Second Shift

Kathleen Harple says volunteering at Greensgrow gives her a break from the “craziness of life.” | Photo by Stephen Dyer

North Philadelphia nurse heals herself in the nursery

Three years ago, Kathleen Harple and her dog, Fenway, went for a walk around Kensington and discovered the bustling Greensgrow Farms. At first, she was just a customer, but she soon saw the farm as “an anchor in the neighborhood” and wanted to a volunteer. A full-time nurse, Harple, credits volunteering at Greensgrow as a break from the “hustle of the city and the craziness of life.”

“My blood pressure goes down 10 points when I walk through the gate,” she says. “The people at the farm are some of the best people with whom I’ve worked in my life. I learn from them, laugh with them, and I’ve even cried with them.”

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Solar Power, No Charge

Green Mountain Energy's Sun Club "flipped the switch" on its largest solar installation in Philadelphia at Greensgrow Farms on Earth Day. | Photos courtesy of newsworksGreen Mountain Energy donates solar panels
to community organizations

The large wooden stand high above the heads of customers picking through vegetables at Greensgrow Farms in North Philadelphia does more than just shield the sun while they shop—it’s pulling solar power, too. Equipped with 16 solar panels, the array provides the urban farm with clean, renewable energy. All told, the 5,000 kilowatt hours of power the solar array is expected to produce every year could save the organization about $1,000.

But Greensgrow Farms could not have done it alone. The nonprofit recently received a $20,000 grant from Sun Club, Green Mountain Energy’s program that provides solar panels and power systems for local organizations looking to better their communities. While the Texas-based company has been selling renewable energy since 1997, it expanded its operations to the Philadelphia area in 2012 and began looking for community organizations to offer funding for solar projects. The company now serves customers in Texas, Illinois, Maryland, New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania in markets where customers have the power to choose their electricity provider.

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Food In Jars: Local blogger Marisa McClellan signing books this weekend

Marisa McCllelan's new book, Food in Jars. | Image via foodinjars.comYou've read her blog and drooled over her mouth-watering recipes, now it’s time to read her book. Canning blogger and Grid columnist Marisa McClellan will be celebrating the release of her new book, Food in Jars: Preservation in Small Batches, with a selling and signing event at Greensgrow Farm this Saturday from 12- 2 p.m. She will also be featuring some of her favorite recipes from the book, including pickled dilly beans and stonefruit chutney.

Also joining McClellan will be Robyn Jasko, author of Homesweet Homegrown, a veritable how-to guide for living a more sustainable lifestyle. Jasko will also be bringing goodies to share, including cold beet sangria and herbal simple syrups.

Stay around after the signing and you'll also have a chance to take a workshop from the canning pro herself. McClellan will be teaching how to make spiced peach jam. The workshop starts at 2 p.m. and costs $35. Participants will go home with a jar of jam as well as the recipe. To register, visit

Want to find out more about McClellan’s new book? Check out Grid’s interview with McClellan in our August issue, which streets next week.

Coming up Roses: Think spring thoughts with gardening workshops this month

Image via

Mother Nature’s tease of spring-like weather probably has you ready to swap your gloves and snow shovels for gardening supplies. But while winter is still sticking for a few more weeks, it’s never too early to start planning your gardening.

Throughout the month of February local gardening gurus are holding a number of workshops teaching everything from seed starting to composting to orchard growing. So break out the seed catalog and start thinking about bringing some life to your backyard! For more gardening events, check the Grid calendar.  

Saturday, February 4

  • Amending Your Soil Workshop (12 – 2 p.m.) Learn how to amend your garden soil and get your beds ready for spring. Greensgrow Farm, 2501 E. Cumberland St.
  • Worm Composting Collective (12 - 2 p.m.) Build your own worm-bin and learn how to care for your new compost pets. Pre-Registration required. $20 for members $30 for non-members. Schuylkill Center for Environmental Education, 8480 Hagy's Mill Rd.  

Wednesday, February 8

  • In-home Composting (6 - 7 p.m.) Learn how to turn food scraps into nutrient-rich compost with Green Guide Holly Logan. Sustainable 19125, 2446 Coral St.
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Leading the Charge: PASA Announces Leadership Award Winners

Image via pasafarming.orgThe Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture is gearing up for their annual “Farming for the Future” conference this week (Feb. 1-4), which will include the presentation of their leadership awards.

This year, Philadelphia’s own Mary Seton Corboy of Greensgrow Farms in Kensington will receive the Sustainable Ag Leader Award, while the Sustainable Ag Business Leadership award is going to Frankferd Farms Foods of Saxonburg, Pa. 

The awards, given as part of the PASA-bilities Leadership Award Series, were created to honor the individuals and businesses leading the way to a sustainable food future.

Corboy began Greensgrow Farms in 1997, when she started growing gourmet lettuce. Since then, she’s expanded into a nursery, a farm stand and a 600-member CSA program—all on a single acre, a former galvanized steel plant site in Kensington. (Check out Grid’s September 2010 cover story on Corboy.)

 Frankferd Food Farms, family owned and operated, was started 30-years ago when T. Lyle Ferderber and his wife left college and began grinding flour. Today, the Ferderbers run a farm, flour mill and natural foods warehouse.

Greensgrow and Frankferd are just two of the incredible farms part of Pennsylvania’s sustainable agriculture movement. Read about other PASA members in Grid’s annual Farmbook, hitting stands next week with our March issue.

For more information on the PASA conference, “Breaking Ground for a New Agriculture: Cultivating Versatility and Resilience,” visit

  -- Anna Louise Neiger

Handmade Holiday: Local Craft Events Offer Perfect Presents

Photo Credit: Nice Things...Handmade

Still pouring over the just-released GRID 2011 gift guide for presents that benefit the environment and local economy? Take a moment to hit the streets for some events that not only offer unique gifts made with love from the Philadelphia community, but also provide a festive atmosphere that will brighten your holiday shopping. Mark your calendar with these great opportunities to support some inspiring local talent, find perfect presents and let your last minute shopping fears melt away.

  • If just the thought of holiday shopping stresses you out, ease your way into the task with the Waldorf School’s Whispering Wood shopping boutique. Relax in Whispering Wood’s atmosphere of essential oils and soothing instrumental music from Waldorf parent, Peter Price, while picking up some unique children’s toys hand-crafted from all natural materials. The boutique (6819 Greene St.) is open Friday, December 9 from 11:00 am to 8:00 pm and December 10 and 11 from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm.
  • Perhaps your level of holiday-induced anxiety requires a stronger remedy. If so, hit up the Philadelphia Independent Craft Market’s 2nd Annual Holiday Show for beautifully handmade crafts, works of art and vintage items – plus, free Pabst Blue Ribbon sponsored drinks. The market boasts more than 45 vendors and live music from The Spinning Joneses and Hezekiah Leaves, Sisters 3, The Great Unknown and Levee Drivers. Take the edge off your shopping at show (2424 York St.) happening December 17 from 1:00pm to 8:00 pm.
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Proud Mary

Mary Seton Corboy and Greensgrow continue to set an example

story by Lee Stabert/photos by Jessica Kourkounis

Greensgrow, an urban farm and nursery in kensington, is a superstar of Philadelphia’s sustainability community. Having earned an abundance of recent national and local press, the pioneering farm’s name is always at the ready when conversation turns to the rising tide of urban ag. But Greensgrow is important because it’s not new. It’s not trendy. The farm has been around almost 15 years, long enough for legitimacy

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