It would be a farm without some critters! Animals are an integral part of a farm and have been so since humans began to cultivate food. Our animals are members of our team, our family and serve an educational purpose in the neighborhood too.
Our beloved friend Blanche passed away in February, 2015. Blanche came to the farm, homeless, jobless, down and out, with quite a few buns in the oven. She found just what she needed at Greensgrow.
Blanche was loved by staff and visitors alike, often attending meetings (late) and welcoming guests to the farm. She was employee of the year many times for her work as chief mouser, squirrel hunter, and pigeon destroyer. Her prowess was notorious throughout the neighborhood.
You can find out about her life in the book, Blanche Gets a Job, written by Greensgrow’s founder, Mary.
A pig who “brings all the boys to the yard”. Actually, he brings girls, men, and women too. Everyone is enamored with his classically porcine charm. Adopted at 2 months old weighing in at 20 lbs. He is now a healthy 180 lbs. (well, that’s our best guess, since he squeals at the sight of a scale these days). He has become a permanent fixture at Greensgrow. Unlike many other farm pigs, he is most definitely, absolutely a pet, not food. His main role is weeding the nursery, turning soil, and entertaining people of all ages.
The most current theory is that Ping is a Muscovy duck. Native to Central and South America, but very adaptable to other regions, and are commonly raised for food in the United States. They also are known for their appetite for mosquitos, which is thought to be where their name is derived. He is not food to us. We have come to love this duck more for his personality. We like to think he loves us too. You may see him run up with his tail wagging, mohawk raised, bobbing his head, and hissing. This usually means he wants a treat (it could also mean he’s trying to woo you, so think twice before you try to pet him because he may want more of a physical relationship than is socially acceptable).
Shhh. Don’t tell anyone in the City of Philadelphia that we have chickens. Actually, it’s ok if you do. Someone from the city’s animal care and control team has already been by and officially noted that we care for them very well. Yes, our chickens lay eggs. We cannot sell them for legal reasons. We can sell farm fresh, local, humanely raised eggs from other farmer’s chickens. They are delicious. Many believe they are healthier than eggs from chickens raised in factory farms. Greensgrow ironically did not decide to raise chickens. We were asked. We continue to be asked to adopt other unwanted chickens, and when we say no, they usually end up in a box outside the gate, or just thrown over the fence into the pen with the other hens…
The same happens with many other animal varieties. We DO NOT encourage this. Please, please be sure that you are able to care for an animal for it’s entire life span before choosing to adopt it.
We also have turtles, a koi pond, and bees.
Feeding the Animals
All the animals at Greensgrow are well fed, have specific feeding times, and diets. Their presences in the neighborhood are meant for educational purposes. We do allow others to feed them, but there are a few guidelines we ask you to follow:
- DO NOT touch the turtles. They will probably bite and all turtles may carry salmonella. We prefer you do not feed them since overfeeding is very dangerous to their health (more so than most animals). You may however watch them sunning themselves in their Greensgrow grown habitat.
- Ask a staff member about feeding the fish. They have special food.
- Chickens are omnivorous animals. We give them a specific type of food, but also allow public feeding of ONLY bread, fruits, and vegetables as “treats” (except citrus fruits and avocados). They love fresh greens of any kind and are often caught red handed eating starts out of the high tunnels.
- Pigs are also omnivorous animals. Milkshake is on a strict diet in order to keep him healthy and we no longer allow public feeding. He will eat anything and will not stop eating until he is forced. He is after all a pig. Do not feed him meat!
- Ducks are omnivorous. Ping has a similar diet as the chickens and is given a special food. We also allow him public feeding of ONLY bread, fruits, and vegetables as “treats” (except citrus fruits and avocados).
All our animals are a little picky since they are well fed, so don’t take it personally if they don’t eat what you bring for them. We encourage healthy eating habits for all animals (including people) that include lots of fresh fruits and vegetables. We also encourage you to not feed them directly from your hands. That goes for all the staff at Greensgrow. Who knows what will happen if you stick a hand too close to anyone’s mouth!