Everyone knows that in Philadelphia we eat cheesesteaks. Not everyone knows that many Philadelphians do not have the option to eat healthier foods.
According to a study released in 2014 by The Reinvestment Fund, an equal opportunity provider based in Philadelphia, this city is home to over 100,000 people who live in food deserts, or urban areas in which people have limited or no access to affordable fresh food.
As part of the ongoing effort to keep the number of people living in food deserts on the decline, government-funded supermarkets and private farmers’ markets have sprung up across the city.
Dilworth Park is doing its part to bring fresh foods into reach for Center City Philadelphians. The Dilworth Farmers’ Market, held on Wednesdays, begins in March and continues through October.
The market is promoted by the Center City District Parks website, which promises attendees will “Get [their] fill of fresh at this weekly farmers’ market, where everything goes right from the dirt to Dilworth. Health is definitely in season, and with an abundance of delicious food direct from the farm, you never know what deals might crop up!”
However, this website promotion seems to be insufficient, as this past Wednesday, Dilworth’s Farmers’ Market was no more crowded than the average Philadelphia sidewalk. The market featured a total of two vendors, only one of which was actually selling produce.
“This [park] has been a hard one. It takes people a while to remember we’re here,” explained Anita McCaan, a produce vendor from McCaan’s Farms. “I’m trying to figure out a way— that I can afford— to send out a text notification every day that we are here!”
This will be the sixth year that McCaan and her crew have been selling produce in the city. However, McCaan isn’t sure coming to Dilworth is worth the trip.
She does five times the business on Thursdays when she sets up on 10th and Chestnut streets. “The only difference is a few blocks,” said McCaan. “We have to just find what’s working there that’s not working here.”
It seems like what is not working at Dilworth Park is its ability to advertise the farmers’ market. As a park located right outside City Hall, it should be doing good business, but no one knows it’s there.
“I was here last week but it was pouring rain, and I thought my sales weren’t good because of the weather. But I haven’t sold anything today,” said Natalie Patterson, a florist showcasing what her company, My Eden Weddings, can do. “Make sure my name gets out there and tag me in everything, I need the word to get out there!”
Dilworth Park partners with Farm to City, a company in charge of advertising this particular farmers’ market. “They sign, they advertise, they get us permits, they take care of all the logistics of selling produce in the city. We just bring it, set it up and sell it,” McCaan explained.
Farm to City does what it can to help reduce food deserts and support local businesses by making selling in the city easier for farmers, but the fact is that little to no advertising can be found for the Dilworth farmers’ market from Farm to City.
With famers’ markets such as Dilworth’s being so vital to Philadelphia’s health, this company is, though it intends to help reduce food deserts and support local businesses, doing famers and Philadelphians a disservice by failing to advertise.
Where funded advertising has failed, word of mouth can help spread awareness for this resource that is bettering the health of Philadelphia’s communities.