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Co-ops helping co-ops and how that helps OUR co-op

A few days ago, the website Generocity posted a great write-up of a recent meeting of Philly-area co-ops who are coming together to forge partnership and leverage their collective strength in the service of making operational and marketing improvements. As someone who has been working on the marketing of the South Philly Food Co-op, I was particularly encouraged by this piece:
On the marketing end, Weavers Way, Swarthmore and potentially Creekside will be setting up kiosks at WXPN’s Xponential Festival on the Camden Waterfront. They will be clustered in an area called “Co-op Row” and will likely share staff and resources throughout the event. The possibility of collectively buying ad-space on WHYY was also discussed as a way to market for the individual stores and to draw attention to co-ops generally.
This is exciting stuff for us in that any effort made by the region's co-ops to create awareness of the co-op model will help our efforts to attract members. This kind of work will go a long way of moving our target population/geography from "nothing" to "awareness." And as we've seen during this whole process that has helped us get 464 member-owners, once people hear about the Co-op and get an idea of what the cooperative form of ownership is all about, it doesn't take much more to get them to be members. Great news! We look forward to seeing you at our Spring General Membership meeting on May 19.
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Co-ops helping co-ops and how that helps OUR co-op

A few days ago, the website Generocity posted a great write-up of a recent meeting of Philly-area co-ops who are coming together to forge partnership and leverage their collective strength in the service of making operational and marketing improvements. As someone who has been working on the marketing of the South Philly Food Co-op, I was particularly encouraged by this piece:
On the marketing end, Weavers Way, Swarthmore and potentially Creekside will be setting up kiosks at WXPN’s Xponential Festival on the Camden Waterfront. They will be clustered in an area called “Co-op Row” and will likely share staff and resources throughout the event. The possibility of collectively buying ad-space on WHYY was also discussed as a way to market for the individual stores and to draw attention to co-ops generally.
This is exciting stuff for us in that any effort made by the region's co-ops to create awareness of the co-op model will help our efforts to attract members. This kind of work will go a long way of moving our target population/geography from "nothing" to "awareness." And as we've seen during this whole process that has helped us get 464 member-owners, once people hear about the Co-op and get an idea of what the cooperative form of ownership is all about, it doesn't take much more to get them to be members. Great news! We look forward to seeing you at our Spring General Membership meeting on May 19.
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Sarah's Garden: May Showers

Well the raised bed vegetables had a very hot and sunny first few days but thanks to the rain earlier this week they seem to be doing just fine:

[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="500"]
I know they don't look like much yet. Just wait![/caption]

While the picture above makes them look pretty scrawny (and they are) I am feeling hopeful because of this:

[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="375"]
hey it's another picture of a tomato plant[/caption]

Okay - this is a picture I take every year, I'm sure of it.  Yes, here's a blurry version from last year:

[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="375"]
tomato blur[/caption]

What these pictures are of, besides random tomato plant crowns, is that yellowish-green color of the new growth.  One thing I have learned over these few years is that this is a very good sign:  the plants are healthy, adequately watered and probably growing very fast.  I love seeing that "growth spurt" color - then I feel like I can relax a bit because I didn't kill all my seedlings when transplanting them.  Good news!

That's all until next week, except that I found these two cuties growing in a pot with some ginkgos:

[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="375"]
who are you?[/caption]

A closer look reveals:

[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="375"]
hello![/caption]

Swiss chard!  I let my chard go to seed last year hoping to harvest the seeds but never getting around to it (gotta get better on that) but I guess a few seeds flew into some neighboring pots!  Good thing, because my mustard greens are not looking so good.
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Sarah's Garden: May Showers

Well the raised bed vegetables had a very hot and sunny first few days but thanks to the rain earlier this week they seem to be doing just fine: [caption id="" align="alignnone" width="500"]photo.JPG I know they don't look like much yet. Just wait![/caption] While the picture above makes them look pretty scrawny (and they are) I am feeling hopeful because of this: [caption id="" align="alignnone" width="375"]photo.JPG hey it's another picture of a tomato plant[/caption] Okay - this is a picture I take every year, I'm sure of it.  Yes, here's a blurry version from last year: [caption id="" align="alignnone" width="375"]photo.JPG tomato blur[/caption] What these pictures are of, besides random tomato plant crowns, is that yellowish-green color of the new growth.  One thing I have learned over these few years is that this is a very good sign:  the plants are healthy, adequately watered and probably growing very fast.  I love seeing that "growth spurt" color - then I feel like I can relax a bit because I didn't kill all my seedlings when transplanting them.  Good news! That's all until next week, except that I found these two cuties growing in a pot with some ginkgos: [caption id="" align="alignnone" width="375"]photo.JPG who are you?[/caption] A closer look reveals: [caption id="" align="alignnone" width="375"]photo.JPG hello![/caption] Swiss chard!  I let my chard go to seed last year hoping to harvest the seeds but never getting around to it (gotta get better on that) but I guess a few seeds flew into some neighboring pots!  Good thing, because my mustard greens are not looking so good.
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Pallet Gardening Workshop - Turning Trash Into Treasurers!

Saturday, June 1, 2013, 11:00 AM - 12:30 PM South Philadelphia High School, 2101 S. Broad Street, Philadelphia, PA 19148 Want to make your very own garden out of a wooden pallet for your South Philly home? Then join us at this FREE workshop! A pallet garden is the perfect solution for your urban garden. We'll receive a brief intro to the gardens at South Philly High School, the different methods of growing they experiment with, an overview of pallet gardening, and walk-through of pallet garden installation. Then, you'll break into groups to make a pallet garden, receive care instructions, and enjoy some potluck snacks together. All materials and seeds are completely free! What's stopping you from creating a beautiful pallet garden of your own?
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Pallet Gardening Workshop - Turning Trash Into Treasurers!

Saturday, June 1, 2013, 11:00 AM - 12:30 PM South Philadelphia High School, 2101 S. Broad Street, Philadelphia, PA 19148 Want to make your very own garden out of a wooden pallet for your South Philly home? Then join us at this FREE workshop! A pallet garden is the perfect solution for your urban garden. We'll receive a brief intro to the gardens at South Philly High School, the different methods of growing they experiment with, an overview of pallet gardening, and walk-through of pallet garden installation. Then, you'll break into groups to make a pallet garden, receive care instructions, and enjoy some potluck snacks together. All materials and seeds are completely free! What's stopping you from creating a beautiful pallet garden of your own?
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Tour Mariposa's Awesome New Facility - a vision of our future!

Want to see what our Co-op might look like? Join us for a tour of Mariposa Food Co-op in West Philly. You can select to either meet at the Fountain at East Passyunk Ave and Tasker Street at 11am to travel together via car or bike, or meet at Mariposa at 4824 Baltimore Ave at noon. After meeting from a representative of this awesome community-owned grocery store, we'll buy lunch and then visit Little Baby's Ice Cream at their new Cedar Park location. Saturday, May 11, 2013, 12:00 PM - 2:00 PM Mariposa Co-op, 4824 Baltimore Avenue, Philadelphia, PA 19143 (A group will be departing from the Fountain at East Passyunk and Tasker at 11am)  
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Tour Mariposa's Awesome New Facility - a vision of our future!

Want to see what our Co-op might look like? Join us for a tour of Mariposa Food Co-op in West Philly. You can select to either meet at the Fountain at East Passyunk Ave and Tasker Street at 11am to travel together via car or bike, or meet at Mariposa at 4824 Baltimore Ave at noon. After meeting from a representative of this awesome community-owned grocery store, we'll buy lunch and then visit Little Baby's Ice Cream at their new Cedar Park location. Saturday, May 11, 2013, 12:00 PM - 2:00 PM Mariposa Co-op, 4824 Baltimore Avenue, Philadelphia, PA 19143 (A group will be departing from the Fountain at East Passyunk and Tasker at 11am)  
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Sarah's Garden: Raised Bed Party!

It finally happened!!

[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="500"]
baby vegetables[/caption]

The raised bed has been filled with lots and lots and lots of dirt and sand and compost and now things are planted!  And lest you think it's small, let me tell you that it's ten feet long by three feet wide, and that's the inside measurements.

[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="500"]
excuse the mess; I am in the process of "screening" out soooooo much garbage from the soil in the back[/caption]

Having never had this much space to plant in, I didn't really know what I was doing.  Ha.  So we just kept filling my little car's trunk full of soil and compost and sand and rocks (for a layer of drainage on the bottom) and, yeah, it took a lot of dirt to fill that bed up.  But I knew it had to be done now since my tomatoes were huge and the giganto-bean was starting to climb up the blinds.  So yesterday afternoon I planted tomatoes (copia and black krim), three types of mustard greens, broccoli, bibb and romaine lettuce, some sort of long green pepper, cucumbers, thyme and chives.  That's a lot, but I was so excited about having MY OWN RAISED BED that I didn't mind.

[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="500"]
sitting sturdily on cracked concrete[/caption]

There are some things I think I should tell you, though, in case you are thinking about your own raised bed.  The first thing is that I have no idea if this will work.  The bed itself is made of untreated spruce.  I did not physically nail it together - that was my father who is good at things like that.  I was going to stain the whole thing, but after starting to stain that back lefthand corner of the bed I decided I didn't like the color.  But I was still a little worried about the wood rotting so I stained the inside with two coats and let it dry overnight.  I have no idea if this will help or not.  I also am unsure about drainage:  as you can see, the bed is on cracked concrete and there is also a large rectangle of dirt inside it so I figured that would be good for drainage.  I dumped a 2" layer of pebbles inside the bed before putting anything else in and then spread some of that black landscaper's fabric on the pebbles so that the dirt from inside the bed wouldn't impede drainage.  Then I did layers and layers of soil, sand and compost until the last foot or so which was just soil and compost.  The sand is to help with drainage but, again, I'm not sure if it will work.

[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="375"]
welcome to your new home![/caption]

I think I have mentioned before that I have a bit of a cat problem, meaning that there are a few cats who like to use my yard as a litter box.  After filling this huge bed with soil, I realized it was basically just a huge litter box, so I covered it with tarps held down with bricks and other potted plants when I finished filling it this past weekend.  That was actually a good idea because it rained early in the week and I didn't want to plant in waterlogged soil.  The other plus from this was that when I lifted the tarps off (after a nice warm sunny day) the soil was nice and warm, perfect for little delicate baby plants.  And I should tell you here that I did something highly unorthodox:  I didn't harden off my little seedlings before putting them in.  Usually I do harden off, but this time was different.  [Hardening off is when you set your tender seedlings outside for a little bit more time each day to get them used to this new harsher environment slooooowly.]  My main reason for not hardening off is that these plants were grown in a less sunny window than what I'm used to and they were routinely subjected to temperatures as low as 55-60 degrees because I keep my house at a toasty 64 degrees in the winter.  I considered getting heat mats or grow lights, but the seeds seemed to be growing pretty well without any of that.  The (hopeful) payoff is that they're hardier than little seedlings grown in an 85 degree greenhouse.  And honestly, the tomatoes are so big they're probably past the hardening-off stage already.

[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="500"]
gherks[/caption]

I'm pretty comfortable with tomatoes and mine this year seem to be doing well.  But I planted all these other things that I've never tried before, like the gherkins above.  Cucumbers??  I have no idea what I'm doing.  They seem to be growing, though.  And on that note, THE BEAN:

[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="375"]
bean in all its transplanted glory[/caption]

This is another case when I didn't really know what I was doing.  I just went along and planted these beans and then hey, only one came up!  Turns out I should have soaked them overnight first.  But luckily the strongest bean in the world is growing right along and now has beans:

[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="500"]
beans![/caption]

Now I am wondering if I should come up with some sort of contraption to keep the birds/squirrels/cats/racoons out of the raised bed or just hope for the best.  And maybe I need some irrigation?  Oh the possibilities!
Share

Sarah's Garden: Raised Bed Party!

It finally happened!! [caption id="" align="alignnone" width="500"]photo.JPG baby vegetables[/caption] The raised bed has been filled with lots and lots and lots of dirt and sand and compost and now things are planted!  And lest you think it's small, let me tell you that it's ten feet long by three feet wide, and that's the inside measurements. [caption id="" align="alignnone" width="500"]photo.JPG excuse the mess; I am in the process of "screening" out soooooo much garbage from the soil in the back[/caption] Having never had this much space to plant in, I didn't really know what I was doing.  Ha.  So we just kept filling my little car's trunk full of soil and compost and sand and rocks (for a layer of drainage on the bottom) and, yeah, it took a lot of dirt to fill that bed up.  But I knew it had to be done now since my tomatoes were huge and the giganto-bean was starting to climb up the blinds.  So yesterday afternoon I planted tomatoes (copia and black krim), three types of mustard greens, broccoli, bibb and romaine lettuce, some sort of long green pepper, cucumbers, thyme and chives.  That's a lot, but I was so excited about having MY OWN RAISED BED that I didn't mind. [caption id="" align="alignnone" width="500"]photo.JPG sitting sturdily on cracked concrete[/caption] There are some things I think I should tell you, though, in case you are thinking about your own raised bed.  The first thing is that I have no idea if this will work.  The bed itself is made of untreated spruce.  I did not physically nail it together - that was my father who is good at things like that.  I was going to stain the whole thing, but after starting to stain that back lefthand corner of the bed I decided I didn't like the color.  But I was still a little worried about the wood rotting so I stained the inside with two coats and let it dry overnight.  I have no idea if this will help or not.  I also am unsure about drainage:  as you can see, the bed is on cracked concrete and there is also a large rectangle of dirt inside it so I figured that would be good for drainage.  I dumped a 2" layer of pebbles inside the bed before putting anything else in and then spread some of that black landscaper's fabric on the pebbles so that the dirt from inside the bed wouldn't impede drainage.  Then I did layers and layers of soil, sand and compost until the last foot or so which was just soil and compost.  The sand is to help with drainage but, again, I'm not sure if it will work. [caption id="" align="alignnone" width="375"]photo.JPG welcome to your new home![/caption] I think I have mentioned before that I have a bit of a cat problem, meaning that there are a few cats who like to use my yard as a litter box.  After filling this huge bed with soil, I realized it was basically just a huge litter box, so I covered it with tarps held down with bricks and other potted plants when I finished filling it this past weekend.  That was actually a good idea because it rained early in the week and I didn't want to plant in waterlogged soil.  The other plus from this was that when I lifted the tarps off (after a nice warm sunny day) the soil was nice and warm, perfect for little delicate baby plants.  And I should tell you here that I did something highly unorthodox:  I didn't harden off my little seedlings before putting them in.  Usually I do harden off, but this time was different.  [Hardening off is when you set your tender seedlings outside for a little bit more time each day to get them used to this new harsher environment slooooowly.]  My main reason for not hardening off is that these plants were grown in a less sunny window than what I'm used to and they were routinely subjected to temperatures as low as 55-60 degrees because I keep my house at a toasty 64 degrees in the winter.  I considered getting heat mats or grow lights, but the seeds seemed to be growing pretty well without any of that.  The (hopeful) payoff is that they're hardier than little seedlings grown in an 85 degree greenhouse.  And honestly, the tomatoes are so big they're probably past the hardening-off stage already. [caption id="" align="alignnone" width="500"]photo.JPG gherks[/caption] I'm pretty comfortable with tomatoes and mine this year seem to be doing well.  But I planted all these other things that I've never tried before, like the gherkins above.  Cucumbers??  I have no idea what I'm doing.  They seem to be growing, though.  And on that note, THE BEAN: [caption id="" align="alignnone" width="375"]photo.JPG bean in all its transplanted glory[/caption] This is another case when I didn't really know what I was doing.  I just went along and planted these beans and then hey, only one came up!  Turns out I should have soaked them overnight first.  But luckily the strongest bean in the world is growing right along and now has beans: [caption id="" align="alignnone" width="500"]photo.JPG beans![/caption] Now I am wondering if I should come up with some sort of contraption to keep the birds/squirrels/cats/racoons out of the raised bed or just hope for the best.  And maybe I need some irrigation?  Oh the possibilities!
Share