Joe DeFelice has a mission. The chairman of the Mayfair Community Development Corporation is using a weekly farmers’ market in the heart of Mayfair to kickstart that mission.
The market will be running every Sunday through October and will offer Mayfair and neighboring Northeast Philadelphia neighborhoods a chance at an intimate, local food purchasing experience.
“This area, Cottman and Frankford, serves as what I call ‘downtown Northeast Philadelphia,’” DeFelice said. “We feel that if we go through a revitalization – other neighborhoods call it gentrification – I think it would start here and work its way out back into the community.”
The CDC will focus on building a better Frankford Avenue, which would have a domino effect.
“I think it would build a better Mayfair and a better Northeast on the whole,” DeFelice added.
Unlike last year, the market will run every Sunday. DeFelice’s goal for the farmers’ market is pretty simple.
“Get people onto the avenue in the summertime,” he said. “When they’re done they can go shop right in this general area, get more people on the avenue and give them more of a festival atmosphere.”
Last year’s festivities resembled more of a festival-like atmosphere, with live music and crafts to go along with the food. While that certainly lends to some fun, local residents are happy to just have a weekly market to attend when the weather is nice.
“It’s fabulous,” said Kimberly Flacco of Mayfair. “I usually go to the flea markets like Berlin Mart in New Jersey or Quaker City but this is actually walking distance. I think it brings a lot of uniqueness to the neighborhood for fresh things and stuff like that. Instead of going up to New Hope, people who can’t travel can come out of their doors and just shop.”
Among the locally produced food options at the market is Wildflour Bakery from the Torresdale section of Northeast Philadelphia.
Grateful Acres, a small farm in Orwigsburg, Pa., also has a stand at the market offering fresh produce.
“It’s one of those revitalization things,” said Denise Montgomery of nearby Holmesburg. “You don’t want to end up with a dead area. You need to have fresh stuff coming in and you don’t want to just have things that are coming from 4,000 miles away that’s sitting on a truck for a week. You want something that’s fresh and local.”
DeFelice got the idea of the market last year after traveling to one nearby. His goal of building Mayfair from its heart-out will depend somewhat on the results of the weekly market.
“We’re always a little bit behind the times,” DeFelice said. “For years I would drive down to the Headhouse Square Farmers’ Market and I realized we don’t have a farmers’ market in Northeast Philadelphia on a Sunday. So we started this one.”
– Text, video and images by Jeff Neiburg and Bob Stewart.