Perhaps you’d never have expected a business like Marathon to be interested in farming. Well friends, ain’t surprises great!
Marathon Farm is the newest addition to our company. Marathon Farm has been created to both supply the restaurants with delicious, organic, local food and serve our city by bringing access to fresh affordable produce and educational programs to neighborhoods that need it. We are currently in the process of finding and purchasing land.We hope to have the land and start building infrastructure by mid December and growing and selling delicious produce grown there by the spring.
I suppose I should introduce myself as well. My name is Patrick Dunn and I will be your farmer and blogger extraordinaire! I have to say that I am extremely excited about my new position here at Marathon. I have been farming in many different capacities for about 5 years now. I have vollunteered at urban and rural farms around the world, apprenticed at an organic farm in Oregon for a year, was the farmer at Greensgrow right here in Philadelphia and founded Emerald Street Urban Farm in East Kensington. After all these years and my diverse background in farming I must say this new endeavor with Marathon is the most interesting.
I’m a farmer. Lately I’ve been doing it in the city, but I’m a farmer at heart. I love vegetables and I am infatuated with dirt. But here I am sitting in the Marathon Office on the 24th floor of 1818 Market Street, at a desk, wondering how it all happened. In my experiences, planning and starting a farm just kinda happened as you went, but of course with a real company like Marathon, I gotta get everything right. From researching possible sites, to writing budgets to developing marketing strategies, my new job is far from my idea of farming, but I am having so much fun! Plus soon enough, once the land is acquired and my budget is approved, I’ll be out there in my element, in the chilly philly winter; building raised beds, tool sheds, washing stations, greenhouses and farmstand shelters and still I’ll be smiling ear to ear. No matter if I’m in an office or in the field (vacant lot to be precise), urban farming, in all its forms is what I love.
We decided to create this blog as both an information center for our project as well as an educational venue, basically a place for me to go on rants about everything farming related. I hope that I can spread some knowledge about urban farming and what it is, and even give some guidance to doing it yourself, in your backyard, balcony or rooftop. Also, much of the reason we are creating this urban farm is to address certain social issues that exist in our city.
There are thousands of people in Philadelphia who don’t have access to fresh, healthy and affordable food. In fact, in a recent Philadelphia Inquirer article, Alfred Lubrano describes exactly how hungry people are in Philadelphia. He writes that “the First Congressional District is one of the hungriest, second only to the Bronx, N.Y., according to the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index, an ongoing national poll done in conjunction with the Food Research and Action Center in Washington. Meanwhile, U.S. Census data released in late September show that the district, with a poverty rate of nearly 29 percent in 2009, is among the 10 poorest in the United States, and poorer than any other district in Pennsylvania.” It is an extremely interesting article and you can read it here : http://www.philly.com/philly/news/special_packages/104563964.html
Urban farming is an incredibly important movement in this city and really all over the world. It isn’t just about growing food. Urban farming is deeply rooted in community and education. Clearly urban farming will never be able to feed a whole city, but it can feed the minds of a city and empower people to live a healthier, happier and more sustainable lifestyle. Bringing together neighbors to work together and share in the bounty of their labors is the essence of urban farming. To me food is the key to linking people with each other and with a place. In cities, many people have no idea where food comes from. When you are surrounded by metal, brick and cement, the entire idea of the food we eat once living in dirt can seem utterly absurd. Urban farming brings the realities of nature into this man made urban environment and connects people to the food they eat.
Marathon loves this city and also loves good food. What better way to show our love than grow it right here in Philadelphia. So join me and Marathon Farm in Spreading the Love, One Carrot at a Time!