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Marathon Restaurantsí next location? An urban farm in Brewerytown

It's nearly impossible these days to walk through downtown Philadelphia without passing by at least one outpost of the local Marathon restaurant group, which now has six separate eateries in the city. Marathon is currently in the process of constructing its seventh location, although this particular site, which is being built atop a vacant lot in Brewerytown, won't have four walls or a ceiling, or even a proper kitchen or a dining room. That's because Marathon's newest location will actually be an urban farm. The company is building it with the dual intentions of providing fresh food to the community and the various Marathon restaurants.

The idea for the farm was initially planted about nine months ago, when Marathon's owner, Cary Borish, was looking for new ways to make his restaurants more environmentally friendly. At the time, says Borish, "I didn't really understand what the spirit of urban farming was." But after Borish became reacquainted with a former employee, Patrick Dunn, who runs an urban farm in East Kensington, "I really bought into it, and a light went off," he says.

Dunn laid down the basic tenets of the urban farming philosophy--food security, nutrition, the fostering of community--and the two men realized they could use the restaurant not only as a vehicle to raise money for the project, but also to help build awareness of the urban farming movement in general. What's more, Borish says that while roughly half of the food grown will be served in his restaurants, the remaining half will be sold at reasonable rates at at an on-site food stand.

The 15,750 square-foot farm is scheduled to be up and running by March 21. A fundraising 'Hoedown' event will happen March 20 at Marathon's 929 Walnut Street location, while on March 26, a candlelit 'Farmraiser Dinner' will take place at the restaurant's 1339 Chestnut Street location.

Source: Cary Borish, Marathon
Writer: Dan Eldridge

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