Nonprofit organization hosting event featuring local restaurants to celebrate milestone anniversary
By Lindsey Nolen
After two decades of successful urban farming based at 2501 E. Cumberland St., Greensgrow Farms is yet again finding new ways to intertwine sustainability, innovation and community. In celebrating its 20th anniversary, the nonprofit organization will host its “A Taste of Kensington: Benefit for Greensgrow” on Saturday, June 10, from 6 to 10 p.m. in the open-air courtyard of the Philadelphia Brewing Company, 2440 Frankford Ave.
Designed to celebrate the remarkable footprint Greensgrow has left and continues to leave on local neighborhoods while highlighting its community partners, this unique summer celebration will feature well-known local restaurants. Together, they will be distributing samples of their signature dishes, including a summer fruit crisp by Ramona Susan’s Bake Shop, vanilla cupcakes with strawberry buttercream and red velvet cupcakes with old fashioned vanilla buttercream by Whipped Bakeshop, pulled pork topped with coleslaw sliders by Kensington Quarters, local flank steak salpicon tostada by Loco Pez, tuna and avocado poke with chips by Cheu Fishtown and a hoagie platter, pickles and chips by Martha.
Carolynn Angle, manager of the Greensgrow Community Kitchen, will prepare speciality dishes, desserts and farm-to-table hors d’oeuvres from the Greensgrow Community Kitchen. A selection of beer and cider from Philadelphia Brewing Company and a signature seasonal cocktail from Rowhouse Spirits will be available for purchase.
“We wanted to do something that involved local food and that focused on our many partners over the past 20 years,” said Ryan Kuck, executive director at Greensgrow. “Like everything we do, we just threw out a bunch of ideas and decided that the [A Taste of Kensington] event would help us honor and remember these relationships. It will also help showcase the pioneers and amazing new chefs of Philly, particularly in our neighborhood.”
Greensgrow board members and many of its employees will help to staff this event. Further showcasing the local element of its business, the event is being held at Philadelphia Brewing Company due to Greensgrow’s longstanding friendship with the brewery, as it has grown alongside Greensgrow as one of the anchor organizations in Kensington.
“Greensgrow has worked together with Philadelphia Brewing Company since the beginning,” Kuck said. “It was a natural place to honor the Greensgrow legacy and to continue to build strong city relationships within a beautiful, incredible space.”
Through offering delicious food, cold drinks and a fun-loving atmosphere, Kuck hopes people from across the city will come out to have a great time. He believes the energy Greensgrow brings to its work is reflective of the entire neighborhood, and that “A Taste of Kensington” represents the local community on all fronts.
“Greensgrow has always felt like a part of something much larger. The relationships it builds are much more of an ongoing conversation, and we try to engage the city by figuring out what role we can play in it to ultimately make it a better place to live,” Kuck said. “The greatest testament of our work is that we’re still here after 20 years.”
In remaining a fixture in the community for the past two decades, Kuck and his team felt it appropriate all proceeds from the “Taste of Kensington” go toward Greensgrow’s 20th Anniversary Capital Campaign to build on its infrastructure for the next 20 years. That being said, the funds will provide increased value by figuring out how to increase accessibility to farm fresh foods, especially in the winter months.
“We started doing winter sales about six or seven years ago, with the ultimate goal of urban farming all year round,” Kuck said. “We also hope to build a new shed, bring fresh food access to places in Philly that don’t already have it, build more partnerships and continue offering increased job opportunities and investing in our employees.”
Kuck noted that since Greensgrow began its work, more than 250 people have worked for the organization, helping lead to its tremendous impact. Through these contributions, he believes the organization’s work has undoubtedly been felt throughout the neighborhoods and has even been cited nationally as a model for other urban farms.
“Our work helps paint Philly in a positive light that isn’t always painted,” Kuck said. “It’s a monumental thing, and we’re so fortunate that Philly has supported us for this many years, and we hope that it will continue to do so.”
Both general admission and VIP tickets are available.
VIP tickets include a VIP reception featuring a spirit tasting and numerous signature cocktails from Kensington distilleries: New Liberty Distillery, Red Brick Craft Distillery and Rowhouse Spirits. Live music will also be performed by Brian Caselli Jordan and later DJ Triple Double.
Furthermore, the VIP experience will present an exclusive viewing of the silent auction offerings and the first opportunity to bid on rare items, which will later be available for purchase by general admission guests. To purchase tickets or for more information and sponsorship opportunities, visit greensgrow.org/tasteofkensington or call (215) 427–2780. Sponsorship opportunities are also available. General admission tickets are $45 (7:30 to 10 p.m.).
VIP tickets are $70 and include exclusive access to the VIP reception (6 to 7:30 p.m.)
Top 20 Greensgrow achievements in 20 years
1. In 1998, co-founders Mary Seton Corboy and Tom Sereduk sold their first box of hydroponic lettuce to a local restaurant.
2. In 1999, Greensgrow registered as a nonprofit.
3. In 2001, greenhouses were built with upcycled materials and the garden center opened to the public.
4. In 2002, Greensgrow opened its all-local farmstand and CSA program.
5. In 2002, Greensgrow’s first raised beds were built, designed specifically for a brownfield site.
6. Also in 2002, beekeeping started with hand-me-down hives.
7. In 2003, raised beds were rebuilt with better drainage and turned into high tunnels.
8. In 2006, Greensgrow became a Subaru of America community partner, supporting new community beautification projects.
9. In 2007,Greensgrow opened to the community for the holidays.
10. In 2008, Mary Seton Corboy was named “Best Philadelphian” by Philadelphia Magazine.
11. In 2009, the Greensgrow Community Kitchen at St. Michael’s Lutheran Church was established as a small business incubator and host for Greensgrow’s cooking workshops.
12. In 2010, Greensgrow was named Sustainable Business of the Year by the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce.
13. In 2011, Milkshake the Pig arrived, and one year later he ran for mayor of Kensington.
14. In 2012, the Mobile Markets program launched to bring local produce to underserved neighborhoods.
15. Also in 2012, Mary Seton Corboy received the PASA Sustainable Agriculture Leadership Award.
16. In 2013, Greensgrow began employing more than 30 people for the first time.
17. In 2014, Greensgrow West opened to bring fresh local food, garden supplies and know-how to West Philadelphia, expanded in 2016.
18. In 2016, Greensgrow’s SNAP share program (launched in 2010), offered SNAP beneficiaries that are affordable to all local farm shares, and extended into year-round programming.
19. Also in 2016, Mary’s Community Fund launched in memory of founder Mary Seton Corboy and raised $40,000.
20. In 2017, Greensgrow celebrates its 20th anniversary by awarding the first Mary’s Community Fund grant to neighborhood organizations for community beautification projects.