Local Producers Report Encouraging Sales in Farmers Market Debut
Reflecting on this inaugural season of the Schuylkill River Park Farmers market, local vendors reported satisfaction with sales, and excitement for the future.
By Kait Moore
Before the raisin rye bread made its way to the Schuylkill River Park Farmers market, employees at Lost Bread Co. milled the locally sourced grain into flour at its two stone mills.
Locally sourced and high quality products were what Jon Glynn and Ben Bergman had in mind when they first envisioned the farmers market in this popular Fitler Square park.
The pair own Evergreen Events, which hosts farmers markets and artisanal craft fairs throughout Philadelphia.
Their farmers markets are producer-only. “A producer has to be local, and they have to make the product (or grow it or bake it or ferment it or roast it or distill it). You have to have some relationship to the raw product,” Glynn said.
The market at Schuylkill River Park, which ran its initial season from June to November of this year, hosted vendors including Lost Bread Co., Red Brick Craft Distillery, Nilaa Coffee, Settantatre Pasta Company and Wyncote Farms.
Lost Bread Co, which has a presence at 17 farmers markets across Philadelphia, New Jersey, and New York, was pleased with this year’s sales in Fitler Square. “Sales-wise, it’s a medium size market for us, which is really good for a first year,” said Lex Ridgeway of Lost Bread Co. “It's hard to start a farmers market and expect it to do really well the first year, just because people don't know that it's there,” she added.
Nala Bloom of Wyncote Farms said this season’s sales were consistent from week to week. “I was hoping to see a bit more growth,” she said. “I feel like this season we really built a strong customer base in terms of repeat customers. But I would love to see more new faces that come by and support the market. Hopefully that's something that we can push to have next season.”
Farm to Table
Each business has a story of starting from scratch and creating a product that is made with thought and care.
Brian Forrest, owner and manager of Red Brick Craft Distillery, buys his grain for whiskey from 95% local producers. “We get asked a lot why we are at farmers markets. But we are closely tied with agriculture. We buy more grain than bread makers.”
Glynn, the market organizer, hopes to recreate the feeling of walking through the woods when he sets up a market. “When you love nature and the environment the way we do, we realized that we have to do something to help it. When we think of the farmers market, we think of it as another year a farm got to stay in business.”
Glynn hopes that Philly will always be surrounded by farmland. There’s mounting pressure for big farmers outside of Philadelphia to sell to housing developers or corporate farms, Glynn said.
He hopes that farmers markets can not only support local families and businesses, but also keep farms profitable so that the city can remain surrounded by farmland.
The hardest part has been spreading the word about the new market, but Glynn says that just by showing up, it builds momentum.
“The food here is unbelievable. This will be the best cup of coffee you’ve had all day, the best bread you’ve had all day, the freshest vegetables. We know that as long as you shop with us once, you will create the food memories that will keep you coming back.”
Nala Bloom of Wyncote Farms saw this play out in her repeat customers. “I loved having our regular customers, seeing their faces every Sunday,” she said. “They come and sit and chat with us and support us. They buy their weekly produce for their meal prep and for their family. So it feels really good.”
Additional reporting by David Aragon
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