A blossoming vision for South Philly High School

What would it take to bring neighborhood greening, curriculum opportunities and fresh produce to Philadelphia’s crumbling school system? South Philadelphia High School may have an answer. This morning the high school, in partnership with South Philly’s Lower Moyamensing Civic Association (LoMo), launched a crowd funding campaign to raise more than $26,000 for the development of a campus-wide “Greening” Master Plan and to fund a garden educator position. The plan will lay the groundwork for a rooftop farm and greening improvements that aim to convert the school’s 5.5-acre urban campus into a sustainability poster child. 

In August 2012, LoMo president Kim Massare pitched the ambitious greening initiative to Otis Hackney, principal at South Philly High, and Roofmeadow, a Philadelphia-based design and engineering firm. Together with the school’s garden educator Molly Devinney, the team quickly crafted a strategy for turning the lofty vision into reality. The key? Partnering with a new online platform called Projexity, which uses crowd funding to raise money for neighborhood improvement projects. The goal of Projexity is to provide “a new and better way for anyone – from moms to mayors – to initiate and manage neighborhood improvement projects,” explains Marisa Bernstein, Projexity co-founder and a University of Pennsylvania alumnus.

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South Philly Food Co-op one step closer to reality with new "75 in 75" campaign

A SPFC memerbship comes with benefits that include free and discounted access to events like the annual local gardens tour. | Photo by Albert YeeBeing lured in by South Philly Food Co-op’s “75 in 75” campaign feels not unlike that strange moment when you realize you can’t turn your radio tuner from WHYY, even though it’s just Patrick Stoner once again trying to get you to part with your money. You want to hear more. And you want to do something good.

It turns out the similar vibe is no coincidence. Alison Fritz, president at SPFC and a chief architect behind the recently launched membership campaign, worked at WHYY.

“I’ll be sitting there yelling at the radio, thinking ‘If they can get 300 new members in 30 minutes, we can get 75!’” says Fritz, a Passyunk Square resident who heads the South Philly Food Co-op board. The “75 in 75” drive is a well-organized effort with hooks ranging from its own hashtag (#75in75) to coordinated potlucks where a SPFC member will come to your dinner table and make the pitch. And, besides having a catchy ring to it, the effort’s numerical namesake – they’re aiming for 75 members in 75 days, ending April 30th – has a tangible meaning. By gaining 75 new people, SPFC crosses the threshold needed to finally secure a brick-and-mortar location. With 368 members and counting, they’re well on their way to the goal of 425.

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Waiting For The Worms

My first, and unfortunate, attempt at composting was using a static pile. The stinking, hot pile of primordial ooze I created was not only unfit for fertilizing my vegetables, but caused a severe rift in my relationship with my neighbors. So, I decided to switch to another method I’d discovered in my composting research: vermicomposting, or the use of worms to break down organic material.
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Business Is Picking Up

When Tim Bennett moved to Philadelphia 10 years ago, he wanted to compost. But composting in a college apartment seemed difficult and the city didn’t have a collection service (and still doesn’t). So, a few years later, Bennett started his own collection business. Today, Bennett Compost works with residential and commercial clients throughout Philadelphia, hauling their organic waste to community gardens and large-scale facilities in the area. We spent a day with Bennett to get a behind-the-waste look at what happens in the composting process.
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The White Stuff

Not everyone can get the tempeh so white and…” At Café Pendawa, a corner market on Mole and Morris in South Philly Iwan Santoso searches for the right word. He settles on “fluffy.”  Handmade by the Santoso family at their full-service restaurant Indonesia at Snyder and Bouvier streets, Café Pendawa’s grab-and-go tempeh represents the highest expression of fermented faux meats. The Santosos guard their production method so zealously, they refused to allow GRID a peek at the process, lest we reveal the white and fluffy secret to competitors.
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