Kids These Days: New local goat cheeses are springing up all over

story and photos byTenaya Darlington. A wedge of Gotogetagoat from Valley Creamery in Long Valley, NJ.While an east coast winter can put any local foods operation into hibernation, the region’s goat-cheese makers have been quite busy. Valley Shepherd Creamery opened a cheesemaking operation and grilled sandwich stand in Reading Terminal Market, and Cranberry Creek hired Paul Lawler (formerly of Fair Food Farmstand) as their full-time cheesemaker to develop a new line of goat cheeses at their state-of-the-art facility in the Poconos. Add to that the recent World Jersey Cheese Awards for nearby artisan dairies Keswick Creamery and Hidden Hills, and it seems that eastern Pennsylvania is starting to get its dairy due.
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Seeds With Deep Roots: Heirloom seeds keep alive memories of people and place

illustration by Kirsten Harper

by William Woys Weavers

As far back as I can remember, I have always been surrounded by seeds. During my preschool years, I farmed with my grandparents, and it was my Grandfather Weaver, with his acre or so kitchen garden in West Chester, who raised me at his knee.

My grandfather ran an accounting business, but his heart was in plants. He started collecting seeds in the early 1930s from relatives in Lancaster County where he was born. Before long, his entire property had become a botanical showplace, with fruit trees, bee hives, a pigeon house for racing pigeons (which provided manure for the gardens) and all sorts of wonderful things no one sees today, like Pineapple Rhubarb with yellow stems.

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Bok Choy: The choys is yours

story and photos by Grace DickinsonThough slowly gaining a name for itself, bok choy is far from common here in the states. Travel to China however, where the ingredient has been cultivated for more than 5,000 years, and you will find that bok choy is a staple.

This month’s featured gardener Beth Bowman grew up in the Philippines, where the vegetable has been popular since the Spanish conquest of the Asian islands in the 1500s, when many Chinese immigrated to the Philippines and brought their beloved bok choy with them. In 1974, Bowman moved to the U.S., but it wasn’t until the past 10 years or so that she could easily find bok choy in seed catalogs.

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The Birthplace of the Barnes Collection?

modern photo by Peter Woodall | archival photo courtesy of the Athenaeum of Philadelphia

In partnership with Hidden City, Plain Sights highlights historic buildings with compelling stories hiding in our midst.

This building at 40th and Filbert Streets in West Philadelphia is where Dr. Albert Barnes manufactured the wildly successful (read: lucrative) antiseptic Argyrol. It is also where he hung his paintings, which would become part of the regular seminars Barnes held for his employees on his theories of art and learning. For more on this story, visit Hidden City Daily,


Fish Town: Shad don’t jump, but with a little help, their numbers can

story by Bernard Brown | photos by Christian Hunold. Joe Perillo, a biologist with the Philadelphia Water Department, talks about the fishway and points to the fish crowder - a metal apparatus that forces the shad closer to the window so the Water Department can take a better photoWhen we think of migrating fish swimming upstream to spawn, we picture salmon heroically leaping up waterfalls — the stuff of inspirational posters. But the American shad is different. “Shad don’t jump,” Joe Perillo, a Philadelphia Water Department (PWD) biologist, plainly states. American shad stay in the water, and for millennia they swam gracefully up the Schuylkill River as far as Pottsville.
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Beekeeper’s Bonus: Bees produce honey, pollinate plants, and occasionally provide a reminder to be mindful

story by April White | photos by Emily Wren“Beekeeping is a meditative practice,” says Adam Schreiber. “When you are working the bees, they require your full, undivided attention. If you don’t give that to them, they will let you know. They have a very demonstrative way of letting you know.” 

A hobby apiarist and former president of the Philadelphia Beekeepers Guild, Schreiber, 41, works bees in colonies throughout the Fairmount neighborhood. He keeps hives in a community garden, in nearby Fairmount Park and even on the roof of his rowhome.

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Small Businesses Meet a Big Idea: Co-working artisans share resources, experience and a vision of community

story by Emily Teel | photos by Albert Yee. Oley Valley Mushrooms is located just minutes from the Artisan Exchange and on Saturdays sets up shop at the indoor Artisan Market"She salvaged my sorbets,” says Marianne Cozzolino, owner of Jenny and Frank’s Artisan Gelato. “I was having texture problems and she said, ‘Why don’t you get a refractometer?’” Cozzolino’s savior, Brûlée Bakery owner Lila Colello, wasn’t lending her expertise as a consultant; she was just being a good neighbor. Independently, Colello and Cozzolino roll croissants and freeze sorbetto, but instead of taking turns in a rented commercial kitchen, they simultaneously work on their own equipment as members of a new entrepreneurial food community called the Artisan Exchange.
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Farm Team: Preparing the ground for the next crop of farmers

story by Shaun Brady | photos by Albert Yee. Roy Brubaker, patriarch of Village Acres Farm and his daughter Debra have recently become 50/50 partners in a Limited Liability Company to begin a more formalized succession processSeveral minutes after his family had gathered at a round table in their large, timber frame FoodShed, the patriarch of Village Acres Farm finally arrives. He offers his hand along with what turns out to be a characteristically droll introduction. “Hi, I’m the late Roy Brubaker.” 
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Got Raw? For raw milk fans, it’s pasture versus Pasteur

story by Liz Pacheco and Kristen Mosbrucker | photos by Albert YeeTequila, Coco and Jellybean may not seem like children’s names, but to Mark Lopez, they might as well be. “These cows are like family to me,” he says, standing in the pasture of his 100-acre Wholesome Dairy Farms in Douglasville, Pa. One of 163 raw milk dairies in Pennsylvania, the farm has seen many changes since Lopez’s grandfather began raising cows there in the 1930s. 
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Exploring the Seedy Side of Philadelphia: Heirloom seed-savers are preserving our area’s rich horticultural heritage

story by Brian Rademaekers | photos by Rob Cardillo. The Fish Pepper was an African-American heirloom plant popular in Philadelphia and Baltimore, dating to before the 1870s.As anyone with the gardening bug knows, the bleakness of midwinter in Philadelphia has a way of making you dream of warmer times, often hatching ambitious plans for your raised beds. I had one of those moments this winter while looking through the glossy pages of a seed catalog. Among the hundreds of pages of colorful fruits, flowers and vegetables, a particular plant caught my attention: the Fish Pepper.

With distinct white-striped leaves and young green fruit, the pepper bush was interesting in on a purely visual level. But what really got my attention was the pepper’s history as an African-American heirloom plant popular in Philadelphia and Baltimore, dating to before the 1870s. Heirlooms are plants whose seeds have been saved over generations, replanted year after year, consistently reproducing similar traits. Many vegetables offered at nurseries and big-box stores are hybrids that can produce sterile seeds or offspring with erratic traits.

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