Spruce Hill has access to farm-fresh fruits and vegetables at Clark Park. Takia McClendon is the manager of the area Farmers’ Market.
How has the turnout been?
This market on average brings in about 5oo to 600 people every Thursday. Then we do the same market on Saturday with a lot more vendors, and that one could bring in anywhere between 2,000 to 3,000 people. Saturdays are definitely a lot bigger. The Thursday market is more like a lot of community members, people who are at the health center, students. And then the Saturday market brings in a lot more tourists and a lot of people from out of the neighborhood.
How many vendors are there at the Farmers’ Market?
There are about 20 vendors here on Saturday. So it’s like a much bigger thing than it is on Thursdays.
Can you tell us about the different vendors and trucks that take part in the market?
None of the farmers that we have here today are based in Philadelphia, except for some students. They are from the Urban Nutrition Initiative, so they actually have a farm in West Philadelphia. So they bring in produce on Saturdays, and on Thursdays they sell homemade granola bars. Our other vendors are usually from western Pennsylvania. But everyone has their different stories. For the most part, this Thursday market is mostly a fruit and vegetable market, whereas on Saturday we have meats, dairy products, eggs and specialty goods. For the most part, everyone brings fresh things from their different communities and cultures.
Is the Farmers’ Market held all year, or is it primarily held when the weather is warm?
The Thursday market goes until November. Our last week is usually around Thanksgiving. The Saturday market is actually all year long.
How do you think the Farmers’ Market benefits this community specifically?
The food trucks bring the Farmers’ Markets into areas that have low access to healthy food options and local food. So it’s definitely helpful in that way. People who normally wouldn’t have access to local corn or fresh grown peaches, they can come here instead of having to get on the bus and travel to the grocery store.
What made you choose this area to be the place to hold the farmers’ market?
I didn’t choose it, but again, The Food Trust places markets in areas that have low access to food.
Do you think it brings people out to the park?
Definitely. I mean we have a lot of regulars who are here every week who normally wouldn’t come to the park because they don’t have any other reason to be out here other than to get food. Then there’s usually a lot of other programming built around the Farmers’ Market just in the park, so that also attracts a lot of people to come out.
Is there a process for vendors who want to be involved?
First, you have to get past the city requirements to be a vendor. That is definitely the first part to be able to sell food in the city. You have to get a food safety license and a business license to sell in Philadelphia, and you have to make sure that the Health Department approves you. Once you do that, you can apply to become a vendor. Normally we’ll make sure to place people where the need is. If someone comes and says, ‘I’m selling beets and corn,’ we’ll probably say, ‘Well, Clark Park may not be a good fit because we already have two vendors selling beets and corn.’ So they’ll try to place you somewhere if the need is there. If someone comes to us and says they are selling tahini and asks if they can come to the Thursday market, there’s obviously no tahini out here so they might have a better chance as long as everything is approved by the city.
Are there any plans to expand the Farmers’ Market?
I mean, there are always plans to have new vendors. If the vendors want to come to participate in the Thursday market, the space is definitely here so there’s always room for expansion.
– Text and images by Courtney Burrell and Shauna Cottle