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Fair Food Leaving White Dog Foundation

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Fair Food, which began its farmstand at the Reading Terminal Market in 2003 as an arm of the White Dog Cafe Foundation, will be off on its own within a few weeks.

Ann Karlen, executive director, said the final paperwork for the planned spinoff will be signed today and sent to Harrisburg. The farm stand, the most visible aspect of Fair Food’s activities, will also get a general manager, who will work with farmstand manager Sarah Cain, paid staff and volunteers as the stand moves to its new digs at the market later this summer.

Seth Kalkstein, currently cheese manager at DiBruno’s Center City outpost, will begin his new job as general manager in two weeks.

Until its own paperwork as a 501-c 3 non-profit organization comes through, Fair Food will operate under White Dog's authority.

I spoke with Ann today as she was checking with contractors at the new farmstand location along the 12th Street side of the market, trying to figure out how to entice pedestrians walking by to see in through the large glass windows while still keeping the heat from the afternoon sun’s rays from wilting the produce.

Ann said a new eight-member board for Fair Food (currently governed by the board of White Dog’s Community Enterprises, the Cafe foundation’s successor) is in place. An ancillary goal will be to create a separate identify for Fair Food from White Dog, now that it will be an independent entity. A fund-raising consultant has been retained to assist the new board in getting up to speed, and a new logo and website will soon be unveiled. Ann said there’s no overlap with the existing White Dog Community Enterprises board.

Although new volunteers are always welcome, Ann said that, contrary to reports on another blog, there’s no need to expand the volunteer staff with the move to a larger space. Right now the Farmstand has 35 volunteers, whose scheduling and management is a big time-eater for Sarah. The Farmstand is hoping to acquire a volunteer from the VISTA program specifically to manage this task. In addition to the volunteers, the Farmstand has three full-time and three three-quarter time employees.

Because the new location has existing gas, electrical and ventilation connections from the previous tenant (Rick’s Steaks, in case you need reminding) Ann is considering adding a line of prepared foods for takeaway. Nothing formal has been proposed to market management which must approve a line extension beyond current Fair Food offerings, although they are aware of the possibility. And Ann want to maked sure any such expansion fits in with Fair Food’s mission. In any event, the farm stand will settle into its new space before considering ny big leaps.

Although the farm stand is the most evident public face of the Fair Food Project, it’s other activities include a restaurant progrm connecting area chefs with local farmers, participation in the Buy Fresh, Buy Local campaign, a Farmer Outreach Project to assist limited-resource farmers access wholesale markets, and Farm-To-Institution, aimed at connecting hospital, school and other institutional kitchens with local farms.

Bob Libkind aka "rlibkind"

Robert's Market Report

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  • 4 weeks later...

I note with pleasure the progress on the new space, and saw that FFFS had lots of good produce today when I went to the RTM, some of it at attractive prices, especially the peaches.

But every time I pass by the stand with its giant Access Card sign on the side, or walk through one of the farmers markets where farmers post signs stating that they gladly accept WIC Farmers' Market Program checks, I wonder:

How many low-income Philadelphians actually avail themselves of these options?

I imagine the answer to that question is probably different at, say, a Food Trust farmers' market in Chester than it is at the FFFS, where patrons can buy New Jersey peaches at a nearby produce stand for half what the Lancaster County beauties FFFS had cost.

I guess what I'm trying to get at here is that it seems to me that Fair Food -- and a lot of the other groups working to reconnect city folk to the farmers who feed them -- have something of a challenge on their hands, especially if they define their mission as making direct-from-the-farmer foods available to buyers up and down the income ladder and also improving the food choices available to low-income shoppers. I get this feeling that before they get into the game, they may be pricing themselves out of it.

Not having gone to a farmers' market in an poorer community (the Chester market was always closing up shop as I made my way home from Widener), I don't know whether or not my concern is off base, but I thought I'd just throw it out for you all to chew on.

Sandy Smith, Exile on Oxford Circle, Philadelphia

"95% of success in life is showing up." --Woody Allen

My foodblogs: 1 | 2 | 3

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