Bedding Down for Winter

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At the Seeds for Learning farm, we’ve wrapped up our growing season and it’s time now to reflect on this past year and think ahead to the spring. For the time being, the Beyond the Farm blog will be on hiatus. We encourage you to maintain your commitment this winter to local, affordable, accessible, healthy, organically grown, fresh food. There are a number of ways to continue to cultivate your knowledge and passion and to be a part of the Seeds for Learning mission. Here are some suggestions: 1. In Philadelphia, you can still support local farmers all winter long. Shop at the year-round farmers’ markets hosted by Farm to City at Suburban Station and Rittenhouse or the Food Trust’s farmers’ markets at Clark Park ....


Youth Food Bill of Rights

by Glynnis Wadsworth October 10, 2011
Youth Food Bill of Rights

This past summer, over one hundred youth leaders were in attendance at Rooted in Community National Network’s (RIC) 13th annual conference hosted by University of Pennsylvania’s Agatston Urban Nutrition Initiative.  RIC is a national grassroots network that empowers young people to take leadership in their own community.  The yearly conference mobilizes young adults to speak out about issues concerning the current food system, the effect on low income and minority communities and how they plan to change the system to better serve their communities. This year’s conference was especially important since this was the first time a Youth Food Bill of Rights, a statement of what youth demand of their food system, had ever been drafted. The youth leaders voiced their discontent with the current ....

Let’s Bring the Love Back to Philly

by Soledad Alfaro August 22, 2011
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I’m not a native Philadelphian – but don’t hold that against me. I live in Mt. Airy, in the Northwest section of the city. I still clearly remember my first ride up Lincoln Drive on a September day – trees fully leafed out, the green giving way to tinges of red and yellow – the promise of beautiful fall color just days away. I fell in love with the big, old trees, walkable streets, First Fridays and the granola-crunchy feel of my neighborhood. I happen to aspire to granola-crunchiness… but I digress. I love Philly – the people, the diversity, the noise, the energy – even the fact that my 3-year-old now says “wudder” (as opposed to “water” for you non-Philadelphians). The flash mobs in ....

WHYY Fit Visits Community Lunch

by Natalie Lucas August 16, 2011
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Click here to listen to a recent WHYY Fit story about our Community Lunch program. Thanks to Therese Madden for profiling our program, and to Chef Valerie Erwin of Geechee Girl Rice Cafe for the delicious lunch she worked with the students to prepare!

Planning for Fall

by Tara Anastasi August 15, 2011
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For most people August brings a lot of things like hot days, last-minute vacations and school supply and clothes shopping. For us at Seeds for Learning, our minds are running in two different directions: fall planting and fall programming. Fall Planting The growing season consists of three separate plantings. We plant for spring, summer and fall. Each planting season can accommodate specific crops. In general, spring and fall harvests include cool weather crops like lettuce, carrots, mustard greens, turnips and broccoli. The summer harvest includes fruit-bearing crops like cucumber, squash, tomatoes, peppers, melons and okra. Here at the farm, we are watching our summer crops become exhausted and beginning to prepare spent beds for fall planting. Using our crop plan from the last year’s season, ....

Camp with the Atmosphere Investigators

by Guest Blogger August 8, 2011
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“Oooohh ohhhh aahhh ahh, I’m a monkey!” exclaims 9-year-old Daqwan as he jumps onto the tree. Daqwan is one of the campers in the Atmosphere Investigators day camp that Erik and I teach as Bridging the Gaps interns. The camp, run by the Seeds for Learning program, is split up into age groups and Erik and I have been working with the K-2 and 3-5 age groups, but we also have had kids as young as 3 years old come in.  Neither Erik nor I have had any experience teaching kids that were so young, and we were anxious about what to expect. We had big plans to teach them about the greenhouse effect, carbon dioxide emissions and a range of other topics, but the ....

Preparing for Summer Camp

by Guest Blogger July 18, 2011
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Working on the farm has been a crash course in sustainability and food justice for my co-intern, Zena, and me. Before we came to the farm the closest we ever came to fresh food was the produce aisle at the supermarket. It’s amazing to see how much work goes into growing and processing just one bunch of greens. We have also learned that the term organic produce is synonymous with the word weeding. When we aren’t harvesting or selling the produce at the farmers’ market, we are on our hands and knees, weeding. By far the hardest area to weed has been the strawberry patch. We definitely have a greater appreciation now for the time and effort that goes into herbicide-free farming. Zena was an ....

Community Lunch is back!

by Leticia Garcia July 12, 2011
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Every summer Seeds for Learning organizes a Community Lunch series at Martin Luther King High School for residents of West Oak Lane and Germantown, and even visitors from across the city. In the past, chefs from all over Philadelphia County who purchase local food have worked with the Seeds for Learning student farmers to cook a meal sourced from our very own urban farm for the lunch guests.  The positive effects of this program are far reaching, from students who learn professional cooking skills, to members of the community who learn about the farm as a resource for local, chemical-free produce in the area. This year, we have organized Community Lunch in a slightly different way. Instead of reaching out to chefs and restaurants all ....

Spanish Lessons

by Guest Blogger June 27, 2011
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This post is the first in a series bringing together Foundations’ two blogs: beyondthefarm.org and languageandliteracy.org, and to explore the relationships between food justice, language and culture. Beyondthefarm.org is co-produced by staff from Foundations’ Seeds for Learning urban farm; entries focus on topics related to food justice and sustainability. Languageandliteracy.org features content from Foundations’ literacy and English Language Learner experts; entries focus on language, policy, reading and technology. For me, the connection between language, food and sustainability is obvious. In 2006, I spent a year living on a farm in rural Costa Rica. After numerous stints trying to learn Spanish, this is where it stuck. I learned the word for the sweet pancakes we used to eat with peanut butter (arepas), the herb my adoptive ....

Young Black Men: Defining Our Stories

by Christopher Bolden-Newsome June 21, 2011
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Black men are dying. The statement sounds rote after so many years of statistical reports confirming the loss of black and brown males to drugs, violent crime and, disproportionately, to the penal system. In West Oak Lane where the Seeds for Learning farm is located, the story is just as grim; the overwhelming majority of the youth we work with – and most are young men – have experienced violence in the streets or in their homes, or both. The youth have told us that they harbor low expectations for their personal safety and their life chances because of the neighborhoods where they are growing up.  In talking with African American men all over Philadelphia, I find that many of us share a collective loss of purpose in ....

Philly’s First Heat Wave of the Season

by Joanna Kent Katz June 6, 2011
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The hot weather has been good to us here on the Seeds for Learning farm at Martin Luther King, Jr. High School. Our strawberries are sweet and overflowing, stretching out into a third bed. The garlic sent up their scapes right on time. The peas are flowering and beginning to fruit. Mustards are just about ready for picking. And the lettuce, cabbage, broccoli, onions, potatoes, beats, collards and okra have all been planted. This year we planted our summer squash, melons and cucumbers in mounds – experimenting with more space and sustained moisture. We are getting ready to transplant a bunch of tomato “volunteers” (plants that have sprouted on their own from seeds that were unintentionally spread around) from last year’s garden. And we have more than doubled our okra crop. Folks are ....