August: Comings & Goings

Retail Chain Unveils Large Solar Energy Project in New Jersey
Jersey-based arts and crafts retailer A.C. Moore hopes to cut energy costs by as much as 50 percent with the installation of a rooftop solar panel on its distribution warehouse in Berlin, New Jersey. The installation covers 12.5 acres of roof space with more than 11,000 individual solar panels and generates 4,620,000 kilowatt-hours of clean renewable electricity—enough to power more than 350 homes.

City Lifts Ban on Serving Food in Public Parks
Philadelphia announced on July 5 that it will withdraw its ban on serving food in public parks, a move put in place in 2012 that resulted in a lawsuit from religious organizations that provide food to homeless and hungry people.

The city established the Food Access Collaborative in 2013, working with the plaintiffs and others to improve the availability of food and related services in healthy and safe environments.

“The solution to homelessness and hunger is not to stigmatize it and hide it from public view,” said Mayor Jim Kenney. “I share with the plaintiffs a steadfast commitment to serve those in need and, together with other homeless advocates, will continue to pursue short- and long-term approaches to improve food distribution and other vital services and, ultimately, to end hunger and homelessness in Philadelphia.”

New Homes in Fishtown Receive Highest LEED Certification Available
Awesometown—a mixed-income project by development company Postgreen Homes, in partnership with New Kensington Community Development Corporation—has been awarded LEED Platinum Version 4 certification. The project is one of the first in Philadelphia wherein a for-profit developer has partnered with a nonprofit community development corporation to build eco-friendly affordable housing.

Listeria Cases Prompt USDA Inspection of Raw Dairy
Miller’s Organic Farm in Bird-in-Hand, Pennsylvania, must submit to inspection by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, according to a July ruling by the U.S. District Court for Eastern Pennsylvania in Allentown.

A March 18 report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention linked the farm to listeriosis illnesses of individuals in California and Florida, one of whom died after being hospitalized for a Listeria monocytogenes infection.

$105K Awarded to Local Library Projects
The Knight Foundation’s News Challenge on Libraries included three Philadelphia library partnerships as winning prototypes for “re-imagining libraries in the 21st century.”

Launched in February, the Knight News Challenge asked for ideas that serve modern information needs, recognizing libraries as vital institutions that can play a role in engaging communities.

The winning Philly projects—each of which has been awarded $35,000—include a monthly service that uses agricultural CSAs as a model for introducing subscribers to librarian-curated digital content; a program in which media specialists take up residence in libraries and offer hands-on media training to community members; and a collaboration among libraries and the broader open-data community to support long-term access to open civic data through community information portals such as OpenDataPhilly.

Yards Founder Readies for a New Brewery Location
Yards Brewing Co. presented in July its plans for an 85,000-square-foot brewery at 5th and Spring Garden streets that would serve as a space for manufacturing, storage and distribution and include a larger brewpub with a kitchen. Yards President Tom Kehoe told Philadelphia Magazine that it was “hugely important” to stay near his workforce, a tight-knit group, many of whom often bike to work; the Clean Air Council named Yards the 2016 Clean Air Employer of the Year for encouraging and accommodating clean commuting practices.

Greensgrow West Moves to Bigger Location
Greensgrow Farms’ West Philly branch is moving this month to a larger and more permanent home two blocks away at 5123 Baltimore Ave. The new space will feature a high tunnel for growing an expanded selection of garden plants and gear, seasonal CSA, a farmstand, a chicken coop and a community house.  

Organic Pioneer Awards to Honor Leaders in Sustainability
The nonprofit Rodale Institute in Kutztown, Pennsylvania, will host its sixth annual Organic Pioneer Awards (OPA) ceremony Sept. 10 to recognize three innovators in the fields of science, farming and business. 

Environmental toxicologist Warren Porter will receive the Research Science Award for conducting studies on low level pesticide exposures in food and water with his team at the University of Wisconsin, Madison.

David Vetter, owner of Grain Place Foods in Nebraska, will be given the organization’s Farm Award for his family business’ adoption of organic farming practices and for helping steward other local farms as they move toward organic production.

The CEO of Dr. Bronner’s natural soap company, David Bronner, won the Business Award for partnering with farmers to help them practice regenerative agriculture in Ghana, Kenya, India and Sri Lanka.

Ann Bartram Carr Garden Officially Opens
Bartram’s Garden in Southwest Philadelphia has concluded a $2.7 million restoration of the city’s only 19th-century flower garden. The Ann Bartram Carr Garden is the first major garden restoration project at the site in nearly a century, and is now open to the public. Ann Carr was the granddaughter of pioneering botanist John Bartram.

Bike and Pedestrian Victory
The city’s streets will be closed to automobiles Sept. 24, from Front to South Street, through the Schuylkill River Trail, and along MLK Drive to Fairmount Park. The concept, Philly Free Streets, is a response to the relief many residents felt during the pope’s 2015 visit, when major Center City streets were free of cars and trucks.