Saturday, May 19, is the first market day of the season for the East Falls Farmers Market (EFFM). A collaboration between the East Falls Development Corporation and Farm To City, a Center City-based firm that brings together communities and farmers, this year’s installment is teeming with freshness, featuring two new farmers, a new location, and a new time.
For vegetables, fruit, and related products, the EFFM will host The McCann Farm, a family-run operation based in Monroeville, NJ. The McCanns can also be found at the Gorgas Park farmers market in Roxborough.
Artisanal breads and cheeses will be provided by Wonderful Good Market, which operates out of the Stoudt’s Brewery’s self-described “Compound of Deliciousness” in Adamstown, Pa., situated between Reading and Lancaster.
Both will operate in the EFDC parking lot situated below the twin spans of Rt. 1 between Ridge Avenue and Kelly Drive. The EFFM will run through October, with a possible extension into November.
“There’s a lot of testing going on this year,” said Gina Snyder, executive director of the EFDC, about the EFFM’s new features.
Since 2004, the EFDC has managed a farmer’s market (first on Ridge Avenue, then on Midvale Avenue) in East Falls. However, with the pending sale of the land used by the market and the farmer’s desire to relocate, EFDC began to look for a new location – and it was just around the corner.
In conjunction with Farm to City, the EFDC investigated several settings in East Falls.
“We scoped out possible locations,” said Snyder, “and Ridge Avenue was seen as the most desirable.”
Snyder pointed to the high visibility of the location, noting that drive-by customers typically account for 50 percent of a farmer’s market business. In addition, a seasonal surge in parking lot usage by Kelly Drive recreationalists and its setting between two East Falls eateries – In Riva and the Trolley Car Café – sealed the deal.
“It adds to the synergy along the riverfront,” she observed. Responding to criticism voiced in community forums in regard to the location, she pointed to the experience of Farm to City in selecting optimal settings.
Originally founded in 2000, Farm to City currently operates 18 farmer’s markets, 15 of which are located within the city.
Matt Weiss, farmer’s market program manager at Farm to City, echoed Snyder’s observations about the interconnectedness of visibility and viability. In addition, Weiss suggested that the additional space afforded by the parking lot will be seen as a draw.
With one farmer and one baker, Weiss said that they are “starting small,” and added that “we’re hoping that it will become a big vibrant market.”
To achieve this vibrancy, there will ongoing conversations between EFDC, Farm to City, and the farmers themselves.
Snyder said that she eventually hopes to include other local vendors, and use the space for other community purposes. In fact, representatives from the East Falls Dog Park initiative are likely to be present this Saturday to seek neighborhood input for their plans.
Both Snyder and Weiss voiced optimism about the EFFM.
“Hopefully the people of East Falls will come out to support it and it will be a big success,” said Weiss.
The farmer’s market will be held at the EFDC parking lot on Saturday, May 19 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.