Summer Farm Camp

Spend a week on the farm at Free Haven Farms learning about science. Nature will be our classroom to explore agriculture, ecosystems, food chains, soil chemistry, insects, and more. Open for youth ages 3-12. July 8 - 12; 9am-4pm. $150; $50 non-refundable deposit required upon registration. Balance is due upon arrival. Free Haven Farms is a hands-on operation that Cynthia and Micaiah Hall established three years ago in Lawnside. Dr. Cynthia Hall, who grew up in this cozy borough, is an Environmental Geochemist and Associate Professor at West Chester University. She received her BS in Chemistry from Howard University and Ph.D. in Earth and Atmospheric Sciences from Georgia Tech. She and Micaiah are raising three children while using artisanal agriculture to make a living, share their considerable knowledge, and build community. Their motto is “sustainable and attainable,” says Micaiah, 42, a plumber by trade who hails from Connecticut and grew up working on a neighbor’s farm. He also worked for seven years at the Mill Creek Farm in West Philly. Read Kevin Riordan's story about them.

Progress on TREX Challenge

We had a double drop off of plastic bags this week, putting our current total to 152 pounds and the chance to win a FREE recycled park bench form TREX! Shout out to our #BinIt2WinIt hero, Terri James Porter, who collected the plastic bags in my absence. Don't forget, drop offs can be made at Blue Monkey TavernRyan's Retail, and at the Merchantville Market Off Centre. We accept grocery bags, bubble wrap, case overwrap, clean ziploc/bread bags, newspaper sleeves, etc. are all accepted. Please combine your materials in a single larger bag and compact it as much as possible before tying it up. We're making great progress to our 500 lb. goal!

Fresh Eggs at the Market

Sparrow Lake Farms in Monroeville, NJ brings fresh eggs, produce and pasture raised chicken to Merchantville's weekly Market Off Centre. They offer customers fresh herbs, green garlic, garlic scapes, and onions; kale and pure raised roasters. The Market provides an active family oriented atmosphere offering a variety of local, handmade, and homemade goods and services. Open from 10-2 along the bike path every Saturday. Interested vendors should email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. with information about your products or services. Updates on this week's vendors are here.

Week 4: Jack's Beanstalks

Here's a video update on how the three bean varieties  and the pollinator garden along the Wellwood Park tennis courts are progressing after the first month. Several of the beans are just beginning to bloom with a sweet light purple flower - good news that those plants have fully matured and are ready to begin reproducing. The west side of our tennis planter area gets significantly more sun than the east - something to keep in mind next year - but, I expect those east side stragglers to catch up.

Teach Food Growing Early

If you are lucky - like Merchantville - you have farmer's markets in your area. But that can get very expensive and take time - driving to the market, parking, then make your way through others trying to get their fresh produce in the few hours that the market is open. So what is the alternative? Growing your own food. It's possible on a small scale, regardless of time, space, money and knowledge. And, encouraging children to grow their own food is one of the best things parents can do. It teaches them responsibility for a living thing, that vegetables can taste good and that they can become more self sufficient and not reliant on big food companies. If you need help getting started message us at IE Merchantville!

Grow Mushrooms in your Grounds

Mother Earth News shares a great article on how you can simply recycle your own grounds and expect to produce a few pounds of beautiful oyster mushrooms a week—at which point you’ll need to create an oyster mushroom dressing, sautéing your harvest in a balsamic vinaigrette and tossing it over fresh greens crumbled with feta cheese. Step-by-step instructions.

MES Sprouts learn about IE

Yesterday, Merchantville School's Dina Turan and her Garden Club third grade 'Sprouts' planted a sensory pollinator garden at the Community Center Garden with Incredible Edible Merchantville member, Betsy Langley. They planted lemon queen sunflower seeds, coneflower, yarrow and some butterfly weed donated by our friends at Sustainable Camden County. This activity meets one of the Incredible Edible Network's three plates - the IE LEARNING PLATE: "From plot to playground, Incredible Edible brings learning to life." Schools are natural places to start, with food playing an increasingly important part in the curriculum. Our group works with schools and their gardening clubs to pass on skills and get them growing. 

Native Plant Sale

Wild Roots New Jersey is a resource and pop-up shop for people who care about environmental sustainability. They write about gardening with native plants, sustainability and raising a nature-lover, and host native plant sales in South Jersey. They will be hosting a Pop-Up Native Plant Sale at Occasionette, 725 Haddon Avenue, Collingswood on Sunday, July 9th form 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.

Market Off Centre Opens

Only one more day until the start of a new Merchantville Market Off Centre season. Who’s excited? Here are our farms: Katt Paradise Farm, our longest tenured farm and vendor is returning for another season. We are so happy to have them back for our opening day on June 1st; Rosa Brothers Produce will have Old North Sea strawberries available in limited quantities - rare small berries found by the seed company in an ancient Viking village; and ,Sparrow Lake Farm will be there with farm fresh chicken and duck eggs. Here are some other vendors you'll see: Mikey’s Sharpening, Taddy CreationsThe Flower Peddler, Graceful Knit KnotsMemom's Upcycled CraftsInspire Light Candle Co, Bijou Blessings, Bear Soaps, Clark Family Breast Cancer Services, Aradia's Treasure Metaphysical Shop, Watkins Wreaths, Tara’s Cozy KitchenGrace Church Merchantville New Jersey and Danette’s Kids Zone. See you tomorrow at 10!

Recycle Plant Pots

Don’t just throw away those plastic pots your plants came in. Here are our favorite ways to reuse and recycle plant pots. Plant halo: Take an old plastic pot and cut off the bottom. Push it partway into the soil, and then plant your tomato inside. When you water the plant, the pot will retain the moisture and let it gradually soak into the soil at the roots. Planting guide: When repotting a plant into a larger container, place an empty plastic plant pot the same size as the smaller, original one into the middle of the container, and then continue to fill around it. DIY bug hotel: Stuff a pot with short lengths of bamboo cane, hollow stems, twigs, or corrugated cardboard, and then site the DIY bug hotel on its side in a safe, sheltered spot. Read more here.




"Sustainable", a narrative documentary film focusing on Marty Travis, a seventh-generation farmer in central Illinois who watched his land and community fall victim to the pressures of big agribusiness will be presented by Merchantvilles's sustainability team - Incredible Edible, Green Team, Garden Club and Shade Tree - at Eilandarts Center at The Station Coffee on Friday, May 31st at 7:30 p.m. Determined to create a proud legacy for his son, Marty transforms his profitless wasteland and pioneers the sustainable food movement in Chicago. "Sustainable" travels the country seeking leadership and wisdom from some of the most forward thinking farmers like Bill Niman, Klaas Martens and John Kempf – heroes who challenge the ethical decisions behind industrial agriculture. It is a story of hope and transformation, about passion for the land and a promise that it can be restored to once again sustain us.

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