On Sunday, September 7th I joined a friend and 14,000 other environmental-enthusiasts for a walk through the Greenfest Philly environmental fair. A project of the Urban Green Partnership, Greenfest took over half a dozen blocks of South Street for demonstrations, information, and celebration of the state of green technologies and activities: biodiesel, green roofs, green development, recycled products, bicycle generators, wind power, solar power, health and food products, and agriculture … all available to or tailored for our urban community. Greenfest will return to South Street next year for “Be Green and Be Seen,” Sunday, September 7th, 2008, 11 am-6pm on South Street, and is looking for volunteers (contact here).Among the many surprises (including the So-Re-Fa Socially Responsible Fashions Show! extensive photo gallery here) was the impressive vegetable man sculpture executed on location (left), which bore an uncanny resemblance the famous Mannerist painting by Giuseppe Arcimboldo (1527-1593), Vertumnus (1590-91) (right; link to this image, and more of wonderful Arcimboldo’s organic portraits and bio).
Vertumnus is an allegorical portrait of Holy Roman Emperor Rudolf II (1552-1612) (Arcimboldo was court painter to three of them) as the Roman god of metamorphoses in nature and life. Metamorphosis is certainly an apt description of our destination this past weekend: Greensgrow Farm, in the Kensington section of Philadelphia. We attended Greensgrow’s PASA Field Day. In our five hours’ visit to the farm, we learned about the efforts of the Pennsylvania Association of Sustainable Agriculture to promote the development of urban agriculture. A leader in adapting the CSA (community supported agriculture) model to urban living, Greensgrow’s “city supported agriculture” program was truly inspiring. We toured the hyroponic salad beds, greenhouses, CSA sheds, composting lot, beehives, green-roofed sheds and bio-diesel refining station, all contained on about 3/4 acre, on an EPA-remediated site that formerly housed a galvanized steel plant.
We had a terrific picnic lunch in the middle of (farm founders Mary Seton Corboy and Tom Sereduk were restauranteurs in their previous lives), amazed that so much could be achieved in ten years (long, hard years, according to descriptions). While we were there just to learn about the greening of Philadelphia’s neighborhoods, we were especially encouraged by the presence of many others who were already trying to establish similar enterprises within Philadelphia and in outlying counties.
Two green fieldtrips in consecutive weekends, excursions that demonstrate tikkun in action and raise hopes for green metamorphoses for Philadelphia and environs in the new year.