Saturday, August 30, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Greensgrow

It never ceases to amaze, the many forms of gardening that are possible in the city. Lately, urban farms have fascinated me, not the small-scale vegetable gardens or community gardens that are popping up with renewed vigor, thanks to the rotten economy and Michelle Obama, but good-sized parcels that are thriving in places you'd never imagine would support such an enterprise. It's all about the power of one - actually, in this case, two. Greensgrow, now in its 11th improbable year, was created on an old Superfund site at Almond and Cumberland Streets in the heart of Kensington by two friends - Mary Seton Corboy and Tom Sereduk, former chefs. It's still run by Mary. The farm is all of one square block and is expected to do $700,000 in sales this year. Think about that. One square block, once the home of a galvanized steel plant that filled the ground with lead and other toxic stuff. Greensgrow was a bit ahead of the pack when it comes to promoting locally grown, fresh, high quality food. It started with what were then little known gourmet lettuces, grown hydroponically and sold to restaurants. Now there's a thriving farm store, a CSA that serves 300 customers, a nursery and greenhouse for growing annual and perennial flowers and vegetables, and, for fun, "Honey from the 'Hood," homegrown honey. Mary says she wasn't at all sure they'd make it. It's quite a story. My story on the birth and growth of Greensgrow - scheduled to be in the paper on Friday, April 17 - tells all.

Greensgrow

Rosa 'All Ablaze' blazes cherry red in Burke Brothers' Tuscany exhibit, accenting classic Italian elements with bright flowers. (Ron Tarver / Staff photographer)
Rosa 'All Ablaze' blazes cherry red in Burke Brothers' Tuscany exhibit, accenting classic Italian elements with bright flowers. (Ron Tarver / Staff photographer)

It never ceases to amaze, the many forms of gardening that are possible in the city. Lately, urban farms have fascinated me, not the small-scale vegetable gardens or community gardens that are popping up with renewed vigor, thanks to the rotten economy and Michelle Obama, but good-sized parcels that are thriving in places you'd never imagine would support such an enterprise. It's all about the power of one - actually, in this case, two. Greensgrow, now in its 11th improbable year, was created on an old Superfund site at Almond and Cumberland Streets in the heart of Kensington by two friends - Mary Seton Corboy and Tom Sereduk, former chefs. It's still run by Mary. The farm is all of one square block and is expected to do $700,000 in sales this year. Think about that. One square block, once the home of a galvanized steel plant that filled the ground with lead and other toxic stuff. Greensgrow was a bit ahead of the pack when it comes to promoting locally grown, fresh, high quality food. It started with what were then little known gourmet lettuces, grown hydroponically and sold to restaurants. Now there's a thriving farm store, a CSA that serves 300 customers, a nursery and greenhouse for growing annual and perennial flowers and vegetables, and, for fun, "Honey from the 'Hood," homegrown honey. Mary says she wasn't at all sure they'd make it. It's quite a story. My story on the birth and growth of Greensgrow - scheduled to be in the paper on Friday, April 17 - tells all.

About this blog
Ginny Smith, a Philadelphia native, joined the Inquirer at 1985. After stints as both reporter and editor in the city and suburbs, she’s been happily writing – and learning - about gardening full time since 2006. She’s won two silver medals of achievement from the national Garden Writers Association and in 2011, Bartram’s Garden honored her with its Green Exemplar award for her stories about “the region’s deeply rooted horticultural history, cultural attractions and bountiful gardens.” She plays in her own – mostly - bountiful garden in East Falls. Reach Virginia A. at vsmith@phillynews.com .

Virginia A. Smith Inquirer Staff Writer
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