Hello Farm Followers,

We have a rad new website,
From now on we will be blogging there and there will be a lot more information!
SO Please visit

See ya over there!

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I hope you all are enjoying this little glimpse of spring to come! Over 50 degress this week! YES! I can finally go dig up some soil to get tested, we can get our new tool shed in our lot and I may even try to revive some of our veggies which froze in the big storms!

But the most exciting thing is that we are getting a jump start on Spring and trying to raise some money for our new project with Little Berlin which I explained in my last post. Please check out our Kickstarter and if you are so inclined throw us some money so we can build an amazing Farm and Art Exhibition Space, its about time something like this existed! Just click the image below to get redirected to the Kickstarter, or follow the link below!



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ESUF and LITTLE BERLIN – A Match Made In Heaven

Thunder snow and frigid temperatures aside, this winter is really shaping up to be one for the history books! There are so many incredible projects blossoming, partnerships blooming and adventures growing. It’s practically spring already!

As you may have read in our last post Elissa is having some incredible adventures in India (seriously, we’re all a little jealous), but I’ve been having some great adventures of my own here in Philly. They haven’t exactly been normal adventures, no epic bike rides, discoveries of secret abandoned treasures or late night blizzard walks. They’ve been adventures into the world of collaboration and leadership. My journey as an urban farmer started about 5 years ago, randomly, and now here I find myself in the middle of an extremely exciting movement in this city. Right place at the right time? Maybe. All I know is that sometimes I stop dead in my tracks and think, “How did I get here?” Or maybe I was just humming the Talking Heads.

Anyway, There is an amazing little collective art gallery called Little Berlin which is moving from Hope St to Viking Mills. They are a great group of folks, some of them you may know from our programing. Leslie Rogers from “Peter Pan In a Kensington Garden”, and Masha Badinter from the Kensington Library programs. One of the founders, Kristen Neville, is also a good friend of Elissa and I’s, so when they came to us with an idea to collaborate we stoked!

Across from Little Berlin’s new home at Viking Mills is a substantial vacant lot which borders both York and Boston streets. The property is 152’x102′, yes that is 1/3 of an acre. In the urban farming world, THATS HUGE! I dreamed a long time ago of expanding ESUF on the lot, but of course, like most dreams you realize you nave neither the time nor the resources to actually achieve them. But then suddenly there was this new opportunity with more people involved who had just as much invested and had the resources and man power to make it possible. Plus the idea is really quite unique and I’m very excited to be a part of it!

The pitch goes like this:

“Viking Mills, Little Berlin and Emerald St Urban Farm aim to create a community creative art space complete with a berry patch, herb spiral and ornamental flower garden on a vacant lot in the neighborhood of East Kensington.  In addition to transforming an unused lot into a beautiful place it will serve as a resource for community events, fleas markets and fresh produce. Most importantly it will be a positive space that will bring the neighborhood together through art and food! All of the produce will be ‘pick your own’ and any excess fruit will go to a local food cupboard.

This project is important because it creates a common space that can bridge cultural differences through art and food! It also turns a desolate lot into a productive and beautiful space that the neighborhood can enjoy and where local artists can exhibit their work!  The collaborative efforts of Emerald St. Urban Farm, Little Berlin and the Viking Mill will contribute to the expansion of each organization’s mission by further building upon our relationship between Philadelphia’s active, creative community and the neighborhood around us.  Emerald St. will be able to grow produce for the community in greater quantities, Little Berlin will continue to move outside of the gallery walls, and the Viking Mill will vastly improve upon a trashed and vacant lot.  Primarily, the blueberry patch will enable us to provide fresh organic fruit for the neighborhood.  It will also serve as a nexus between the many artists and organizers that serve the East Kensington neighborhood, where ideas can be conceived, shared and realized.”


Here are some drawings we have for possible designs:


So you see we have a lot of work cut out for us. If anyone would like to get involved with this project please let us know. This is all about collaboration. Once we have the design down we will begin opening it up to the creative side. Anyone who has ideas for creating pieces of art, be that sculpture, paintings, performance, sound-scapes, community gatherings or even cool seating, tables and structures.

Also, come show your support at the IGNITE Philly event at Johnny Brendas on February 10th. Kristen and I will be giving a powerpoint presentation about each organization and this awesome collaborative project!

We are also going to be creating a Kickstarter for the project. Keep your eyes open for emails and facebook blasts about our Kickstarter so you can make some donations to get us started!




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Travels in India/ Changes ahead for ESUF

So it is winter in Philly and all of the farm is covered in snow.  What a better time then the take a trip to India!

Nic and I  arrived in India two weeks ago and it has been an amazing adventure so far.  We stayed with a family that owns a coffee plantation.  They were a great couple and treated us like family. It was so interesting to see how they run their plantation. In addition to growing coffee they also grow cardammon, pepper, bananas and rice. they also just have papaya trees everywhere and a wonderful kitchen garden.  One of the great things about this trip is to see how many staple foods are grown that are not native to PA.  They are all organic and have many sustainable systems set up that go back a hundred years. They have a huge rainwater catchment basin where they filter the water and use it for watering the plants around their house and for washing. They also have a composting system where they capture the natural gas to run some of their appliances.   It is interesting that in the USA all of these systems are thought of as green innovations but they are just traditions here in India.  The government of the state of Kerela is also very supportive of these types of projects. As we walked through a tribal village we noticed that all of the huts have solar panals that the government had distributed. They thought we were a little strange to be so exicted about how they reuse their cow dung.

In a few weeks we will be heading up north to study and volunteer at the Navdanya Institute started by Dr. Vandana Shiva.  If you have not read any of her books I highly recommend them. They are jammed packed with facts, original ideas and solutions for a more sustainable, more just world.  We just finished reading Soil Not Oil. We are excited to stay there and learn more about their seed saving program and experiments in biodiverse farming.


While it is exciting to be in India for the next Month and half there are many exciting things happening in Philly this winter.

ESUF is partnering with the Little Berlin Gallery, Viking Mills and NKCDC to create a Berry Patch/ Sculpture Garden on a huge lot between york and  boston street in East Kensington.  For the farm this is a great opprotunity to be able to grow more produce, especially berries that require a lot of space in order for the yield to be substantial.  The neighborhood is encouraged to come and pick their own berries.  We will also be selling them at our pay what you can farmstands.

Little Berlin will also be working with artists to design the site and will be using it for programming. The will also be  helping out a lot with the maintenence of the beds!  Thanks you!

Viking Mills has agreed to lease the land for 3- 5 years! and NKCDC has been a great support.

We will be sending out emails about upcoming workdays in the spring! So we hope to see many of you out there!

Also Kristen Neville from the Little Berlin Gallery will be presenting on the project at the Ignite Philly on January 28th.  Tickets are only 5$ so come check it out! Way to go Kristen!!!


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Early nights are good for reflection!

I always love this time of year! The days get shorter, the temperatures go down but are still strangely comforting and suddenly there isn’t much more to plant, water or plan … Heaven! My favorite part is probably the fact that when I wake up at 6 AM, its still black as night and all the world is quiet. Ya see in the summer time when your up that early the city is still moving, the birds are having a blast, people are walking around and just the look of the place makes you feel like the day before never ended, (but maybe that’s because you passed out just before sunset and woke up just after its counter part and thought that time stood still). And then there is November, December and January, ya know the time when we all start blaming the “Seasonal Affective Disorder” for our fatigue and depression (maybe its all that beer you drank last night though), or maybe its just the time that we all need to appreciate the Universe’s natural sedative. Okay yeah sure I’m a farmer and my life is like a roaring river from April Fools Day to Halloween, so of course I’m gonna love to just chill out for 4 months straight and sleep a lot and  relish in the lack of sweat and sunburnt skin. But really for me its that time at 6 AM, when its still black as night and my day is beginning but it seems no one else’s day is. The only folks out are my friendly North Philly scrapper neighbors starting to line up at the Scrap yard or that crazy guy who thinks running at that time is both safe and warm … dude running a marathon is cool and all, but seriously?

It’s quiet. As close to silence as you can get in Philadelphia. I love it!

Okay, so perhaps my excitement for winter this year also has to do with things just being gosh darn swell!

For one, for the first time ever I think we at Emerald Street Urban Farm are going to try to hold several WINTER farmstands … Yes thats what I said …. WWOOOOAAAAAHHHH …. CCCRRRRAAAAAZZZZYYYY, Winter Farmstands?. Yep, we got food growin, almost as much food as we had in the summer time, (is that sad?) and I’m crossing my fingers it lasts, especially if we don’t have “SNOW – MA – END – A – THE – WORLD” tomorrow and than 2 weeks later like last year. We gots some tasty Broccoli, tons of Spinach, tons of Kale, Collards, Beets, Salad mix, Turnips, and maybe some radishes! ! ! ! ! Oh man I’m excited! We’ll keep you posted on upcoming  farmstands.

The second really rad thing thats happening is that I was just hired by Marathon (Grill), to create an urban farm for them. It is extremely exciting and I am actually getting paid for the thing that I love dearly and know all about! The strange part though, is the fact that, right now I’m a farmer going to work in a high rise on 18th and Market, in an office on the 24th floor, with a view thats pretty breathtaking for someone who is used to be on his knees playing in the dirt and yet I’m love it. It’s new and different, and maybe I had a small dream as a child that one day I’d have an office job and make big bucks, who’d – a – thunk? (without the big bucks though) But on Wednesday November 10th GRID Magazine is releasing their new issue and we will be a feature in it! So Cool.

Okay and there is one last thing … We’re gonna build a shed and get our land graded and build more raised beds … and its gonna be awesome! Oh yeah and we’re gonna install a real irrigation system too! YES – POW -BAM – YeeHaw … Ain’t winter great!

So if your trying to beat the winter blues, your more than welcome to come help us out on the farm this winter and let old fashioned hard labor lift your spirits! Trust me it works, so does not drinking, getting lots of sleep and enjoying the frigid early winter mornings of Philadelphia, just please don’t go for a jog then, for the love of god!

We will be trying our hardest to update you on upcoming projects and farmstands, I know we always say that, but we really are going to try this time!




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Farm Stand and Hoedown!!!

Well Its almost August, and we’ve been havin a rockin summer!

This Saturday July 31st we will be holding our Pay What You Can Farmstand from 10-2 at The Farm on The corner of Emerald and Dauphin! Please come by and get some tasty veggies, we will have tomatoes, cucumbers, zucchini, kale, collards, carrots, eggplant, basil, cilantro and maybe even some peppers!

We are Holding our 3rd Hoedown of 2010 on Sunday August 1st from 5-10 Rain or Shine … Trust me its more fun in the rain!!!! We got an awesome line-up this month, Toy Soldiers goes on at 6pm, than Sour Mash at 7 and Kelly and the Rita’s at 8. We will have Blueberry Cobbler and Quiche plus a little bit of beer … Shhhh.Its 5-10 dollars donation at the gate and 2 bucks for cobbler and quiche and 2 bucks a beer! Please tell all your friends and family! Its going to be lots of fun!

Here are some recent pictures aswell!

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Hot FUN in the Summertime!!!

Okay Okay, So I know we haven’t posted something in a REALLY REALLY LONG TIME!!!!  Most of the reason why is because we don’t have a camera, and whats a blog post without pictures right!? But thats no excuse!

Anyway, things are really heatin up over at Emerald Street Urban Farm! We have been getting a ton of projects done, growing a ton of veggies, we’ve had two farmstands, are selling to Johnny Brenda’s, Almanac and Leotah’s Place, and we’ve donated 40 pounds of fresh veggies to the St. Francis Inn Soup Kitchen!

Our Farm Stands are On the 1st and 3rd Saturday of Every Month! Our next will be this coming Saturday from 10-4! See Ya There!!

I gotta say, this summer has proved to us that with a lot of time, hard work, incredible friends and nieghbors and just a little bit of love you really can achieve your dreams and goals. ‘*sniff sniff* a little teary eyed over here!

So that said I need to put a big old THANK YOU out there to everyone who has come to our events, bought our produce, the restaurants, and everyone who has come and vollunteered even for a whole day or  just 10 minutes to help me carry some wood. Without all of your help and all of your support we wouldn’t be where we are today.

As for a report on where all your gracious donations of cold hard cash have gone, I finally got our Rain Catchment/ Farmstand Shelter structure built and catchin the rain! It took me a while, since I don’t have extensive construction experience, but a few good friends came by and helped me focus and helped me remember where I left that darn hammer!!! Next we finally got our hoophouse built and covered with plastic. I built a bed inside for tomatoes and a table for starting seeds! We got some medical herbs and more collards and chard goin in there right now!!! We were also able to buy more and better tools and soon we will be buying a solar powered water pump for our rain catchment!!!!

So, we’ve been busy, but we’re going to get even busier!!! We’ve got an awesome Fermentation Workshop coming up in July which I am teaching, more details on that to come! We would love to have another Hoedown, but We may have our hands in too many honeypots (?). If there is anyone out there that would love to take on a larger role in the planning process … which in involves working with Elissa and Patrick organizing vollunteers for the day, send emails, flyering, going out and buying supplies, figuring out food and drink, and making food for the event!    If your seriously interested please contact us ASAP! if you don’t know our email address its!!!

As for projects, we desperately need a shed and washing station. So I’m going to start building one in the next week and if anyone has a lot of experience building stuff …. PLEASE COME HELP ME !!!!

Okay So I’m gonna end this on a really cool note, at least its super cool to me. So we planted garlic last November, and I thought there wasn’t much hope cause it was a bit late, but sure enough come spring the garlic was poppin out of the straw all green and gorgeous. Well still I figured given the raised beds and random soil we have that our garlic was going to be pretty small. But yesterday, I pulled all of our garlic and I was blown away! The heads are 3-4 inches in diameter and the flavor is incredible! I strung them all up in the greenhouse and it looks super beautiful and smells lovely! So in about 1 month ya’ll gotta come get the first garlic grown at ESUF!!!!

Well i promise to update everyone soon!

Your Farmer Truly,


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Two Community Plots Available

Community Plots available at Emerald St Urban Farm!

Application Deadline: April 15th 2010

Please submit to Elissa Ruse or Patrick Dunn

2312 emerald Street

Philadelphia PA 19125

Two Community Plots Will be Available May through November.

Farm is located on the corner of Dauphin and Emerald Sts. The available plots are located along the fence on the Emerald St Side.

Dimensions: Each bed is 6 ½ ft by 8ft.

What we can provide: Tool Share, watering infrastructure & moral support!


– Plants need to be kept alive

– Beds must be harvested on a biweekly basis

– Beds must be kept weeded

– Plants at the end of their life due to disease or infestation need to be replaced in a timely manner

– Borrowed tools must be returned

– Please volunteer for at least one ESUF event

***  If rules are not complied with the bed will be taken back after one warning or three weeks of inactivity  ***

Please answer the following questions:

Name, Address & Phone Number :

Why do you want to participate?

Do you have any gardening experience?

Would you like to participate in the larger ESUF Project?

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February Snow Brings Summer Farm FUN!

Oh man, can you feel it? Days are getting longer, the snow is beginning to dissipate and the 40 degree weather is rejuvenating. You know what that means, Spring is right around the corner and there are veggies and fruit to be grown and eaten! We hope everyone had a relaxing and quiet winter. We sure did! But now its time to get back to business. We have started planning for our second season and there are a lot of exciting things happening.

We were chosen as one of the participants in the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society’s Community Grower’s Alliance. The CGA is a new program funded by the USDA to support entrepreneurial urban growers. For us this means that we are getting supplied with various tools, support, and best of all plants, lots and lots of plants(including a ton of fruit like blueberries and strawberries which will be part of a new community bed for neighbors to come and harvest as they please!).

Also, last year we had several meetings concerning building projects at the farm. We have a carpenter friend coming next week who will be beginning construction on our two new raised beds, a rainwater catchment roof and a new gate! These will be on going projects that we will need some help with in the coming months but we will be designing and beginning the construction process soon and you’ll be hearing from us about future work days.

Last summer we realized that there was a lot of interest in being heavily involved, but because of schedules it was hard to coordinate. So, this summer we are opening up one of our beds to the community as plots for two individuals or groups to do what they please. We will be releasing invitations and information on how to apply in the next few weeks. We still need to work out some details to make this a successful program. We are hoping that this summer there will be more of a community presence in the farm and hopefully that fence will become invisible!

And finally, we will be unleashing our exciting event program which will include more Farm Stands, both at the farm and at a soon to be decided satellite location, Movie Nights in the park across the street, workshops and most of all more fundraising events.

So clearly we are diving head first into this summer, taking on a lot (as we do best :) ) and this year we hope to have a more structured system of working with vollunteers. If you are interested in being involved please email us and let us know in what capacity and what your interests are.

We hope that you are all well and Can’t wait to have some more fun at the Farm!

Much Love!
Patrick and Elissa

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So the Famrraiser we held in September was a huge success We didn’t end up making much money, but we did end up getting all of our community out and involved and having fun, which was our top priority. Here are some pictures from the GREAT day!

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