Follow the Co-op's progress by reading the monthly committee reports!

It is time once again to share our monthly committee reports with our membership and others who are interested in what we are doing to bring the Co-op to fruition. We have several active committees staffed by dedicated, hard-working volunteers whose one goal is get this Co-op built. As you can see from the reports below, the summer Growing Season has been pretty busy so far and we'll be working hard over the next couple months to accomplish our overall goal of recruiting enough new members to open our store.

Can you help us out?. If you’re a member who wants to make a HUGE difference in how fast we can get to the ribbon cutting for the Co-op, please consider volunteering to serve on one of these committees. The report below will help you determine which activities fit with your skill set or are among skills that you’re hoping to learn. (You can also download the report here.)

Treasury (Jay Tarlecki)


  • Statement of Activities & Statement of Financial Position.  Records are only updated to 5/24/2013, bookkeeping a bit behind schedule this month.

  • Bank Reconciliation

  • Fair Food account bank reconciliation.  This is not yet included with the standard report numbers.  Rather than re-work everything now, this issue will be addressed during the upcoming Quickbooks integration.

  • TRF Report and to be discussed later in meeting

  • FY14 budget actuals current as of 6/14/2013 (attached) and to be discussed later in meeting


  • Treasurer playbook, in progress

  • Looking for CPA to handle taxes moving forward, no luck finding one that handles co-op so far. Talked to one who handles cooperatives, but he would like to meet in person in Lancaster, PA.  Working to find someone more local.  Still awaiting CPA approval of FY13 final numbers, will likely need a new option.

  • Will be asking for another $5,000+ disbursement from TRF this week (money can only be released in $5,000 increments)

  • Develop new bank deposit form, in progress

Members in good standing may request to see current financials

Bookkeeping (Molly Peterman)

Move from member records in excel to QuickBooks for accounting and tracking needs

  • Begin using QuickBooks at start of FY14 - Refer to Board proposal for professional assistance for QB implementation

  • Begin transition of past FYs to QuickBooks on 6/1/13 after FY13 is officially closed out- Implementation proposal includes transition of historical data

  • Provide reliable and accurate financial stewardship to people who have trusted us with their money records are reconciled

  • Written policy and procedure manual for member tracking, CRM entry, and bookkeeping practices. Pending

  • Monthly reconciliation for banking
    Records reconciled as of 6/16.

  • Current active member count is 479 (members in good standing = 425 and equity past-due = 54). Cash on hand = $67,062. (excluding $1,750 transferred to Fair Foods).  Non-equity cash = ($1,295) Note- negative due to pending grant-related reimbursement.

  • CRM database and QuickBooks to be updated twice a month. Done

  • Membership cards and welcome letters to be mailed once a month mailed at least once every calendar month

  • Assist with development and conversion to the Co-op’s CRM system. Pending

  • Distribute membership certificate shares at each general meeting distributed at Spring Member Meeting

Business Outreach (Dana Mitchell)

Business Outreach has received a new SSP application from a local chiropractor office and is processing. BO will be contacting the current SSP businesses for potential garden your sponsors. This will be accomplished by contacting them via email and in person. BO appreciates any assistance from other members, or recommendations on businesses to contact.

Grants (Maria Sourbeer)

We did not receive the recent grant from TRF.  Grants followed up with TRF for feedback and will report if/when they respond. We were awarded CDC service grant and board will discuss acceptance and $1500 service fee.  Pending responses from Clif Family Foundation and PAF applications.  Last year's Philadelphia Activities Fund report due June 30, 2013, Events has kindly agreed to submit. We continue to research and update our database. Top on our radar is the Food Coop Initiative seed grant due August 1st for up to $10,000 and requires matching funds.

NationBuilder buildout (Melanie Myers)

No report submitted

Leadership (Aubrey Jones)

The Leadership Committee does not have anything to report at this time. We are planning to meet soon to discuss long term goals and leadership strategies.

Legal (Josh Richards)

The legal committee has been focusing its efforts on getting the member loan committee up and running. Apart from that, the Committee has reviewed and signed off on an agreement with the Community Design Collaborative and coordinated with discussions on site selection and presentations to potential sources of funding.

Marketing and Communication (Dan Pohlig)

The Marketing and Communications Committee recently completed a design and print project to create 10" x 14" posters featuring quotes from members telling the story about why the Co-op will be good for the community or for their own households. Marketing and Communications intends to contact Business Outreach and Membership to discuss distribution of these posters to local shops and bulletin boards as well as to members who would like to display them in their front windows. The Committee continues to recruit new volunteers to join and help out with the work of spreading the word about the Co-op and increasing awareness among the residents of the community. Marketing and Communications has also been working to brand summer 2013 as "Growing Season" for the Co-op to provide a unified theme for all communications this summer. All committees are encouraged to work the language of growth, gardening, farming, fertility, activity, working etc. and avoid words like vacation, shore, break, lazy, sleepy, etc. when describing the Co-op's activities over the summer. The Committee is also taking up work of overseeing email communications that had been done by the Membership Committee during the 75in75 campaign. Finally, the Committee has begun investigating paid forms of advertising including print ads that would leverage the new posters in publications like Grid.

Member Loan Committee (Josh Richards)

The member loan committee met three times since the last Board meeting, and has made substantial headway in preparing draft recommendations regarding details of the member loan campaign for presentation to the Board. We will present these recommendations at the June Board meeting. The committee has worked to collect and synthesize materials from other member loan campaigns in preparing its recommendations. Josh Richards has met with counsel from three firms to work toward a recommendation of counsel to hire to prepare legal documents in connection with the member loan campaign. The most serious outstanding action item is the hiring of a paid contractor to direct the campaign, which process Anna Shipp has contributed to mightily this month in preparing a draft job description for presentation to the Board. Josh Richards and Alison Fritz also had a lengthy phone call with Leah Pillsbury who led Mariposa’s recent successful capital campaign.

Membership (Cassie Plummer)

The Membership Committee is currently focusing on supporting the CRM (NationBuilder) implementation to ensure appropriate data transfer/capture. We will be working to setting up processes for use of NationBuilder: adding data, searching data, mailing list onboarding/outreach, new member onboarding/welcome, volunteer management, interaction documentation. We will put together a playbook for these items and offer training.

Please see the separately submitted proposal for changing the payment plan offering to launch with the NationBuilder site.

Committee is working with Bookkeeping to send out equity reminders and may need to postpone this since the switch to NationBuilder is near and may change the process slightly.

Committee is in the process of collecting/documenting feedback from the May General Meeting and will begin thinking about venues/dates for the October meeting.

Committee is working with P/E to plan a series of “local” potlucks in several different neighborhoods – which will function similar to a house party with an update and call to join but will be open to anyone, members and non-members.

Committee is thinking about ways to improve our volunteer onboarding and hope to offer monthly volunteer trainings beginning in the fall.

Committee report the success of the Coffee With the Co-op Campaign: 29 new members joined at Coffee With the Co-op events, ~100 new additions to the mailing list from these events. We sent out 265 postcards to our most highly engaged mailing list followers announcing Coffee with the Co-op and distributed 135 postcards through the participating coffee shops.

  • Positive feedback was given for the design of the postcard.

  • Only one person who we sent a postcard to actually joined at one of the Coffee with the Co-op events.

  • Seven people who were sent postcards joined online via wufoo during the Coffee with the Co-op time period (3/15/2013 to 5/18/2013)

We have 30+ mugs remaining for future Coffee with the Co-op events. To avoid some of the scheduling issues we experienced this spring, we recommend scheduling fewer events, spreading out over several months, and not booking 2 events for the same day.

Operations Committee (Alison Fritz)

Ops continues to oversee outreach to potential lenders.  Members of the committee and board have met with representatives from several lenders.  So far the response has been positive however our lack of collateral will limit the amount we can borrow.   All agencies have said that we should schedule another meeting when we have specific location in mind.

Working in tandem with Real Estate Committee, Ops has created site specific pro formas to reflect new information as it becomes available from lenders and potential landlords.   Ops has also looked into site analysis vendor referred by TRF, Dakota Worldwide (MN).  The committee is securing samples and references on both Dakota and CDS and will make a recommendation to the board as to which vendor the Co-op should contract with.

Ops discussed store programming and suggests the following product mix to be used when considering store layout options for a 3,000sqft store:  Produce, bulk, dry goods, dairy, frozen, wellness (health and beauty), grab n go (sandwiches, salads), prepackaged meat and fish, baked goods (not made on site), beverages.

In process: 1.) business plan (in addition to editing of existing sections we need to write a 5-year vision, marketing plan, and executive summary). 2.) matching “actuals” to “projected” Sources and Uses on pro forma, 3.) Identify potential DCED grants for equipment purchases.

Upcoming work includes:  1.) guidelines for electronic documentation storage, 2.) a primer on the Co-op’s sources and uses so committee members understand the basics.

Programs and Events   (Leigh Goldenberg)

Programs and Events hosted two packed, buzzed-about events in June - a pallet gardening workshop at South Philly High School and a Hot Dog Happy Hour at Underdogs, which drew a diverse representation of our membership and signed up new members. The committee is in the thick of recruiting gardens and sponsors for the 3rd Annual South Philadelphia Garden Tour, on Saturday September 7. The participation of all committees and members is encouraged, by connecting the Co-op with potential sponsors and driving word-of-mouth for the event. Please contact Committee Chair Leigh Goldenberg at for a complete sponsorship packet.

Throughout the summer, Programs and Events will also staff tables at community events and farmers markets. Additional activities are planned for later in the summer to partner with local businesses and to work with members to hosting potlucks and house parties in an effort to keep up the momentum of our growing membership numbers.

Real Estate (Megan Kiesel)

The real estate committee has been working to identify, visit and vet potential sites for the co-op. We have visited several potential locations. In addition, we are engaging representatives from other local co-ops and contractors as necessary to confirm the viability of potential sites, requiring several visits to potential sites.

Speakers Bureau (Katy Travaline)

The Speakers Bureau has presented at a total of 5 events in 2013 and has been helping to coordinate speakers for Co-op House Parties and other events, which are not included in this total. A speaker will be speaking at the Energy Co-op’s Co-op Fair on June 17th.

An attempt to recruit new speakers at the General Membership Meeting on May 19, 2013 yielded no new speakers, but we did obtain a few good ideas and contacts for potential speaking engagements.

The goals for June and July are as follows:

The Speakers Bureau outreach binders will now be updated with the updated talking points. We are actively seeking more speaking opportunities and more speakers. All suggestions and volunteers are welcome. A number of speaking engagements are in the works (4 civic associations; 3 special events; a few house parties). We will also plan to hold a Speakers Training Workshop. Details to follow.

Become a Sponsor of the South Philly Garden Tour!

We're hard at work gearing up for our biggest annual fundraiser, the South Philly Garden Tour, and we're on the lookout for folks who want to get involved by becoming a sponsor!

As a sponsor of the Garden Tour, your organization (which doesn't need to be located in South Philly) will have the opportunity to reach a diverse group of approximately 200 Garden Tour attendees and 500 South Philly Food Co-op members, and the Co-op’s 5,000-plus constituents. Sponsorships range from $100 to $1,000 and offer a variety of benefits, outlined below.

At this highly anticipated event, Co-op and community members come together to celebrate and enjoy a spectacular showcase of 10 to 15 unique private and community gardens on a self-guided walking tour. This year's tour, to be held Saturday, September 7, from 1 to 5 p.m., focuses on the gardens of the South Broad Street corridor (Washington to Snyder, 11th to 17th); ticket-holders will start their green journey at our Garden Tour Hub at South Philly High School, where various local vendors will offer refreshments and family-friendly activities will be ongoing throughout the day. (Check out photos of last year's tour here.)

Sponsorship funds will not only cover the costs of the Garden Tour and our other programs and events, but will directly support plans to open the store including funds for our member loan coordinator and site analysis. In short, sponsors can directly influence the opening of the store!

Our ambitious deadline for securing sponsors is July 1, so if you're interested in a sponsorship opportunity, email today!

Sponsorship Opportunities


  • 10 Garden Tour Tickets ($200 value)

  • Full-page ad in the Garden Tour program for the day of the tour

  • Name and logo recognition on the South Philly Food Co-op website, as well as mentions on social media (with access to 2,000 person e-mail list, nearly 2,000 Facebook fans, and over 800 Twitter followers)

  • Name and logo recognition as lead Garden Tour sponsor on all advertisements and print materials including Garden Tour tote bags, Location Marker Signage, Sponsor banner at Garden Tour hub, Garden Tour flyers, programs and tickets.

  • Opportunity to have a table or other promotional display at either the Garden Tour hub or Garden Tour stop, as well as inclusion of display location on route map

  • Opportunity to provide promotional materials to 150-200 Garden Tour participants


  • 5 Garden Tour Tickets ($100 value)

  • Half-page ad in the Garden Tour program for the day of the tour

  • Name and logo recognition on the South Philly Food Co-op website, as well as mentions on social media (with access to 2,000 person e-mail list, nearly 2,000 Facebook fans, and over 800 Twitter followers)

  • Name recognition on all advertisements and print materials including Garden Tour tote bags, Location Marker Signage, Sponsor banner at Garden Tour hub, Garden Tour flyers, programs and tickets.

  • Opportunity to have a table or other promotional display at either the Garden Tour hub or Garden Tour stop, as well as inclusion of display location on route map

  • Opportunity to provide promotional materials to 150-200 Garden Tour participants


  • 4 Garden Tour Tickets ($80 value)

  • Logo recognition in Garden Tour program for the day of the tour

  • Name recognition on the South Philly Food Co-op website, as well as mentions on social media (with access to 2,000 person e-mail list, nearly 2,000 Facebook fans, and over 800 Twitter followers)

  • Name recognition on sponsor banner at Garden Tour hub

  • Opportunity to provide promotional materials to 150-200 Garden Tour participants


  • 2 Garden Tour Ticket ($40 value)

  • Name recognition in the Garden Tour program for the day of the tour

  • Name recognition on sponsor banner at the Garden Tour hub

  • Name recognition on South Philly Food Co-op website

  • Opportunity to provide promotional materials to 150-200 Garden Tour participants


From our e-mail bag: When is the Co-op going to open?

We encourage anyone - members, non-members, "not yet" members - to email us any time they have a question, comment or suggestion. Engaged and curious members are what will make this Co-op successful and sustainable. Occasionally, we get a question that we think should be shared with everyone along with the answer to the question. This is one of those:
We've been members of the Co-op now for awhile, but it doesn't seem to be going anywhere. I thought once we reached 400 members that something would happen. Now we're up to 600 members for the goal. Several of us are getting tired of waiting around for a virtual co-op and are unclear what the holdup is. I'm afraid I don't have the time to regularly attend meetings, but I do try to read some of the emails and I'm just not clear on the delay reasons. Thanks for any updates.
First, thanks for taking the time to reach out with your questions. We try as hard as we can to keep our members as informed as possible about the overall process for starting the Co-op and the significance of each milestone goal but there are always ways we can improve on delivering that message. We realize that the length of time that it takes to get a co-op operating can be daunting and that it requires a great deal of patience on the part of our members as we go through this process. The member milestones are taken from best practices that successful co-ops all around the U.S. have followed when starting up. As you can see from the timeline for opening that we’ve had in place since we began recruiting members in June of 2011, each milestone corresponds to a specific set of tasks that also need to be done before moving on to the next stage. We try to communicate each time we reach a milestone - first 250, then 400, next is 600 and so on - what the achievement of that milestone allows us to do (i.e. we would not have wanted to start a location search before 400, etc.). From the beginning we've estimated that the Co-op would likely open sometime in early to mid (eta: to late) 2014 and we are so far still on pace for that and not currently experiencing any delays in our original timeline. We’ve been working to educate people that this is necessarily a long process in order to ensure that upon opening the store will be around for a long, long time. The volunteers and member-owners who are making the Co-op happen are working hard every day to move to that next stage where we will have a location picked and begin fitting it out for opening. Our real estate committee has gone on a number of site visits and is narrowing down locations to a few that we will do professional site analyses on to confirm their suitability and viability. We have made the choice not to publicly talk about which locations they are visiting so as to avoid starting the rumor mill that "X" location is where the Co-op will be located. We realize this limits us in what we can communicate to the membership as a whole but the downside of the rumor mill makes it necessary. We simply don't want to be in a position where anyone joins because they think the Co-op will be located in a specific place only to find out later that it was never going to be there. Speaking of membership, our membership committee has continued to push hard since the end of our recently completed, very successful campaign. We continue to have members signing up every week. Our hope is that by the time our Garden Tour fundraiser in September comes around we’ll also be celebrating that 600-member milestone AND the selection of a site that will move us on to pre-construction. Again, thanks for taking the time to get in touch with us and, of course, thank you for being a member. Being a member is the single most important thing you can do to help get the store open. We’re making great progress and will get there soon! Feel free to reach out to us directly with any further questions. P.S. Please share this information with the other people you reference in your email and extend my invitation to them to communicate with us directly if they have any questions.

Hello Co-operator!

The Philadelphia Area Cooperative Alliance (PACA) recently published a great interview with the South Philly Food Co-op's President of the Board Allison Fritz. You can read it here. In the interview, Ms. Fritz shares her ideas about how cooperatives can help establish stronger community ties as well as bring resiliency and necessary services to communities. If you are curious about what the South Philly Food Co-op is, or if you are wondering what being a member entails, this is a great, short piece that can help to answer any of your questions. You can also check out our home page for any other information, updates, events, or new opportunities to get involved with the Co-op.

Join the Co-op as Music In The Park Returns

Summer time is hopping in South Philly and brings with it the return of Gold Star Park's "Music In The Park" series of family-friendly concerts. If you went to the Hot Dog Happy Hour last Thursday you may have noticed it raining cats and dogs for about 45 minutes. That rain postponed last week's Music event to THIS COMING THURSDAY (6/20) at 7 PM. This week Gold Star Park welcomes Johnnie Verbal's Enablers with their blend of classic rock, covers, some originals, all done in a very smart and very enjoyable way. The Co-op will also be there - as we are every year. We'll be providing sidewalk chalk for the kids to practice their own visual arts on the asphalt surface on the Wharton Street side of the park. If you've never been to one of these events before, they are a lot of fun and a great way to meet up with some neighbors you may not have seen in a while. The event is FREE. Just bring your blanket or beach chair. In fact, make a picnic out of it. (But bring enough to share!) Of course, this is also a great opportunity to help out our "growing season" this summer by becoming a member-owner of the Co-op. The chalk is for the kids. The member-owner application is for you! And keep your fingers crossed that Johnnie Verbal doesn't get rained out a second time!  

A VERY Happy Hot Dog Happy Hour

The official South Philly Food Co-op hot dog. Pictured is vegetarian style. Beef also available.

Yesterday evening over 70 people came through Underdogs from 5:30 to 8:30 as part of the Co-op's Hot Dog Happy Hour. We just may have stumbled onto something with this great hot dogs and free beer idea! Even a brief downpour from about 6pm to 6:20pm couldn't hold back an torrent of Co-op members and fans that may have caught the Underdogs folks just a little off guard. Hey... that's how we roll, baby.

Attendees caught up with folks they hadn't seen in a while, which continues to show how the social aspect is one of the best parts about the Co-op.

And, of course, the best news of all was that three more member-owner households joined up last night bringing our total to 479!

Thanks again to Underdogs for hosting and making that great, special hot dog in our honor with a family ratatouille recipe that was simply great. And  thanks to Victory Brewing Company for donating five (!) cases of beer for the occasion. If you missed the event we put a few photos up on our Facebook page. Stay tuned for the next great happy hour event. We hope to see you there!



Sarah's Garden: Rain

I don't have that many new pictures because it's been raining so much and I am loathe to go out in the rain just to take some blurry pictures of tomato plants.  But rest assured they are growing fast and are enjoying the rain.  So let's take a look at all the other plants that I tend to neglect in favor of vegetables in the summer.

Above is lavender and what I assumed was Lamb's Ear until these bright magenta flower showed up.  Turns out it's rose campion and I'm not entirely sure where it came from!  On the left side of the picture is a blackberry (or possibly raspberry) from Bartram's Garden.  I get it last summer and it's starting to flower so maybe I will get some berries?  We'll see.

The excitement of this week was when I harvested some beans...11 of them, to be exact.  They seem a little small but the pods were turning yellow so I looked in one and hey!  beans.  I'm letting these dry and hopefully I will get more so I can make something with them.  Next year I promise I'll plant more than one bean plant.

Other than that I've been frantically staking my tomato plants to keep up with all this growth.  More pictures next week, once things dry up a bit!

Let's party our way to 600 members!

House party hosted by the Knapp-Bazis member-owner household.

One of the Co-op's most successful member recruitment tools this year has been the house parties and get togethers organized by members who invite small  groups of friends who might be interested in joining. During our recent 75in75 campaign, over a half dozen different members hosted this parties which were attended collectively by dozens of prospective members. It's a great way to help recruit new members while showing off your party-hosting skills.

And with summer upon us and the season of backyard barbecues, roof-deck gatherings and small group picnics with pick-up softball games, there are plenty of opportunities to gather a bunch of your friends without worrying about them making a mess in your home!

Here's how it works.

1. Let us know you want to one of these by emailing

2. You pick a date, invite a bunch of friends and do all of the other things you'd normally do when organizing a party: putting together a menu, getting your iTunes playlist together, practicing your flip cup and beer pong skills, etc.

3. We will arrange for one of the volunteers in our Speakers Bureau to attend the party prepared with a 5-minute pitch about why joining the Co-op would be such a great idea.  You can feel free to chime in - since they're your friends - about why you joined, or just leave the talking to us. The speaker will also have plenty of forms on hand for people to join on the spot.

4. Make sure to take plenty of pictures and let us know how the event went so we can post them to our Facebook page and put on our blog. The more pictures of people eating great food and having a good time, the better!

If you have any questions or if you're new in town and want to know when the next house party is happening, send an email to We'll answer your questions or check with the host to see if he or she has room for more guests.


Pallet Gardening Workshop: June 1, 2013

What better way to spend a sweltering early summer afternoon that keeping cool in the newly designed gardens of South Philadelphia High School? More than 30 people participated in the first Pallet Gardening Workshop, organized and presented by Molly Devinney. Not only is Ms. Devinney a skilled gardener who is ready to impart her green thumb skills to eager urban agrarians, but she is also the coordinator for the student gardening program at South Philadelphia High School.

Judging from our pictures taken by Co-op member Stefania Patrizio, the attendees didn’t mind the heat. In fact, many of them found the program informative and helpful. One participant, Josh Satinoff, shared how this event gave him the opportunity to create a garden for his house and that the event was “awesome”. The Co-op helped to provide pallets and other materials for pallet gardening.

Although this event quickly filled up, the South Philadelphia Food Co-op hopes to host more events that will focus on creating more green space in South Philadelphia. Whether it is creating your own verdant oasis with a pallet garden or touring the various community gardens of South Philadelphia in September, the Co-op is ready to provide more opportunities for residents of South Philadelphia to explore how urban gardening can enhance our community’s aesthetics and bonds. Interestingly enough, South Philadelphia High School’s parking lot, which served as the site for Saturday’s workshop, will also serve as the hub for this fall’s Community Garden Tour. The Co-op is on the lookout for gardens in South Philadelphia to feature for the Community Garden Tour. If you have a garden that you want to show off, or if you just want more information about the Garden Tour this fall, you can go here.


Event organizer and workshop leader Molly Devinney helps participants transform their pallets into gardens.

Participants Josh Satinoff and Ari Packer show off their handiwork at the Pallet Gardening Workshop.
Other participants enjoyed working with their gardens. Attendees described the workshop as really helpful and "Awesome".



Sarah's Garden: Growth

Hello!  My plants have now been outside for a month and besides some cold nights about a week ago it's been smooth sailing.  Let's look back and see how much these cuties have grown.

Here they are on May 2nd after having survived the first night outside:

Here's the next day...looking quite bedraggled from all the sun (note to self:  next year don't worry about hardening off but do give them a few days of partial sun before going all in):

But then things started looking up.  Here they are on May 7th, growing well:

Here's the whole bed on May 8th, still looking pretty sparse:

Here are some baby beets on May 10th:

Here's the whole bed on May 16th, getting a little greener.  I actually had too much room and had to go out and buy some more veggies (starts cause I was too late for seeds) from Greensgrow.  I got an eggplant (still trying to get just one eggplant, maybe the third time's the charm?), Green Zebra tomato, yellow pear tomato, some lemon cucumbers and zucchini:

May 20th:

are we getting sick of the same picture yet??

May 22nd:

hey, slightly different angle!

Which brings us to today, the last day of May:

lots of growth thanks to all that rain!

Almost all of the tomatoes are staked (or, uh, should be...) and last night I made myself a very little salad of arugula, beet greens and baby chard.  Pretty good!  My father came down and helped me with those trellises, which are just from the South Philly Lowe's painted with leftover paint from the trim of my house.  I think I may paint the raised bed that color, too.  The wall is my neighbor's garage and he graciously told me to do whatever I wanted with it, including drilling things into it.  Thanks, Matt!

So here's what it all looks like now that the back is cleared:

That back patch of dirt will hopefully be grass soon and next year I'd like to get some of the concrete out of there, but for now the concrete is integral in keeping the weeds away.  And I think my plants are loving the raised bed!  They should, there are like 40 gallons of Bennett Compost in there.

And now it's June (almost) and the real growing will begin.  And the real test of the irrigation system.  But one month in the raised bed is looking good!