Weeds: Showing some love for our wild urban fauna

What do infused cocktails, art installations, the concrete cracks of Philly streets and your shoes all have in common? Find out by attending an event with We the Weeds, an ongoing project led by artist Kaitlin Pomerantz and botanist Zya Levy that aims to explore and expand the knowledge of the city’s diverse, yet lesser-loved flora.

Visit them at wetheweeds.tumblr.com, or find them on Facebook.

Photos courtesy of We the Weeds

Save Money Now: It’s easier than ever to retrofit your house, room by room

Feature by Brian Rademaekers, illustrations by Robb LeefEveryone wants to live in a home that is comfortable and energy efficient. The best way to get there is to look at your house as a whole. That's the approach embraced by programs like EnergySense from Philadelphia Gas Works (PGW) and Smart Ideas from PECO. These programs include rebates, incentives, educa-tional programs, energy audits and even free energy-saving items. Together with super low-interest financing from Keystone HELP, homeowners now have the tools to make any home more comfortable, energy efficient and affordable. 

 

 

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Grave Garden

Story by Bernard Brown, photos by Jen BrittonMaybe you believe toward the end of October the wall between the dead and the living weakens a bit — a fine reason to hang out in a cemetery. Maybe you love autumn. The landscape of orderly stone, soft grass and falling leaves is the perfect place to enjoy the season. And maybe, like me, you figure this is a fine time to search for your own dead and see what might be living above them.
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Turning a Corner on Healthy Eating

Eat fresh, feel good. That’s the message at five corner stores in Philadelphia that now feature a Fresh Corner kiosk as part of the Food Trust’s Healthy Corner Store Initiative. On Sept. 19, Selinette Rodriguez of Polo Food Market (727 N. 10th St.) welcomed a crowd that included State Rep. Dwight Evans for the unveiling of her store’s Fresh Corner kiosk, which features a refrigerated produce cooler and a demonstration space for cooking lessons.

Reminiscing about the corner store he frequented as a youth, Rep. Evans talked about the power of corner stores to spur economic development and encourage better health. Rodriguez is joined in the Fresh Corner initiative by the owners of four other food markets across the city: Olivares, Indiana, Yellow and Corner. In addition to the healthy food kiosks, Fresh Corner stores have hotspots and colorful signage throughout to call attention to healthful options.

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Asian Pears: Leaves aren’t the only things that crunch in autumn

story and photos by Emily TeelWhen the first frost arrives, the summer growing season is officially over. Storage crops console us as cold settles in — apples, potatoes and winter squash grace our tables with their rosy hues and sweet flavors as we, like the plants, slow down. And even as we lament the loss of summer, delights abound at fall farmers markets: quince, cranberries, black walnuts and Asian pears.
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Garden path: PHS creates the go-to garden guide

Sure, you know all the cool bars in the city, but do you know where to find a 45,000-square-foot green roof park or the Benjamin Rush Medicinal Plant Garden? Now you do. The Pennsylvania Horticulture Society (PHS) presents the first walking guide to Center City Philadelphia’s gardens and parks. This colorful map is now available in hotels, SEPTA stations, museums and other attractions citywide, and an expanded version is available here. “The idea [was to] lift up Philadelphia’s most treasured public spaces and some of the hidden gems of the urban landscape,” says Alan Jaffe, PHS’s Director of Communcations. “A guide dedicated to our outdoor assets had not been compiled—until now.” 

Story by Peggy Paul

Composting Up: Grant supports community composting

The Urban Tree Connection’s Veggie Kids program in Haddington, which employs children aged five to 16 to grow and deliver fresh produce to impoverished families in their community, is closing the loop with a new composting program. Thanks to a $10,000 grant, the Veggie Kids will now collect organic waste from the same 25 families currently receiving produce deliveries.

The money is part of the 2013 Think Green Grant program from Waste Management and Keep America Beautiful, whose local chapter, Keep Philadelphia Beautiful (KPB) applied for the grant at the urging of the Urban Tree Connection (UTC). Together, the two nonprofits reached out to Bennett Compost to create the proposal. The program will also help expand Bennett’s on-site composting operation at Neighborhood Farms and recruit block captains (in a 10-square-block area) to engage neighbors in composting.

The initial goal of the proposal was to educate Haddington residents about the value of composting, and to develop a community compost program. “This is an area where we haven’t previously seen interest in composting services,” says Bennett Compost owner Tim Bennett.

“The idea is to keep the project going beyond the first year,” says KPB director Michelle Feldman. KPB hopes to spend the first year learning best practices and teaching both hard and soft skills to its employed youth to help them replicate the program in other neighborhoods.

“There will be some additional part-time jobs created in these communities,” says Bennett, “but the long-term plan is to transition them to hopefully micro-entrepreneurs, so we’re building wealth in areas that are traditionally underserved.”

Feldman has high hopes for the program. “We think it’s going to make a really big impact. We think that educating folks about composting is part of making really vibrant communities.” 
Keep up with Keep Philadelphia Beautiful on Twitter @BeautifulPHL

Story by Molly O’Neill

Bridge to the Past

Buried beneath a leafy canopy and camouflaged by summer shrubbery, this brick skew arch bridge has kept its integrity 116 years after its construction and 67 years after the last trolley ran through it. Originally built for the Fairmount Park Transit Company in 1897 with 15 consecutive angled brick arches, the “Chamounix Tunnel” ported trolleys that ran a loop through the park under Old Chamounix Road. That road was struck from the grid long ago and now serves as both a mountain bike trail and a footpath for travelers en route to the Chamounix youth hostel.

For more on this story, visit the Hidden City Daily, hiddencityphila.org.

Save Big with Grid Issue #55, Out Now!

 

Grid #55 is out, with a cover feature that can save you thousands of dollars in incentives, rebates and low interest financing through energy-saving programs like PGW's EnergySense and PECO's Smart Ideas. Room by room, we'll show you how to make your home more comfortable, more efficient and more economical — and how to get paid to do it. There are also handy tips on ways you can make your home more energy efficient without costing a dime. Click on our handy Energy Savings Resource Guide, above, and see for yourself how much money is available. You can’t afford not to!

This issue also has a visit to one of our local turkey farms, and a handy guide to the local farms offering sustainably raised turkeys, and the retailers in and around the city where you can buy them for Thanksgiving.

There are plenty of other stories about great food, great people and great things happening in your community. And since it's October, there's even a slightly spooky cemetery walk. Grid #55 is on its way to pickup locations across the region, but you can start reading right here!