Friday, April 3, 2009

Urban Girls Produce and SCEE

News - Urban Girls Produce

Farmer and Urban Girls Produce founder Gina Humphreys comes from a rich farming tradition. Gina’s grandparents were farmers; with the help of her father and his three siblings, Gina’s grandparents farmed 110 acres organically, and without machinery. In 2003, after being away from her family’s farm for 20 years, Gina once again began farming. She started by retilling her grandmother’s garden, and enjoyed it so much that she expanded the garden, was joined by another farmer, and started selling veggies at the Clark Park Farmers Market a year later. Urban Girls Produce (UGP) was born, and now has three markets in Philadelphia.

Urban Girls is devoted to two things: bringing beautiful, nutritious, affordable, organically grown produce to the city, and treating farming as a sound, financially sustainable business. For UGP farmer Mildred Conklin, whose past work as a farmhand often resulted in little or no pay, this mission is especially important:

“I am very grateful to have found Urban Girls. Finally, someone else who believes farming (the labor we love) can and should be a viable business, a way of life that has little to do with hobbies, luxuries, or sacrifices. The profit share arrangement that we use helps to establish locally produced food as a viable business, a valuable part of the community; sustainable for both the environment and for society. For me, it means that I can settle in one place and produce wonderful, affordable food for my community without sacrificing my own basic needs. In other words, work I can believe in that allows me to eat and pay rent.”

This season UGP is embarking on a new partnership with The Schuylkill Center. Gina and the UGP farmers are thrilled with the rich soil, biodiversity, and beauty of their new location. This year, UGP is relying on succession planting to create a longer, more fruitful farming season. Cabbages, broccoli, onions, and more are currently being seeded into flats. In early April, potatoes, lettuces, and cooking greens will be planting directly in the field. These early-season crops will be followed with Urban Girls’ most popular varieties: okra, tomatillos, lima and pole beans, basil, a rainbow of tomatoes, and more. With good weather and a bit of luck, the season will continue through Thanksgiving, with more greens, late-season potatoes, celery, and a variety of storage crops.

By early summer, you’ll be able to find Urban Girls’ produce at the Clark Park , Northern Liberties, and Parmer Park farmers’ markets (and, with luck, here at the Schuylkill Center).

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