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Has the farmers' market movement hit a plateau?

?As the local food movement matures, farmers' markets are trying to figure out the perfect formula. While some new markets have opened in recent years, others have closed or retooled. Philly is now home to about 40 markets.

Headhouse, arguably the city's most venerable farmers' market, is marking its 10th year. A lot has changed in that time...The number of markets has nearly doubled since 2006, to 8,476 last year.

But there are signs the movement might be plateauing.

Farmers' overall sales at markets, after climbing dramatically, declined about 1 percent from 2007 to 2012, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Economic Research Service.

And though there are several new markets this year, others have closed.

"The landscape has changed, in that there are a lot of places for folks to get local food," said Lisa Kelly, who manages Headhouse for the nonprofit Food Trust. Competition includes CSAs, boutiques like Green Aisle Grocery, and even Walmart. "We're not the only game in town anymore."

Jon Glyn, farmers' market program manager at Farm to City, said the business has been maturing.

"I feel like we're hitting the second wave of the farmers' market movement," he said.

"For 10 or 15 years, we've had a lot of interest in farmers' markets. Every neighborhood wanted their own, and even old-school farmers that gave up on farmers' markets in the '80s and '90s are now coming back. Some of our markets are on their 10th year, and they've actually inspired this new generation of young people who are getting into farming. But they're having trouble finding spots at farmers' markets that already have established vendors, and everyone is fighting for the same dollars."

Original source: Philly.com
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The New York Times lauds Philly's vegan dining scene

We can even forgive the lazy cheesesteak reference -- and the odd Passyunk fountain mention -- in this great rundown of Philly's vibrant vegan dining landscape.

What do you call a Philly cheese steak with no cheese and no steak?

It sounds like the setup to a punch line. But there’s nothing to laugh at when it comes to eating vegan in Philadelphia, which, in the last few years, has blossomed into a dynamic universe of vegan food, from old-school doughnuts to adventuresome tacos. Veganism is so hot that the city declared last Nov. 1 Philly Vegan Day.

“There’s a new energy here,” said Mike Barone, the owner of Grindcore House, a vegan coffee spot in South Philadelphia, famously an Italian neighborhood that’s undergone a restaurant renaissance near the grand Passyunk fountain. “You can go out to more places that are vegan. A lot of other places are accommodating, and that’s snowballing.”

Philadelphia’s vegan cheerleaders say what’s happening comes from living in a food-curious city where it’s cheap to explore new ground.

Much credit for the city’s vegan boom goes to Richard Landau and Kate Jacoby, a husband and wife team whose “vegetable restaurant” Vedge opened in 2011 in a townhouse near the trendy 13th Street neighborhood. (Horizons, their previous restaurant, helped endear the city to vegan eating.) The menu emphasizes seasonal vegetables and hearty, savory proteins like tofu and seitan (wheat gluten).

“We are cooking good food,” Mr. Landau said. “I don’t think most of our clientele care that it’s vegan.” Last year Philadelphia magazine named Vedge and V Street among the best 50 restaurants in town, calling Vedge “our favorite place to send anyone looking for a true taste of Philly talent.”

Original source: The New York Times
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Could Philadelphia become a mecca for vertical farming?

This sustainable agriculture model might just bloom in the City of Brotherly Love.

With its muggy summers and freezing winters, Philadelphia isn’t exactly known as an agricultural hotspot. But a resolution passed Thursday by Philadelphia City Council could put the City of Brotherly Love on the map as the next international green hub.

Local lawmakers are aiming to expand vertical and urban farming in the bustling metropolis, Philly.com reported.

“The most noble thing a human being can do is produce food for others,” Councilman Al Taubenberger, who introduced the resolution, said at a news conference held at Metropolis Farms in South Philly. “Vertical farming is something very special indeed, and fits like a glove in Philadelphia.”

As EcoWatch reported, Metropolis Farms is not only the first indoor hydroponic vertical farm in Philadelphia, it’s the first vegan-certified farm in the nation and the only known vertical farm to operate on the second floor of a building. By growing food locally, the farm slashes the distance food needs to travel to get to local kitchens, grocery stores and restaurants.

Original source: Alternet
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Bye Bye Tokens: SEPTA Key finally coming in June

The long-awaited debut of SEPTA's automated pay system should finally arrive in June.

The transportation agency is making 10,000 SEPTA Key cards available on June 13 through a first-come, first-serve pilot program. Riders can buy the cards at kiosks in subway stations, and the cards will be usable as weekly or monthly transpasses on the subway, trolleys or buses.

The card program, which was originally scheduled to debut in 2013, is supposed to bring SEPTA’s antiquated fare system into the modern age. The card will allow riders to pay for fare plans with a debit or credit card.

On June 13 riders will be able to buy a $24 weekly plan on the new SEPTA Key cards. Monthly passes for July will be available June 20. SEPTA installed readers throughout the city’s transit network that will register fares when the card it tapped against them. If cards are lost or stolen users can put holds on them and get replacements. Users will eventually be able to set up accounts with Key similar to E-ZPass that will automatically replenish the card when funds get low. There will also be cards with more flexibility, including cards for single rides, coming down the line. Regional Rail wasn’t included in the initial rollout because of its size and more varied fare rates. It should be added to the network in 2017. SEPTA would like to eventually eliminate tokens and cash payments entirely.

Original source: Philadelphia Inquirer
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New protected bike lanes in the works. Huzzah!

A big boost of funds means smooth sailing for local cyclists, as plans for new protected bike lanes comes into focus. PlanPhilly has the complete list of projects.

Thanks to $300,000 in federal Transportation Alternative Program (TAP) funds recently awarded by the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission (DVRPC) and another $200,000 expected to come from PennDOT, the Philadelphia Streets Department will soon upgrade and expand the city’s bike facility network with new protected and buffered bike lanes.

“Protected” bike lanes refer to lanes that use flexible plastic delineator posts to help physically separate automobile and bicycle traffic. “Buffered” bike lanes are slightly wider bike lanes that use a bit of extra paint to create a more visible buffer...

The goal of more and better bike lanes has already been approved in City Council through adoption of two iterations of the city’s Pedestrian and Bicycle Plan, Philadelphia’s Complete Streets Design Handbook, the city’s comprehensive Philadelphia 2035 Citywide Vision city plan, and in all of District Plans completed so far—each developed after three rounds of public feedback meetings planned in conjunction with district councilmen and RCOs. There will be at least one more public feedback session per bike infrastructure project. And with each, another shot for opponents to shout the project down.

Original source: PlanPhilly
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Better Bike Share Conference comes to Philadelphia

A major national conference focused on the growing Bike Share industry is coming to the City of Brotherly Love.

People For Bikes, a biking coalition based in Boulder, Colo., has teamed with the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia, the Association of City Transportation Officials and Philadelphia to hold the Better Bike Share Conference from June 22-24.

These parties have worked together before. In 2014, they teamed up to award grants to cities to build more bike share systems. To date, they've handed out $375,000.

"The City of Philadelphia’s Office of Transportation and Infrastructure Systems is committed to ensuring equitable access to our Indego bike share system and all modes of transportation," said Clarena Tolson, Philadelphia's deputy managing director of transportation and infrastructure.

According to its event page, the conference is appealing to "city officials, bike share operators, community-based organizations and nonprofits working at the intersection of transportation and equity."

Original source: Philadelphia Business Journal
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Inga Saffron lauds latest section of Schuylkill River Trail

The beloved greenway will extend to Southwest Philadelphia with the completion of the next section. Inquirer architecture critic Inga Saffron lauds the project, which started with just a short stretch of riverside concrete.

Any day now, the Schuylkill River Development Corp. will start formal construction on the fourth installment of the now wildly popular waterfront trail. Called Bartram's Mile, the $6 million addition is the first segment to make the leap across the river and extend the recreation path into the neighborhoods of Southwest Philadelphia. This time, it will be lushly landscaped, with groves of trees, gentle hills, and grassy meadows.

With the opening of Bartram's Mile expected in late fall, the dream of a continuous waterfront path stretching from the city's northwest corner to its southern tip is starting to look like a reality. Though there is still years of work ahead, the progress over the last decade suggests a steady, incremental approach is an effective way to reclaim our once-industrialized waterfronts for the public's enjoyment.

Bartram's Mile also represents another kind of leap. Bringing the park to the underserved Kingsessing neighborhood will demonstrate that waterfront trails aren't for just the city's elites. Surrounded by a tangle of rail lines and the Schuylkill Expressway, Southwest Philadelphia has felt cut off from Center City and the universities. The trail, which stretches from 58th Street to the Gray's Ferry Bridge, will eventually make it possible to bike downtown in under 20 minutes.

Original source: Philadelphia Inquirer
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Local food writers launch podcast

Food mavens Joy Manning and Marisa McClellan have created Local Mouthful, a podcast focusing on all things local and tasty.

Podcasts can be a home cook’s best friend, teaching and entertaining us while keeping us company -- and they’re especially useful during the holiday season as we log extended hours in the kitchen...

Manning is the editor of Edible Philly magazine, a cookbook author and a former restaurant critic for Philadelphia magazine. McClellan is a canning guru and the author of several books, including the upcoming Naturally Sweet Food in Jars(Running Press, 2016).

The two met in 2002 while working admin jobs at a nonprofit outside of the culinary world. Coincidentally, both went on to pursue careers in food writing. Over the years, Manning and McClellan would take long walks around the city, discussing everything from farmers market finds to recent restaurant meals. 

“I often thought to myself, we should record this and do a podcast,” says Manning. 

Finally, in August they began producing weekly episodes in McClellan’s Rittenhouse apartment. Topics range from the best weeknight crockpot meals to favorite types of oysters. Many of the episodes include an interview with a guest, such as Joe Beddia of the acclaimed Pizzeria Beddia and P.J. Hopkins of Brine Street Picklery.?

Original source: Philly Voice
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The New York Times' Travel section takes a ride on Indego

After naming Philadelphia one of its 52 places to visit in 2015, the New York Times checks in on its latest tourism asset.

With the April launch of IndegoPhiladelphia’s 24-hour bike share program, the city now has a network similar to New York’s Citi Bike; Washington, D.C.’s Capital Bikeshare; and bike programs in other cities. (Philadelphia is also on our list of 52 Places to Go for 2015.) A bike can be rented with a credit or debit card at any Indego docking station for $4 per half-hour, an ideal option for neighborhood trips. There is also an option to find open bikes at individual stations online.

Now, it’s time to explore the city.

Center City Philadelphia would be an excellent place to begin, given the density of docking stations in the neighborhood...

With Independence Day quickly approaching, it’s only natural that American history will play an oversized role in any summer trip to Philadelphia. Traveling east from City Hall, Old City has the Independence National Historic Park, which includes Independence Hall, the Liberty Bell and the Benjamin Franklin Museum. Christ Church Burial Ground, the final resting place of Benjamin Franklin and four other signers of the Declaration of Independence, is near the park.

Continue east and you’ll discover Elfreth’s Alley, a collection of 32 brick rowhouses on what is considered the oldest continuously occupied residential street in America.

Original source: The New York Times
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Philadelphia rolls out Indego bike share

The city's long-anticipated bike share has launched following years of planning.

Philadelphia's bike share program is finally rolling.

Mayor Michael Nutter launched the Indego system Thursday with a ceremonial ride in front of the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

Officials in the nation's fifth-largest city say the program has 600 bikes and 70 docking stations that operate 24 hours a day.

Users will be able to get a bike at any station and return it to any other station by using a member card or a credit or debit card.

The city has invested $3 million and another $4.5 million is coming from state, local and foundation funding.

Original source: The Associated Press
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Big drama on the Eagle Cam: Eaglets are born!

An eaglet is born live on the Pennsylvania Game Commission's wildly popular Eagle Cam. Check out video and images here!

Original source: Philadelphia Magazine


The Philadelphia Flower Show celebrates the movies

The Philadelphia Flower Show pays tribute to Disney and Pixar films with the theme "Celebrate the Movies." The show runs through March 8.

Meticulously landscaped exhibits have been inspired by more than a dozen features, from "Frozen" and "Finding Nemo" to "Cars" and "Cinderella."

Visitors enter through a huge, art deco theater facade as if they were attending a red carpet premiere. Palm trees, roses and lilies help recreate the ornate interior of a 1920s movie palace, while moss, jewels, fabric and other blooms cascade down from "chandeliers" overhead.

Billed as the nation's largest and longest-running flower show, it covers 10 acres and dates back to 1829. Organizers hope this year's family-friendly theme will help a new crop of gardening enthusiasts establish roots at the annual extravaganza, which runs through March 8.

"Introducing that new generation, that younger generation to the flower show is something that we want to do," said Drew Becher, president of the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society, which sponsors the show.

Original source: The Associated Press (via The New York Times)
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VIDEO: MSNBC showcases Wash Cycle Laundry, one of Philly's top startups

MSNBC's Your Business highlights the story of Wash Cycle Laundry, one of Philadelphia's most innovative -- and greenest -- startups. 

Check out the video here.

Gorgeous Wyncote rain garden becomes a teachable moment

Mary E. Myers, a landscape architect and associate professor at Temple University, created a lush rain garden in suburban Philadelphia. Folks in the neighborhood have taken notice. 

"I wanted to increase biodiversity, but I wanted it to be aesthetically appealing, so that people would accept it and want to do it," said Ms. Myers, 62, standing by the sweep of blue mistflowers rolling down to the sidewalk. "People walk by and say, 'What’s that? It’s beautiful.'"

She often gives them some seeds or self-seeded native plants. And when someone from down the street longs for those blue mistflowers, she says, "Don’t worry, the wind will bring them to you."

With the shapes, colors and textures of more than 50 native species here — the elegant branching of the young black gum tree, the dogwood and shadbush turning deep red, the handsome seed heads of hibiscus, the fig-like fruits of the bottlebrush buckeye — this dynamic landscape is nothing like the scruffy patches of weeds too often referred to as rain gardens.

As Ms. Myers said, "It looks intentional and maintained..."

She counted 23 species when they moved in, 16 of them nonnative. Now the count is up to 127, most of them native.

Original source: The New York Times
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Swimming the Cooper River in South Jersey

Baron Ambrosia swam the Cooper River through Camden in an act of civic good will. (Be sure to check out the slideshow.)

So began one man’s quest to paddle through Camden, known more for its high crime rate than its verdant waterways. With his five-mile swim along the Cooper, a tributary of the Delaware River, Baron Ambrosia aimed to change that.

“I’m trying to do something good for the city,” he said, highlighting urban exploration and environmental renewal. Born Justin Fornal, he has made a career of celebrating the gritty, most prominently as his alter-ego Baron, a fancifully attired Bronx foodhound with his own eccentric cable series (recently spotlighted by Anthony Bourdain on his CNN show). Last year, Mr. Fornal, 36, swam the Bronx River to promote his home borough, the first person recorded to do so. This year, asked by friends where he might take another dip, he settled on Camden as a similarly unsung landscape.

He completed his swim despite resistance from the city.

Undeterred, and without fanfare, Mr. Fornal decided to do the swim anyway, earlier than expected last week. “I just want to get in the water as quickly as possible,” he said, as he prepared to enter the river with three support canoes on Wednesday. They pushed off from a park in Collingswood, N.J., heading northwest through Camden toward Philadelphia. Even before the sun rose, they were spotted by some fishermen. “I was surprised to see them,” Mr. Fornal said, his head bobbing out of the water in a red Y.M.C.A. swim cap, “but I’m guessing they were more surprised to see us.”

Original source: The New York Times
Read the complete story here.
121 Sustainability Articles | Page: | Show All
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