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.
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.
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!
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.
"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.
Jack’s Beanstalk and pollinator garden is growing! Provider green beans, frijol-rojo-de-seda red silk beans and golden-rocky-beans were planted along the brick border wall at the Wellwood Park tennis courts on May 4th as a small project for our Incredible Edible Merchantville program and are coming along nicely. Enjoyed a successful morning on May 19th weeding, planting protective companions - marigolds - and watering. Looks like very few seeds have been eaten by the local inhabitants and we should have a pickable crop soon!
If you look closely you'll see residents joining in the IE effort to add curb appeal and improve the life and look of their neighborhood with a curbside garden. Our "Herb Your Curb" project encourages Merchantvillians to reclaim this forgotten hellstrip and create some native habitats that will cool ground temperatures, absorb and filter rainwater, support pollinators, and bring a smile to the passersby. Get creative and join our community sustainability and land stewardship efforts.
On Saturday, May 11th, at the corner of browning Road and West Chestnut Avenue along the bike path, volunteers from IE Merchantville and the Garden Club gathered to get their hands dirty helping to plant Merchantville's first Sunflower Garden. Lots of fun and learning took place as all participants enjoyed an opportunity to invest in community spirit.
Are you able to have a garden this year? Interest in growing food is on the rise in Merchantville, but having your own plot of produce or herbs may seem impossible if you lack enough outdoor space, sun or just don’t know how to garden. The answer is garden sharing and it's happening here. According to the National Gardening Association, at least 2 million people have caught onto this idea and are gardening at the home of a friend, neighbor or relative already. It’s a great way to get more people growing food, eating healthier and building connections in their community. Learn more and share your green space!
The monthly meeting for IE Merchantville will take place on Wednesday, May 1st at 7:00 p.m. at the library. Group members, community stakeholders and interested residents/neighbors are invited to attend. Incredible Edible Merchantville is an eco-friendly collaborative project intended to grow the Borough beyond our farmers market to create a supportive culture of understanding, learning and action towards environmental stewardship and a healthy, sustainable future.