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Kensington Quarters celebrates one year; owners bringing new dining spot to Point Breeze

A year after launching Frankford Avenue's Kensington Quarters -- a restaurant with its own on-site butcher shop sourcing whole, sustainably and humanely raised animals -- owner Michael Pasquarello has been pleasantly surprised. (Here’s the Flying Kite look at KQ’s opening.)

"What’s been really awesome is the butcher shop has performed better than we expected," he says of the front corner of the space.

Pasquarello worried that his goal of reviving an old-fashioned butcher’s counter in the age of the supermarket would be tough, but a dedicated customer base has materialized. Thanks to that success, KQ offers a growing roster of locally sourced retail products including pickles, produce, dairy, cheese, salts and olive oil. With help from butcher Heather Marold Thomason, Pasquarello plans to expand this part of the business over the next year, "so people can come through and put their meals together."

He also hopes to better utilize the upper floor, which already hosts a range of cooking and butchering classes and events. KQ Executive Chef Damon Menapace plans on more collaborations with top local chefs, including one in November with George Sabatino.

The demonstration space has already hosted Rob Marzinsky, executive chef of 13th Street Kitchens Restaurant Group's latest venture Buckminster’s, a "neo-bistro" slated to open in November in Point Breeze. The resto group -- owned and run by Pasquarello and his wife Jeniphur -- also operates Café Lift (their first restaurant, opened in 2003), Prohibition Taproom and Bufad

Buckminster's -- which will boast design elements that honor local science legend Buckminster Fuller of geodesic dome fame -- aims to capitalize on a dining style that’s especially popular in Paris right now, with young chefs giving their own spin on small plates of casual bistro food. But according to Pasquarello, Buckminster’s menu isn’t defined by French cuisine. It will focus on locally sourced goods, with a seasonal menu changing every couple of days and complementing the beverages on offer. Plates ($2-$21) will join eight beers and six wines, along with specialty cocktails.

Pasquarello hopes that Buckminster’s (coming to 1200 S. 21st Street) will open sometime in November offering dinner seven nights a week, with brunch and lunch hours to follow as the restaurant finds its feet.

Writer: Alaina Mabaso
Source: Michael Pasquarello, 13th Street Kitchens Restaurant Group

After pop-up success, Philly is finally getting its own Filipino restaurant

Last winter, Philly chef Lou Boquila helped bring the city its first taste of a cuisine that’s hard to find in these parts: Filipino food. With help from partners Neal Santos, Jillian Encarnacion and Resa Mueller, Pelago Pop-Up Kusina temporarily took over Passyunk Square resto Noord. The event (and subsequent pop-ups) sold out, and now Boquila is launching his own restaurant in South Philly.

Perla, currently under construction at 1535 South 11th Street, will be the city's only Filipino restaurant. Boquila, a Philippines native who came to Philly when he was eight, says he’s not a traditional Filipino chef.

"But I know the food," he insists. "I know the flavors, [and] I relate that to a restaurant kitchen."

Balking a bit at overuse of the word "fusion," the fledgling restaurateur nonetheless describes Filipino dishes as a mix of influences. They blend Chinese, Malaysian, Indonesian and Spanish flavors, and are served in family-style communal meals that are hard to replicate in a restaurant setting.

Boquila, who’s been cooking for about ten years, got his start in the local food industry as a dishwasher at South Street’s now-defunt Knave of Hearts. He worked his way up, becoming a line cook and then helping run the kitchen, before deciding to attend culinary school. After finishing, he interned at Twenty Manning Grill, where he later became sous chef, and then moved to Rittenhouse Square’s Audrey Claire, where he’s been since 2007.

"Perla will be interpretations of popular Filipino dishes," he explains; he's aiming for "an approachable palate everyone can try."

For example, there's his version of kare-kare, a Filipino stew he makes with oxtail and tripe, along with peanut butter and shrimp paste. He assures diners not to be scared off by the unusual-sounding flavor combo of this "very different, very very funky dish," because it all blends together well with the under-appreciated savory quality of peanuts.

Perla will have a small start for its small space, focusing mainly on a tasting menu that will keep the chef in a hands-on role. But in a nod to traditional Filipino dining, the restaurant will offer special Sunday brunches -- according to Boquila, "breakfast is very big in the Filipino community" -- as well as a Sunday night homage to home-style Filipino dining with kamayan meals, large communal dinners eaten by hand off of a banana leaf.

Boquila hopes to open Perla by March of 2016.

Writer: Alaina Mabaso
Source: Lou Boquila
, Perla

On the Ground: One city block yields almost 6,000 pounds of produce

When Flying Kite moved into our new On the Ground digs in Parkside, we didn’t know how close we were to Neighborhood Foods Farm, one of the city’s most productive urban farms.
Operating under the umbrella of Philly’s Urban Tree Connection (UTC) and its Neighborhood Foods program, the site at 53rd and Wyalusing is the size of one city block, or about three-quarters of an acre.
Rachel deVitry, agricultural director at UTC, has overseen the farm since spring 2014, but it got started around 2010, when local block captains approached UTC founder and executive director Skip Wiener about the space.
"It used to be a parking lot with a factory across the street," recalls deVitry. "Ownership of the lot just lapsed and it became a chop shop," and a hub for drugs and prostitution. The block captains invited Wiener to take a look, and plans for the farm got underway, beginning with a major clean-out of the accumulated garbage. Then came the break-up of the cement that covered most of the site, and the application of thick layers of leaf mulch and mushroom soil.
These days, the farm yields rotation crops such as lettuces, arugula, kale, collards and chard, along with radishes, carrots, beets, cucumbers, squash and heirloom tomatoes.

Neighborhood Foods also operates three other urban farms in the neighborhood -- one adjacent to the First African Presbyterian Church at 4159 West Girard, another next to Ward AME Church at 43rd and Aspen, and a new four-acre site on Merion Avenue near Girard.
Though not the largest, the 53rd Street farm is the most productive site -- so far this season they've harvested 5,850 pounds of produce.
Some of that goes to neighbors who volunteer a few hours per week in exchange for fresh vegetables, and some goes to the Saturday Neighborhood Foods Farm farmers' market, which runs on the site from 10 a.m. - 2 p.m. May through November. (The market also features produce like fruit and potatoes purchased from other local growers.)
The farm operates with the help of two full-time and two part-time staffers, as well as neighborhood volunteers and young apprentices hired after successful runs in after-school programs.
The farm stays open in the winter months thanks to "high tunnels," unheated structures that keep plants such as cold-friendly kale, collards and lettuce from freezing.

"We did grow through most of the winter last year," says deVitry. "And [we] hope to grow through the whole of the winter this year."
Writer: Alaina Mabaso
Source: Rachel DeVitry, Urban Tree Connection 

Follow all our work #OnTheGroundPhilly via twitter (@flyingkitemedia) and Instagram (@flyingkite_ontheground).

On the Ground is made possible by the Knight Foundation, an organization that supports transformational ideas, promotes quality journalism, advances media innovation, engages communities and fosters the arts. The foundation believes that democracy thrives when people and communities are informed and engaged. For more, visit knightfoundation.org.

Mural Arts' Open Source launches an intercultural store and community center in North Philly

Thanks to the Mural Arts Program, one of the biggest arts and culture events this year isn’t happening inside one building, but all around the city, indoors and out, with public installations from artists across the region, country and world.
Open Source features 14 projects that, according to Mural Arts, transform the organization "into an open source platform, allowing artists to create projects that demand public involvement and inspire widespread participation."
One North Philly installation is a kick-off for a longer-term project examining the social and economic ties and tensions in a Philly neighborhood. Last year, with Corner Store (Take-Out Stories), Ernel Martinez and Keir Johnston of AMBER Art & Design examined similar themes to those in their current project, La Frontera. Corner Store spotlighted the primarily Chinese and Korean-owned take-out restaurants and bodegas of Chinatown North, whose customers are primarily black and Latino. The moveable Corner Store installation aimed to be a space to understand different cultural roots and the myriad similarities at heart.
La Frontera examines long-existing connections and tensions between the communities divided by North Philly’s 5th Street corridor: primarily African-American on one side, and immigrants from South and Central America on the other. Located in a 3000-square-foot warehouse at 2200 N. 8th Street, building 3A, that Mural Arts helped the artists to locate and rent, it’s half creatively-funded bodega, half arts/community center.
Martinez, a Belize native who grew up in Los Angeles and Detroit before settling in Philadelphia, calls La Frontera a "bridging of two worlds," featuring site-specific community-created artwork telling neighbors’ stories, as well as a unique "bodega" of goods and services, from homemade soaps and foods to services like hairdressing. Wares will be dispensed free to visitors via small grants from Amber Art & Design to participating providers.
"Philadelphia historically is a city built on immigrants," argues Martinez (who earned his MFA from the University of Pennsylvania before helping to found AMBER Art & Design in 2011), and these bodegas or corner stores are often instrumental to the immigrant families who run them, as well as their customers.
La Frontera is especially a nod to the parallel histories of African Americans (who swept north across the country in the Great Migration) and Latino immigrants.
"Within these American cities, these urban areas, you have people with different cultures, but they really do have a shared history," having left one place for another, he explains. "They’re the ones that are bringing life [and] creativity into these cities. They’re the formation of new communities."
But sharing space with limited resources leads to a lot of conflicts, too, and the artists hope diverse community members will find new understanding at La Frontera.
The project won’t end with Open Source in October. The artists hope to continue it for up to two years; the Open Source installation is "kind of a seed project," explains Martinez, "and we’re going to run with it from there."
In the meantime, locals are invited to a free North Philly Block Party outside the warehouse on October 18 (noon to 4 p.m.) featuring food, music and other entertainment.
Writer: Alaina Mabaso
Source: Ernel Martinez, AMBER Art & Design

The Magic of Olive Oil: Findings from the Monell Chemical Senses Center

Next time you’re cooking with extra virgin olive oil, go ahead and take a little swig. If it burns your throat or makes you cough, you've got some potent EVOO there.
Connoisseurs have long known that the distinctive irritating sting (almost but not everyone experiences it) is the mark of high-quality olive oil. It is also, according to Gary K. Beauchamp of the Monell Chemical Senses Center, indicative of a naturally occurring compound called "oleocanthal." It's unique to EVOO and appears to be an even more potent anti-inflammatory agent than ibuprofen.
Speaking at a recent session of the University City Science Center Quorum "Lunch for Hungry Minds" program, Beauchamp, emeritus director and president at Monell (the world's only independent nonprofit research institute focused on taste and smell), described how research is substantiating the health benefits of EVOO and, by extension, the Mediterranean diet.
Both ibuprofen and olive oil create a similar burning sensation in the back of the throat. Monell set out to determine what accounts for what Beauchamp calls "the throat localized pungency of EVOO" and whether it has the same pharmacological benefits as the pharmaceutical mainstay.
In 2005, Monell (and simultaneously Unilever) identified oleocanthal, the compound that accounts for the throat sting. This natural anti-inflammatory agent inhibits activity of cyclooxygenase (COX) enzymes, a pharmacological action shared by Advil, Motrin and other over-the-counter ibuprofen drugs.
The health benefits of the oleocanthal in EVOO for those raised eating traditional Mediterranean cuisines -- and those who adopt the so-called Mediterranean diet -- could be considerable. It is well known that the regimen can protect against heart disease. Monell researchers believe that oleocanthal might also be associated with a reduced risk of Alzheimer’s disease, dementia and certain cancers.
Further research is needed to determine the connection between the sensory attributes of EVOO (bitter, pungent, fruity, etc.) and the anti-inflammatory effect, and to determine the safety, stability, efficacy and cost of isolating the molecule for commercialization. Also of interest to Monell is why humans have come to appreciate the sting of the oleocanthal in olive oil. (As Beauchamp notes, we’re also the only species that likes hot peppers, whose capsaicin affords its own health benefits.)
For now, what is known is that oils pressed from young olives from an early harvest have the highest levels of oleocanthal and the biggest burn.
Source: Gary K. Beauchamp, Monell Chemical Senses Center
Writer: Elise Vider 

WRITER IN RESIDENCE is a partnership between the University City Science Center and Flying Kite Media that embeds a reporter on-site at 3711 Market Street. The resulting coverage will provide an inside look at the most intriguing companies, discoveries and technological innovations coming out of this essential Philadelphia institution.

Choose your favorite Philly innovator at October’s Philly Stake dinner

Recently, we took a look at Germantown photographer Tieshka Smith’s project Racism is a Sickness, which will be on display at City Hall on November 2. In the meantime, Smith of is one of eight presenters at the fourteenth Philly Stake dinner, which draws creatively and civically minded folks together to enjoy a meal and hear from some of the city’s most ambitious grassroots innovators.

A member of the worldwide Sunday Soup Network (founded in Chicago), Philly Stake has been operating since 2010. Until 2014, the all-volunteer group did three events per year, but it now focuses on just one. Held picnic-style at beautiful Bartram’s Garden, the shindig will return on Sunday, October 4 from 3 - 6 p.m.

Guests (which usually number about 250; get your $20 tickets in advance online here) come for the Philly Stake-provided dinner and dessert, featuring foods from local suppliers, and stay to hear presentations from artists, entrepreneurs and nonprofit leaders.

"It’s very simple," says founder Theresa Rose of their guidelines for presenters. "It’s just creative, relevant, community-engaged projects."

After hearing each presentation, diners vote by ballot on which concept they like the best. The first-place winner gets a cash prize of about $1,000 on the spot; the second-place winner nabs around $500 (sometimes when the vote is very close this prize is split between the second and third-place vote-getters).

According to Rose, Philly Stake isn’t a formal nonprofit or an LLC -- it’s a group of volunteers working together to boost Philly's best ideas for community improvement, and all the money gathered from ticket sales goes directly toward the next dinner and the prize money for the presenters.

This year’s dinner has an arts focus, and for the first time Philly Stake has the Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance as a promotions partner. (Past Stake winners have run the gamut from urban farming projects to a poetry program for Vietnam veterans to a dance program for Philly seniors. Others victors have included Recycled Artist in Residency, now its own nonprofit, and the West Philly Tool Library.) The other partner is Drexel University’s Center for Hospitality and Sports Management -- it is donating its kitchen for food preparation, and also lending some students to help out at the event. With a core group of just eight volunteers besides Rose (Mira Adornetto, Annemarie Vaeni, Brett Map, Mallary Johnson, Jonathan Wallis, Ruth Scott Blackson, Albert Lee and Emma Jacobs), the events are getting a bit hard to handle without the help of sponsors.

Philly Stake typically narrows its presenters down from a pool of 20 to 30 applicants. Rose calls the event "fuel for the imagination," because in a world full of dire news and fear for the future, Philly Stake reminds its fans that "there’s so many awesome things going on" and also a tangible way to support them.

Writer: Alaina Mabaso
Source: Theresa Rose, The Philly Stake

Making great food products while combating poverty in southeastern Pennsylvania

Lancaster entrepreneur Charlie Crystle, whose food products are finding an enthusiastic audience in Greater Philadelphia, has a specific philosophy on the trouble with America’s economy.

According to the Lancaster Food Company CEO, what we need is "an effort to make jobs that meet people where they are, rather than where we want them to be." Politicians and civic leaders talk a lot about job training, but especially in a city like Lancaster -- which has a 30 percent poverty rate -- this falls short. Focusing on job training programs rather than immediately accessible jobs "continues to push the responsibility for unemployment onto the unemployed…if we don’t do something to meet them halfway, or all the way, [they] will never have decent employment," he argues.

Hiring people in poverty with a good living wage is a part of his company's mission. Crystle founded the company alongside his childhood friend Craig Lauer, who serves as chief product officer, in 2014. After launching and then exiting two software startups, living coast-to-coast and working in Central America with a program for street kids, Crystle felt a strong desire to create a company at home with a social as well as an economic impact.

Lancaster Food Company specializes in organic and sustainably sourced breads, spreads, salsas and jams, including sandwich rye and cinnamon raisin swirl bread, sunflower seed spreads, and limited-edition small-batch toppings from locally grown ingredients such as golden orange tomato salsa and organic strawberry jam. A Lancaster Heritage Grain bread is also on the way this fall.

While their products are handmade, Crystle insists Lancaster Food Company is already a scalable business -- their target market ranges from Washington, D.C., to the New York metro area, with a large presence in Philly. Currently, you can find their products at Mariposa and Weavers Way food co-ops, Reading Terminal Market, area Shop-Rites and the Lancaster Farm Fresh CSA. They just closed an exciting deal with five Wegman’s stores in Southeastern PA, and have their sights set on Whole Foods; look for their products on the shelves of a location in Wayne soon.

That increased reach means more room to advance the company’s social philosophy: hiring people in poverty struggling to find jobs. The company was launched with "a demand for jobs that require relatively low skills, and could meet people where they are in terms of their education, work history or legal background," explains Crystle, something that was difficult to achieve with his prior work in tech startups. "We’re trying to scale so that we can hire hundreds of people, not dozens."

He’s also adamant about the value of supporting local businesses and enjoys being able to tap into the vibrant agriculture of the Lancaster area.

"Every dollar that we spend locally has…three times the impact on our local economy" as money spent on goods from corporations in faraway states, he explains. That adds up to a business as committed to combating poverty as it is to pleasing customers.

Writer: Alaina Mabaso
Source: Charlie Crystle, Lancaster Food Company


A cafe start-up helps foster-care youth get on their feet

Lisa Miccolis worked for a long time in coffee shops. She found a lot of pride and enjoyment in the communities she found there, both among her co-workers and the customers. But she didn’t feel that she was really fulfilling her life’s goal until she had a “lightbulb moment" -- the idea for a nonprofit café specifically designed to employ and mentor young people aging out of the foster-care system.

Miccolis first became aware of this problem on a trip to South Africa several years ago. She met residents of an orphanage who were facing the sudden loss of their support system when they were no longer legally children -- they didn’t have the network or skills to forge an independent life. She realized that the same problem exists in Philadelphia as youngsters lose access to a host of resources at age 18 (or, if they meet some criteria in Pennsylvania, age 21). Without family support or education and job prospects, they don’t know what to do.

"Generally, as soon as one thing goes, everything goes with it," she explains. "If your housing is unstable, chances are you’re not going to be able to hold a job. And if you don’t have a job, good luck getting a job."

Her answer is The Monkey & the Elephant, a non-profit café/mentoring program that hires youth who have aged out of foster care. It launched in late 2012, with pop-up locations in three spots over subsequent years: the Italian Market, Manayunk’s Transfer Station and Impact Hub (from March to December of last year).

In February 2015, The Monkey & the Elephant opened its first permanent location at 2831 W. Girard Avenue in Brewerytown. It’s open seven days a week, 7 a.m. - 7 p.m.

Eight youngsters have been employed in the program so far, ranging in age from 19 to 25. And it’s not just about food service -- the M&E team helps employees think through career and educational decisions, offers support in the housing process, and even helps out with schoolwork.

"What I’ve noticed is changes in how they think about things," explains Miccolis. "When they’re talking about what they want to do, we’ve been able to reframe the direction they’re taking to get there." It’s not about a rush to the "perfect job," but a practical, encouraging and achievable long-term path. Typically, the program takes on its participants for eight months, but the mentorship is ongoing. "When they finish with us and they are ready to work towards that job or get back into school or whatever it is, they have more of a foundation for it and they’re better able to support themselves.”

Monkey & the Elephant recently received an unexpected honor: a Startup of the Year nomination from the annual Philadelphia Geek Awards. "Geek" has a broad definition these days, and in Philly it’s a coveted label.

"I was pretty shocked and honored to have that nomination," says Miccolis; the ceremony that will take place on August 15 at the Academy of Natural Sciences. "I wouldn’t have thought of a coffee shop or a non-profit as a geek-centered organization... It’s pretty cool that it’s not just for the sciences or technology."

Writer: Alaina Mabaso
Source: Lisa Miccolis, The Monkey & the Elephant

An urban farm sprouts in Chinatown thanks to Grow Where You Live

Meei Ling Ng, a Singapore-born, Philly-based artist, designer and urban farmer, has taken on a multifaceted project in Chinatown North. The initiative features a vertical urban farm, a job-skills program for people in recovery from addiction or homelessness, and a new fount of fresh food for the partnering Sunday Breakfast Rescue Mission.

The impetus for Ng's new project grew out of Grow Where You Live, her year-long Social Practice Lab residency at the Asian Arts Initiative. It was supposed to wrap up in June, but the current urban garden project has proven so successful that Ng's Asian Arts residency has been extended at least until the end of this year.

"Ideally I was looking for a vacant lot around the neighborhood," says Ng of a long search for an appropriate urban farm space and partner organization. Such a space -- open to the work of an artist and farmer -- was hard to find, partly because of recent gentrification in the area.

A tour of the Sunday Breakfast Rescue Mission late last year proved extremely propitious: Ng learned that the organization, which provides a range of vital services to the city’s homeless, was in the process of a parking lot space swap with their neighbors to the west, Roman Catholic High School.

The switch would leave a large space along Sunday Breakfast’s kitchen wall -- about 20 feet wide and 100 feet long -- empty of cars by law.

"This is amazing. This is exactly what we want," Ng recalls thinking on seeing the space; she envisioned a specially designed and built vertical urban farm. "We can use a whole big empty wall with asphalt under…this could be an awesome, awesome project."

The artist spent a month on a meticulous rendering of her idea, then pitched it to Sunday Breakfast. The project became reality through support and donations from Asian Arts, the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society, the Philadelphia Orchard Project, City Harvest and South Philly’s Urban Jungle, a landscape design firm.

Since then, the little farm has provided pounds of produce that go directly into meals served at Sunday Breakfast.

The partnership also has a human component: The farm runs with help from workers at Overcomers, an intensive 16-month program for men in recovery from addiction and homelessness. They reap a wealth of skills -- not only the ability to grow their own healthy food in an urban setting, but practical job training in a rapidly growing industry. The formal part of the Overcomers project is finished, but a few participants have stayed on as official apprentices and volunteers.

"This is very exciting that we have a team now to work on the farm," says Ng, adding that she has high hopes the project will continue in future summers.

Writer: Alaina Mabaso
Source: Meei Ling Ng, Asian Arts Initiative

In Harrisburg and Philly, news from the craft beer boom

From across the Commonwealth comes big news on the brewing front.

In Harrisburg, Zeroday Brewing Company cut the ribbon on its new space in the Midtown neighborhood. Husband-and-wife team Theo and Brandalynn Armstrong (Theo is the brewer; Brandalynn handles the business side) say the name Zeroday pays homage to a hiking term: it refers to a day spent exploring a town, off the trail.

"We want Harrisburg to be a zero day town," explains Theo. "It’s a place worth stopping and exploring."

The Armstrongs kicked off the project in 2013 with an official brand launch, corresponding crowdfunding campaign and guerilla-style pop-up events that allowed them to introduce community members and beer lovers to their suds.

On tap for opening day: Firstborn, a dry stout; Wits End, a Belgian Witbier; Cheap Date, an American Blonde ale; Dolce Vita, a Chocolate Hazelnut Sweet Stout; and Zeroday IPA, along with a menu of light fare.

According to Brandalynn, they're committed to utilizing Pennsylvania vendors for food and other products. As weather permits, the brewery plans to partner with area food trucks to provide additional selections during weekend hours. 

Meanwhile in Philadelphia, the University of the Sciences announced the launch of a Brewing Science Certificate for the fall semester.

The university says the program is an acknowledgement of the beer boom: America’s breweries account for over 110,000 jobs. According to the Brewers Association, about 1.5 breweries open every day in the U.S., with more than 150 in the mid-Atlantic region alone. In 2014, production of craft brews grew 18 percent by volume and 22 percent by sales.

The best positions in this growth industry often require formal training in brewing science. The post-baccalaureate, 18-credit certificate program delves deep into the biology, chemistry, physics and math of creating the perfect pint. The program can be completed full-time in one year, or part time in two, followed by an internship with a local brewery partner.

"Demand has never been greater for trained professionals with a passion for this extraordinary work," insists Dr. Peter B. Berget, chair of the Department of Biological Sciences at USciences.

Source: Brandalynn Armstrong, Zeroday Brewing Company and the University of the Sciences.
Writer: Elise Vider

New GSK dollars at the Food Trust will boost youth health and wellness citywide

A $5 million GSK IMPACT Grant to a Philadelphia collective led by The Food Trust will allow the local food and health access leader to significantly expand its existing HYPE (Healthy You, Positive Energy) program to reach 50,000 kids over the next three years.

The dollars, administered through the Philadelphia Foundation, are going to boost programs at nine partner organizations citywide, with a special focus on North Philadelphia. The new collective’s work will be known as Get HYPE Philly!
HYPE has already been working with local kids in about 100 different schools over the last several years, explains Food Trust executive director Yael Lehmann.

"It’s going to build on this existing program," she says. "And at the same time we’re going to be working with all these other groups," who will also be expanding their own work. 

The Get HYPE collective includes Guild House West’s Greener Partners, East Park Revitalization Alliance’s Common Market, The Village of Arts and Humanities, and the Garden Education Program of Norris Square Neighborhood Project. Also partnering under the Food Trust umbrella are the Free Library’s Culinary Literacy Center (and branch-based teen mentoring program), The Philadelphia Freedom Valley YMCA, The Philadelphia Youth Network, The Enterprise Center Community Development Corporation and Equal Measure, which will help evaluate the Get HYPE programming’s impact throughout the grant’s three-year span.

Some of these organizations will focus on urban farming, nutrition, literacy through food-based activities, and exercise; others will build on different aspects of overall health such as workforce development and entrepreneurship.

"This is really going to strengthen the networking between all of our agencies," insists Lehmann. "It’s going to have this awesome ripple effect throughout the city."

Lehmann is particularly excited about the new youth advisory board the grant will create, which will consist of about fifteen to twenty teens from around the city. They will be able to direct mini-grants of up to $2,000 (or a total of $70,000 per year for the life of the program) to student-led initiatives focused on things such as exercise, urban agriculture and healthy food donations.

"It’s not just window-dressing. They’re going to have some work to do," Lehmann says of the students who will be involved (their selection process is still TBD).

The grant’s allowance for evaluating the programs is also important, she insists, "to be able to tell the story, and look at how this is impacting kids in Philly, and help us adjust as needed."

And she hopes Get HYPE Philly! will continue far beyond the initial three-year roll-out.

“From day one, all the collective partners and the Food Trust will be thinking about how to sustain this beyond the grant," she says. "We see this as a long-term project."

Writer: Alaina Mabaso
Source: Yael Lehmann, The Food Trust


Rad Dish is Temple's new sustainable student food co-op

Temple University junior Lauren Troop started out as an environmental studies major, but when she became part of a bold new food co-op business plan with her fellow students, she found the perfect convergence of her interests, and switched to studying entrepreneurship.

The concept for Rad Dish, which opened on February 5 in a former Sodexo café space in Ritter Hall, grew out of a student research project completed a few years ago. The idea failed to move forward once the original thinkers graduated.

But then founding Rad Dish co-op members got hold of the idea, and began working in fall 2013 to make the space a reality. The group met under the auspices and mentorship of Temple’s Office of Sustainability, with participation from campus organizations such as Students for Environmental Action, Temple Community Garden and Net Impact, the university’s sustainable business club.

The team started meeting once a week with help from a three-credit independent study course that allowed them to devote the necessary number of hours to getting the co-op café off the ground. Meetings with West Philly’s Mariposa food co-op, as well as other student groups, including one from the University of Maryland, helped them clarify their vision.

"Our mission was really to provide affordable locally and ethically sourced fresh food to our Temple community," explains Troop, a Lancaster native. "We do that by sourcing everything within 150 miles."

Items like tea and coffee and certain spices, which the co-op can’t get locally, are sourced through a major organic and fair-trade supplier. 

Rad Dish opened its doors with the help of one year of free rent from Temple and $30,000 in seed money from the Office of Sustainability to help cover the first round of inventory and salaries for workers.

The space is a café now, but Rad Dish organizers hope to expand into more of a grocery model as they gain experience and more local, seasonal produce becomes available. In the meantime, the space already has its own appealing vibe, with floor-to-ceiling windows and art on the walls.

The community has already started to embrace the idea. Someone donated a bike-powered blender, and then a record-payer.

"People have just started to bring in random stuff that made it a unique space to hang out in," says Troop.

Prospects for the co-op’s future are good, she adds: a large crop of sophomores are just now stepping into leadership roles, replacing graduating founders.

"My favorite part about the project is how we’ve incorporated so many fields of study and so many people with different majors," insists Troops. "There are people from our business school, arts school, communications, engineering, and people who just love food."

Rad Dish is now open from 10 a.m. - 3:30 p.m. Monday through Friday in Ritter Hall, on the corner of Montgomery Avenue and 13th Street.

Writer: Alaina Mabaso
Source, Lauren Troop, Rad Dish

Philadelphia Macaroni to the Rescue: Harrisburg acquisition saves 43 jobs

Philadelphia Macaroni Company, a more than 100-year-old, family-owned company, is operating a new pasta-making plant in Harrisburg, saving 43 jobs in the process.

The company makes dried pasta and noodles at the plant, which was previously operated by Unilever. The Harrisburg Regional Chamber & CREDC recently reported that Unilever had been contemplating vacating the facility. 

"Philadelphia Macaroni Company’s purchase agreement and business plan to operate from this facility effectively saved 43 full-time jobs in the city of Harrisburg," explained the Chamber.

"The Harrisburg plant was recently updated with state-of-the-art manufacturing equipment," said Philadelphia Macaroni President Luke Marano, Jr. when announcing the plans last year. "This facility, complemented by its dedicated and professional workforce, is a valuable asset critical to the future development, growth and success of Philadelphia Macaroni Company."

Philadelphia Macaroni Company was founded in 1914 in Philadelphia’s Italian Market. Today, a fifth generation of the founding family runs the company, still headquartered in Bella Vista. In addition to the new Harrisburg plant, the company operates factories in Warminster, North Dakota and Washington State, and mills durum and hard red spring wheat at its Minot Milling division in North Dakota. Besides being one of the country’s oldest pasta makers, the company is one of the largest industrial pasta manufacturers in the U.S.

Company spokeswoman Linda Schalles declined to reveal terms of the sales agreement in Harrisburg, but according to the Capital Region Economic Development Corporation, the chamber’s economic development arm, the company recently closed on a $450,000 Enterprise Zone Loan towards the purchase of machinery and equipment at the facility.

More hiring is expected at the plant, Schalles adds.

Source: Linda Schalles, Philadelphia Macaroni Company
Writer: Elise Vider

'Philadelphia Liberty Trail' raises Philly's national profile

Writer and world traveler Larissa Milne conjures a troubling statistic, based on the years she and her husband Michael have spent in cities across the globe, writing for the Inquirer and their own award-winning "Changes in Longitude" blog.

Outside of Philadelphia, Larissa estimates, "85 percent of people don’t know what a cheesesteak really is."

So their new book, Philadelphia Liberty Trail, published by Globe Pequot Press last month, includes a sidebar on "cheesesteak etiquette," while recommending some favorite local spots for tourists ready to venture beyond the neon lights of Pat’s and Geno’s.

"It’s a little bit different than the average guidebook that’s out there," explains Larissa. "The publisher wanted us to produce a creative book that was similar to…a book they’ve had out for many years on the Boston Freedom Trail."

Despite having more Revolutionary historic sites than Boston, Philadelphia lacks the equivalent of Boston’s famous Freedom Trail route. The couple set out to write the book that might create one.

While Liberty Trail includes advice on visiting slightly more far-flung sites such as Valley Forge, Fort Mifflin, Bartram’s Garden, and historic houses in Germantown, it focuses on the Revolutionary War history of Old City and Society Hill, and invites tourists beyond the usual stops at Independence National Historic Park. Some of the highlights in their book are the Physick HouseChrist Church and Washington Square. There's also advice on where to stay and where to park, how to go on foot or take SEPTA, and info on restaurants that might not otherwise be on the radar for visitors.
Michael, a New York native, and Larissa, who grew up in the Philly suburbs, lived at 11th and Pine Streets before making an unusual decision in 2011. They sold their house, quit their jobs, gave away their stuff, and began traveling the world and writing along the way. They still don’t have a permanent address, but talked with Flying Kite about their new book from their current perch in Arizona.
Larissa, who’s also a consultant with Ben Franklin Technology Partners, loves to fill visitors in on the real story of Pennsylvania Hospital, America’s oldest hospital, which many pass on bus tours, but few actually visit.
"Benjamin Franklin was very instrumental in getting funding for that hospital in the early 1750s," she says, after the local governing bodies declined to support it. Franklin spearheaded an effort to draw contributions for the project from local citizens: "It was like a Kickstarter campaign in 1750."
The Milnes hope their book can help make Philadelphia a worldwide tourist destination, not just for tri-state day-trips, but for visitors who will stay, eat and shop in the city for days.
"I grew up in New York, and the image of Philadelphia back in the old days was, well, it’s kind of a drive-by tourist destination," recalls Michael. "You didn’t stay overnight, you drive down, you see the Liberty Bell, you see Independence Hall, you get back in the car, you leave."
But with major publications like Fast Company magazine and The New York Times recognizing Philadelphia as a top global destination, the Milnes believe it’s a perfect time for a new kind of Philly guidebook. And after seeing the world for the last several years, they still insist there’s nowhere they’d rather settle.
Writer: Alaina Mabaso
Sources: Larissa and Michael Milne,
Philadelphia Liberty Trail 

Could city-wide composting become a reality in Philadelphia?

According to a report from the Mayor’s Office of Sustainability, Philadelphia spends over $6 million per year transporting and dumping our wasted or uneaten food into landfills. Why can't we be more like Austin or New York City, which already have food waste recycling programs? Councilwoman Cindy Bass, of Philadelphia’s 8th District, wants to get the ball rolling.

"It’s probably easier to refer to it as composting. The ‘food waste’ thing hasn’t really caught on," says Elliot Griffin, a spokesperson for the Councilwoman, referring to a recent City Council hearing on the feasibility of a city-wide food waste recycling program.

Participants in the November 12 hearing included representatives from the City’s Committee on Streets and Services and Committee on the Environment, alongside composting experts from groups including the U.S. Composting Council's Institute for Local Self Reliance and RecycleNow Philadelphia.

The administration testified that the estimated cost of launching a city-wide composting program, including street pick-up of compostable materials -- and a composting center to handle a city-sized mound of nature’s recycling -- could cost $37 million.

"We’re not exactly in a position to start that today," explains Griffin, but the point of the hearing, which she says was well-attended especially by supporters from Philly’s Northwest neighborhoods, was to help people realize that such a program could be feasible.

According to Griffin, Councilwoman Bass first got inspired on Philly’s composting potential when she read a spring 2014 article in the New York Times about comparable American cities that have already started these initiatives. At the hearing, the biggest surprise was how many locals, from restaurant owners to ordinary citizens to organizations like Weavers Way Co-Op, are already composting on their own.

“We recognize that we have to start the conversation now,” says Griffin, so the next generation can keep the momentum going and make wide-spread composting a reality, benefiting the environment, saving energy and creating jobs.

The construction of an organic recycling center and the jobs created for those who would manage it is "something that could benefit the whole Delaware Valley," adds Griffin.

Writer: Alaina Mabaso
Source: Elliot Griffin, office of Councilwoman Cindy Bass

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