Sunday, March 31, 2013

Bleak midwinter gardening

February and March in the garden:  a little snow and a lot of daydreaming over seed catalogs.  This year I bought a seed-starter tray to fit the Aerogarden.  Tomatoes and snapdragons took to it well, but the eggplant not so much.

And then... crocus!

Monday, March 11, 2013

Infill Philadelphia: Soak it Up!

“It’s about the water… but it’s not only about the water.”

In the aftermath of events like Hurricane Sandy, the public is more conscious of the devastating effects that stormwater can have on our communities.  But to paraphrase one of the presenters at the Infill Philadelphia:  Soak It Up! stormwater design competition last week:  stormwater is a problem; rainwater is an opportunity.

The nine finalists illustrated a number of innovative and elegant solutions that turn the problem of urban stormwater into an opportunity.  By integrating stormwater control infrastructure into the existing community fabric of three disparate settings – industrial, commercial, and neighborhood – these talented designers showed the way for others to follow as Philadelphia makes the transition from a city with a stormwater problem to a green city with clean waters.

The Philadelphia Water Department’s Green City, Clean Waters 25-year plan for a sustainable future includes streets, schools, parks, parking, and much more than just the water. 

And watch the video channel here:

As a member of the awards jury, I was impressed by the designers' creativity in incorporating unique site elements into their designs.  For example, one team built trellis supports with the metal mesh produced by the owner of the industrial warehouse.

Congratulations to the winners:

Industrial: Warehouse Watershed | Leveraging Water + Plants in Zero Lot Sites
Roofmeadow, In Posse, m2 Architecture, Meliora Environmental Design, SED Design, Sere Ltd

Commercial: Retail Retrofit| Stormwater reStore
Urban Engineers, Mathews Nielsen Landscape Architects, Spiezle Architectural Group

Neighborhood: Greening the Grid | Meeting Green
OLIN, Gilmore & Associates, International Consultants, MM Partners, Penn Praxis, SMP Architects

Want to see the winning presentations in person?  You’re in luck:  they will be presenting again at the Academy of Natural Sciences on March 21stClick here for details.

Event partners and sponsors included CH2M Hill, City of Philadelphia Mayor’s Office of Sustainability, Community Design Collaborative, EPA Region 3, McCormick & Taylor, Michael Baker Corporation, Philadelphia Water Department, and Urban Engineers.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Squirrels for supper

I ate a squirrel once.  While it's nothing to brag about in my West Virginia hometown, eating wild animals will win you an eco-foodie audience in a major metropolitan area.

Just this week, City Paper posted an article about cooking and eating squirrel [Give Squirrel a Whirl], with links to a brown gravy recipe that'll make your mouth water.

Then there's the Girl Hunter book a friend gave me last Christmas, which weaves recipes for wild delicacies like boar and pheasant in between adventure stories of hunting them.  Many of these recipes call for gourmet or game ingredients that haven't yet arrived at the Baltimore food markets I frequent, but my trusty old Simply In Season cookbook recommends easily-found staples to concoct probably the Best Marinade Recipe Ever - designed for grilling venison, or just about anything, for that matter.

But I digress.

In case you need more environmental or health reasons to try squirrel, here are a few from Michelle's article:

  • As a food source, squirrels are a locavore’s dream: abundant, sustainable, free-range
  • Squirrel meat is high in omega-3 essential fatty acids
  • 80% of squirrels don't make it to their first birthday... i.e. something is going to eat a squirrel so it might as well be us!
While some say a squirrel is just a rat with a cuter outfit - I say it's what's for dinner.