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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Farming It Out: Bartram’s Garden restores tradition with a new farm and community center

Two years ago during a staff retreat, Tyler Holmberg and his colleagues at the University of Pennsylvania’s Netter Center for Community Partnership started brainstorming about transforming the southern portion of Bartram’s Garden into an operational farm. Since then, their vision has become a reality; last month, ground was officially broken for the Bartram’s Farm and Community Resource Center. 
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Agriculture: City Farming

Emerald Street Urban Farm was once a vacant lot, home to piles of trash and an abandoned VW van. Now, thanks to Patrick Dunn and Elissa Ruse, five raised beds cradle a bounty of winter produce and 10 community garden plots offer an outlet for landless Kensington residents. The farm will serve as a model for Dunn as he helps Marathon Grill turn underutilized spaces into blossoming farms.
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Growing Pains

A fight erupts over an urban farm project in Roxborough 
by Nic Esposito

Is a local Philadelphia food system just a curiosity—something that looks good on grant applications—or can it sustain our city? Does it work by revitalizing a portion of the city’s vacant lots or do we rely on the surrounding rural counties to support our agricultural needs?
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Jungle Fever

This South Philly gardener goes vertical by scott orwig

Sometimes it’s easy to forget the simplest way to go green: plants. But for city dwellers whose outdoor space consists of a tiny concrete slab or rooftop deck, a lush, outdoor garden seems out of the question. There are plenty of easy ways to green up even the most meager of spaces—potted plants, window boxes—but if you’re really looking to maximize your space, look skyward.

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Profile: King of Compost

Urban farmer and MacArthur Grant recipient Will Allen on the importance of greens, worms and more
by Lee Stabert

Everything about Will Allen is big. The pro basketball player turned urban agriculture iconoclast has hands like baseball mitts, and arms like tree trunks. His normal uniform—jeans, baseball hat, hooded sweatshirt with the sleeves removed—only serves to emphasize the power of his gentle, hulking presence.

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Book Review: Edible Schoolyard

Edible Schoolyard: A Universal Idea
by Alice Waters
Chronicle; $24.95

When Alice Waters used to drive by the Martin Luther King Jr. middle school near her neighborhood in Berkeley, CA, she thought it was deserted. The schoolyard looked abandoned, overgrown with weeds and cracked concrete. After mentioning the use—or rather, misuse—of vacant land in a newspaper article about her restaurant, Chez Panisse, and criticizing the school for wastefulness, the school principal challenged Waters to come up with a solution.
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Feature: Farmer's Rap

Weaver's Way helps start high school farms
by Andrew Thompson

On a May afternoon at Martin Luther King High School in East Germantown, several students tilled compost onto one of the many mounds being readied for sowing. Along with their stewards from nearby Weaver’s Way Co-op and the Philadelphia Orchard Project, they had just finished harvesting some of the kale and collards planted in April at the farm the school runs with Weaver’s. The one-third-acre farm and its adjacent greenhouse sits just south of the King’s soccer field and overlooks bustling Stenton Avenue.
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Feature: Farming Differently

Mill Creek Farm sets a standard for sustainable farming
by Will Dean

Bat Cave #2. That’s the first thing you can easily make out about the main farm building at West Philly’s nonprofit Mill Creek Farm. It’s painted in yellow on a piece of metal that juts out of a low, glimmering building in the middle of a green plot at 49th and Brown. Though no bats yet live in the cave—actually a small structure meant to mimic the attics the nocturnal animals prefer—the attempt to attract them is just one example of the creativity and ingenuity on display at Mill Creek.
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Feature: The Most Important Meal

A local teen finds success by growing healthy food
by Dana Henry


The school bell rings and teenagers fill the entrance halls of University City High School. Many are running and some are calling out to their friends, relieved from a long day of classes. A young man apologizes to the woman at the front desk who just reprimanded him for cursing. A tall girl with broad shoulders playfully shakes a boy in glasses who looks about half her size. An unplugged metal detector rests beside the padlocked front doors, and several feet away are a few pregnant girls.
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How-To: Urban Transplants

How to start heirloom veggies from seed
by Phil Forsyth


So you’ve been enjoying those orange, yellow, purple, green, striped, two-tone, cherry, plum, pear-shaped and downright unusual tomatoes from the farmer’s market. Then you get your hands on a seed catalog and the names call to you: Black From Tula, Golden Sunray, Aunt Ruby’s German Green. So how hard is it to grow these heirloom vegetables yourself?
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Power Plants

The Philadelphia Orchard Project is harvesting edible agriculture one vacant lot at a time
by Natalie Hope McDonald


From Kensington’s Cambria Orchard to Chester Avenue’s Squirrel Hill and the Martin Luther King High School Farm on West Oak Lane, fresh fruits and vegetables are being harvested in once-vacant, crime-ridden lots. It’s all part of a massive nutrition plan by Philadelphia Orchard Project (POP) to grow sustainable and edible agriculture in local communities that need it the most.
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Cover Story: Hold Your Turf

How Haddington used guerrilla gardening to transform its vacant lots, and why the city should encourage everyone to do the same
by Haley Loram


Someone left a busted couch at the edge of the Conestoga Children’s Garden, directly under the “No Dumping” sign. Skip Wiener, who tends to the network of gardens in the West Philly neighborhood of Haddington, pursed his lips and said, “That hasn’t happened in a while, but I’ll go talk to Cleveland after we’re done here; he might have seen who left it.” Cleveland owns the mechanic shop across the street, and he’s just one of the neighbors who keep an eye on the gardens.
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Urban Jungle, Concrete Farm

Philly represents at statewide urban farming conference 
by Phil Forsyth


On February 7, over 80 enthusiastic farmers and eaters packed a workshop called Small Space Community Food Production in State College. Lisa Mosca and Sharat Samashekara of Philly Green—a division of the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society—energized the crowd about the possibilities of sustainable agriculture in an urban environment. In the crowd were some of the 120 folks, according to the official count, from Philly and the Southeastern Pennsylvania region that trekked to State College for the Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture’s (PASA) Farming for the Future conference. They came from urban farms, farmer’s markets and blogs to learn, network and, of course, eat some great local food.
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