Mural in West ‘Illadelphia’
We left Philly last Wednesday and we still have things to say because, well, Philly is great. Last Sunday, July 15, 2007, Philadelphia had their Buy Fresh, Buy Local Kick Off Event at Yards Brewery. It was the 5th annual celebration for a week of events celebrating local food. We went not only for the free all local philly cheese steaks, live bluegrass, and beer but we went to meet a variety of folks who are truly vested in the local food movement in Philly.
As soon as you entered the premises you were greeted with large coolers full of fresh local cantaloupes and watermelons. There were so many folks gathered to celebrate Philly’s love and support for local food that it was hard to navigate the crowds to the right lines for either beer or food. Luckily, we were able to get both pretty fast and then it was on to the next difficult task of documenting this group of folks and asking them questions about what brought them there and why they are concerned about where they buy their food.
Let’s just say this was a really well informed crowd. In the first couple of minutes we were talking to a farmer from Maysie’s Farm Conservation Center in Glenmore, PA whose motto is “Think Globally, Eat Locally”. He talked about the growing need of small farms but the lack of farmers to take on parcels of land that are available. He also talked about this need to get suburban areas interested in purchasing and supporting local farms by buying local produce or growing their own. In his eyes there seems to be a lot of resources and attention being given to urban agriculture but rural farmers are not getting the attention they need. These are the issues he and others are trying to tackle in Chester county PA. For more information visit their website, here.
As the afternoon continued we met more folks like Farmer Dan Landis, representatives and friends of The Food Trust, Paul from the Philly Orchard Project, John Smith from Buy Fresh, Buy Local (the people who set up the whole event), and Andrew Altman from White Dog Enterprises. All these people had great things to say about the progress Philadelphia has been making towards bringing fresh and local produce to the residents of the city. This event showed us that people are creating a community around food, enjoying each other, enjoying great tastes, and making connections. My only critique is that the event could be more representative of everyone in Philadelphia and more outreach could be done to make that happen, but I know from experience how difficult that can be.
Next, New Jersey and why it really is the garden state (in some areas)…