Farmer Adam here giving you the scoop about the progress at the farm. While the summer heat has battered our bodies it has also transformed the farm into a beautiful space. Everything is super lush and productive. Our sunflowers are over ten feet tall and the tomato beds look more like a jungle than anything else.
All the crops are doing great. It feels like the tomato plants set fruit quicker than I can harvest them. The green beans, okra and peppers are really starting to get going and the beet and carrot beds produced more per square foot than I’ve ever seen. Even the Collard Greens are still going strong when usually they will have succumbed to the heat or pests by now. The first round of summer squash is on its way out but we harvested over 700 pounds of it over the last several weeks!
The success of the farm means that a huge amount of our beautiful, fresh and delicious north philly produce has been distributed in Brewerytown and all over downtown at the Marathon Grill restaurants.
The Market has been great. It’s been fun just hanging out and talking to people. But the fact that we have sold out at almost every market is big plus as well. Heirloom tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, unripe green tomatoes (for frying/pickling), eggplant, summer squash, multicolor carrots, green beans, okra, radishes, hot peppers, bell peppers, lettuce heads, collard greens and rainbow swiss chard are among the items you’ll see at the markets in the next few weeks. Were also bringing in and selling local organic brown eggs as well as local peaches and necatarines at great prices.
At the restaurants look for specials featuring tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, golden beets, carrots, squash and greens from the farm.
Production has been great but so have been the education programs. Our Education Coordinator, Charlyn Griffith, continues to organize and carry out great programs and activities for kids in the neighborhood. One of our neighbors and community gardeners has also turned the farm into a distribution site for the Summer Free Lunch Program which provides lunches to over 40 children every weekday. It’s brightens up my day to see all the kids playing and enjoying the farm. The energy they bring to the farm keeps me going on long hot days.
I have also been working with a class from Vaux Public High School which is only a couple blocks away. The students are part of a community gardening class and come out to help me at least 3 times a week with harvesting, planting weeding, etc. They are also working to research, plan and build a worm composting (vermiculture) system for the farm. The kids are a lot of fun and have been a great help. And even though they are in school during the heat of the summer, they are still in high spirits and we have a good time working together.
Coming up next week on August 3rd we are excited to host 2 more great groups. 35 kids of all ages are coming from a the camp offered by Tree House Books which is located a bit deeper in North Phila on Susquehanna Avenue. Their camp focuses on gardening, cooking and art. And they even have their own garden! All 35 of them are taking public transportation to come visit the farm and get some tips and knowledge that will help them run their garden back at the camp. It sounds like a great camp and I can’t wait to meet and talk with the campers.
The other group consists of 10 students from philly public high schools that have been recruited to participate in an intensive program with the end goal of creating a website titled what’sthemutter.org. This project is a collaboration of the Philadelphia College of Physicians, PhillyhealthInfo.org and Cephalon. The farm visit is part of the health and nutrition segment of their curriculum. They plan to use the visit to get info and ideas in order to write nutrition articles for the website.
There has also been a lot of excitement at the farm recently. On Wednesday the 27th we hosted a news crew from NBC. They shot a lot of footage of our Summer Free Lunch Program and of the Vaux High School students and me harvesting tomatoes. The segment will air Friday, August 5th at 5:30PM as part of the “Good News”. Check it out!
At the same time a photographer from the Greater Philadelphia Marketing Tourism Corporation was on site taking pictures. The GPMTC creates the billboards that read “with love, Philadelphia” at the bottom. Who knows, maybe the farm will end up on a billboard.
Last Saturday both groups from the city wide Urban Farm Bike Tour visited the farm. Nearly 100 cyclists braved the 100 degree heat to tour the farm. They were a great bunch who expressed feelings of astonishment in how fast the farm team and Brewerytown community transformed a vacant lot into such a special space in only a couple months.