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Urban Farmers
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Mary Seton Corby, Urban Farmer
Mary Seton Corboy
Urban Farmer


"If I had had any indication at all of how not easy it was gonna be, the truth is I wouldn’t have gotten started."

In the 1600s, William Penn championed the wholesomeness of an agrarian society. Today, all over Philadelphia, thousands of community gardens are sprouting on what were once abandoned lots.

While most of these gardens are simple community plots, enterprising Philadelphians like Mary Seton Corboy have taken the notion one step further by planting urban farms. Started in 1997, Seton's Greensgrow farm is located on the former site of a galvanized steel plant in the city's Kensington section. Seton is raising organic crops on an acre of this abandoned land, once so badly contaminated, it qualified for Federal Superfund money to clean it up.

Judy Wicks, Owner of White Dog Cafe
Judy Wicks
Owner, White Dog Cafe

One of the serious obstacles Mary faced is how to farm on this square city block of contaminated soil. She now uses hydroponic farming, and grows much of her produce above the land. This way it's not as dependent on the soil as traditional farming techniques, and avoids contamination.

Seton sells her produce to local residents and local restaurants, notably Judy Wicks' White Dog Café. This café, committed to buying locally to help the local economy and the planet, is the first business in Pennsylvania to have 100 percent of its energy come from windmills.

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