Easy and Cheap Pallet Garden for small spaces

Tuesday, April 12, 2011


I LOVE this DIY tutorial from Fern at Life on the Balcony. With just a simple wooden pallet (available free, on the side-of-the-road, almost anywhere in Philadelphia), a staple gun, some landscape fabric, potting soil and plants you can make and incredibly cute hanging garden for your balcony, front porch, back “yard” or any little urban spot. I’m going to try this soon, and I’d love to see your versions!

Follow the directions HERE.


Posted by Erin on 04/12 at 04:33 PM

Short, inspirational documentary about Mill Creek Farm

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

garden photo

Check out this great, two-part short documentary about Mill Creek Farm in West Philadelphia. Jo and Jade have been going at it for years and have built a real community resource, supplying education, organic local food, and a safe community space. Learn more about how to get involved on their website.

West Philly Grown Part 1

West Philly Grown Part 2

To help ensure that Mill Creek can continue its work, help it become part of a landtrust. Let Councilwoman Blackwell know that this land shouldn’t be on the auction block for future developement”

Please take a minute to send a message to Councilwoman Blackwell.
To submit your comments online, use this form:

To learn more about the land trust issue and how Mill Creek Farm is threatened, go HERE.

Posted by Erin on 01/05 at 08:52 PM

Good Giving: The Food Trust

Wednesday, December 01, 2010


It’s that time of the year! As the tax year winds down and I make sure that I’ve done all the giving that I intended to do this year, and I think about the kind of gifts that I want the receive and to give this year, The Food Trust comes to mind. The Food Trust work to bring healthy fruits and vegetables to underserved neighborhoods, to open farmer’s markets in areas that don’t have them (four new markets this year!), publish the Fresh Times digital newsletter, started the awesome Nightmarkets series, teach nutrition in our local schools, and began the Philly Food Bucks program this year that allows you to use SNAP/Food Stamps at a participating farmers’ market - yous also receive a $2 Philly Food Bucks coupon for every $5 your spend.

To support the Food Trusts good community work this year in your annual giving, go HERE.

To learn more about the Food Trust’s Programs, visit their website at

Posted by Erin on 12/01 at 04:37 PM

Best Local Food Apps

Monday, October 25, 2010


I don’t have an iphone, but I know plenty of people who do. Some of you may be wondering if there are apps to help you stay on top of your local eating goals.There are!  Some help you figure out what’s in season and where to find it, while other help you find very specific recipes (healthy, vegetarian or vegan, low salt, quick, etc.) based on the seasonal produce you’d like to use. I’ve included a few of the most popular below, but please add more - if you use them and like them - in the comments section for future updates.

Locavore ($3) - The entire purpose of locavore is to help you find in-season produce. Yeah!
Harvest ($2) - How do you find the best produce? This database helps you decide if the asparagus is too limp, the melon to hard, or the tomato too green.
How to Cook EverythingMark Bittman helps you figure out how to cook everything, from delicata squash to red quinoa.
Whole Foods The only thing free about Whole Foods is this helpful app, which lets you sort by food allergy/aversion, and searches for recipes based on the ingredients that you’re purchasing.
Epicurious I used the Epicurious website all the time, because it has awesome advanced searching options (vegan + breakfast + main course + bananas = recipe) and a solid rating system. The app will even build a shopping list for you.
Cook’s Illustrated Another great, free, recipe searching app with lots of helpful hints. This app even has a timer that runs on your phone to remind you when your quiche is done!

Posted by Erin on 10/25 at 06:04 PM

Canning: Gold Tomato Sauce

Wednesday, August 25, 2010


My CSA arrived on Monday, but on Tuesday I was leaving for Alaska for 10 days. What to do? Blanch and freeze the greens and can everything else. Much like Marissa from the local canning blog “Food in Jars,” I enjoy small batch canning. It’s an easy evening project and lets you use up all kinds of odds and ends before they pass their ripeness. This golden tomato sauce is based on a recipe I saw recently on 101 recipes, but I added just a few red cherry tomatoes, languishing on the counter, for a little variation.

Posted by Erin on 08/25 at 12:59 PM

DIY Sauerkraut

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Hello!  My name is Erica and I’m excited to join the Farm to Philly team!  I’m a community garden organizer and local food lover from West Philadelphia, check out my bio for more info on the gardens I tend in Philadelphia and Camden, NJ.

For my first post I decided to go with a tried-and-true recipe that I am constantly making in my kitchen; sauerkraut.  Cabbage is a great winter staple, I get mine at Mariposa Food Co-op where they’ve recently been selling small cabbages that are perfect for a mini batch of kraut.

The first step is to assemble your equipment:  a ceramic crock or (food-grade) plastic bucket and a dish that fits snugly into it.  I found my crock at a second-hand store, but you can sometimes buy them at housewares stores.  You’ll also need a cutting board, a glass mason jar with lid, a knife, a dish cloth and a large bowl.

Your ingredients are one small cabbage, sea salt, and water.  The amounts depend on the size of your crock, but I use one small head of cabbage, ½ cup of water, and 3 or 4 Tbs of salt in my ½ gallon crock.

Thinly shred the cabbage.  I find that the best way to do this is to cut it in half and slice thinly from the cut side.  When you’ve cut off a handful of cabbage, put it in the bowl and sprinkle it with salt.  Keep doing this until you’ve shredded the entire cabbage, layering the cabbage and salt as you go.  Put the cabbage in the crock and mash it down with your fist to get it tightly packed.  Mix together one teaspoon of salt in a cup of water and pour it over the cabbage until the cabbage is submerged.  Put the dish into the crock and put it down so the cabbage is under the salt water.  Fill the mason jar with water and use it to weigh the plate down.  Cover the entire thing with a dish cloth to keep away flies and dust, and place it in a dark corner of your kitchen.

Taste the sauerkraut daily to observe the fermentation process.  When it has reached the perfect amount of “sourness,” take it out of the crock and place it in a mason jar in the fridge.  For me, it takes between 1.5 and 2.5 weeks in the winter to reach the perfect point (less time in the summer).  To see the original recipe I used and more fermented food recipes, check out  Enjoy!

Posted by Erica on 02/23 at 12:42 AM

“Traceability”: Friend or Foe to Locavores?

Monday, March 30, 2009

There’s an article in today’s NY Times that leaves me with ambiguous feelings. The concept is “Traceability” and it’s meant to, as the name suggests, give consumers the ability to “trace” their food to it’s producer. What leaves me with a sour taste is that when I quickly perused the Find The Farmer site, I saw what I had feared was coming — namely, that Big Business would attempt to co-opt some of the finer points of the Buy Local movement.

The article states that the “Stone-Buhr flour company, a 100-year-old brand based in San Francisco, is giving the buy-local food movement its latest upgrade.” (My emphasis). The internet is a wonderful tool and I push it whole-heartedly on local farmers. But how is this “buy local”? The Find The Farmer website has all the trimmings of a gosh-golly earnest site. But on closer inspection, you see the bread trail of a much larger marketing effort. A look at the footer of the site reveals the copyright is held by JOG Distribution. Google that name and you see that they recently acquired “the venerable Stone-Buhr Flour brand...” (My emphasis). Notice that they say “brand”. Not “company”. Not “product”. “Brand”. That’s telling because that states that for these companies, it’s the name of the product and all that name conjures up in the consumers mind. That’s what they are paying for. But here’s the best part: JOG didn’t purchase it from the original owners of Stone-Buhr. Read the article and you’ll see that they purchased the “brand” in 2002 from Unilever/Bestfoods!

This is not mom-and-pop farmers organizing to let consumers know where their food comes from. This is marketing departments realizing that there is a.) a Trend (“Buy Local”) and b.) problems with the public’s perception of food safety. They aren’t really changing the way they do business, they’re simply changing the appearance by piggy-backing on a genuine movement. This is why marketing is important to small scale farmer’s and local business people. These are the tools that your fearsome competition welds.

Think of it like this: people are trusting. That’s a good thing. So when they see a NY Times article; when they see an earnest-looking website; when they see smiling pictures of commodity farmers and their families; when the sites state explicitly things like “Direct Seeding” to imply that their entire farming methods are more friendly (Direct Seeding seems innocuous enough, but it’s prominently name-dropped as a way to intimate that the farm is environmentally sound); when they see all of this, they think “Oh, in addition to the Farmer’s Market, I’ll shop online. Their prices may be better, maybe I’ll forgo the Market this week…”  Or, perhaps, “I really want to connect with how my food is produced, I’ll just go to this website…” It begins to chip away at your business, whether it’s what you currently have or any potential business that’s down the line.

I need to stress that being able to trace your food is a good thing. Not only does it make producers and companies more accountable, but it also appears to pave the way for single-producer products. If there’s traceablilty, then that means you can’t mix several suppliers in a huge grain bin. And that’s good for people. What I don’t think is good is the sneaky way that businesses are hinting that they, too, are “local” (or have any of the ideals of the people who would Buy Local) when it’s still business as usual. They see the desire in the public’s mind and they act in the most cost-effective way. And that is by keeping the mechanism’s in place but using marketing and promotional tools to control the “message”.

People are ready for local, sustainable foods. If they weren’t, there wouldn’t be interest in co-opting the terms and the ideals, by large corporations. If there ever was a time to invest in keeping your message relevant and making the case for the real differences, now is the time. It really is a sound investment because the desire for information is there.

Posted by Charlotte on 03/30 at 01:26 PM

Apple heaven

Sunday, October 05, 2008

While not a website about supporting local farmers and eating seasonally, A Food Coma is a new blog devoted to New Jersey.  And hey, we gotta support Jersey, right?

A Food Coma is a group blog devoted to restaurant reviews, recipes…there’s even a podcast!  Their lead story is pretty timely - a recipe for apple pie.  We are awash in locally grown apples right now.  Linvilla currently has nearly 25 varieties available for picking.  The Fair Food Farmstand in Reading Terminal has dozens of varieties from various area farms. 

Other local orchards for apple picking:

Posted by Nicole on 10/05 at 11:04 AM

Rate a CSA program!

Friday, May 30, 2008

Many of us at Farm to Philly count on Local Harvest to find out about CSA programs and markets, but the site is really expanding its user friendliness!  One of the newest features is a star rating system and user reviews for farms and CSA programs, etc.  This is really a great step in the right direction for those of us flying blindly to pick CSA programs.  I’ve been trying to put in reviews wherever possible, and I hope you will, too!

Local Harvest also has a really great newsletter, and an interesting blog.  Be sure to check those out!

Posted by Nicole on 05/30 at 07:24 AM

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Support a local farmer, crave the freshest produce, worry about what's in or on your food - whatever your reason for eating locally grown and produced food in the Philadelphia area, Farm to Philly is probably writing about it. We're focused on where to find it, how to grow it, and what to do with it!

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