Farm & Table: Three Philadelphia restaurateurs try their hands at farming

story by Liz Pacheco | photos by Neal Santos

Chef Jose Garces is in his outdoor kitchen making salmorejo—a cold Spanish soup similar to gazpacho. He adds bright yellow tomatoes to the food processor along with garlic, vinegar and baguette pieces. “A few years ago,” he says, “I would’ve made this with tomatoes from Mexico.” This afternoon, the tomatoes are from a very local source—Garces’ backyard, which doubles as a farm. This is the first full season for the 40-acre Luna Farm in Ottsville, which is named in honor of the Garces family dog as well as the brilliant nightscapes the property offers. The nearly 100 varieties of herbs and vegetables are organically grown for the Garces company restaurants—most specifically Philadelphia’s JG Domestic, which focuses on using local ingredients. But Garces isn’t the only, or first, Philadelphia chef to delve into farming. Mitch Prensky, owner and chef of Supper, is in his third year working with Blue Elephant Farm in Newtown Square, which grows solely for his restaurant and catering company. Last February, Andrea Rossi began cultivating in Orwigsburg on his farm, Grateful Acres. This spring, Rossi launched a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program through his restaurant C19. For these three chefs, the farms are creative challenges—they require money, planning, and of course, physical labor. At their restaurants, these chefs are no longer just cooking, they’re developing innovative models for combining the farm and the table.

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Lasting Impression: An innovative building for a forward-thinking collection

story by Shaun Brady | photos from The Barnes

While the Barnes Foundation is best known for its priceless art collection—which now resides in a new $150-million building on the Ben Franklin Parkway—its founding mission extended beyond the man-made wonders hanging on the walls to the natural beauty outside of them. The recent relocation has left most of the Barnes’ horticultural program behind at its previous home in Merion, but the new digs were designed and built using sustainable practices fully in line with that original green vision.

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Cultural Shift: Philadelphia's major institutions embrace green building practices

story by Kristen Dowd

Walls made from plastic bottles. Rainwater recycled to flush toilets. Electricity generated from the sun. Green building is on the rise across the nation, and institutions in the Philadelphia region are prime examples. While only some have official Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification, all have a common mission: to reduce their carbon footprint and educate visitors about the benefits of sustainable design. Below are six institutions in and around the
Philadelphia region leading this movement.

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Greenprint 2013: How Green Is Our Region?

Janet Milkman, Executive Director for the Delaware Valley Green Building Council

Mayor Michael Nutter has pledged to make Philadelphia the greenest city in America. His administration, led by the Office of Sustainability, is on its way to meeting this goal through its Greenworks Philadelphia plan. In the meantime, our entire region will have an opportunity to proudly display our sustainability work when DVGBC and the U.S. Green Building Council host Greenbuild 2013 next November. This annual conference will bring 30,000 green building advocates to Philadelphia who will be eager to see why our region is a leader in the field.

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Reviving Rubbish: Confession of a Trash Picker

story by Jaclyn Hardgrove | illustration by Zachary KutzLast summer, I started snatching my neighbors’ trash. Paranoid of onlookers, I’d tip toe, concealed by darkness, up to the curb where my neighbors had so politely pushed their waste. I’d sneak around, quickly grabbing objects. But now, after a year of cultivating my own “junk-that-has-potential” sensibility, I’m less concerned with stealth, taking my time to choose carefully.
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Jerky Boys: A convenience store staple gets a makeover

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Cheese of the Month: Amram

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All in the Family: The many shades of winter squash

story and photos by Marisa McClellan

A few years ago, at the end of the summer’s growing season, I decided to challenge myself to try a new kind of squash each week. I discovered that I loved the flavor and ease of roasted delicata. I spent a full week cooking through a giant neck pumpkin (they look like overgrown butternut squash). And I discovered that the more warts and bumps a pumpkin has, the sweeter it will be. I made soups, quick breads, casseroles, stews and purées. I swapped out my family’s traditional Thanksgiving sweet potato casserole for one made with Kabocha squash and pumpkin. I created a salad that included cubes of roasted cheese pumpkin in place of croutons, and I ate dish after dish of roasted acorn squash puréed with grated ginger and a little cream. It was a delicious season and one that has continued to influence my winter kitchen.

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The Green Room: Local Hotels Rise to the Challenge of Greenbuild

story by Samantha Wittchen

When Greenbuild, the U.S. Green Building Council’s (USGBC) annual conference and expo, comes to Philadelphia in 2013, it will attract more than 30,000 sustainably-minded folks to the region, all of whom will need a place to stay. But for Greenbuild attendees, a clean room and comfy bed won’t be enough—they’ll expect the hotels they patronize to uphold the same environmental standards they’ll be discussing at the conference.

One local hospitality group working to meet these standards is Hersha Hospitality. “There’s so much you can get done just by making simple operational changes,” says Bennett Thomas, vice president of finance and sustainability. Hersha has developed EarthView, a program that provides a standardized approach to sustainability that is executable across their portfolio of hotel brands—in Philadelphia they work with the Rittenhouse Hotel as well as Hyatt, Marriott, Hampton Inn and Holiday Inn hotels.

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Tub Scrub-A-Dub: Fume-free cleanser to make your bathroom sparkle

story by Leah R. TroianoAs a kid, my Saturday-morning chores included cleaning the bathroom. Like most kids, I wasn’t a huge fan of any chores, but the bathroom was particularly difficult for me. Much to my parents’ displeasure, I cleaned as quickly as possible while holding my breath, dashing in and out of the room for gulps of fresh air. If I didn’t hold my breath, my nose was affected and my sense of smell was gone for a short time afterward.
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War of the Worms: A garden's friend, the forest's enemy

story by Bernard Brown | photo by Mike WatsonWorms are our friends, right? We uncover these wriggly little annelids in the garden and we apologize—sorry to disturb you! Please, get back to work aerating our soil, cycling nutrients and depositing rich castings (poop) to fertilize our tomatoes. Maybe we’ve also seen worms after kicking aside leaf litter while we’re out hiking say, in the Wissahickon Valley, and we assume they must be helping trees just like they help our veggies.

We’re wrong.

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The Riches of Eastwick

story by Liz Pacheco | photos by Emily WrenThere are 128 acres of undeveloped land bordering the John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge in Southwest Philadelphia. Should the land remain green space, or be developed to accommodate apartment buildings and expansion for the airport?

The view from Terrence Johnson’s front steps
is surprisingly beautiful. Across the street, towering trees, overgrown bushes and weeds create a vibrant, wild display. The area is one of few in Philadelphia practically untouched by development in the last few decades.
Johnson’s home has been in his family since the 1930s. It sits on a spacious lot just north of 86th Street, only a few blocks from the Regional Rail’s Eastwick stop. Separated from Center City by the Schuylkill River, Eastwick is the southwestern-most neighborhood in Philadelphia located just south of Interstate-95 and the Philadelphia International Airport. Despite being near these major transportation hubs, the neighborhood has a decidedly rural feel. There are only a few other homes on the block, each with their own yard. And just a few streets over is the John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge, the largest remaining freshwater tidal wetland in the state.

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