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!

Garden Tour Countdown: A Visit with One Of Our Sponsors!

The third annual South Philly Garden Tour, a self-guided exploration of the green spaces hidden in South Philly’s concrete jungle, is just around the corner. As we count down to the big day, your friendly neighborhood co-op blog team is here to remind you of all the most crucial reasons why you should join us on Saturday, September 7, from 1 to 5 p.m., for our biggest fundraiser of the year.

One of our Sponsors is the proudly South Philly boutique, Occasionette. The creative mind behind Girls Can Tell, and owner of Occasionette, Sara Selepouchin Villari, answers a few questions for today's blog post:

Hi Sara! Why are you sponsoring the Garden Tour?
We are sponsoring the garden tour because we love supporting the Coop in whatever ways we can. We're so excited for the Coop to open, so anything we can do to help in that process is something we're game for!

How long has Occasionette been open, and where are you located?
Occasionette is at 1825 East Passyunk (next door to Chhaya), and we opened in April.

You're providing an awesome tote bag for the garden tour attendees; what can you say about the tote?
We're providing 200 tote bags for attendees! It'll feature an original Philadelphia-themed illustration.

Have you had any personal success with growing plants in South Philly?
I usually end up with one monster plant that takes over my (tiny) yard. One year it was cucumber, one year morning glories, this year, lemon balm. (Which is lovely, but I'm learning there's only so much you can do with lemon balm...)

Thanks, Sara. And thanks again for being one of the sponsors of this year's South Philly Garden Tour!

EVENT DETAILS
South Philly Garden Tour
Saturday, September 7, 1-5 p.m. (Rain date: Sunday, September 8, 1-5 p.m.)
Check-in: South Philly High School, Broad and Snyder

Garden Tour Countdown: Fig Nation

The third annual South Philly Garden Tour, a self-guided exploration of the green spaces hidden in South Philly’s concrete jungle, is just around the corner. As we count down to the big day, your friendly neighborhood co-op blog team is here to remind you of all the most crucial reasons why you should join us on Saturday, September 7, from 1 to 5 p.m., for our biggest fundraiser of the year. 

figs-mDid you know that South Philly is full of fig trees? Mediterranean immigrants, many of them Italian, planted figs in the unique microclimate of Philadelphia — which is perfect for figs! Come on the South Philly Garden Tour to meet one of the neighborhood’s fig gardeners and learn how to care for a fig tree. If you’re lucky, maybe she’ll let you try a sample.  In honor of our fig gardener, we’re sharing some of our favorite fig recipes, from savory grilled creations and jams to delicious desserts:

Prosciutto-Wrapped Figs with Cheese. Cut figs in half and stuff with blue cheese, goat cheese or gorgonzola. Wrap with prosciutto.  Grill on medium to high heat for approximately 2 minutes per side, until the prosciutto gets a little crispy and the cheese is warm.  Drizzle with olive oil and serve.

Fig Jam. This fabulous recipe for strawberry fig jam comes from Marisa McClellan at Food in Jars.  http://foodinjars.com/2013/06/small-batch-strawberry-fig-jam/

Fig Challah. The yummy continues with a fig and sea salt challah recipe from Smitten Kitchen. I made it with above homemade fig jam. Delish. http://smittenkitchen.com/blog/2012/09/fig-olive-oil-and-sea-salt-challah-book-tour/

Figs with Ricotta and Honey. Slice your figs down the middle but not all the way through. Stuff with fresh ricotta, drizzle with honey and garnish with chopped nuts and a sprig of mint.

Fig Ice Cream. If you have an ice cream maker, you are in luck because fig ice cream may be my favorite thing in the world. Check out this recipe, and don't forget to invite us over for dessert. http://deliciousshots.blogspot.com/2012/07/fig-ice-cream.html

Figs are also great in salads, pastas and baked desserts.  Share some of your favorites in the comments!

EVENT DETAILS
South Philly Garden Tour
Saturday, September 7, 1-5 p.m. (Rain date: Sunday, September 8, 1-5 p.m.)
Check-in: South Philly High School, Broad Street and Snyder Avenue

The Garden Tour is the South Philly Food Co-op’s biggest annual fundraiser, with all proceeds directly supporting costs associated with opening a community-owned and -operated full-service grocery store. Tickets cost $20 in advance and $25 at the door. Tickets can be purchased at southphillyfoodcoop.ticketleap.com/garden-tour; at Urban Jungle and other local businesses; and at a variety of upcoming South Philly Food Co-op events.

Click here for more information about this year’s tour or to get your tickets today.

Garden Tour Countdown: Back in the Saddle

The third annual South Philly Garden Tour, a self-guided exploration of the green spaces hidden in South Philly’s concrete jungle, is just around the corner. As we count down to the big day, your friendly neighborhood co-op blog team is here to remind you of all the most crucial reasons why you should join us on Saturday, September 7, from 1 to 5 p.m., for our biggest fundraiser of the year. 


boot-n-saddle_300pxNext Up: Thanks to our big, Broad Street-level sponsor, Boot And Saddle

There have been a number of very generous local businesses who have stepped up to help make the South Philly Garden Tour a reality. At the top of that list is an opening-soon venue we're pretty darned excited about 'round these parts: Boot and Saddle.



The long-shuttered Broad Street country music joint with the iconic neon sign is re-opening on Sept. 9 as a 60-seat restaurant and bar and 150-person capacity live rock venue programmed by R5 Productions, the team that books venues such as Johnny Brenda's, Union Transfer, First Unitarian Church, Morgan’s Pier and more.

It'll be a great addition to the neighborhood, bringing touring indie rock, punk, electronic, metal and even country acts to an intimate club space south of Washington Avenue.

The kick-off show on Sept. 9 is a band called The Both, but whose members are the famous-in-their-own-right Ted Leo and Aimee Mann (give 'em a listen below). Other shows we're excited about include Laura Veirs (Sept. 20), Elf Power (Oct. 6), Quasi (Oct. 12), Mono (Oct. 19), and Lee Ranaldo and Steve Shelly of Sonic Youth (Oct. 26).

See the full schedule at bootandsaddlephilly.com, and follow them on Facebook and Twitter.

We're thrilled to have Boot and Saddle as a Broad Street Level Sponsor. See you there — and at the Garden Tour.


EVENT DETAILS
South Philly Garden Tour
Saturday, September 7, 1-5 p.m. (Rain date: Sunday, September 8, 1-5 p.m.)
Check-in: South Philly High School, Broad Street and Snyder Avenue

The Garden Tour is the South Philly Food Co-op’s biggest annual fundraiser, with all proceeds directly supporting costs associated with opening a community-owned and -operated full-service grocery store. Tickets cost $20 in advance and $25 at the door. Tickets can be purchased at southphillyfoodcoop.ticketleap.com/garden-tour; at Urban Jungle and other local businesses; and at a variety of upcoming South Philly Food Co-op events.

Click here for more information about this year’s tour or to get your tickets today.



Garden Tour Countdown: Swag Edition

MjAxMy1mN2FhZWM5MTlmNjhjY2VmThe third annual South Philly Garden Tour, a self-guided exploration of the green spaces hidden in South Philly's concrete jungle, is just around the corner. As we count down to the big day, your friendly neighborhood co-op blog team is here to remind you of all the most crucial reasons why you should join us on Saturday, September 7, from 1 to 5 p.m., for our biggest fundraiser of the year. 


First up: SWAG.

Let's start with the basics: A ticket to the Garden Tour gets you an exclusive look at some of your neighbors' most incredible green spaces that you can't see from the street. It's a great excuse to learn more about South Philly, see what your neighbors are growing, get inspired and meet new people.

But this year's ticket price gets you more than an afternoon of unlimited garden-variety voyeurism: We're excited to announce that, if you're one of the first 200 attendees to check in at Garden Tour hub South Philly High School (Broad and Snyder), you'll receive a reusable swag bag courtesy of Passyunk Avenue's charming gift boutique Occasionette, full of giveaways from our fabulous sponsors.

Plus, South Philly Tap Room is hosting our after-party, including excellent drink specials for ticket-holders.

Hope to see you there!


EVENT DETAILS
South Philly Garden Tour
Saturday, September 7, 1-5 p.m. (Rain date: Sunday, September 8, 1-5 p.m.)
Check-in: South Philly High School, Broad Street and Snyder Avenue

The Garden Tour is the South Philly Food Co-op’s biggest annual fundraiser, with all proceeds directly supporting costs associated with opening a community-owned and -operated full-service grocery store. Tickets cost $20 in advance and $25 at the door. Tickets can be purchased at southphillyfoodcoop.ticketleap.com/garden-tour; at Urban Jungle and other local businesses; and at a variety of upcoming South Philly Food Co-op events.

Click here for more information about this year's tour or to get your tickets today.


Sarah's Garden: Tomato Time!

It's that great time of year when we get to enjoy the literal fruits of our labors:  lots and lots of tomatoes!

photo.JPG a day's harvest

I know this black krim is not very...black.  I was going to let it ripen on the counter for a few days before eating it (I thought to myself), but then my boyfriend cut it up and served it for dinner that night.  It was delicious and I'm never one to complain about being made dinner but next time I will tell him my plan instead of just thinking it.  You know, communication.  Hey maybe I should start a relationship blog!  JUST KIDDING.

Lastly, I've been enjoying lots of really sweet blackberries from a plant I got from the nursery at Bartram's Garden:

photo.JPG

They are really plump and really good.  Sometimes blackberries are too...hard? for me but these just melt in your mouth.  Also the plant is thornless which is nice considering I planted it right in the middle of my yard and frequently have to push its branches out of the way to get around it.

For our neighbors in Point Breeze: Co-op At Peace In the Park on 8/3

What: Peace in the Park
When: Saturday, August 3, 2013; 12:00PM - 6:00 PM
Where: 1800 Washington Avenue

Details:
Point Breeze Community Development Coalition, Inc. in partnership with Chew Playground and South Philadelphia H.O.M.E.S., Inc. presents Peace in the Park. An afternoon of food, fun and activities for adults and children.

Attendees can look forward to free hot dogs, water, cakes, pies and bread. There will be prizes given away every hour and presentations to five of the youth in attendance. The little ones can enjoy a large sliding board. And SPHINC will raffle off three televisions as a fund raiser. Community and professional performers are providing the entertainment.

The South Philly Food Co-op will have a presence at this event as part of our ongoing efforts to spread the word and recruit members from all parts of South Philly and the four zip codes - 19145, 19146, 19147 and 19148. Please mark this date on your calendar and come on out to support these community organizations and the Co-op.

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