Pick 6 . . .
. . . or pick as many veggies and fruits as you’d like. Two farmers have brought markets to Frankford, optimistic that it’ll be a fertile area for produce sales.
A couple of Lancaster County farmers are bringing fresh fruits and vegetables to Frankford.
Every Tuesday from 2 to 6 p.m., Quentin Shirk and Dave Fahnestock will sell their produce outside the Frankford Transportation Center, at Bustleton and Frankford avenues.
If you haven’t heard about the street-corner farmers market, that’s not surprising. July 26 was the first time in Frankford for Shirk and Fahnestock.
Fahnestock had tomatoes and peaches from the Hands On the Earth Orchard in Lititz, Pa. Toward the end of August, he’ll have some apples for sale, too.
Shirk, whose Quaff Meadows farm is in Christina, Pa., about 30 miles from Fahnestock’s, had lettuce, onions, carrots, potatoes and beans as well as a few heirloom tomatoes and watermelon. He also was selling floral bouquets, some of which included the hard-to-grow lisianthius.
Although both were selling in Frankford for the first time, neither farmer is a stranger to the city. They also sell in other city spots. On Thursdays, for example, they’re in Clark Park, at 43rd Street and Baltimore Avenue in West Philadelphia.
Fahnestock has been coming to the city for more than 10 years. He said that locating in Frankford was suggested by the Food Trust, a Philadelphia non-profit that is promoting farmers markets.
The foot traffic that the transportation terminal would provide seemed attractive to him, and operating on a Tuesday also filled a need for his operation, Fahnestock said.
“I needed a Tuesday market,” he said, explaining that he wanted an outlet that would enable him to sell what he picks early each week.
He also thought the starting date was a good one. “It’s getting into the prime of the season,” he said. “It’s the best time.”
It’s also the start of the season for the Red Haven peaches he is selling. The Red Haven, he said, is the earliest freestone variety available.
Charles Johnson, a commuter from West Philadelphia, was surprised to see produce being sold outside the Frankford terminal. He bought some tomatoes and peaches.
“This is great,” he said. “If I had known, I would have brought more money. Next week, I will.”
Shirk, who has been coming to the city for four years, will sell an heirloom tomato called Brandywine in the coming weeks.
An heirloom vegetable is one that is not a hybrid developed for, say, its disease resistance. It also is one that might have existed in the 19th century or early 20th century.
Brandywines are not a deep red, but more like pink in color. The variety has a rich flavor.
Both farmers said they’ve developed bases of regular customers at their other city locations.
Fahnestock expects that Frankford will provide him with customers who will be in the area because they use SEPTA’s buses or the Frankford El.
On their first Tuesday in Frankford, Shirk and Fahnestock set up a little earlier than 2 p.m. and started doing business right away. They were still selling after 6 p.m.
Ben Bergman, a farmers market associate for the Food Trust, said customers’ comments ranged from “It’s about time!” to “Great location!”
“With a rare exception here and there, throughout the day, we had a constant customer presence,” he wrote in an e-mail to the Northeast Times. “Most of the customers who came were unaware of the market and pleasantly surprised.”
Nicky Uy, a Food Trust project manager, expects the farmers to be in Frankford every Tuesday until November.
“It depends on customer support,” she said.
She’s hoping commuters and residents find the market, which will be in front of the terminal.
Customers should find prices comparable to supermarket prices, she said, but in some ways, there is no comparison.
“We live near some of the best farmland in the country,” she said.
Not only is everything local — both farms are within 80 miles of Frankford — but there’s another plus.
“This is really a unique opportunity for the customers to meet and talk to the people who grow their food,” she said. ••
Contact John Loftus at 215-354-3110 or at firstname.lastname@example.org
You’re so fresh!
The Frankford farmers market will be in business until mid-fall, every Tuesday from 2 to 6 p.m., outside the Frankford Transportation Center, Frankford and Bustleton avenues.
The market is being promoted by the city and the Food Trust, a Philadelphia non-profit founded in 1992.
The trust tries to make healthful food available to all Philadelphians by working with grocers, farmers, policymakers and others.
Working with the city’s health department and using a federal grant, the Food Trust is encouraging recipients of SNAP/food stamps to use their benefits at city farmers markets. Through this Philly Food Bucks program, customers will receive $2 in Philly Food Bucks coupons for every $5 they spend in SNAP/food stamp benefits at participating farmers market. ••