Urban Edge Farm: Cultivating Change Through Regenerative Agriculture
Jun 29, 2019 12:59AM
By Gisele M. Siebold
Two years ago, Benjamin Weiss, an herbalist, certified permaculture designer and owner of Susquehanna Sustainable Enterprises, LLC, launched Urban Edge Farm, located within the city limits of Lancaster in an area once ravaged by Hurricane Agnes. “The farm has been granted the city of Lancaster’s first ever Community Gardening zoning variance,” says Weiss.
“The farm is located on a single parcel of land leased to Susquehanna Sustainable Enterprises by a friend, and is in the floodplain of the Conestoga River,” he explains. “We are currently pursuing lease agreements for several adjacent parcels along the river, most of which are covered in highly neglected woodland.”
According to Weiss, the focus of the farm is on agroforestry techniques such as forest gardening with native riparian tree crops. Through a grant from the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, 87 native trees were planted, including pawpaw, pecan, juneberry, elderberry, persimmon, plum and aronia. The farm is also focused on edible and medicinal mushroom cultivation, biochar and compost production, beekeeping, experimentation with regenerative forestry techniques and the production of medicinal herbs for use by Susquehanna Apothecary.
“I created Susquehanna Apothecary as a way to generate income streams from small amounts of sustainably harvested wild plants in order to pay professional foragers and permaculturists to be out in the landscape, regenerating degraded ecosystems and creating herbal solutions for humans and wild landscapes,” says Weiss.
He envisions sharing his business model to foster change within the community. “There is a whole new generation interested in farming,” he affirms. “We are enhancing the places where we live locally through regenerative agriculture. Through a network of small-plot microfarms, we can employ people, turn marginalized properties into places that once again have economic value and positively impact climate change. Our microscale business model is one that people can replicate.”
Classes and workshops are held at Urban Edge Farm, but it is not open to the public for regular business hours. For more information, call 717-288-7025, email [email protected] or visit SusquehannaSustainability.com.