Teel was just one of over 100 vendors at the first Philly Farm and Food Fest, held at the Pennsylvania Convention Center Sunday. Organized by Fair Food and the Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture, in conjunction with Reading Terminal Market, the event attracted over 3,000 customers in the stadium-sized room.
Goods ranged from cheese, artisan chocolates and apples, to cookies, whole wheat breads, fruit and berry preserves, honey and humanely-raised meats. There were also fresh flowers and plants, soaps, shampoo and cleaning products.
There were familiar companies like Chipotle, Fresh Grocer, Whole Foods and Capogiro. But more common were stands set up for small, local farms like Green Pasture Farms, Spotted Hill Farm and Jamison Farm. Almost every product came from less than 150 miles away.
There were also family events, such as honey extraction, seed plantings and a scavenger hunt, and stands set up by sustainable agriculture organizations such as Willistown Conservation Trust and SHARE Food Program Inc.
Reading Terminal Market spokesperson Sarah Levitsky said the festival is an expanded version of the market's annual "Local Grower, Local Buyer" event, which wasn't open to the public. Its goal was to connect restaurants and caterers to local farms and distributors. The purpose of the expansion, she said, is "to provide healthy food for people in Philadelphia."
Fair Food Philly has watched the local food movement grow since its inception in 2001. But "we realized interest in local food and farms is going beyond the movement," consequently the decision to open Sunday's event to the public, said spokesperson Ann Karlen.
"We want to give people the opportunity to taste and sample and to get to know the farmers," she said.
Karlen got into the movement because she liked the taste and different varieties of food available. But there are many more reasons to support it, she said.
"We want to keep local farms on their land . . . to keep the economy strong," Karlen said. "We love getting food that's fresh and grown with love.
Additionally, the food is healthier, and helps contribute to a smaller carbon footprint because it isn't transported long distances, she said.
Philadelphia lawyer Andrew Chirls, 55, stopped by Sunday's festival because he's interested in how the local food sector works and how it can improve. While confessing to "eating well" at the festival, Chirls said he was also "learning."
"ZZ" Friedman, a Philadelphia law school student, 25, attended the event because she "loves food in general."
"I love that Philly has these local food options . . . I find the [local food movement] very compelling," she said. "And everything here is tasty."
But some, like 24-year-old Tim Popp, a manager for Passero's Gourmet Coffee, came to the festival out of curiosity. Besides living near a Whole Foods, he admitted he knows little about local food.
"It's exciting to see so many people out here," Popp said. It's a great environment."
Contact Laura Cofsky at firstname.lastname@example.org.