Last Spring, Philly Forests revamped the community farmers’ market initially run by the Food Trust. This past Saturday, they returned to launch their second year of operation, and business was booming.
Philly Forests is a small farm in Northwest Philadelphia, housed at Awbury Arboretum. They have a Community Supported Agriculture program where members receive 25 weeks of fruits, vegetables, and herbs grown at the farm and other items from local food producers. The farm also facilitates a citywide Urban Ecology program that plants free trees, shrubs, and perennials across 13 zip codes with the smallest tree canopy.
Jasmine Thompson, the founder of Philly Forests and organizer of the market, says the market adds to the farm’s mission by “establishing a healthy food access point and building local community.” Thanks to more resources, materials, and “know-how,” the organizer feels the market was way more prepared this year.
She cites that the primary challenge in operating right now is capacity. “We’re a small team,” Jasmine says. “And there’s so many things to do from farming to the operation of programs to communicating with partners. So, we always feel a little bit spread thin. And so thankfully, once the farmers market is up, we’ll have resources to hire more people.”
Thompson also hopes to multiply the number of markets in Germantown and expand into East Mount Airy. It was noted on promotional materials that Philly Forests was supposed to be a part of a Farmer’s Market on Sundays at Awbury Arboretum through early Fall this year, but they withdrew their participation. Thompson says they had a hard time working out a financial agreement.
She notes that human interaction has been one of the most pleasurable outcomes of the market, given the isolation people experienced during the early stages of the coronavirus pandemic. “It’s such a good way to interact with people on a regular basis,” she laughs. “And just to see the fruits of our labor be like bouncing away in people’s bags and the smiling faces. It just all makes the hard work all worth it.”
In addition to all the work that Philly Forests is doing, they will host an urban ecology tent every week where there will be trees and shrubs for sale. Thompson says there will also be some environmental education and free resources from the city on how residents can become more sustainable in their households and front yards.
The Germantown Farmers Market will run throughout the summer every Saturday from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. The market sits between School House Lane and Church Lane at the Market Square, next to Uncle Bobbies. The market is still accepting vendors for the next few weeks. Potential market supporters can find a list of participating vendors on the market’s official Instagram page.