A farm in a trailer

Farmer-educator Jonathan Hamm and the Farm Explorer at Nectar.
Farmer-educator Jonathan Hamm and the Farm Explorer at Nectar. (BETH MALONOSKI)
Posted: April 25, 2013

The 24-foot trailer, tugged by a burly Ford F-350 pickup, pulls to a stop.

Side doors fling open to reveal enormous drawers - pullout garden beds containing planters of leafy vegetables and a small kitchen counter.

The Farm Explorer, as this farm on wheels is called, is a project commissioned by Greener Partners, a local nonprofit whose mission includes sustainable farming and farm-based education.

In areas where people can't get to the farm, Greener Partners wants to bring the farm to people, especially children.

"As our tagline shows: 'grow, cook, eat, inspire,' " said Meg MacCurtin, Greener Partners' director of education. "It's to show the origins where food comes from. Kids can actually see plants growing in the soil. They can harvest them. Research has shown that curriculum combining gardening education with nutrition education enhances youths' willingness to try and enjoy fruits and vegetables."

Greener Partners tailors the lessons, whether schools want a science focus or a health focus, MacCurtin said.

After showing audiences how the food is grown from seed, the educators pick the vegetables and prepare foods, such as tossing a salad with edible toppings, including flowers. With blenders, they make smoothies.

Greener Partners has no shortage of crops, as it farms fields in Montgomery and Delaware Counties and operates a popular community-supported agriculture (CSA) program.

Its executive director, Jason Ingle, is credited with devising the vehicle, sponsored by the Independence Blue Cross Foundation and the Junior League.

The Farm Explorer also will be parked at larger events to reach out to all ages. At its debut this month, it was outside Nectar restaurant in Berwyn, whose chef and co-owner, Patrick Feury, is involved in the program.

At 4 p.m. May 4, it will be parked outside the Philadelphia Union game at PPL Stadium in Chester, and it will greet runners at 8:30 a.m. May 5 at the finish line of the Broad Street Run, inside the Navy Yard.

Contact Michael Klein at mklein@philly.com.

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