A Trip Down Girard Avenue

In a city as old and strange as Philly, there’s some history in every 100-plus-year-old brick rowhome and tiny colonial alley. While it’s fun to make up stories about what happened where (I like to think that my block was where Ben Franklin invented freedom soda), it’s also great to know the actual history and future plans of Philly. To that end, I recently took a tour down Girard Avenue with Bob Thomas, an architect, cartographer, tour guide and historian. His firm, Campbell Thomas & Co., has designed environmentally-efficient and socially responsible buildings for over 30 years, so the sites are not only notable for their history, but their sustainable features. You can ride your bike or take the trolley, which is also historic and dates back to the ’50s. 
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Ask Mark

Philadelphia's Director of Sustainability, Mark Alan Hughes, answers our readers

Q: I’ve heard rumors that all new construction in the city will be required to be LEED certified or Energy Star rated. I’m sure these are just rumors, but what measures are being taken towards making new construction, including residential, more sustainable? The sustainable strategies include, but are not limited to: energy efficiency, construction waste management and requiring the use of regional materials. Also, when can we expect a zoning code that DOES NOT encourage the use of cars and parking in the city?
Christine Rossi, LEED AP, architect intern, Wallace Roberts & Todd, LLC
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Eat Local: Vrapple

Eight years ago, Sara Cain attempted to turn Philadelphia’s infamous mystery meat concoction into a treat that herbivores could enjoy. A good friend of hers, who had grown up on scrapple, lamented the loss of the local delight since becoming a vegetarian.
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Eat Local: Oley Valley Mushrooms

Joe Evans was a carpenter by trade until his back went out. With some time off, he and his wife Angela, who shared a love of hunting for wild mushrooms, decided to try growing them. The venture was so successful that Joe quit his job and put his carpentry skills to use building customized, fabric-covered grow rooms.
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Dumpster Divers

Trashing South Street

For an entire year, Burnell Yow! went out every trash night, rummaged through people’s garbage and made a collage of what he found. Fifty-Two Collages in Fifty-Two Weeks is the result of that effort, and it’s hanging up in a brand new gallery space on South Street.
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From the Editor: Change You Can Grow

Isn’t it inspiring to see Michelle Obama and a class of fifth graders digging up the White House lawn, planting the first garden there since Eleanor Roosevelt’s victory garden  in 1943? It’s clear that nutrition is going to be a priority for our First Lady, and her interest in it is personal; a few years ago, a pediatrician suggested that her children were putting on weight due to too much take-out food and not enough veggies. Michelle put a new focus on feeding her family a healthy diet, and the kids responded.
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How-To: Urban Transplants

How to start heirloom veggies from seed
by Phil Forsyth

So you’ve been enjoying those orange, yellow, purple, green, striped, two-tone, cherry, plum, pear-shaped and downright unusual tomatoes from the farmer’s market. Then you get your hands on a seed catalog and the names call to you: Black From Tula, Golden Sunray, Aunt Ruby’s German Green. So how hard is it to grow these heirloom vegetables yourself?
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Seeds of Change

Fixing our broken food system
by Paul Glover

Everything we hope to achieve, have and enjoy would be shaken from our grasp without the miracle of seeds unfolding into food, far from where we live. Are you on the road to success? Take food with you. Whether we eat from silver plates or tin cups, three times daily or three times weekly, we will eat or die. Fortunately, enough food is brought to Greater Philadelphia to fill the Comcast Center every night.
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Eat Local: New Horizons

Upscale vegan eats warm your stomach and conscience
by Will Dean

With the rush towards eating locally, it’s surprisingly easy to forget about the original “ethical” eating choice that for hundreds of years has attracted people like Ben Franklin, Charlotte Bronte, Albert Einstein and, of course, me. While Kate Jacoby, co-owner and pastry chef of upscale vegan eatery Horizons, gave up meat out of concern for animals, there are plenty of environmental reasons as well.
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Power Plants

The Philadelphia Orchard Project is harvesting edible agriculture one vacant lot at a time
by Natalie Hope McDonald

From Kensington’s Cambria Orchard to Chester Avenue’s Squirrel Hill and the Martin Luther King High School Farm on West Oak Lane, fresh fruits and vegetables are being harvested in once-vacant, crime-ridden lots. It’s all part of a massive nutrition plan by Philadelphia Orchard Project (POP) to grow sustainable and edible agriculture in local communities that need it the most.
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Cover Story: Hold Your Turf

How Haddington used guerrilla gardening to transform its vacant lots, and why the city should encourage everyone to do the same
by Haley Loram

Someone left a busted couch at the edge of the Conestoga Children’s Garden, directly under the “No Dumping” sign. Skip Wiener, who tends to the network of gardens in the West Philly neighborhood of Haddington, pursed his lips and said, “That hasn’t happened in a while, but I’ll go talk to Cleveland after we’re done here; he might have seen who left it.” Cleveland owns the mechanic shop across the street, and he’s just one of the neighbors who keep an eye on the gardens.
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