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Weekend urban farms bike tour in Philadelphia becomes test of endurance

It might have been the heat but there were not a lot of cars out. The group heads for another farm in Roxborough. Photos by Bas Slabbers.

Nearly 100 people and their bikes stood in the morning shade at Weavers Way Farm

By Emily Heller
July 24, 2011


It was clear many of the farms played in the same “sandbox.” At least three of the six sites worked with Penn State University to develop the “hoop house” grow system. At first glance, most riders thought these hoop houses or hot tunnels were greenhouses. However, they are an innovation in farming that provides a flexible structure in which to grow, without the need for a heating or cooling system. Each of the sites was quick to cite help from the Philadelphia Horticulture Society and other Philadelphia agriculture groups including the Philadelphia Orchard Project and the Philadelphia Bee Keepers Guild.

“After I first rode on this tour I joined the Philadelphia Horticulture Society,” said Tim Carey, a third year rider and bike marshal on this year’s tour. “You keep hearing their name come up, they do great work for people here in the city.”

The group rode on, the clouds cleared and the noon sun beat down on the riders. The promise of fresh fruit and shade kept them focused on the next stop, Marathon Community Farm in Brewerytown. After a quick snack of peaches, nectarines and blueberries at Marathon the procession set off to cross the Schuylkill. Intense heat meant the group would skip a planned stop at Greensgrow in Northern Liberties.

Jessica O’Neill, a Northern Liberties resident, marveled at how much the tour had changed since she last participated two years ago. The tour’s next stop, Mill Creek Farm in West Philadelphia was the only one that repeated. The variation is a testament to how much the urban farming movement has changed.

Read the complete article here.