Mary Seton Corboy
Co-founder, Greensgrow Farms
“I was literally looking for a good tomato,” says Mary Seton Corboy, former chef and co-founder of Philadelphia’s urban Greensgrow Farms. “I knew how far tomatoes were being shipped though it was growing season in the northeast, and I thought it was absurd.” In 1997, she and co-founder Tom Sereduk began an urban farm in an unlikely area: a derelict lot in an industrial section of Philadelphia, across the street from a chemical plant. Without any background in business or urban farming, she saw an opportunity to grow better food locally and reclaim control over how and where food is grown.
Empowering local residents and small businesses is part of Corboy’s philosophy. “We’ve seen that certain businesses can become drivers in a neighborhood’s economic revitalization, and I believe that food businesses are one of those,” she says. Corboy believes that, as food and energy prices rise, other cities will have no choice but to adopt urban farming ventures like Greensgrow. Urban agriculture provides two core things in the food paradigm: access to food and education about food.” —KL