Manayunk’s Pretzel Park farmers’ market launches this week

With their site secured, the organizers of a planned food co-op are launching a farmers’ market in a Manayunk park this week.

On Wednesday, the Manayunk-Roxborough Food Co-op will host a party inaugurating the debut of a new community farmers’ market in Pretzel Park, to be held at Tiny Terra Ferma, a landscape design and gardening shop at 4324 Main St.

From 6 to 9 p.m., those interested in local food will get a taste of the farmers’ market and the organizers’ vision for the co-op itself. Vendors from the market will be on hand with samples of their products, which organizers say will include grass-fed beef, mushrooms, apple cider, Amish baked goods and produce.

The band Alycat will perform and co-op members will answer questions about the co-op while beginning to accept memberships. Following Wednesday’s event, vendors will be present at Pretzel Park every Saturday throughout the spring and summer from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., with various entertainment and other amenities planned for visitors.

“The farmers’ market is an opportunity to raise awareness about the [food co-op] initiative,” said Annie Scott, a volunteer organizer for the effort.

Creating a community hub 

Since the co-op initiative began formulating in 2012, Scott and other volunteers have taken steps to create a community-owned grocery store for Manayunk and Roxborough residents. According to a recent release by the organization, progress is continuing toward that goal: an application for incorporation was recently submitted.

In the meantime, the co-op group has created the farmers’ market to harness local enthusiasm for fresh food and maintain frequent contact with the neighborhood. The market will also act as a fundraiser to help the co-op continue to pursue this cause.

“It just made sense,” explained Scott, who said that the market will feature a variety of locally produced products.

In conjunction with the farmer’s market, the Manayunk Neighborhood Council is planning its annual summer concert series in conjunction with the event, with its first concert scheduled for June 1.

Kevin Smith, president of the MNC, expressed enthusiasm for the farmers’ market initiative.

“It’s fantastic,” said Smith. “It fits perfectly with our goals to make the park a focal point of community activity.”

Obtaining City Council clearance 

While organizers and community leaders are excited about the market and its potential, some legal wrangling was undertaken to ensure that such offerings were permissible in the park.

In April, City Council passed a bill amending a section of the Philadelphia Code pertaining to farmers’ markets by adding Pretzel Park as a permissible location.

Spearheading the effort was Fourth District Councilman Curtis Jones, Jr., who when asked for a statement about the bill’s passage referenced the park’s dual function as a playground for dogs.

“The pet-owning Manayunk neighborhood is a thriving community for both animals and their masters,” said Jones. “Gathering in Pretzel Park allows people to exchange ideas and recipes – maybe even recipes for dog food.”

“I’m glad this zoning bill passed and I’m excited about the inclusion of a farmer’s market,” he added, “another contribution to the quality of life in our ‘small town’ of Manayunk.”

Pricing for Wednesday’s event is an $18 donation for tickets at the door, or a $15 donation for pre-paid tickets. Children under age 10 are $10, and those under the age of two are free. Those who purchase tickets to the launch party will receive three food tickets for burgers, wild mushroom pilaf, signature salad, or Amish delicacies. People may also bring their own alcoholic beverages, but are invited to behave responsibly.

Space is limited, so pre-registering is recommended. To sign up for the event, visit the event’s page.

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