Northeast Times

Pick 6 …

Shop­pers buy ve­g­gies at the Frank­ford mar­ket. JENNY SWI­GODA / TIMES PHOTO

… 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 jloftus@bsmphilly.com

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. ••

You can reach at jloftus@bsmphilly.com.

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