PHILADELPHIA, Nov. 11, 2014 — The Pennsylvania Horticultural Society has recognized the partnership of Weavers Way Co-op and W.B. Saul High School with its Certificate of Merit, awarded to individuals and institutions that support the goals of PHS.
For the past six years, Weavers Way and Saul have collaborated in a community-supported agriculture farm at the Saul campus in Roxborough. Weavers Way Co-op farm staff, led by Farm Manager Nina Berryman, is responsible for the production aspects of the 2.5-acre Henry Got Crops CSA farm, while the nonprofit Weavers Way Community Programs works with Saul teachers and other staff on the education programs.
“I tell people I have my dream job — I get to farm, which is my passion, while teaching others and working with a wide group of people, which is my inspiration, and live in a city, which adds a level of complexity to growing food, which keeps me challenged,” said Berryman, who arrived at Weavers Way in 2008 as a farm apprentice and has been instrumental in building the CSA from its very beginning.
In the CSA model, consumers buy shares of the farm output at the beginning of the season, thus sharing the risks and benefits of food production. More than 100 families now participate in Henry Got Crops, and the CSA also runs a twice-a-week seasonal farm market at Saul.
Henry Got Crops complements the existing agricultural curriculum at Saul by providing students with experience in a real organic vegetable growing operation. There are many opportunities for student involvement, from hands-on fieldwork to helping with community outreach and newsletter-writing and engaging in applied research.
Urban farming was a logical extension for Weavers Way, with its emphasis on healthy food and sustaining the local economy. The original Weavers Way farm, at Awbury Arboretum
in Germantown, was first organized by Weavers Way members in 2000 and has grown to 2 acres in production. Saul students worked as interns at the Awbury farm even before Henry Got Crops was founded, and in 2007-2008, Weavers Way farm staff helped Saul students refurbish and plant an existing hoophouse at the school. It yielded a harvest of vegetables and herbs that were sold at Weavers Way stores and at Weavers Way’s stand at the Headhouse Square farmers market. Henry Got Crops CSA was established in 2009, and got its name in a student contest — it refers to Saul High School’s location on Henry Avenue.
Both Weavers Way and Saul have longstanding relationships with PHS. Saul, a public magnet high school focused on agricultural subjects, has exhibited in the Philadelphia Flower Show for more than 40 years, and PHS is currently developing a “Community Groves” fruit and nut orchard on the campus. Weavers Way helped PHS get the City Harvest Growers Alliance off the ground and was instrumental in obtaining a U.S. Department of Agriculture grant for the program. PHS shares a greenhouse with Weavers Way at the Awbury farm.
“Our partnership with PHS has helped to change the way we see ourselves as an important team player in the movement to bring fresh food, better neighborhoods, and a better city to all of the people of Philadelphia,” said Weavers Way General Manager Glenn Bergman. “Without the leadership of PHS we would not be doing the work that we have undertaken.”
The annual PHS Awards Celebration will take place Wednesday, Nov. 12, in the Town Hall of the recently renovated PHS headquarters at 100 N. 20th St. PHS will present its Distinguished Achievement Medal to Center City District founder Paul A. Levy, and other Certificates of Merit to PHS volunteers extraordinaire Cynthia and Morris Cheston and to Suku John, executive director of the East Park Revitalization Alliance. EPRA (epralliance.org) works to build a healthy community in the Strawberry Mansion neighborhood; EPRA’s Food Access Director, Nicole Sugerman, is a former Weavers Way farmer who co-managed the Henry Got Crops CSA for the first two instrumental years.
About Saul High School: Walter Biddle Saul High School of Agricultural Sciences is a School District of Philadelphia magnet school located in upper Roxborough on a 130-acre campus that includes a working farm. Saul educators seek to develop in students an understanding of and appreciation for the career and leadership opportunities available to them in the many fields of agriculture. To learn more, visit Saul’s website at webgui.phila.k12.pa.us/schools/s/saul.
About Weavers Way: Founded in 1973 as a neighborhood buying club, “the Co-op” now encompasses two grocery stores, two specialty wellness and beauty shops and a pet store in Mt. Airy and Chestnut Hill. Weavers Way is member-owned, open to the public and committed to offering quality products that are local, sustainable and nutritious. For more information, visit www.weaversway.coop.
About Weavers Way Community Programs: The nonprofit WWCP provides farm and nutrition education to help children grow up with an appreciation for healthy, sustainably grown food. For more information, visit www.weaversway.coop/wwcp.