Everyday Hero: Meet “Nature” Jack Marine, Bala Cynwyd’s relentless composter

story by Missy SteinbergEven in december, “Nature” Jack Marine’s Bala Cynwyd home is surrounded by dozens of pumpkins. These former jack-o-lanterns, some of which are as large as 200 pounds, rest in Marine’s seven compost bins, undergoing a natural, three-month metamorphosis. Over time the pumpkins will become organic soil that Marine will use in his home garden to grow tomatoes, peppers, eggplant and yes, more pumpkins.
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Russet Potatoes: This spud's for you

story and photos by Grace DickinsonThe Russet is our country’s favorite potato. Roasted, fried, boiled, baked, there’s really no cooking method that doesn’t yield a tasty result. In America, we find Russets as potato chips and French fries. They arrive mashed with milk and butter at our holiday tables, and foil-wrapped as a dinnertime classic finished with a generous dollop of sour cream.  
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West Philly Local: An emporium of locally made gifts

story by Courtney Sexton | photo by Albert YeeNeighborhood pride is alive and well in West Philadelphia thanks to VIX Emporium. Their “West Philly is the best Philly” logo, designed by local tattoo artist Justin Turkus, has developed a following, appearing on sweatshirts, t-shirts, notebooks and even aprons. The West Philly logo products are just one example of the unique, handmade items sold at VIX, which was opened five years ago by husband-wife team Sean and Emily Dorn.   
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Basket Case: Local food products' longstanding champion

story by Courtney Sexton | photo by Albert YeeWhen you think of local food, fruits, vegetables, dairy and meat probably come to mind first. But what about the family-run, small scale packaged food businesses that call Philadelphia home? For 25 years, The Pennsylvania General Store at the Reading Terminal Market has been the one-stop shop for buying these regional treats.
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Against the Grain: Shiny furniture without the fumes

When the time came to purchase a dining room table, I fell in love with a piece made from stunning, richly grained mango wood. The table was an extravagant purchase, so I listened very carefully while the salesperson recited care instructions. Then I dutifully purchased the recommended furniture polish.

As soon as the table was delivered, I lovingly polished it from top to bottom. However, the polish had a lingering smell. After the job was finished, I decided to read the ingredients.

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Awbury Arboretum: A perfect place to sharpen your tree recognition skills

story by Bernard Brown | photos by Jen BrittonFor at least 10 years I’ve been trying to learn more about trees. Back when I lived in Atlanta, I resolved to identify the trees growing in a large wooded park near my home. I bought a Peterson field guide and got to work. I did okay with the big differences between, for example, the oaks and the ashes, the maples and the magnolias, but I had had little patience for the finer points. Was that an iron wood or a hornbeam? If it meant I had to count the scales on their itty-bitty buds, it was too much effort for a reptile and amphibian guy (herper) like me.
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