The bounty of farmers markets doesn’t end at Labor Day. Autumn brings new produce — and new ways to find out where your food is coming from.
“When we survey folks, they say they really want information. The farmers market is a place where people answer your questions, like, ‘Where does this tomato come from?’” says Nicky Uy, senior associate for the Farmers Market Program at the Food Trust, which manages more than 25 markets in partnership with the city’s Get Healthy Philly.
Many of the markets accept SNAP (Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program) benefits or Philly Food Bucks. “Clark Park [in West Philadelphia] has the highest transaction of food stamps,” says Uy. “It’s expensive to accept these benefits, but it’s important.
“People are calling farmers markets a public health intervention. They aren’t a silver bullet — they can’t fix everything — but they do a lot.”
Wadia Gardiner lived in West Philly when the Clark Park market first opened almost 20 years ago. She’s now a resident of Hunting Park in North Philadelphia, and encourages the community to shop at the Saturday market there, which opened in 2011.
“It’s part of a wonderful change that’s happening in the park,” Gardiner says. “I know the level of work and effort that these particular farmers are putting into their food.”
According to Uy, one farmer at the Hunting Park market not only has a stall there but also acts as a mentor for the local community garden. “He took a chance and came, and they brought him thank-you notes,” she recalls. “They have monthly Hunting Park meetings. He’ll get a standing ovation.”
Even the markets that have been running for years sometimes get neighbors who are surprised to come across them. “The market at Clark Park has been there for 18 years,” says Uy, “and some people are still like, ‘We didn’t know you were here!’”
Where to shop
Every farmers market is open on a different day, while some are year-round and others seasonal. If you have a SNAP card, the Food Trust will extend your shopping dollars by 40 percent at their farmers markets. Find specific details about each location at www.thefoodtrust.org. Here are the big weekend markets to get into your shopping rotation:
Overbrook, Lancaster and City avenues, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Filter Square, 23rd and Pine streets, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Clark Park, 43rd St. and Baltimore Ave., 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Hunting Park, Old York Road and West Hunting Park Ave., 10 a.m .to 2 p.m.
Headhouse, Second and Lombard streets, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Common Ground Marketplace, Broad and Mt. Vernon,
11 a.m. to 3 p.m.