Monday, April 26, 2010

Sprouting in the City - From the Philadelphia Inquirer

Great article in the Philadelphia Inquirer highlighting the Piazza at Schmidt's and also a comprehensive list of this season's farmers' markets throughout the Delaware Valley!


Sprouting in the City
Besides good fresh food and Sunday hours, area farmers markets offer a chance to meet the folks who grow the eats.
By Dianna Marder
Inquirer Staff Writer

From inside a large gray trailer marked "M&B Fairview Farm," Bart Hill greets a stream of customers who line up for bacon from his heritage pigs and big brown eggs from his Barred Rock chickens.

Just outside the trailer, seated at her own small table, Hill's daughter, Heather, tends to a line of customers, too.

"Do you have cats?" Heather asks a woman considering the goat-milk soaps on display. "Because if you do, you need catnip, and we have it."

She is 8 years old, this small blonde in pigtails, clutching what appear to be the remains of a much-loved baby blanket. And she is the littlest farmer at the Piazza at Schmidt's in Northern Liberties.

On the farm in Hamburg, Berks County, where the Hill family raises pastured cattle, goats, and guinea hens, Heather feeds the barnyard cats and dogs. But on Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. (and Sundays too, in May) she works here at the farmers market.

The Piazza is among the newbies in this year's roundup of area farmers markets that we are listing today in honor of Earth Day. Aside from an expanding array of growers, the big news this year is the Sunday option.

In addition to the Piazza, and the Head House farmers market, which both offer Sunday hours, this year the Reading Terminal Market will feature actual farmers selling outdoors on 12th Street on Sundays. And Creekside, the yet-to-open food co-op in Elkins Park, is operating a Sunday-only farmers market.

Most of those markets will feature different growers.

Whimsical Farms in Delaware and Three Springs Farm in Wenksville, Pa., are at the Piazza, while the Reading Terminal lineup includes Cherry Grove Farm in Lawrenceville, N.J., and Steve Bowes Family Farm in Northumberland County, Pa. Creekside will sell hydroponic produce grown by students at Cedarbrook Middle School in Cheltenham Township.

Bob Pierson of Farm to City, which is working with Kyle Perry at the Reading Terminal, says there are no studies or surveys to back up the Sunday project, "but we can see the popularity of Sunday shopping growing."

The terminal's inside stalls are already open on Sunday, and Pierson hopes the outdoor venue will draw even more people.

"People love meeting the farmers - they love meeting the people who grow their food," says Paul Steinke, the Reading Terminal manager.

Sure, shoppers like knowing they're getting fresh-picked produce that has traveled the shortest possible distance. But there's something else that distinguishes a farmers market experience from an Acme or even Whole Foods.

"It's the social networking," Pierson says. "People don't talk in supermarkets. But farmers markets are like community centers. It's a democratic space - anybody can go into it and anybody can meet anybody else."

The Piazza at Schmidt's started its year-round open-air market in January. And as Bart Hill can attest, it has operated every snowy Saturday except on Feb. 6, when that big one shut down even the Schuylkill Expressway.

With nearly 20 vendors, the Piazza doesn't yet fill the 80,000-square-foot space that developer Bart Blatstein designed with classic Italian piazzas in mind.

But at this Piazza, which is surrounded by artists studios, boutiques, eateries, and apartments, the farmers market is more than the sum of its parts.

In addition to finding fresh asparagus and fingerling potatoes, this is where hip young couples with babes in backpacks come to entertain the grandparents visiting from suburbia. Here, singles of every sort linger over charcuterie and craft beer, and Swift Half Pub chef Jessica O'Donnell develops a different menu item every Saturday based on the produce sold outside her door.

It is perhaps the most relaxed meet-the-farmer experience you'll find.

Unlike Ninth Street's Italian Market, where some merchants have been known to growl if you seem poised to touch the tomatoes or burden them with a $20 bill, merchants at the Piazza act as if they came here to chat with you - and many accept Visa and MasterCard.

Last Saturday, the Food Network channel played (with the volume way down for ambience) on the huge, high-definition LED television screen mounted on the Piazza's brick wall. And Chad Allen, who lives in the neighborhood, picked up his usual order from Bart Hill: eggs, bacon, and sharp provolone.

"I love the bacon, in particular," Allen said, "It's thick and robust - not your average brand."

"I guess I should be a vegetarian. But I only eat bacon once a week. And you get what you pay for, so let it be the best."

Joel Zuercher and Jill Bazelon, his wife, bought asparagus, leeks, and cheese from Birchrun Hills Farm and discussed making an omelet for lunch. The family lives in Logan Square, and, since they get in the car every Saturday morning to drive their 5-year-old, Harper, to dance class at Fourth and Locust, they just keep driving and come to the Piazza, where the parking is free and plentiful.

Kale seemed to be the biggest seller Saturday. Bazelon bought some for Harper because it's her fave. Moira Rosenberger of Chestnut Hill planned to make kale chips.

And Christine Eriksen, who started the food blog this year in the hope it would inspire her to attain some cooking skills, bought kale from the Weaver's Way farm stand and planned to search for a recipe.

John Doyle was at the Piazza selling the artisan chocolates he makes with his wife, Kira. Because John & Kira's Chocolates are otherwise sold only online, farmers markets are a way to connect with customers and try new concoctions, Doyle said.

This week he was sampling a heavenly batch of Pistachio Toffee, and squares of Root Chocolate, which put the flavor of a chocolate root beer float in the palm of your hand.

"Farmers markets are really successful for us," Doyle said, "so much so that we're doing 11 [different markets each weekend] this year."

Farmers Markets in the Region

Key. FTC: Farm to City

FT: The Food Trust

BCFA: Bucks County Foodshed Alliance

For information on Pennsylvania farmers markets, visit For information on New Jersey farmers markets, visit


Center City and South Philadelphia

Fitler Square (FT), 23d and Pine Streets, Sat. 9 a.m.-1 p.m. year-round.

Head House (FT), Second and Lombard Streets, Sat.-Sun., 10 a.m.-2 p.m. starting May 2 for Sundays and May 15 for Saturdays.

Jefferson (FTC), Chestnut Street east of 10th Street, Thu. 11 a.m.-3 p.m. until end of October.

Italian Market, South Ninth Street, between Fitzwater and Wharton Streets, Tue.-Sat. 9 a.m.-5 p.m., Sun. to 2 p.m.

Love Park Farmers' Market (FTC), 15th Street and JFK Boulevard, Wed. 11 a.m.-3 p.m. until end of October.

Reading Terminal Market, 51 N. 12th St., 215-922-2317. Mon.-Sat. 8 a.m.-6 p.m.; Sun. 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Closed holidays. Pennsylvania Dutch stands are open Wed. 8 a.m.-3 p.m., Thu.-Sat. to 5 p.m. The Fair Food Farmstand in the market sells humanely raised meat, eggs, dairy, produce, and more, Mon.-Sat. 8 a.m.-6 p.m., Sun. 9 a.m.-5 p.m.

Farmers Market at Reading Terminal (FTC): Outdoors at 12th and Arch Sts, Suns 9 a.m.-2 p.m.

Rittenhouse (FTC), Walnut and 18th Streets, Tue. 10 a.m.-1 p.m. until Thanksgiving, Sat. 9:30 a.m.-3 p.m. May-Nov.

Schuylkill River Park (FT), 25th and Spruce Streets, Wed. 3-7 p.m. starting May 19.

South & Passyunk (FTC), east of 5th Street, Tue. 2:30-7 p.m. until Thanksgiving.

South Street (FT), Broad and South Streets, Wed. 2-6 p.m. starting May 26.

Suburban Station Farmers Market (FTC), 16th Street concourse near elevator between Market Street and JFK Boulevard, Thur. 2:30-6:30 p.m. year-round.

North Philadelphia

Cecil B. Moore (FT), Cecil B. Moore Avenue between Broad Street & Park Walk, Thu. 2-6 p.m. starting Mid-June.

Fairmount (FT), 22d Street and Fairmount Avenue, Thu. 3-7 p.m. starting May 6.

Northeast Philadelphia

Greensgrow Farm Stand, 2501 E. Cumberland St., Tue.-Sat. 9 a.m.-5 p.m., Sun. 11 a.m.-4 p.m.; check web site for starting date.

Oxford Circle (FT), Oxford Street and Summerdale Avenue, Thu. 2-6 p.m. starting June 10.

Palmer Park (FT), Frankford Avenue and Palmer Street, Thu. 2-6 p.m. starting June 3.

Northwest Philadelphia

Chestnut Hill, 8229 Germantown Ave. (behind Chestnut Hill Hotel), Thu.-Fri. 9 a.m.-6 p.m., Sat 8 a.m.-5 p.m., year-round.

Chestnut Hill Growers Market (FTC), Winston Road at Germantown Avenue, Sat. 9:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. until Thanksgiving.

Cliveden Park (FT), Chew and Johnson Streets, Wed. 2-6 p.m. starting June 23.

Germantown (FT), Germantown Avenue and Walnut Lane, Fri. 2-6 p.m. starting May 26.

Manayunk (FTC), Canal View Park on Main Street near Gay Street, Sat. 10 a.m.-2 p.m.

Mount Airy (FTC), Lutheran Theological Seminary plaza, Germantown Avenue at Allen Lane, Tues. 3-7 p.m. through Thanksgiving.

West Oak Lane (FT), Ogontz Avenue and 72d Street, Tue. 2-6 p.m. starting June 1.

West Philadelphia

Clark Park (FT), 43d Street and Baltimore Avenue, Thu. 3-7 p.m., starting June 3; Sat. 10 a.m.-2 p.m., year-round.

Girard Farm Stand (FTC), 27th Street and Girard Avenue, Wed. 10 a.m.-1 p.m. through end of October.

Haddington (FT), 52d Street and Haverford Avenue, Wed. and Fri. 1-5 p.m. starting July 7.

Overbrook Farms (FT), 63d Street between Sherwood Avenue and Overbrook Avenue, Sat. 9 a.m.-1 p.m. starting May 29.

University City District Farmers Market, in front of the Radian, 3925 Walnut Street, Fri. Noon-2 p.m. June-July.

University Square (FTC), 36th Street at Walnut Street, Wed. 10 a.m.-3 p.m. until Thanksgiving.

Bucks County

Delaware Valley College, 2100 Lower State Rd. (at New Britain), Doylestown, 215-230-7170, Mon.-Sat. 9 a.m.-7 p.m., Sun. 9 a.m.-5 p.m. year-round.

Doylestown (BCFA), W. State Street and Hamilton Avenue, Sat. 7 a.m.-noon, through Nov. 20.

Langhorne Farmers Market (BCFA), Jesse Soby American Legion Post, 115 W. Richardson Avenue, Tue 3:30-6:30 p.m. June 1-Sept. 28.

Lower Makefield (BCFA), Edgewood and Heacock Roads, Thu. 3:30-6:30 p.m., May 20-Oct. 14.

New Hope (BCFA), Solebury High School, 180 W. Bridge St, Thu. 3:30-7 p.m., May 6-Nov. 18.

Newtown, 2150 S. Eagle Rd., Thu. 9 a.m.-6 p.m., Fri. 9 a.m.-7 p.m., Sat. 9 a.m.-4 p.m.

None Such Farm, 4458 York Rd. (south of Rte. 413), Buckingham, 215-794-5201. Market and working farm. Mon.-Fri. 8 a.m.-6:30 p.m., Sat.-Sun. to 6 p.m. year-round.

Ottsville Farmers Market at Linden Hill Gardens (BCFA), 8230 Easton Road (Rte. 611 between Rtes. 113 & 412), Fri. 3-7 p.m. May 28-Oct. 29.

Plumsteadville Grange (BCFA), Rte. 611 North, opposite Kellers Church Road, Sat. 9 a.m.-noon, May 29-Oct. 30.

Rice's Market, 6326 Greenhill Rd., New Hope, Tue. 7 a.m.-1 p.m., year-round, and Sat. March-December, 215-297-5993,

Shady Brook Farm Market, 931 Stony Hill Rd., (Rte. 332 at I-95), Yardley, Mon.-Sat. 7 a.m.-7 p.m., Sun. 9 a.m.-5 p.m.,

Springtown (BCFA), Springtown Firehouse, 3010 Main Street (Rtes. 412 & 212), Thur. 4-7 p.m., May 20-Sept. 30.

Warrington Farmers Market at Valley Square (BCFA), Rte. 611 and Street Road, Fri. 3-6 p.m. beginning May 14.

Wrightstown (FT & BCFA), 2203 2d Street Pike (Rte. 232), Sat. 9 a.m.-1 p.m., May 1-Nov. 20.

Chester County

Kennett Square, 100 block East State Street, Fri. 2-6 p.m. through October,

Pete's Produce Farm, 1225 Street Road, Westtown, Mon-Sat 9 a.m.-6:30 p.m., Suns 9 a.m.-6 p.m.,

Phoenixville (FT), Bridge Street and Taylor Alley, Sat. 9 a.m.-1 p.m. year-round.

West Chester, North Church and West Chestnut Streets, Sat. 9 a.m.-1 p.m., through November,

West Grove, Harmony near Guernsey, 610-869-2792, Thu. 2-6 p.m.

Delaware County

Ardmore, Suburban Square, Coulter and St. James Place (off Montgomery), 610-896-7560, Wed. 9 a.m.-7 p.m., Thu.-Fri. 8 a.m.-7 p.m., Sat. 8 a.m.-6 p.m., Sun. 9 a.m.-4 p.m.,

Lancaster County, 389 W. Lancaster Ave., Wayne, 610-688-9856, Wed., Fri.-Sat. 6 a.m.-4 p.m., year-round.

Lansdowne (FT), Lansdowne Avenue parking lot between Baltimore and Stewart, Sat. 9 a.m.-1 p.m. starting May 29.

Linvilla Orchards, 137 W. Knowlton Rd., Media, 610-876-7116, daily 9 a.m.-6 p.m., to 8 p.m. Sept. 20-Nov. 2,

Oakmont (FTC), Darby Road west of Eagle Road, Havertown, Wed. 3-7 p.m.

Swarthmore (FTC) Town center parking lot across from Swarthmore Co-op, Sat. 9:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. until Thanksgiving.

Montgomery County

Bala Cynwyd Farmers Market (FTC), GSB lot, City and Belmont Avenues, Thur. 3-7 p.m.

Bryn Mawr (FTC), Municipal Lot 7 on Lancaster Avenue by Bryn Mawr train station, Sat. 10 a.m.-2 p.m. May 8 through Thanksgiving.

Conshohocken (FT), Fayette and West Hector, Fri. 10 a.m.-3 p.m. starting mid-May.

Creekside Farmers Market, High School Park at the intersection of Montgomery Avenue and High School Road, Elkins Park, Sun. 10 a.m.-2 p.m., April 11-Oct.,

Lansdale (FT), Railroad Plaza at Main and Green, Sat. 9 a.m.-1 p.m. starting May 29.

Norristown (FT), Swede & Main, Thu. 11 a.m.-5 p.m. starting June 3.

New Jersey

Berlin Farmers Market, Route 541 At Clementon Road, Thur.-Sat. 10 a.m.-9 p.m., Sun. 10 a.m.-6 p.m., year-round,

Bordentown City Community Farmers Market, city parking lot on Farnsworth Avenue next to Farnsworth House Restaurant, Wed. 4 p.m.-dusk, June 9-Oct. 27,

Burlington County Farmers Market, 500 Centerton Road, Moorestown, Sat. 8:30-1 p.m., May 15-Oct. 30.

Camden Area Health Education Center Farmers Market, check; locations, dates and hours to be posted on Web site in May.

Collingswood, High-Speed Line, Irvin to Collings, Sat. 8 a.m.-noon, May through Thanksgiving,

Duffield's Farm Market, 280 Chapel Heights Road, Sewell; spring hours are Mon.-Sat. 9 a.m.-6 p.m.,

Haddonfield, First Presbyterian Church parking lot, off Kings Highway, Sat. 8 a.m.-noon May 1 through Oct. 23,

Mood's Farm Market, 901 Bridgeton Pike Mullica Hill, 8 a.m.-8 p.m. Mon-Sat. June-Labor Day,, after Labor Day to 6 p.m.; closes after Thanksgiving; 856-478-2500;

Our Lady of Lourdes, 1600 Haddon Ave., Camden, Wed. 2-5 p.m., July 8-Nov. 4.

Springdale Farms, 1638 South Springdale Road, Cherry Hill, Mon.-Sat. 8 a.m.-7 p.m., Sun. 8 a.m.-6 p.m. year-round,

Westmont Farmers Market, Haddon and Stratford Avenues, Haddon Township, Wed. 4-7 p.m., May-Oct.,

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