Philadelphia is a city that has a definite association with food: cheesesteaks, Tastykakes, roadside pretzels, Wawa—OK, so maybe not exactly the healthiest associations. What many may not realize is that Philadelphia is also home to a leading organization in urban farming. This past Friday, Philadelphia Brewing Company hosted an event to support Greensgrow Farms, and brought out some of the best local restaurants in support.
Greensgrow Farms is a leader in the urban farming movement, which encourages the use or reuse of land inside a city for the purpose of producing food for that local area. This in turn contributes to health benefits and food safety, as well as economic benefits to local residents. Similar urban farms exist in Chicago, Beijing, Berlin, New York and Cairo.
For example, they run the only commercially licensed kitchen in the city, where they conduct cooking classes and food safety programs. Greensgrow runs a nursery and farm stand. Along with that, they operate a community supported agriculture (CSA) program that supports 600 families and employs 35 individuals. You receive a weekly, seasonal allotment of fruits, veggies, eggs and dairy products, locally raised and supplied, and what you receive varies as the season progresses. Not only are you eating fresh, local food, but it’s a great way to expand your tastes and cooking skills.
It was hard to choose what to try first, but I chose to go the dessert first route and got a scoop of Eary Grey Sriracha ice cream from Little Baby’s, which was a good call, because they were arguably the busiest table at the event, even more so when someone got the brilliant idea to merge their offering with the homemade root beer downstairs at the Barry’s Homebrew Outlet table.
During the appetizer portion of the evening, the space just off the guest entrance - typically for shipping and box storage, was filled with the smell of various organic cheeses and wines from Chester County. Johnny Brenda’s had a meat smoker setup outside, which in no small part led to the entire event having the lingering scent of bacon, and I’m not complaining. Or, it might have been the melt in your mouth tea smoked pork belly sticks from Rembrandt’s. Again, not complaining one bit.
As for main courses, the spare ribs from El Camino were outstanding, as you’d expect, and the mac ‘n cheese that Memphis Taproom supplied was great - just like homemade. The fresh, local asparagus provided by A Full Plate, prepared two ways, was crisp and perfectly prepared.
On the whole (no pun intended), the event was extremely well organized and executed. It warmed my heart when they turned away the Five Hour energy guys at the door, because “it’s not that type of event.” And it wasn’t, at all. What it was was a great way to highlight local businesses and produce, and show what can be accomplished with a little hard work.