Try Cape May Salt Oysters at the Philly Farm and Food Fest's Shellfish Salon. Credit: Atlantic Cape Fisheries
The Philly Farm and Food Fest, the brainchild of Fair Food Philly and the Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture, is back for its third year. The festival is bringing in even more vendors purveying local, organic and fair-trade goods, and organizers keep dreaming up new ways to educate and entice guests. On Sunday, the Convention Center will have a few new faces, as well as several vendors who were there for the inaugural year and continue to return each April.
Last year, the fest’s organizers brought in something that was painfully absent in the first go: Booze. The Libations Lounge – which, yes, is back this weekend – provided timed tastings of locally brewed and distilled spirits. In addition, there will be a Shellfish Salon, with seafood tastings, led by the owner of Samson St. Oyster House, Sam Mink.
Brian Harman is the Oyster Farm Manager for Atlantic Cape Fisheries, Inc. In 1997, Jersey-based ACF teamed up with Rutgers University to experiment with commercial farming of Cape May Salt Oysters. The results were more than a little successful. “[We want] deliver the message that the most delicious oysters on the East Coast are being grown sustainably right here in in southern New Jersey,” says Harman. “We really love getting to interact with the public and educate people about the environmental benefits of oyster farming,” he adds.
Harman isn’t the only one who recognizes the importance of speaking directly with customers. Casey Spacht, GM at Lancaster Farm Fresh Cooperative, feels the same. “I see this as another way to get more people connected to farms,” explains Spacht.
LFFC has emphatically manned a booth at the festival from the very beginning. “I first heard about the fest from [founders] Ann Karlan and Marilyn Anthony,” says Spacht. “They asked what I thought about a large farming event in Philadelphia. I didn’t miss a beat and said, ‘Yes, we will support this. Actually, it might have been, ‘Hell yes!’”
You scream, I scream
Little Baby’s Ice Cream is another company that has been returning each year since the beginning, and for good reason. “It’s a great way to survey the landscape of other farmers, producers and companies in our area,” says co-founder Pete Angevine. “It can lead to partnerships and collaborations, two things we’re very interested in.” Make sure to stop by the ice cream tricycle for a mini scoop of ice cream so peculiar and delicious that it had to come from Philly.
Philly Farm and Food Fest Sunday, April 13 11 a.m.–4 p.m. Pennsylvania Convention Center Annex 1101 Arch St. $20; tastings require additional tickets www.phillyfarmfest.org