. org/2015TriStateSS. Questions/sponsorship opportunities contact Communications and Events Manager Alex Yarde. Email or call 215-399-5798.

Kelly says that the best way for new buildings to become Living Building Challenge certified is to begin at the design process. Teams are expected to register the project, finish the design, submit design documents for approval, build the building, submit construction documents, then, a year later, submit actual data to prove performance. There are currently 25 buildings worldwide that are in the performance period, and approximately 225 buildings worldwide pursuing full Challenge certification, Sturgeon says. Kelly adds that fewer than half of the projects that pursue certification actually succeed. But that’s what he loves about the Challenge. It’s not predictive performance, it’s proven performance. “You can use computer modeling and prove anything is zeroenergy,” he says. “You have to show [the Living Building Future Institute] your energy bill after a year and if it says ‘zero,’ you’re in, and if it says ‘$1,’ you’re out. There’s a beauty in that.” While there are no buildings in the Philadelphia region that have met the Challenge, Kelly says there’s a confidential project that has registered with the Living Building Future Institute and is pursuing certification. In addition, he and others dedicated to promoting the Challenge created the Living Building Challenge Philadelphia Collaborative, a group that advocates the Challenge. “Every meeting, we make sure we have fun,” Kelly says. And all are welcome. “It’s a very diverse group,” Kelly adds. “What’s common is that most have an environmental ethic, they all care.” The DVGBC has been supportive of the Living Building Futures Institute and the new Philadelphia group. Outgoing DVGBC Executive Director Janet Milkman promotes the meetings and helps connect those who want to engage with the group. She is optimistic about more architects and builders aiming for Living Building Challenge certification. “It will grow just as the green building community grew in Philadelphia—with a core group of highly engaged practitioners learning together about how to make the [Living Building Challenge] standard work in our region,” she says. That core group is already having fun spreading the word about the Living Building Challenge and encouraging others to get involved. “What I love about the Living Building Challenge [is] the goal isn’t to minimize our impact—it’s to restore the environment back to a way that can sustain life,” Kelly says. “Because what we all know is we can’t sustain life the way we’re living. … The intent of Living Building Challenge is to get us back in check and balance with our natural environment.”


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a recent afternoon, Latifa Patton prepares three giant aluminum baking pans full of aromatic macaroni and cheese with vegetables. The kitchen of her three-bedroom townhouse in the mixed-income Paseo Verde development in North Philadelphia is lined with succulents. The living room is an oasis of potted palms, orchids and colorful cushions. Patton says people ask how she can afford to outfit her home this way. She makes $7.50 an hour at a work-study job; and with the help of student loans, she supports her nine-year-old daughter and two-year-old son while earning a degree in social work at Community College of Philadelphia. “I go to thrift stores. I’m creative,” she says. “I love my house. It’s why I have to make it comfortable.” Before she was accepted as one of Paseo Verde’s first tenants for its subsidized apartments, Patton and her children were homeless and had been living in a shelter for a year. Now, she pays just $302 a month in rent at Paseo Verde. The Paseo Verde development, which cost $48 million and was finished in December of 2013, combines environmental sensibilities with the principals of sustainable community development. The mixedincome, mixed-use project includes 120 affordable and market-rate apartments. The block-long building is also what developers refer to as mixed-use. In addition to the residential units, there are businesses facing the street on the ground floor. The project is also certified LEED Platinum, the highest rating given out for sustainable design by the U.S. Green Building Council, under the Neighborhood Development (LEED ND) system, a designation for large-scaled mixed-use projects by a single developer. This standard encourages the implementation of design principles that aim to reduce water, energy and car use in a neighborhood, rather than in a single building. The driving force behind the project has its offices in Paseo Verde’s south side. Asociación Puertorriqueños en Marcha (APM), a Latinobased health, human services, community and

economic development nonprofit organization, was founded by a group of Puerto Rican veterans returning from the Vietnam War in 1970 who wanted to provide services for their community in Philadelphia. When Nilda Ruiz, now the organization’s president and CEO, was young, her mother wouldn’t allow her to go to the lower east section of North Philadelphia alone. This area was,

CUTTING THE RIBBON Third from left, Jonathan F.P. Rose, President, Jonathan Rose Companies; Mayor Michael A. Nutter, City of Philadelphia (center); in green scarf, Nilda Ruiz, CEO and President, Asociación Puertorriqueños en Marcha (APM)



HOME SWEET HOME Latifa Patton was one of Paseo Verde’s first tenants and decorates her space with colorful accents. “I love my house. I go to thrift stores. I’m creative.”

like its neighbors, devastated by the gradual drain of The driving force behind the project has its manufacturing jobs. offices in Paseo Verde’s south side. Asociación “It had a lot of drugs, a lot of crime,” says Ruiz, Puertorriqueños en Marcha (APM) is a Latinowho grew up mostly in nearby Hunting Park. “[It had] abandoned lots. It wasn’t a safe place for kids to walk based health, human services, community and around.” economic development non-profit organization. She says these early impressions give her a greater appreciation for the changes in the intervening years. APM became involved in housing in 1989, beginning with 24 affordinvestment firm, which has multiple offices around the country, comable rental units in North Philadelphia. Rose Gray, who started working pleted construction of the 222-unit, mixed-use, mixed-income Via at APM as Director of Housing, led the first housing project, The city, Verde development in the Bronx the same year construction began she says, had demolished many homes in an effort at urban renewal: in Philadelphia. “More houses were being taken down.” The houses that remained were For Paseo Verde, APM chose to build on an empty lot that Philadilapidated, but because the homes were inexpensive, many people delphia Gas Works employees were using for parking right beside with limited means moved there, including a number of Puerto Ricans. SEPTA’s Temple University Regional Rail station. The placement of APM is interested in what Ruiz calls “holistic” development. That Paseo Verde in a location that will encourage the use of public transit meant recruiting a credit union and a supermarket to the area that is one attribute contributing to its LEED rating. Other features that specialized in Hispanic food products, but also a turn for APM to decontributed included both the use of a green roof and its lesser-known signing housing projects with an eye on health and sustainability goals. cousin, a “blue roof.” In 2011, APM dedicated its first green development, the LEED Gold Lined with the same rubber material used at the bottom of a swimSheridan Street Homes, a block of 13 sleek, eco-friendly homes deming pool, the blue roof can hold up to 20,000 gallons of rainwater, signed by Interface Studio Architects for the Community Design Colwhich it slowly releases through three drains—an important addition to any building given Philadelphia’s stormwater issues. The water laborative’s 2005 Affordable Infill Housing Design Challenge. Shortly management system is so effective that the city’s water department afterward, APM attracted an innovative new partner, the Jonathan has waived most of its stormwater utility fees, which building owners Rose Companies, as a partner on creating Paseo Verde. The green pay to cover the costs of managing their runoff. The comprehensive real estate policy, planning, development, owner’s representative and



stormwater management plan also includes permeable pavement. Paseo Verde also boasts solar panels; local, recyclable and renewable materials; formaldehyde-free materials to enhance indoor air quality; and low- or no-VOC paints and primers. The project’s envelope, which refers to the walls of the building, and mechanical systems are also energy-efficient. Local firm Wallace Roberts and Todd was responsible for the award-winning design.

“The completion of Paseo Verde brought Philadelphia closer to being America’s greenest city,” says Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter, “and continued our commitment to providing quality affordable housing.” Between common areas and the individual units, based on the energy model for the building, Paseo Verde’s “projected energy savings” is anticipated to reach at least 25 percent, versus a code-compliant building. “That is important because [for] occupants of affordable housing [utility bills are] a higher cost of their monthly budget,” says Jon Jensen, an advisor on the project at New Jersey-based MaGrann Associates. Jensen adds that local and state governments with affordable housing funds have increasingly given an edge to projects with green components, if not outright requiring them. The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), developers of the LEED green building rating system, says that 109,059 of the units registered under LEED for Homes are considered market rate, versus 53,738 classified as affordable. A separate nonprofit organization, the Green Building Certification Institute (GBCI), acts as a third party to verify that a project has complied with the system. In 2010, at the beginning of the project, USGBC awarded the project an Affordable Green Neighborhoods Grant for $27,665 as part of a national competition. Paseo Verde stands out in the greater Philadelphia area, according to Janet Milkman, outgoing executive director of the Delaware Valley Green Building Council. For a community organization to do all the work to meet LEED standards is, she says, “really exemplary.” The building garnered so much respect from the DVGBC that it was one of the winners of the 2014 Groundbreaker Awards, among other winners Shoemaker Green at the University of Pennsylvania, and The Hamilton Family Children’s Zoo and Faris Family Education Center: KidZooU. Paseo Verde “demonstrates that exceptional Sustainable Design (LEED ND Platinum and LEED for Homes Platinum Certification) can be achievable for both affordable and marketrate accessible housing,” the DVGBC wrote in September. “The project helps reconnect this North Philadelphia neighborhood to the rest of the city and region, and provides access to employment/economic opportunities.” Milkman hopes that the recognition the project received will inspire others. “APM went above and beyond what a typical, cashstrapped nonprofit development organization is going to do,” she says. Paul Freitag, who directs development for Jonathan Rose Companies, says Paseo Verde’s

A COMMUNITY COMING TOGETHER Nilda Ruiz, president and CEO of APM, at left, helped to create a vibrant community project in Paseo Verde, which attracted Sabri Ibrahim, far right, to open a Pharmacy of America there.


design also focused on its effects on residents’ “That’s why I get excited about mixed-income health. [neighborhoods],” she explains. “If you have a police “[People with lower incomes] are also more officer or a professor living next door, they can help to impacted by environmental health factors,” particularly asthma, he says. In response, Freitag says answer questions like ‘what should my major be or if I it pays to opt for cleaner materials, encourage want to work after high school, what should I do?’ “ public transit use, or even design a building that is built to encourage more people to take the stairs. nilda ruiz, president and ceo of asociación At Paseo Verde, a health clinic and a pharmacy puertorriqueños en marcha (apm) both rent space on the ground floor. Sabri Ibrahim was looking for a location for the fourth branch “That’s why I get excited about mixed-income [neighborhoods],” she of his small chain, Pharmacy of America, when he heard about Paseo Verde. Ibrahim knew the neighborhood well. He’d arrived at Temple explains. “If you have a police officer or a professor living next door,” in 1994, but, “If not for Paseo Verde, I would not be there,” he says. they can help to answer questions like, ‘What should my major be or if I want to work after high school, what should I do?’ ” “It’s not the safest area,” he concedes. “But, I think with Paseo Verde and construction around it on this street and block, the immediate Beth Miller, executive director of the Community Design Collaboraneighborhood is definitely going to be a much better place to live in tive, says APM has done the long-term planning to ensure that their and do business in the next couple years.” tenants with lower incomes will not get pushed out. APM’s constituency is evolving. Increasingly, upwardly mobile Puer“We talk about the g-word [gentrification] and things like that, but to Rican residents have moved to the northeast and to Berks County. they’re in action preserving equity and affordability in a neighborhood Today the neighborhood is roughly split between African Americans that just had been very much forgotten,” she says. and Latinos—no longer just Puerto Rican—but also a number of reAPM has started planning to preserve and rehabilitate its original settled Palestinian refugees and Asian immigrants. developments, including retrofitting them to be more energy-efficient. Renovation, Gray says, is less sexy than new construction, but equally The non-subsidized apartments at Paseo Verde, which comprise important. about three-fifths of the building, are envisioned as “workforce housing,”Freitag says, for staff and graduate students at adjacent “We believe in mixed-income, but managing so no one loses the opportunity to stay in the community,” says Gray, now Senior VP, ComTemple University. Temple’s presence has increased housing prices munity and Economic Development for APM. “We didn’t do this for in adjoining neighborhoods. people to move out. We did this to create an environment for them As a first-generation college student, APM’s Ruiz says she had to stay.” trouble connecting her studies to what she wanted to do with her life.



For Good Measure

Philadelphia’s 2014 energy benchmarking report for commercial buildings shows exciting results by alon abramson By now, most of us have heard Mayor Nutter’s bold vision for making Philadelphia the greenest city in the country. Lesser known is that the mayor’s vision relies on greening the city’s buildings, which contribute to 60 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions, according to city reports. Accordingly, the Mayor’s Office of Sustainability (MOS) set two goals—to lower city government energy consumption by 30 percent and to reduce citywide building energy consumption by 10 percent by 2015. In 2012, the office worked with City Council to pass a law requiring all non-residential buildings over 50,000 square feet to report their energy use. The rating system creates an “apples to apples” comparison so building owners and managers can understand and reduce the building’s energy consumption. The second year of required reporting came to a close in June of 2014, and the benchmarking report was released in the fall. That 2014 report marks the first time that privately owned energy data is being disclosed to the public, and the results are exciting: 1,900 buildings (90 percent of all required buildings) reported their energy usage, an increase from 1,700 buildings the year before. Those buildings that qualified to receive an ENERGY STAR score from the Environmental Protection Agency’s Portfolio Manager Program, which is used for Philadelphia’s benchmarking program, received a score of 58 on average (out of 100). ENERGY STAR scores are based on the total energy used by a building based on that building’s size and

its sector (e.g., Office or Medical), as well as the type of fuels that building is using (natural gas, oil, electricity, or steam). And while the scores showed a small decline from the first year of reporting, Scott Wagner of the Consortium for Building Energy Innovation (CBEI), who is working with the city to analyze this data, cautions that the drop actually reveals that “there is a correction going on.” “We’re comparing to 2012 data, where there may have been overestimating of efficiency of the buildings,” he says. “But, in 2013 we probably have a clearer picture of what the efficiency of the building stock actually is.” (Full disclosure: I work with Mr. Wagner at CBEI.) Every new benchmarking program—Phila-

Benchmarking Highlights // Year Two 270 million Square ft. (Non-residential)



(out of 100)



Average ENERGY STAR Score


1,900 Buildings

of total Citywide square footage






90% Compliance Rate

delphia is the sixth such program to go into effect in the U.S.—has to jump this accuracy hurdle at the outset; building owners or operators are looking at their building energy and operational information for what may be the first time ever, and they are bound to make errors. As this process continues, the quality should improve enough for the data to show how buildings are actually performing. This is the vision that Alex Dews, policy and program manager for MOS, has for this program: “We expect that this information will be used by building owners to make investment decisions in their buildings, by real estate professionals during sale and leasing deals, and by utilities to better target incentive programs.” Dews points out that his biggest priority is making benchmarking information into an actionable decision-making tool. MOS has already begun working on this challenge, sending out a report card in 2014 to each building owner who explained their ENERGY STAR score and ranking them locally by their specific sector. Other efforts include a soonto-be-released visualization tool that will let the public easily browse data, and the Energy Reduction Race, which challenges participating buildings to reduce their usage by 5 percent by September 2015. Dews points to the City’s properties as an example of how benchmarking data is already improving energy performance. The city has been using ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager to measure and report its buildings’ energy use since 2011, a year longer than the private sector, and is using the information they’ve gathered to invest strategically. One example is the guaranteed energy savings project already completed in City Hall: changing out the energy-sucking lamps in the clock tower for high-efficiency, low-maintenance LEDs. Building owners are also seeing the benefits of benchmarking their buildings. Jonathan Payne, sustainability analyst at Liberty Property Trust (LPT), shared the impressive efficiency programs that LPT has been able to undertake since its internal benchmarking program went into effect in 2008, ahead of Philadelphia’s law. For example, benchmarking has changed LPT’s corporate management, tying annual bonuses for executives to the performance of individual buildings. LPT has taken benchmarking its buildings a step further, rolling out a building management program across 120 buildings in 2010, allowing for around-the-clock energy data access. Now building operators don’t have to wait for a monthly bill to spot excessive energy use, such as the building lights staying on when it sits vacant on nights and weekends. “Benchmarking has definitely influenced our investment decisions,” Payne says. “It helps to prioritize our spending on specific buildings.”


ph 215.985.4410 |

Halkin Mason Photography

Sawmill, woodworking, furniture, & restoration


Westtown School Science Center achieves LEED Gold certification!

THE LAND CONSERVANCY FOR SOUTHERN CHESTER COUNTY (TLC) Ensuring the perpetual preservation and stewardship of open space, natural resources, historic sites, and working agricultural lands throughout Southern Chester County.


Travel Adventurers Wanted!

Treat yourself or someone else to the trip of a lifetime! TLC is headed to the Scottish Highlands and Orkney Island from May 22 – June 7, 2015 (Registration Deadline: March 1, 2015) for an in-depth look at wildlife, Highland gardens, Neolithic history, and ways other countries develop environmental solutions to global issues. Don’t miss out on all TLC has to offer this coming year for yourself or a naturalist you know & love.


“Jaw-Dropping Floral Displays.”


Washington Post


Also, join TLC out on the land in 2015 for our environmental education programs and annual conservation events.

“Perennial Pleasure.” Philadelphia Inquirer

Photo - Aigas Field Centre’s naturalist guiding the TLC group to the Isle of Skye

CONTACT US 610-347-0347 x 101






soil success Half of Laurel Valley Soils’ sales come from “green projects,” says Sales Manager Jake Chalfin.

Pay Dirt

In the ‘Mushroom Capital of the World,’ Laurel Valley Soils creates the ground floor of green building by dan eldridge


It’s a bright mid-summer day in the rural Chester County borough of Avondale, which sits just a few miles north of the Delaware state border off Route 1. Tucked behind the winding, two-lane road known as Penn Green is a vast manufacturing facility spread out over what seems to be an endless tract of farmland. This is Laurel Valley Soils. ¶ LVS is a producer of compost and the facility itself consists almost entirely of heavy machinery and endless mounds of steaming dirt. Between the bulldozers and the dirt sheds and the neatly arranged windrows of soil that stretch on as far as the eye can see, nothing less than the very ground floor of the ecologically sustainable construction industry is being built on these 125 acres.


dedicated to sustainability Laurel Valley Soils owes a large degree of its prosperity to the continued growth of the green-building movement.


oday, the region of Chester County that Laurel Valley Soils calls home is known as the Mushroom Capital of the World. The neighboring historic town of Kennett Square has brought worldwide attention to this small corner of Southeastern Pennsylvania, where more than half of the nation’s mushroom crops are grown. As the mushroom’s popularity continued to bloom in the early 1980s, Laurel Valley Farms— the soils division’s 40-year-old parent company, which produces a unique compost used exclusively by regional mushroom farmers— found itself saddled with a problem. Because mushroom compost is capable of producing just one single harvest, mountains of the nutrient-rich soil were beginning to pile up on

neighboring farmland, where it was discarded. “Laurel Valley Farms realized that they needed to figure out how to turn that waste stream into a value-added product—to close the loop with a cradle-to-grave [solution],” says Jake Chalfin, the company’s 36-year-old sales manager. Chalfin was only 24 when he joined the Laurel Valley team. “It was just dumb luck,” he says, that the company was gearing up to launch its soils division when he dropped off a résumé. Although he’d grown up in Chester County, Chalfin knew next to nothing about the mushroom industry at the time. Compost, though, was a different matter. For three years during his college career at Colorado State University in Fort Collins, where

he studied equine science in the school’s agriculture department, and learned about nutrient and manure management, Chalfin also held down a part-time job at a landscape recycling yard. “People would dump grass and leaves and trees,” he recalls, “and we’d grind them up to make mulch and compost and soil, and then sell it back to them. I liked that I was able to make money while building a product that was environmentally sustainable. It kind of checked all the boxes.” Chalfin was also an amateur steeplechase jockey, and he continued riding competitively after coming home from college and taking a job with Laurel Valley. But during a race in 2010, he broke his neck, and today he’s confined to a wheelchair. When he tours the Laurel Valley Farms facility, he does so in a handicap-accessible pickup truck. “I think I’ve got a pretty good perspective on [my situation],” he says. “And I’ve had a lot of really great support. My friend network has been amazing, and Laurel Valley held my job for six months while I rehabbed.” As the firm’s sales manager, Chalfin is now the public face of Laurel Valley Farms’ incredibly successful soils division, which was specifically developed as a solution to the company’s growing waste stream of used mushroom compost. As Chalfin explains, Laurel Valley Soils, as the division is called, owes a large degree of its prosperity to the continued growth of the green-building movement. That’s because the compost in which mushrooms grow happens to be a very high-demand product in the organic gardening and sustainable landscaping



BUSES AND GROWING industries. So, after collecting and processing the compost from what are now 12 of the country’s largest mushroom farmers in Chester County, Laurel Valley Soils then sells the enriched dirt to builders and gardeners.



n Philadelphia, the Pennsylvania Horticulture Society is one such client. For its PHS City Harvest program, in which more than 130 urban gardeners donate fresh produce to local food cupboards, growing organically is a strict mandate. “We were looking to find a source of compost that meets all the organic certifications,” says PHS project manager Eileen Gallagher, explaining the nonprofit’s decision to purchase Laurel Valley’s mushroom compost and topsoil blends. Laurel Valley’s soil blends are also used by turf management firms and landscapers who need a product that will manage stormwater retention. A decade ago, the company’s compost was laid atop a baseball field in the West Chester Area School District. Last year, its enriched topsoil was used during a renovation of the Merion Golf Club’s driving range. That topsoil is one of about 16 different products Laurel Valley offers. It’s stored out of the elements to produce a dry soil that keeps the enriched nutrients intact. Laurel Valley even custom-blends a unique soil mixture produced by Rooflite, a sister company, that’s designed specifically for use on green roofs; it’s been used on projects at Swarthmore University and at Pittsburgh’s Carnegie Mellon University. The “Certified

Green Roof Media” is lightweight enough to minimize the load on the roof, but heavy enough not to get blown away by wind or water. It’s also aerated in such a way that root growth can be successful (it’s nutrientenriched), and yet at the same time it retains rain water and drains excess water. “Definitely in the Philadelphia area, the green-roof industry has really taken off in the past five to 10 years,” says Finbarr Brady of Sean’s Landscaping. The Mercerville, New Jersey-based firm has used the Rooflite mixture at the Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children in Wilmington, Delaware, and this fall, they’ll be using about 15,000 cubic yards of the soil for a green roof at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia in University City. (Laurel Valley Soils sells wholesale and its minimum delivery is 25 cubic yards. Those who want to purchase less than that can buy LVS products from a network of dealers in the tri-state area.) Chalfin says that, including greenroof soil, bio-soil, rain garden soil, compost, garden soil and some other “fringe products,” Laurel Valley probably produces around 125,000 cubic yards—or 50 percent of their sales—for “green projects.” It’s been so successful at marketing the spoils of its mushroom compost that a major expansion of storage space is currently underway. “We were very lucky to coincide with the growth of the green-building industry,” says Chalfin. “So while we’ve been tasked with recycling more material, we’ve also been blessed with a market for that material.”


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research i n t h e field At North Star Orchard, the Kerschners create new fruits and vegetables from familiar varieties


emily teel

ally pollinating them by hand with paintbrushes. Then they wait and see what they get from the resulting generation, finally selecting the best results out of many, many outcomes. What makes this undertaking distinctive is that most farms don't do it, instead buying vegetable seeds every year and grafting cuttings from established trees, effectively creating clones of tried-and-true tree fruit varieties. Beloved varieties of apples like Honeycrisp, Braeburn and Gala are clones of established varieties, not new inventions. “People think, ‘Oh, I love Gold Rush [apples], and they’ll plant a Gold Rush seed thinking they’ll have a Gold Rush tree,’ ” but that’s not how it works, Lisa says. The seed will grow into a tree that is half Gold Rush and half whatever pollinated the blossom that gave way to the apple the seed came from. Apples

o graduate, some college students spend hours in the library, poring over books to write a final thesis, but not Ike and Lisa Kerschner. Their final project at Penn State was creating a new variety of apple. They named it Monolith after the machines discovered in Arthur Clarke’s 2001: A Space Odyssey. “An odd name, perhaps, but we are sci-fi geeks,” says Lisa. Now, two decades later, Monolith apple trees are in production on their farm, North Star Orchard, in Cochranville, and for a few weeks each year the fruit appears in members’ CSA shares. Creating a new variety of apple might itself sound like something out of science fiction, but the practice has more to do with patience than it does with technology. Genetic engineering—the kind of experimentation that yields controversial genetically modified organisms (GMOs)—happens in a laboratory at the level of the individual gene, and it’s a relatively new practice in agriculture. But what the Kerschners are doing is a tradition as old as agriculture itself. Farmers 38


JA NUA RY 201 5

undertaking this process have, through generations, transformed the wild crabapple into the Golden Delicious. “We don’t have a lab,” says Lisa. “We’re out in the field with the plants.” This is old-fashioned genetic selection that has yielded heirloom varieties now revered by chefs and shoppers. Rather than engineering a gene with a specific, desired outcome, like juiciness, into an apple, the Kerschners crossbreed plants, sometimes intention-


are “kind of like people,” says Lisa. “You can have the same parents, but every child is different.” Planting an apple seed is an act of faith. The tree that grows might have the best attributes of both tree parents, or the worst, but most likely a combination. The question in fruit breeding is whether or not the combination that results might be the best apple ever, and the only way to know is to plant many, many apple seeds, wait for the trees to reach maturity, begin fruiting, and then, years later, evaluate what the fruit is like. The process is shorter, but equally laborious, for vegetables, and the demands of production meant the Kerschners were too busy for experimentation. “It was always something we wanted to do, but at the time that we were getting into vegetable growing we were running three farms,” says Lisa. Growing on two different leased properties, and adding a third when they eventually bought their current farm in 2006 meant transporting equipment from one property to another. “It’s been a three-ring circus for a number of years.” Peas got them back into the game. One year, a big seed company accidentally mixed up the snow pea and snap pea seeds, so once they were planted, it was impossible to tell the two apart. “It was a nightmare to pick,” says Lisa, because they couldn’t tell if they were harvesting mature snow peas or immature sugar snaps. Ike responded by taking control not only of their seed supply, but also the subtle work of breeding. Some early experiments didn’t go well, especially the year Lisa and Ike planted the sweet pepper experiment too close to some of the hot peppers that they were growing for their CSA. The peppers cross-pollinated and it was a roll of the dice on whether or not the sweet peppers would actually be sweet or hot. One of their employees, a woman with an affinity for hot peppers, walked through the field tasting a pepper from every single plant to determine which ones had picked up the spice. Capsaicin capers aside, there have been successes as well. Among them, the Monolith and another variety of apple that they’re calling Ludacrisp, a pleasantly crisp, juicy textured and medium-sweet apple. “We have had it for sale this year and people are absolutely flipping over it,” says Lisa. They also have two of their own varieties of peaches (Margaret and Erin), and Rainbow beets—a large, tender beet in gold, pink and white stripes. Ike is still working to put his stamp on carrots, tomatoes and eggplants. For the Kerschners, the goal is to breed the best fruits and vegetables possible, not only for flavor, but for local production. The big research universities with plant breeding programs are looking for “the next Honeycrisp,” says Ike, “but we’re looking for the apple for us … [for] what we can grow here in Pennsylvania … and something that does well in Pennsylvania might not do as well in Michigan, or in Washington state. … Let’s make a variety that tastes better and does better right here.”

GRIDrise2014_Layout 1 9/29/14 3:06 PM Page 1

Rise and Shine!

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JAN UARY 20 15




Rutgers Master Gardener Course Registration

The Rutgers Master Gardener Course is a science-based course that helps increase knowledge of the garden for novice gardeners. The course runs from Feb. 3 thru April 28, 9 a.m. to noon on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Registration is required and runs through Jan. 30. Fee includes a handbook and class materials. →→ Registration open through Jan. 30. $250. Camden

County Environmental Center, 1301 Park Blvd., Cherry Hill, N.J. Email njgarden@camdencounty. com or call 856-216-7130.


Fish: Playing It Cool In Winter

Children can learn about the coldblooded residents of the Schuylkill River and how they survive the winter as well as discover a physical difference between hot and cold water, and how that can affect fish in the winter. Children can make a fish to take home.


→→ Sat., Jan. 3. 2 to 4 p.m. Sessions run every 30

minutes. Free. Fairmount Water Works, 640 Water Works Dr.


Introduction to Woodworking

In this introduction to woodworking class, students will learn the basics of woodworking by building a simple box for knick-knacks. The emphasis is placed on good layout, marking and measuring technique.


→→ Sat., Jan. 10. 1 to 5 p.m. $59. Department of Mak-

ing + Doing, 3711 Market Street.


Local Food for Thought Fare


→→ Sun., Jan. 11. 1 to 3 p.m. Free. Camden County Envi-

ronmental Center, 1301 Park Blvd. Cherry Hill, N.J. Registration required.

Winter Fit Hike

Get into the Wissahickon Park and see what the winter months have to offer with this 4 mile, moderate to fast pace hike through a variety of trails. Some trails may be rocky and/or slippery so sturdy hiking shoes are a must. This is a kid- and leashed dog-friendly hike. Please wear sturdy, protective shoes or boots and bring water/snacks if you want them.


→→ Sun., Jan. 11. 9 a.m. Free. Valley Green Inn, Valley Green Rd.




Edible Gardens & Delicious Weeds

Winter is a great time to dream of spring and to plan new plantings. Forager Tama Matsuoka Wong will share her tips on planning a wild garden in your backyard. She will discuss what plants (especially weeds) you might expect to emerge first and which fine native species to plant as spring comes, several sold by the Schuylkill Center. She’ll bring recipes and treats from her winter foraging, including snacks made from pine, hickory and barberry. →→ Sat., Jan. 10, 11 a.m. $20. Schuylkill Center for Environmental Education, 8480 Hagy’s Mill Rd.

JAN 13

Photography Exhibit ‘Pinelands: A Visual Journey’

“Pinelands: A Visual Journey” a program by photographer Albert D. Horner, will be featured at the monthly Horticultural Society of South Jersey meeting. Horner’s presentation will combine his fine art images of the Pinelands accompanied with interesting facts about the area. →→ Tues., Jan. 13. 7 p.m. Free. Carmen Tilelli Com-

Cherry Hill’s Local Food for Thought Fare will teach attendees how to successfully think and buy locally. This interactive program will introduce attendees to representatives from local Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) farms and teach about the local community gardens.



JA NUA RY 201 5

munity Center, 820 Mercer Street, Cherry Hill, N.J. .


Storytime at the Morris Arboretum

Children can experience a fun and engaging reading session in the Outdoor Children’s Classroom at the Morris Arboretum. In the case of inclement weather, Storytime will be held in the Upper Gallery at the Visitor Center. Advance registration is required.


→→ Tues., Jan. 13. 10:30 to 11 a.m. Free with

admission. Morris Arboretum, 100 E. Northwestern Ave.


How to shop GMO-free on a budget

GMO Free NJ hosts a conversation about shopping organic and GMO-free on a budget, so bring your shopping strategies and tips to share with others. The meeting will also cover actions the community can take to get genetically engineered foods labeled in New Jersey.


→→ Thurs., Jan. 15. 6:30 to 8:00 p.m. Free. Colling-


Nature Preschool Open House

Learn more about Nature Preschool, the Schuylkill Center for Environmental Education’s pioneering school for children ages 3 to 5. Families can take a sneak-peek at what children will learn and experience and will visit the classrooms, meet key staff members, find out details on our curriculum and schedule, ask questions, and pick up a registration packet. Children are welcome; activities will be provided.


→→ Thurs., Jan. 15. 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. Free. Schuylkill

Center for Environmental Education, 8480 Hagy’s Mill Rd.


Caryn Babaian: Nature in Chalk

Caryn Babaian’s exhibition of largescale “nature mandalas” in colorful chalk focuses on the complexity and beauty of living systems within the natural world. Babaian, a biology professor and accomplished artist, uses circular compositions to reference traditional Hindu and Buddhist mandalas, spiritual and ritual symbols representing the universe in those religions. In doing so, she hopes visitors will be encouraged to contemplate the natural world and establish a connection to their place within it. The exhibition runs through May 31.


→→ Sat., Jan. 17., 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Free with museum

admission. The Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University, 1900 Benjamin Franklin Pkwy.

swood Library, 771 Haddon Ave, Collingswood, N.J. RSVP at




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JAN 17

Seed Saving to Food Sovereignty: Digging Deeper

Nate Kleinman and Dusty Hinz, founders of the Experimental Farm Network (EFN), a nonprofit organization and open network aimed at reversing climate change by collaboratively developing the crops and agricultural systems of the future, will lead a special workshop on seed starting and food sovereignty.The class will start with a community seed exchange and the workshop will focus on proper storage of seeds, seed starting and care of seedlings as well as Kleinman and Hinz’s thoughts on how seed saving is related to food sovereignty and the movement toward a new paradigm of fair and sustainable agriculture. →→ Sat., Jan. 17. 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Free. Collingswood

Library, 771 Haddon Ave, Collingswood N.J. RSVP


Intensive Bow-Making Workshop

Wilson Alvarez, a certified permaculture designer, inventor and gardener will host and intensive bow making workshop where participants will learn to make hunting quality wooden bows and arrows from scratch. Each student will craft a wooden bow suited to their own height and draw strength, as well as a handful of arrows. Students must be in good physical condition and able to use small hand tools. Many of the materials required for this will be provided by the instructor, however there are several essential tools which the student must supply. Email to register.


→→ Sat., Jan. 17, 31, Feb. 14, 21, 28. 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

$299. Millport Conservancy, 737 E. Millport Rd. Lititz, Pa.


Introduction to Sewing

Inherited a sewing machine from your grandmother that’s currently functioning as the world’s heaviest paperweight? Need some new bedroom curtains so you can stop giving the neighbors a show? Don’t know where or how to begin? Over the course of the afternoon, learn the basics of sewing from sewing machine operation, how to sew the basic stitches, choosing fabrics, using a pattern, and other essentials. Plus, you’ll go home with a finished tote bag made by you.


→→ Sat., Jan. 17. 1 to 5 p.m. $49. Department of Making + Doing, 3711 Market St.


Owl Prowl

Take part in a special evening exploration to listen for the elusive hoots of the owl while walking under the stars. Participants will have a chance to meet a rehabilitated screech and great horned owls and learn about some of the physical and behavioral characteristics that make owls exceptional hunters in the night forest.


→→ Sat., Jan. 17. 6 to 8:00 p.m. $10. Schuylkill Center

for Environmental Education, 8480 Hagy’s Mill Rd.


Gardens of the Jazz Age

Jenny Rose Carey, director of the Ambler Arboretum at Temple University, investigates the gardens of the Jazz Age and will present them by using images from magazines, books and glass lantern slides from the Archives of American Gardens at the Smithsonian. She tells the tale of the times by weaving together garden history, design, social history and women’s history.


JAN 19

MLK Day of Service in Tacony Creek Park

Join the Tookany/Tacony-Frankford Watershed Partnership for a MLK Day volunteer opportunity. Volunteers will help pick up trash and cut back invasive vines in Tacony Creek Park. Lunch provided. RSVP or 215-744-1853. →→ Mon., Jan. 19. 10 a.m. to noon. Free. Bingham St. & Roosevelt Blvd.


Soils Boot Camp

Good soils are the foundation of plant health. Scott Guiser will teach participants about the physical, chemical and biological properties of soils that promote optimum plant growth. Topics include soil amendments, fertilizers, compost and soil testing. Class runs twice: Tuesday, Jan. 20 and Wednesday, Jan. 21. The Barnes Foundation invites PHS members to attend select programs at a special discounted rate.


→→ Tues., Jan. 20 and Wed., Jan. 21, 1 to 4:30 p.m. $81

for PHS members, $90 for non-members. 2025 Benjamin Franklin Pkwy. To register, call 215-2787200.


Fungi in the Garden

Dr. Karen Snetselaar, a professor of Biology at Saint Joseph’s University, leads a six-session course that will identify various groups of fungi and discuss how they promote plant growth as well as those that cause diseases.


→→ Tues. Jan. 20, meets Mondays through Feb. 23.

6:30 to 7:30 p.m. Free. PHS Town Hall, 1st floor, 100 N. 20th St. Registration required.

→→ Sun. Jan. 18. 2 p.m. Free. 100 E. Northwestern Ave. Pre-registration required.

MILO K., Hermit Crab



JA NUA RY 201 5


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Watershed Heroes Presentation

Join the Tookany/Tacony-Frankford Watershed Partnership to learn about our watershed and what community members can do to improve it.


→→ Wed., Jan. 21. 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. Free. Globe Dye

Works, 4500 Worth St. RSVP doryan» or 215-744-1853.



Tree Tenders Winter Basic Training

During two energetic Saturday sessions, learn the basics of tree planting and care including Tree Biology, identification, stresses, planting, pruning and root care, and how to use these skills in home landscape and in helping to restore the tree canopy in your neighborhood and the region. Class also runs Jan. 31. →→ Sat., Jan. 24, and Jan. 31., 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Giants of the Forest

Take a guided hike to see the largest trees in the forest at the Schuylkill Center for Environmental Education, and learn why these trees escaped harvest when the Schuylkill Center was farmland. Participants will also learn simple ways to identify species in the winter. Space is limited. Pre-registration required.

$25. PHS Town Hall, 100 N. 20th Street.


Registration required.

JAN 31

Saturday Clay Clinics: Wheel Throwing

Join the Partnership for the Delaware Estuary at the Science & Environmental Summit. This four-day event will explore the theme “Balancing Progress & Protection: 10 Years of Science in Action” and will feature over 120 presentations.

Enjoy a relaxing, creative afternoon playing on the potter’s wheel while exploring the basics of centering clay and throwing bowls and cylinders. Lead by an experienced instructor, the informative workshops are designed for those who are curious about clay or want to further their skills without the commitment of a class. More experienced participants will be guided individually by the instructor depending on interests and level. Clay, tools and firing/processing are included. Pre-registration recommended.

→→ Sun., Jan. 25 through Wed., Jan. 28. The Grand Ho-

→→ Sat., Jan. 31. 2:30 to 5 p.m. $40, $35 for members.

→→ Sat. Jan. 24. 10 to 11:30 a.m. $5. Schuylkill Center

for Environmental Education, 8480 Hagy’s Mill Rd.


Science & Environmental Summit


tel, 1045 Beach Ave., Cape May, N.J. To register and for updated ticket prices, visit

The Clay Studio, 139 North Second St. Email or call 215-925-3453 x 23.

701 S 4 t h St , P hi l a d el phi a , PA 1914 7 P ho ne: (2 15 ) 2 38-1888

Celebrating 10 Years of Farm to Table

Hours: Tuesday - Sunday Dinner 5 pm - Midnight Sunday Suppers 3 Courses $25 Bar 5 pm - 2am so u t hwa rkre st a u ra nt .c o m



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Farming for the Future Conference

The Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture presents the annual Farming for the Future Conference. Keynote speakers will include Frances Moore Lappe and Ray Achuleta. This event brings together over 2,000 farmers, processors, consumers, students, environmentalists and business and community leaders annually. Each year it features workshops, trade shows, social receptions and children’s programs.


→→ Wed., Feb. 4 to Sat., Feb. 7. Penn Stater Conference

Center, 215 Innovation Blvd., State College, Pa.


Open House

Tuesday, January 13, 9 a.m. Sunday, February8, 2 p.m.

Big ideas. Small school. Pre-K through 6th grade, located 15 minutes from University City


Moriah’s Horse Powered Farm & C.S.A.

C.S.A. Shares available for Spring 2015

NEW—Elkins Park CSA location (interest dependent—contact for details)

Contact: Moriah Bilenky Owner and Manager 215-384-3239

Payment plans available starting now for Spring. Start to put money down — ask us about details! 3500 Coventryville Rd. Pottstown PA 19465 F O LL O W U S O N FAC E B O O K


Beer, Cheese & Wine Making, Glassware, and Canning Jars. 20

13 Est.


1447 N. American St. Philadelphia, PA 19122 Phone: 215-755-4556 Monday - Friday 11am-7pm Saturday and Sunday 10am-5pm

Mention This Ad For 10% Off Starter Kit


JAN UARY 20 15 Business Card ad.indd 1

10/25/2013 2:54:39 PM



Last Year’s Resolution What one woman learned by committing to a year of sustainable living by naomi huober


n december 31st, 2013, i resolved to build the next year around sustainability. A lot of people talk about it, but I was finding that few people actually lived it — myself included. I wanted to set an example and share what I learned with those around me. So, I embarked on 365 days of putting each area of my life under a microscope. It was a lesson in going without, and learning to love a slower, simpler way of life. To begin, I researched and swapped household products for more sustainable, less toxic options. I signed up for Bennett Compost to keep food waste out of the landfill, continued my Greensgrow CSA, started volunteering at Greensgrow, switched from PECO to Green Mountain Energy, and cut myself off from buying any new clothing, a

tough feat for a woman who works in the fashion industry. On the home front, I found great resources such as Sierra Club Magazine’s Green Life blog; The Environmental Working group, an organization that specializes in research and advocacy; and of course Grid magazine. Each educated me to make environmentally safe home and beauty products. I made batches of surface cleaner, picked up environmentally safe brands, and switched to a mixture of jojoba, sesame, and coconut oils in lieu of toxic and chemical-filled lotions. I bought dryer balls to use instead of dryer sheets. When it came to transportation, I used to drive every day, even for the most frivolous reasons. But I limited myself to three driving days per week, and dedicated myself to either riding

my bike or using public transportation. SEPTA transports thousands each day, and there I was, along with my fellow Philadelphians, participating. It made me feel like a part of our community. Commuting on the subway also gave me time to unwind. In the midst of a demanding job, I came to welcome its slower pace and the chance to spend time with my thoughts and previously neglected books. Suddenly, I was saving approximately $100 a week by cutting back on buying new products and not buying any new clothing. At first, the commitment seemed daunting, but when you make such a broad sweeping rule for yourself, I tell you, your mind adapts. It forced me to become more creative, and I began wearing clothing that had been relegated to the bottom of my dresser. The pieces I owned became indispensable and more meaningful. When the need did arise to buy clothing, I turned to places like Retrospect on South Street or Two Percent to Glory in Fishtown—two great vintage shops in Philadelphia. I shopped on Etsy, joined the app Poshmark where you can buy and sell used clothing, and surfed the website Yerdle, where users trade what they no longer need in exchange for points that can then be used as currency to “purchase” used products from other users. Shopping vintage, I found higher quality at a lesser price, and filled my closet with more character. With the savings, discretionary income felt real. I came to realize that you have to support what you want with your dollars, and focused on using my money locally. Instead of ordering a book from Amazon, I’d have Garland of Letters, a local bookstore on South Street, order it for me. I rode my bike to the independent grocery store, Essene, in Queens Village and walked to Green Isle Grocery on Passyunk to supplement my CSA. It may be slightly more expensive than shopping online or from a huge corporation, but the difference in experience is well worth it. Looking back, the year’s journey painted a picture for me of what I really needed. My outlook on consumption, transportation and lifestyle needed a reboot. I will carry my commitment into 2015, and I encourage those around me to do so as well. Over the next year, I will set some new goals: to produce no trash, to further decrease my driving, and get more familiar with the city’s bus routes. I hope to continue my research and to purchase solely from companies with a mission that I support. Living sustainably is not always the fastest route or the most convenient, but it always pays off. naomi huober is a foodie and gardener with a passion for wellness and sustainability. Follow her adventures and on her blog, .

Each month, Dispatch features personal reflections on adventures in sustainability. Have a story you’d like to share? E-mail 46


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“A delightful glimpse into the life of an urban farmer, writte n with humor and compassion authentic voice reveals the comp . Esposito’s lexities of following Gandhi’s advice: ‘be the change you wish the world.’ A must-read for to see in those aspiring to live and grow food in the city.” – Judy Wick

Kensington Homestead

s, founder of The White Dog

Cafe and award-winning autho r of Good Morning, Beautiful





Nic Esposito

“Whether he’s tracking imaginary voodoo chicken thieves, finding himself in the middle of a real Halloween shootout, or finding inner peace as he harvests his first jars of honey, Esposito delivers in poignant prose and a journalist’s detail his stories of seeking an antidote to the blandness of modern urban life. If you think you know city life, think again.”

– Mary Seton Corboy, CIO, Greensgrow Philadelphia Project “ A must-read for those aspiring to live and grow food in the city.” – Judy Wicks

Buy online at Amazon, or through: Purchase at any location where books are sold JAN UARY 20 15



mastering the art of the possible For one policy expert, the middle ground is the most exciting place to be.

Christina Simeone Master of Environmental Studies ‘07, University of Pennsylvania To learn more about Christina’s journey from music to policy work, visit

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

Christina Simeone (Master of Environmental Studies ‘07) isn’t interested in perfection. As a policy advisor who’s worked in both Governor Rendell’s administration and for Al Gore, she says she’s become “enchanted with the art of the possible. Making real change in the world means understanding compromise.” Christina credits Penn’s Master of Environmental Studies with helping her choose her current path. After careers in the financial and music industries, Christina sought out the MES program to transition to the environmental field, but was unsure of a specialization. “My studies at Penn showed me exactly what I wanted to do. Policy was fascinating to me, because of its ability to create impact — and the challenge of bringing diverse stakeholders together.” Today Christina is the Deputy Director at Kleinman Center for Energy Policy, where she leans on her experiences in the MES program every day. “I don’t need to be an engineer, I don’t need to be an attorney, but I need to understand how all of those issues impact energy and environmental policy. I need to bring them to the same table and identify compromise. And that’s what MES helped me do.”