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Like-minded PA people and places: Reading, Allentown, Philly area

 
pollinator
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Hi there!

My partner and I are looking for kindred spirits in southeast PA. We want to find a good place to build roots around here. We are looking into the general area around Reading - Allentown - Philadelphia, but we are not sure where we can find like-minded folks in our generation (around 30yo, no kids yet but maybe in the next 5 years).

We hear that Lancaster and Oley are two hubs of ecologically-minded people in southeast PA, along with some niches in Philly itself. We've met some permies here and there around the Reading - Lancaster area, and through PASA we have learned of a local and organic farming movement that seems to be doing well in the Pottstown - Phoenixville area. We started hearing from some folks that Allentown - Bethlehem has good things going on, and we found Bryn Gwelyd homesteads in Bucks County which might be out of our league but is good to see.

Anyone on here hip to this region? Any tips on where to try and land, or how to gauge a place? In our past experience, it is hard to judge what kind of community exists in a place until you are really in it for a while. We currently rent in the area but even being nearby, it is (so far) tough to see if Reading vs Allentown vs Pottstown or wherever would be a good fit in terms of like-minded community.

Thanks and peace,
R
 
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Have you gone to the Rodale Institute, maybe on a day that there is a farmer's market or some sort of event, to see what you can learn about community?

I live very far away but my mother lives in Easton, and I get up there every year or so. I drove out to Rodale in Allentown-ish when I was there in May and ended up talking to some people at the CSA pickup, it seems like a good way to get the skinny on where would be good to put down roots. They often run courses, which would be even better, but I'm not sure if those are back up and running. You could call the gift shop maybe and start there.

Similarly, there are some good farmer's markets in the area, particularly the one in Scranton, you might be able to get some good intel. https://www.paeats.com/feature/pa-farmers-markets/
 
R Spencer
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We have not been to Rodale, only our local farmers market and some PASA events. That is a good idea though, we will try to get more insights from farmers market folks!
 
Tereza Okava
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I keep meaning to write up a "field trip report" from my visit to Rodale, I took a shedload of pictures but work has been really busy and.... one of these days. I thought it was worth the ride, although I would have liked a workshop even more.

There is an organic town hall event Sept 9, which sounds like an excellent thing if you happen to be free on a Thursday afternoon. https://rodaleinstitute.org/organic-town-hall/
 
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I lived in southeast PA (in Lenapehoking) for 18 years, ending in 2021 (i.e., until lasrt month).  My experience was that there was no real consistent hub for permaculturish activity.  There are numerous clusters that come and go, however.  I will try to give a list of places...

First, I will start with Rodale, which someone already mentioned.  The publisher was sold off to a big company in the last decade, so all that remains is the nonprofit in Kutztown and the now inaccessible "experimental farm" in the Allentown area.  (Once called the working tree farm and a predecessor to Mollison's take-over of credit for perennial agriculture) In short, it was a huge hub in the prior century but is now not so and more focused on scaling up organic.  It published Fukuoka's work in the U.S. back in the day though..

Phoenixville is a small hub of biodynamic agriculture as it has a Camphill community and a Waldorf school

Stonehedge Gardens in Tamaqua is a garden that has hosted a PA permaculture gathering a couple times in the last 5 years.

Lancaster has a permaculture project near the Conestoga river somewhere on what I think is city-owned land.  Ecovillagers Cooperative used to be based there but is now in Philly and someone there might have a contact.

In Lancaster the backyard fruit growers is based.  I was a member for decades and the grafting workshops and scion sharing every year is worth travelling for!!!  They are a great community of fruit growers, but not a hub, per se.  People are spread out.

The Frenchtown, NJ area is expensive, but there is a great organic cider orchard nearby, a Waldorf school on the PA side, at least one grower doing restorative riparian medicinal, etc.  It is a hub of people who appreciate a forested Delaware River, but it is connected to NY money.

Berks County has quite a few small organic growers, but I dont know if there is much of a hub.

Bethlehem, where I was, is finally about to open its food co-op and it has a small permaculture garden near Lehigh University.

I won't comment on Philly, but there is urban aggie stuff happening there.



 
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I used to visit friends in Smoketown and liked the area. Older now, I'd like to team up with an ethical group and purchase property -- perhaps you'd be interested? No dogs, organic gardening, chickens, no drugs or smoking, vegetarian, cycling. Perhaps a main house with some tiny houses? Farmland around Lancaster is so expensive that even the Amish are moving. Interested in your response. I'm a teacher an would probably do homeschooling or even work in a horrid public school.
 
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Hello my name is Sean. I am 29 years old and live in Pen Argyl not far from Bethlehem. I bought a foreclosed 1892 farmhouse last year that came with a couple acres.  I am mostly interested in growing unusual fruits and veggies. I planted a Che melon tree this year, pawpaws, figs, and persimmons. I am also interested in timber type chestnuts...I only have the dustan variety now but looking into the Hershey selections and layeroka. I also put in a 40x20 ft veggie garden. My gf also lives with me but her passion is raising and breeding animals of all sorts. This year we have acquired chickens, ducks, 2 goats, 3 sheep, and 1 pig. One of the biggest challenges I have faced this year was trying to fence all these guys in and to keep them from eating my plants. Unfortunately I lost a nectarine tree recently to my male goat 😥. Glad to see I am not alone in this part of the world. I  have been lurking on this forum since the early 2010s.
 
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I’m much older but in the Hamburg, PA area.  We are starting to switch our 34 acres over from leased annual crops to a regenerative system.  Our current focus is on Pasture raised Heritage Hogs and poultry.  Hamburg is a nice quiet are with reasonable land prices in surrounding areas and an easy commute to both Reading and Allentown for markets.  
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