The weather finally let up enough for the Bridesburg Civic Association to hold its first meeting of the year on Thursday, Feb. 6, at the Real Life Café located at Richmond and Buckius streets.
About 30 Bridesburg residents attended the meeting.
Lisa Deely, director of community outreach for Councilman Bobby Henon’s office, discussed a possible renovation project at Bridesburg Recreation Center.
“The councilman has committed to doing renovations at Bridesburg Recreation Center,” Deely said. “We’ve asked recreation to draw up mocks of what they could do and we’re going to have a meeting to bring that to the community.”
The meeting, where officials from the Department of Recreation will present models and photographs, will be held on Monday, Feb. 24, at 7 p.m. at the Bridesburg Recreation Center.
Deely also shared a letter from the Streets Department Commissioner David Perri concerning the Bridesburg trail. The first section of the Bridesburg portion of the Delaware River Trail, a five-mile bike and pedestrian stretch through Philadelphia, will run from Lewis Street to Orthodox Street. According to the letter, the construction contract has been awarded to Buckley & Company, Inc. and work will begin in early March 2014. A ground-breaking ceremony to commemorate the start of the project is being planned for the end of February.
Another point of interest for Henon’s office was the idea of a farmer’s market in Bridesburg.
“The farmer’s market is a great thing, but it’s a huge undertaking,” Deely said. “Instead of just going full-barrel straight ahead, we thought a good way to ease into it would be to start with a common market or a farm share and see how interest is.”
Bridesburg resident Adam Visconto updated attendees on a possible farm share program coming to Bridesburg.
“I pitched the idea to John McBride of the recreation center to have them be the host site,” Visconto said.”John had to take it to the people above him and unfortunately, he hasn’t gotten official word yet.”
Despite no word yet, Visconto is prepared for any outcome.
“If it’s a yes, we’ll move forward from there, having additional meetings where people can sign up,” he said. “If not, we’ll look to other venues in the neighborhood that could act as the host site.”
On hand to explain the logistics of the farm share program was Bob Pierson, director of Farm to City, a group that runs farmers’ markets and CSAs throughout Philadelphia, and Geoff Bucknum, supply chain manager of Common Market, which is in partnership with Farm to City.
Pierson spoke about the history of Farm to City and their mission to bring healthy, local food to the city, specifically through the Delaware Valley Farm Share, a program that provides ten deliveries of hand-selected local produce, artisan bread, pantry items, and eggs to participating members. While the program started small, it grew to include about 1,000 people as of last year. A farm share in Bridesburg would be the first one that Farm to City would organize in a neighborhood.
“[Current farm share members] are people in communities of faith and office buildings,” Pierson said. “We tried a couple of times to get this into neighborhoods and we’re still trying and we’re hoping we’ll be able to pull it off here.”
Bucknum elaborated on what participating residents could expect from a typical farm share.
“From mid-May to mid-October, there would be a box delivered every other week,” he said. “Each week it contains eight produce items. The box would cost twenty-seven dollars and we have flexible payment options.”
Typically, according to Bucknum, the box would contain two fruits, six additional produce items and one dozen cage-free, hormone-free eggs from a local farm, with items changing based on the season. The program would last for twelve weeks.
The program usually requires approximately forty members to organize, but Bucknum said Farm to City could work with Bridesburg if twenty members buy a share.
Aside from food, members also reap other benefits.
“Along with your share, you’ll get a monthly copy of Grid, a Philadelphia publication on sustainability, and an insulated tote bag,” Bucknum said. “In addition to basic vegetables, we’re going to have options for members to add additional items.”
Additional items available would include yogurt, cheese, artisan bread, and a coffee share provided by small, local roasters.
Following the farm share presentation, Bridesburg Civic Association board member Harry Enggasser shared updates of projects the association will be working on within the community.
“One of the projects the civic has taken on is the bridge on Richmond Street by Lewis Street,” he said. “The civic is looking to have it painted.”
Members of the association have contacted the City of Philadelphia Mural Art program, which will be partnering with the civic association on the project. A representative from the Mural Arts Program has been invited to attend the next civic association meeting to discuss the plans for the project.
Enggasser also addressed concerns that arose about the potential farm share in Bridesburg, specifically the inundation of a large number of people and traffic arising at the host site, which lead to a heated discussion among community members, board members and guest speakers.
“I think this farm share program is a great thing, but I worry it could become like one of the problems we have here already … with traffic,” Enggasser said. “I don’t want to see us go down that road.” He did, however, reinforce that the civic association does support the farm share idea.
The meeting concluding just before 10 p.m., with vice-president Fred Becker thanking those in attendance and imploring resident to become more involved.
“We need help,” he said. “We need the neighborhood to help. If we all get together, we’re going to have one of the top neighborhoods in the city. We have it now, we just have to make it better. Let’s kick-start it again.”
The next Bridesburg Civic Association meeting will be held on Thursday, March 6th at 8 p.m. at Real Life Café. ••
For more information on Farm to City’s Delaware Valley Farm Share, check out the website at http://dvfarmshare.org/ .
For more details about the Bridesburg Civic Association and upcoming meetings, visit their Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/pages/Bridesburg-Civic-Association/406801929410618 .