World Food Day 2013: Global Perspectives on Food Justice - 10/16

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Word of this event came to us from Co-op member-owner Maria who wanted to pass it along and invite other member-owners and Co-op supporters to attend. See below the fold for the list and bios of the speakers. Feel free to email general@southphillyfoodcoop.org if you have any food-related events you think the rest of the membership would be interested in.

Wed Oct 16th 4:30-6:30
Rutgers Camden Campus
Student Center South
ABC Conference Room

The World Food Day theme for 2013 is “sustainable food systems for food security and nutrition.” Speakers will shed light on perspectives and strategies for food justice outside of the US. This event is part of the Rutgers Global Health Biennial Theme Year and Global Philly 2013.

Read more

We All Scream for an Ice Cream Social on SUNDAY at 7pm

Come to the home of Co-op member Martin Brown, co-owner and ice cream maker for Little Baby's Ice Cream.

Only $5 for Co-Op members, $10 for non members, collected at the door.

Enjoy all you can eat ice cream and a special off-the-menu item: WATER ICE! Probably the most authentic you've ever had. Local, organic blueberries, sour cherries and strawberries (water, sugar, fruit - that's it). Taste what small batch water ice from the juice from $200 worth of hand pitted cherries actually tastes like.

Date: Sunday, September 22, 2013
Time: 7:00 PM to 9:00 PM
Location: 1145 Mercy Street, Philadelphia, PA 19148

An end of summer experience not to be missed!
(BYO whatever you want - beer, wine, snacks)

No need to RSVP but let everyone know you're coming at our Facebook Event Page.


Garden Tour Recap: Numbers Don't Lie

IMG_9225 Photo by Michael Holmes

Ladies and gentlemen, the Third Annual South Philly Garden Tour numbers have been crunched, and we've got a whole lot of exciting news to share. We'll let the numbers speak for themselves:

    • $9,605 raised 
    • 171 tickets sold
    • 26 sponsors
    • 16 gardens
    • 8 new member-households (welcome, Jon; Abbe and Steve; Greg and Tami; Paul and Kathy; Francesca, Stephen and Josie; Kimiko; Maggie and David; and Lindsay and Seth!)
    • and, last but not least, 1 incredible day in the sunshine with our neighbors, friends and community members, moving swiftly toward our goal of opening our member-owned grocery store in South Philly!


The money we raised on Saturday will go toward ongoing costs, site analysis and keeping our equity costs in reserve for the store itself. To see for yourself how much fun we had, check out our Garden Tour photo album on Flickr, courtesy of marketing/communications committee volunteer Michael Holmes.

Thanks so much to everyone who helped make this year's Garden Tour such an incredible success


Garden Tour Countdown: The (press) hits just keep on comin'!

As we prepare for the 3rd Annual South Philly Garden Tour on Saturday, September 7 from 1pm to 5pm, we’re spending this time on our blog introducing a number of the cool features that tour-goers will experience at the event. If you’ve missed any of the Countdown you can see all of them here. Information about buying tickets for the tour can be found here.

newspaper_extra_copyAw, shucks. We'd like to give a special shout-out to the Philadelphia media outlets that've taken notice of our Garden Tour! Do us a favor and give these folks some clicks:


  • KYW-Newsradio: Lauren Lipton interviewed our own Programs & Events Committee mastermind Leigh Goldenberg about why folks looking for garden inspiration should attend the tour for her segment "Positively Philadelphia." Leigh says: “[Participants will] go behind people’s backyards and see a little concrete space that might look a lot like their concrete space, but somebody has been creative and really turned it into something beautiful.”


  • Passyunk Post: Our go-to neighborhood news outlet is one of this year's Garden Tour sponsors. In exchange for spending a few minutes answering a survey, the Post will enter your name in a free-ticket drawing. Sweet!


  • Hidden City Philadelphia: We like this take on the tour as voyeurism-without-the-creepy-factor: "Now in its third year, the garden tour offers a legit excuse for you to snoop around people’s front and back yards, silently critiquing their garden skills, but more importantly, breathing in a little fresh air in the mini soft green spaces in the big hard gray section of town."


  • Uwishunu: Ever thoughtful and comprehensive, Uwishunu focuses on the perks of attending as well as where the money's going.




  • Daily Candy Philadelphia: We're blushing! So exciting to be part of Daily Candy's keenly curated Weekend Guide.


  • Grid Philly: Another one of our excellent sponsors, Grid gave us a shout on its sustainability-minded blog.

  • Plus great coverage from PlanPhillyPropertyGenerocity, Curbed Philly, the South Philly Review's event listings, the Inquirer's Garden Scoop and more!

Don't forget — you've got till midnight to buy your tickets for a cool $20; they'll be $25 at the door. See you tomorrow!

Garden Tour Countdown: Window Box Workshop

As we prepare for the 3rd Annual South Philly Garden Tour on Saturday, September 7 from 1pm to 5pm, we're spending this time on our blog introducing a number of the cool features that tour-goers will experience at the event. If you've missed any of the Countdown you can see all of them here. Information about buying tickets for the tour can be found here.

Photo by Jeff Fusco. Courtesy of EPX. Photo by Jeff Fusco. Courtesy of EPX.

In case you haven’t heard, this Saturday, the South Philly Food Co-op hosts the third annual South Philly Garden Tour. And from 2 to 3:30pm, the East Passyunk Crossing Civic Association (EPX) is offering a FREE Fall Window Box Workshop led by our friends at Urban Jungle. They’ll lead a demonstration of techniques and tricks to putting together the perfect fall window box — all leading up to an exciting Window Box Contest (September 20  – October 5). Pick up your entry form during the Tour and you just might win a $75 gift card to a local restaurant!

Urban Jungle and EPX will be on site at the Community Garden housed at Neuman-Goretti High School (1736 S 10th St.) throughout the afternoon with continuous workshops being held from 2 to 3:30 p.m. No registration is required — just show up with your questions and enthusiasm.

For more details on the window box contest, please visit the East Passyunk Crossing website.

This Window Box Workshop makes the perfect pitstop on your Garden Tour. And even more good news: There’s still time to get your discounted tickets. Buy now and get them for $20 each ($25 on the day of). Tickets can be purchased online or at Breezy’s CafeUltimo Coffee NewboldUrban Jungle and The Wishing Well.

Garden Tour Countdown: Hardly the Last Straw

As we prepare for the 3rd Annual South Philly Garden Tour on Saturday, September 7 from 1pm to 5pm, we're spending this time on our blog introducing a number of the cool features that tour-goers will experience at the event. If you've missed any of the Countdown you can see all of them here. Information about buying tickets for the tour can be found here.

What do you see when you open your back door? For me, it's a brick wall, a recycling bin, and a whole lot of concrete. In other words, no dirt and certainly not the luscious loam that would feed the production of tasty tomatoes, cool cucumbers, or zippy zucchini. This has become one of my main excuses for not gardening. Where would I do it? You, too? Well, we're both in trouble. Apparently some creative folks have invented a way to garden without dirt: straw bales.

Straw bale garden in action.

Yup, according to the august New York Times, gardeners are using straw bales, treated with a little fertilizer and water, to create insta-gardens that are cheap and, bonus!, require no stooping to pluck the few weeds that may pop up. Pretty ingenious, right? But now you've probably got more questions than one article or even a Facebook page could answer. Lucky for you, one of the stops on the Garden Tour on September 7, will feature straw bales. A couple of enterprising local gardeners have decked out half of their plot with a dozen straw bales growing organic veggies from seed and will be able to help you with your questions on how to get started. The rest of their garden, too, is a mini-paradise with fig trees and fragrant climbing jasmine, and well worth the visit.

Buy your tickets today! Buy now and get them for $20 each. They will be $25 on the day of the tour. Tickets can be purchased online or at Breezy’s CafeUltimo Coffee NewboldUrban Jungle, and The Wishing Well.

Garden Tour Countdown: After the Party is the After-Party

As we prepare for the third annual South Philly Garden Tour on Saturday, September 7, from 1 to 5 p.m., we’re spending this time on our blog introducing a number of the cool features that tour-goers will experience at the event. If you’ve missed any of the Countdown, you can see all of them here. Information about buying tickets for the tour can be found here.

Photo by Brian Howard Tom Culton of Culton Organics. Photo by Brian Howard.

We already bragged a bit on the Garden Tour's most excellent after-party at the South Philadelphia Tap Room, but we've got a couple of exciting new details to share:

1) Chef/Twitter king Scott Schroeder will be providing some Garden Tour attendee-exclusive small bites, and local drafts will be half-off for all ticket-holders. (Check out the SPTR's full menu, which will also be available, by clicking here.)

2) Culton Organics mastermind/Headhouse Farmers Market king Tom Culton will hook us up with beautiful tomatoes, potatoes, eggplant and other produce (hence those above small bites). Culton provides produce to restaurants across the city, including Fork and Farm & Fisherman, and we can't wait to celebrate the Garden Tour in a truly farm-to-table way. (More info on Culton Organics over at Philly Homegrown; or check out this 2009 City Paper story penned by none other than Co-op marketing committee member Brian Howard.)

Big thanks to our two after-party sponsors, Culton Organics and the SPTR!

Garden Tour Countdown: Gardens Helping Save Millions of Dollars!

As we prepare for the 3rd Annual South Philly Garden Tour on Saturday, September 7 from 1pm to 5pm, we're spending this time on our blog introducing a number of the cool features that tour-goers will experience at the event. If you've missed any of the Countdown you can see all of them here. Information about buying tickets for the tour can be found here.

The lowly raindrop. Not a big deal, right? How much trouble can a raindrop cause? Combine him with trillions of his friends falling on millions of square feet of concrete and blacktop all over the city and next thing you know, they're causing real trouble for our sewer inlets, wastewater treatment facilities and, eventually, our rivers (which, by the way, is where we get our drinking water).

The good news is that there's a way to lessen the impact of Mr. Raindrop and his friends that is both cost effective, environmentally friendly, non-disruptive and just plain pretty. But first lets look at the other options.

In most of Philadelphia we have what is known as a combined stormwater/wastewater system. One set of pipes circulates the water and "solids" (as the plumbers call them) from your household drains and toilets AND the rainwater that hits the streets and roofs around the city and sent to your downspouts and the corner sewer inlet. All of this gets sent to treatment plants that are able to remove the organic wastes, bacteria and other oils and tars from the blacktop before sending the cleaned water back to the river. With as little as 1/10th of an inch of rainfall, the system gets overwhelmed and untreated water can end up in the Schuylkill and Delaware. So one option is to build more and bigger treatment treatment facilities. Mucho dinero. And at a time when municipal budgets are under strain, this isn't much of an option.

Another option is to separate the pipes. In newly developed areas, the waste water and storm water travel through separate pipes so that during rainstorms, the waste water can still go to the treatment facilities and the relatively less harmful storm water can bypass directly to the rivers (note... not completely harmless... it still picks up oils, dirt, gravel and other trash). Not only is this option expensive, it would require tearing up almost every street in the city to lay down new pipe. Think parking in South Philly is tough now? And the estimates are that this would come at a price tag of over $8 billion.

But what if we could keep Mr. Raindrop from ever getting to pipes? That's where our option comes in and part of what the Garden Tour will be featuring at every stop on the tour. One of gardens was "formerly a sea of concrete and chain link" before being "transformed into an inviting garden retreat." Another "features bamboo and a rainwater retention system." And at a third you can find a "four seasons-themed mosaic, a wisteria-covered arbor, a rainbarrel watering system." These gardens and a dozen more with their own water retention or diversion features are all part of the Garden Tour. If you've been thinking about putting these kinds of features in place in your own outdoor space, the Tour is a great place to get ideas and talk to folks who have done the research and execution. (AND the weather is looking GREAT for Saturday.) Don't miss out. Buy your tickets online today or in person at Breezy’s CafeUltimo Coffee NewboldUrban Jungle, and The Wishing Well.

Every square inch of concrete that gets transformed into a porous surface or covered with a container helps to contribute to diverting storm water from the system. Every rain barrel tied into the downspouts of our neighbors houses can hold roughly 55 gallons (depending on the size of the barrel) out of the system to be released later after a rain event has passed or used to water non-edible plants. While this may not seem like much at the individual level, if you multiply it by a half-million or so private properties and add that to the great work being done by the Philadelphia Water Department to add storm water diversion tools on public lands through its Green City, Clean Waters effort and it does make a difference.

For more information about the various tools available for diverting and retaining stormwater - rain barrels, rain gardens, porous paving, downspout planters, tree trenches and more - check out the Philadelphia Water Department's website. You can also check out the Water Department's "Rain Check" program which is specifically designed for helping residential property owners put these tools to work on their own properties.

Garden Tour Countdown: Bees!

I have to admit that the more I read about them and learn about them, the more I think bees might be taking their place among my favorites of the Hymenoptera order. Heck, possibly among all animals. The unfortunate part is that my familiarity with these amazing insects has come mostly from reading about what seems to be their impending doom. The more I learn about them the more I've come to realize that every good thing we like depends on bees. Enjoy a nice crisp apple on a fall day? Bees. Tomatoes in your Greek salad? Bees. A cold beer on a spring evening? Bees. Coffee? Bees. The list of crops pollinated by bees is long and distinguished.

In my attempts to keep a garden in the concrete jungle of South Philadelphia, I've become aware of how important these little guys (and gals) are to the health of my plants and the growth of the fruits and vegetables I've cultivated. I've planted several different flowering pieces with the precise goal of attracting more bees to the yard. These include herbs like bee balm, catnip, sage, rosemary, lavender and thyme; an ill-fated butterfly bush; annuals like zinnias, marigolds and sunflowers; and perennials including English ivy, clematis and some really cool purple-flowering catmint that I thought I killed but came back with a vengeance with all the rain we've had this summer.

And my garden absolutely pales in comparison to some of the things I've seen and expect to see on the South Philly Garden Tour. I remember walking into a garden not far from my house and being absolutely amazed at the dozens of bees I saw flitting around from flower to flower. It was as if the woman who owned the garden was keeping a hive somewhere on her property (which some homes and businesses in our neighborhood do... and which I hope to do someday). In fact, in searching around the pictures from past Garden Tours, I found one that I took of one of those buzzing pollinators:

bee2 So cute, right?!

This year's tour should offer just as many opportunities to see these guys in action. With over a dozen different gardens along the Broad Street corridor (focusing on 11th to 17th, Washington to Snyder) tour goers will have the opportunity to see all kinds of creative ways to green (and purple, and red, and blue) the concrete jungle AND attract bees to the ecosystem. It's a great chance to get some ideas for your own garden.

Buy your tickets today! Buy now and get them for $20 each. They will be $25 on the day of the tour. Tickets can be purchased online or at Breezy’s CafeUltimo Coffee NewboldUrban Jungle, and The Wishing Well.

In the meantime, below are a few of links to learn more about bees and some tips on what you can do to help out the bee population in our part of the world.

Bee Colony Collapses Are More Complex Than We Thought - U.S. News and World Report

Seven easy ways to help the honeybees - Rodale Institute

Saving honeybees through healthy hive stewardship - Rodale Institute's Honeybee Conservancy

And check out Baltimore Honey - a CSA (in this case, Community Supported Apiary) - in Baltimore and the Green Sanctuary Community Apiary here in Philadelphia which offers some great educational programs to the public.

Sarah's Garden: On Stubbornness

I read something recently:  "If at first you don't succeed...you must be a gardener."  Now, this is the kind of cutesy saying bad gardening books are full of, but this one went on to contend that gardeners are stubborn and that, indeed, stubbornness is actually a good quality in a gardener since so many things can and do go wrong each season.  Okay, maybe that last part was my own projection.  But!  Gardening has taught me to try again and again and, stubbornly, again.  It took me three years to grow an eggplant but, dammit, I finally did it.

photo.JPG tomatoes (and two blackberries)!

What can I say, it's tomato time.  I'll write a more in-depth post about what varieties I grew this year and how I liked or didn't like them but - spoiler alert - they were all pretty great.  Especially the yellow pears.  With so many tomatoes I've been making my default tomato sauce and it tastes great but looks a little...well, like puke.  I casually mentioned that to my boyfriend as I served him a dinner of pasta in that sauce and he kindly asked me never to describe it that way to him again and then cleaned his plate and went back for more.  A keeper, I say!

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