ABOVE PHOTO: Greensgrow staffers Miya, Lauren and Ryan. (Photo courtesy: Greensgrow Farms)
By Amy V. Simmons
Farming and programming is a year-round affair at Greensgrow Farms and Greensgrow West. They cultivate over 20 types of vegetables each season, that yield over a ton of produce. The produce is part of the weekly farmer’s market and the SNAP program. The produce is grown using hoop houses — container gardens, raised bed gardens, high tunnels and hydroponic systems and contributions from offsite local farmers.
Greensgrow’s CSA Programs
A basic member share includes a choice of dairy or vegetable protein; milk, eggs, butter, yogurt, tofu or seitan, seasonal fruit, fun specialty prepared items and a few pantry staples. They also offer online grocery shopping, member discounts on local cheese and meat, and optional add-on shares.
Summer CSA members receive weekly shares of local produce and dairy or vegetable protein. Winter CSA members pick up a share every other Saturday from early December through mid-April, the exception being a three-week gap over the holidays. Three share types are offered in the winter program — meat, vegetarian or vegan. Greensgrow is firmly committed to sustainability and supporting local growers. All products not produced on site are sourced from regional providers located within a 200-mile radius of Philadelphia.
The deadline to apply for this year’s winter CSA program was November 26. However, applications received later will start participation depending on the application date, and prorated prices will apply. First payments are due before the first share pickup. Members are committing to the full 10 week season’s payment schedule when they signup, but overall savings, convenience, and quality.
The SNAP Box Program
Both Greensgrow locations participate in the federal government’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), which is the largest program in the domestic hunger safety net, according to the USDA website.
Each week SNAP program members receive a farm share of 5-8 produce items that payable with their ACCESS cards, costing $26 per month. They also receive $2 in Philly Food Bucks for every $5 you spend on your ACCESS card. At each weekly pickup, they are invited to attend a complimentary nutrition class along with an interactive food preparation demonstration that caters to each week’s share. Class participants get to sample the dish and receive recipes to take home.
The primary Greensgrow location has two special residents—Milkshake the Pig and Ping the hissing duck. In addition to delighting visitors during donation based tours, they do their part to help maintain the farm’s sustainable ecosystem. Ping helps with mosquito control, while Milkshake helps to weed the garden and turn the soil. There are also turtles and a koi pond.
Both locations have chicken coops with laying hens, however, due to local agricultural regulations, they cannot sell their eggs.
The Holiday Season at Greensgrow
The Second Annual Subaru Arctic Blast at Greensgrow began on December 2nd at both Greensgrow locations with the lighting of the farms at 6:30 pm and continues through December 4th from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm daily. Hot chocolate and warm cider will be served, and kids activities will be featured, including upcycling tree ornaments, making pinecone bird feeders and decorating holiday cookies. The festival continues December 9th from 12 to 8 pm, and on December 10th and 11th from 10 to 4:00.
Greensgrow will also be holding Customer Appreciation days at both locations, featuring a 20% discount off select Pennsylvania grown trees, greens, wreaths, and winter decorations.
Greensgrow Farms location in Kensington will host a Customer Appreciation Happy Hour on December 2nd from 6:00 pm until 8:00 pm., featuring spirits along with refreshments.
The Greensgrow West Customer Appreciation evening will be held on December 3 from 4:00 pm-6:00 pm. Complimentary trolley shuttle service between Baltimore & Lancaster Avenues will be available during the Baltimore Avenue Business Association’s W.E.S.T. (Winter Express Shoppers’ Trolley) shopping event.
Later in the season is the Greensgrow Holiday Bazaar, featuring local made arts and crafts, specialty foods, and more.
Greensgrow also offers fee-based design services for gardens, containers and holiday decorating for your business or home. They provide planting and maintenance services. The main property can be rented for weddings and special events – a service that Ryan Kuck will be adding to the Greensgrow West location as he develops and expands the programs there. The 6,000-square greenhouse is transformed into a unique green oasis, where clients have the option of utilizing Greensgrow flower arranging and green party favor services.
Honeybees are kept in hive boxes located on a lot across from the main farm, in hives located on a green roof, far away from the public. During the summer, the bees can be seen gathering pollen, a major task vital to the farm’s ecosystem. The honey is then harvested in the fall and sold as “Honey from the Hood” at their farmstands and as gifts during their holiday markets.
They adhere to an Integrated Pest Management System (IPM)., This pest management program that limits or eliminates the need for chemical pesticides, identifying helpful and destructive insects and responding accordingly.
In addition to a two-tier compost method where raw food scraps and plant matter are turned into nourishing garden fertilizer, both Greensgrow locations feature Philadelphia’s only solar powered composting toilets. Drexel University is donating Philadelphia’s only existing tiny house to Greensgrow West to be used as part of the instruction space that the community has requested during meetings.
If there were one word to describe Greensgrow, it would be just that — it is committed to green sustainability, and the continued growth of ideas, programs, health, wealth and happiness in the communities they serve.
There are many more programs and services available at both locations. For further information, visit www.greensgrow.org.