Joe and Patti journey to Philadelphia, home of Greensgrow Farms, fulfillment of the dream of visionary in urban farming, Mary Seton Corboy. More than ten years ago a city block in the Kensington area was the site of an abandoned galvanized steel plant and an EPA brownfields project (see below) that the neighborhood had given up on. But not Mary. Beginning the experimental transformation she was growing lettuce hydroponically (growing plants in a water and nutrient solution without soil) for her clients; high-end local restaurants in need of fresh, organic produce. But the one attribute she prides herself on is her ability to change.
At the time there weren’t any urban farms to model themselves after, but today Greensgrow is a prime example of the urban farm concept, houses a retail nursery, hosts a weekly farmers market, CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) and a teaching community kitchen. They still deliver to restaurants however now they obtain used vegetable oil which is refined into bio-diesel fuel that powers their vehicles. Now, that is ‘walking their talk’ and as you will see there is much more.
Mary considers Greensgrow to be the bridge between the constantly changing urban consumer and the rural producer. They help the farmer understand these changes and encourage them to grow that which customers are interested. She is quick to say that urban farming is not taking the place of the rural producer but rather is the vehicle for educating the consumer about its benefits.
What produce Greensgrow is unable to provide for their CSA, is supplied by local farms such as Linvilla Orchards. Today Patti speaks with Norm Shultz, the orchard’s Farm Manager. A fourth generation, family owned operation located on 300 acres boast 45 varieties of apples which can be picked from mid July to November, an extensive farm store featuring organic produce, bakery, and fishing in Orchard Lake.
Like Greensgrow, Linvilla Orchards seeks to influence families and children to explore and discover from where their food comes. Open 364 days a year each day is filled with activities, festivals and education. On this occasion the Pumpkin Festival was in full swing and they were even picking strawberries in October!
Chef Nathan takes us on a ‘fringe tour’ (sounds scary!) of the grocery store, with tips on what organic items to purchase and why it’s best to purchase in-season produce. Pairing apples Patti brought from the farm with seasonally available butternut squash, Nathan makes a soup perfect for the chilly days of Fall.
For more information
To find a CSA near you visit Local Harvest
Brownfields are real property, the expansion, redevelopment, or reuse of which may be complicated by the presence or potential presence of a hazardous substance, pollutant, or contaminant. Cleaning up and reinvesting in these properties protects the environment, reduces blight, and takes development pressures off greenspaces and working lands.