Last April, for just one day, the Pennsylvania Convention Center Annex became a crowded, buzzing farmers market.
It was the inaugural Philly Food and Farm Fest, hosted by the Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture and Fair Food Philly, featuring nearby farms, new city spots like Little Baby’s Ice Cream and artisanal cheesemakers. There were also workshops, lectures and, for the brave, a demo on beekeeping.
The event brought farmers and foodies together to share knowledge and techniques and, of course, sample some fresher-than-fresh wares. “It’s a fun event, and it speaks to the mission of Fair Food and PASA,” says Ann Karlan, executive director at Fair Food Philly. That mission is to support farmers and help introduce them to small businesses, wholesale buyers and individuals.
In addition to the vendors returning for this year’s Food and Farm Fest on Sunday, there are about 40 new merchants — that’s about 130 total. “We purposely invited everybody who sold last year because they were willing to take a chance with us,” says Marilyn Anthony, eastern region director at PASA. “We’re utilizing every square inch of that place.”
So you’ll want to bring more than one canvas tote bag to carry home your treasures.
Check out the delicate desserts from Market Day Canele, wholesome popsicles from Mom Pops, fresh cheese from Amazing Acres Goat Dairy and fermented deliciousness from Cobblestone Krautery. “Some people think that it’s just fruits and vegetables that you can buy from farmers, but we want to show them that you can get so much more,” Anthony says.
The success of the first Food and Farm Fest was greater than organizers could have imagined. This year estimations have surged even higher. According to Anthony, there were roughly 3,000 people in attendance in 2012, and they’re aiming for 5,000 this year.
“One thing we learned is not to underestimate the amount of people that want to come, which makes us happy,” says Karlan.