Every Sunday at the Headhouse Farmers Market, vendors gather from across eastern Pennsylvania and New Jersey to sell produce in one of the oldest and wealthiest neighborhoods in the city.
Despite the general wealth of Society Hill, the Food Trust, who runs the market, has ensured all their markets in the city are accessible to people of all income brackets. The Food Trust is a nonprofit devoted to bringing fresh food into cities.
The Food Trust’s biggest mission in Philadelphia is providing a way for people to use food stamps to purchase fresh produce. For every $5 someone spends at the market, they can get a food buck that can be redeemed at any of the Food Trust’s markets.
“It’s our way to make food stamps go further,” said Gale Furman, the Headhouse Farmers Market’s longest running volunteer.
The market features a diverse group of vendors that attend weekly. In order to participate, they must produce what they sell within a 90-mile radius of Philadelphia.
One vendor at the market is Aaji’s, which sells tomato lonsa, a coastal Indian dish. Aaji is the Marathi word for grandmother and Aaji’s is run by the Korde family, who uses their grandmother’s tomato lonsa recipe.
“We’re just getting started, but we’re trying to bring our cuisine, which is from the state of Maharashtra and Goa, to the Philadelphia and Jersey communities,” said Rajus Korde.
The Kordes started producing their tomato lonsa for their neighbors 10 months into the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Food, we felt, had helped us during joyous moments but also tough times and it can act in a healing way and bring us together,” Korde said.
Tomato lonsa can pair well with any dish, he said. It can be eaten with anything from a breakfast sandwich to protein and vegetables, not just as traditional Indian cuisine.
Food is not all that is sold at the market. Vendors bring a range of products from food to craft brewed beverages.
Deer Creek Malthouse, based in Glen Mills, produces malt for breweries and their own beverages. They attend the Headhouse Farmers Market every fourth and fifth Sunday as well as the Food Trusts’s Rittenhouse market.
“We focus on local ingredients, and we also have some flour and grain at the market,” said Cori Parmley, Deer Creek’s vendor at the market.
They also sell home-brew kits online for customers to brew their own beer. They sell their own grain in the kits and there are Keystone Pale Ale and Pilsener varieties.
As at any farmers market, there are vendors from farms selling fresh produce.
Beechwood Orchards is based at a farm outside of Gettysburg and offers different produce depending on the season. In the spring they have asparagus, strawberries, cherries, peaches, and blueberries.
During the pandemic they struggled to sell in Philadelphia.
“We had a market at Temple and that got shut down and we haven’t been back there since,” said Robbie McCoslin, Beechwoods vendor at Headhouse.
The Headhouse Farmers Market is open all year round. There are vendors who rotate in and out depending on the season to ensure fresh food is brought into the city.
“We actually are serving two parts of our community, the people who purchase from the vendors and the vendors themselves,” said Furman.
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