For the Home News
The corner of 27th and Master streets might sprout this spring.
That’s thanks to a new urban farming initiative by the Marathon restaurant company.
“We think it would be an asset to the community,” said Warren McMichael, president of the Brewerytown-Sharswood Community Civic Association.
Marathon representative Patrick Dunn presented the company’s plans for an urban farm at the now-vacant site during a well-attended meeting of the BSCCA last week.
“It was a very productive meeting,” said McMichael.
Dunn, who is now Marathon’s official farmer, will head up the project. (His thoughts and other information about the project can be read at www.marathonfarm.com.)
The final draft of the landscaped plan can also be found at the website. Dunn presented those plans at the BSCCA meeting.
The plans call for a farm stand facing Master Street, a community garden area, vegetable beds, a small orchard, a patch for berries and herbs, a community gathering space, a greenhouse, potting shed and wash station for the farm workers, as well as a compost area.
The city Public Property Department announced on Jan. 4 that it would allow Marathon to use the parcel for two years with a long-term lease to follow if the project succeeds.
Marathon now hopes to raise at least $20,000 by March in order to finance construction of the proposed farm’s infrastructure, including a greenhouse and an irrigation system.
McMichael said community reaction to the project was generally positive following an extensive question-answer session with Dunn.
The restaurant company formed a non-profit organization, Marathon Loves Philadelphia, with the aim of turning vacant city properties into urban farms which will serve its neighbors and customers, all with the slogan, “Spreading the Love, one carrot at a time!”
Donations to the farm project may be made via Marathon’s website. Dunn has been farming for five years. He apprenticed at a farm in Oregon for a year and volunteered at numerous farms around the world before coming to Philadelphia, where he worked at Greensgrow and founded Emerald Street Urban Farm in East Kensington.
Dunn also writes a blog on the marathonfarm.com website that is designed to serve as both an information center for the garden project and as an educational venue for urban farming-related social issues, such as hunger, poverty and access to healthy food.
“Basically a place for me to go on rants about everything farming related,” Dunn writes on his blog. “I hope that I can spread some knowledge about urban farming and what it is, and even give some guidance to doing it yourself, in your backyard, balcony or rooftop.”
“Urban farming is an incredibly important movement in this city and really all over the world. It isn’t just about growing food. Urban farming is deeply rooted in community and education,” wrote Dunn.
The BSCCA meeting also included an update on the Athletic Recreation Center’s ongoing renovations, a performance by the Reynolds School Drum Line, and a presentation by the owner of Mug Shots Coffee House, who, like Marathon’s Dunn, brought refreshments for those in attendance.
The BSCAA meets every third Thursday at 6:30 p.m. in the Boone School at 26th and Master. The next meeting is Feb. 17.
McMichael said the 10-year-old community group will hold its elections soon, and anyone interested in participating should contact him (215-763-5507) or attend the next meeting.**