2015 Philly Farm and Food Fest, the spirit of the entrepreneur
The 2015 Philly Farm and Food Fest proved to be another fantastic event. This year, outside of taking in the many excellent products to purchase or share in the upcoming year, I couldn’t help but reflect back on the day itself with some bigger-picture thoughts, such as the location in Philadelphia. Not only the city itself but thinking back on its history, a time of early roots, Benjamin Franklin, the beginnings of developing commerce, trades, artisans, farms, foods, specialties, and wares carried and delivered by horse-drawn carts along cobblestone streets. It was a time of invention, or for those newly arriving from other shores, even a time of reinvention. Local citizens did business, getting to know each other in common gathering places, even such as town halls.
While in matters of business, larger-sized companies and organizations always maintain their significance of importance, still, I began recalling that it was not too long ago, there seemed a growing feeling that somewhere along the way we were losing a balanced sense of commerce, perhaps in the larger sense of the smaller scale, local businesses doing business in the town hall, the value of individual invention, creation, private entrepreneurship, specialty trades, small family farms, community farms, a chance for individuals to build something once grounded in the determination of the American dream, making a decent living, achieving success. It always involved a bold risk, ingenuity, and hard work, but its dreams and possibilities were as vast as the sky.
Nanna’s Secret, Dukkah
With thousands of attendees enthusiastically participating at the annual Philly Farm and Food Fest, in some way served as an indicator of the continued sweeping interest in food and beverage among the public today, a renewal in supporting one’s local farms and food businesses, private entrepreneurship, and as a means of developing commerce while getting to know the producer, and knowing the place where one’s food comes from.
Helping this along in a more collaborative way are organizations such as Fair Food and Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture (PASA) which provide the visible common platform coordinating the Philly Farm and Food Fest highlighting these entrepreneurs, and their products, from farmer to producer, offering capacity for larger audiences coming together in one central location, and yet, still maintaining the personalization like the local town hall, not too unlike Philadelphia in its earlier times, those earlier roots of commerce. The Fest offers a person-to-person marketplace of connectivity and its possibilities therein. From corner to corner, every square inch of the warehouse-style annex at the Pennsylvania Convention Center bursts forth in an energized spirit, entrepreneurial spirit, giving an introduction of their products to thousands of community attendees.
The twenty-first-century version of the Philly Farm and Food Fest in some ways also shares some similarities in its historical sense, to Philadelphia in the year 1890, where just a short city walking blocks away from today’s current Fest site, merchants and businessmen created a building of a central gathering space, the Bourse, “a place of exchange” according to its historic site. The concept provided access, though with brick and mortar, to a central gathering place, providing collective access and furthering the possibilities of expanded growth and success, also through connectivity.
For the attendees of the day’s event, opportunities and fun abound in the sample taste testing of products among nearly every exhibitor, a product, born from a dream, an idea, a creation of hard work, or perhaps experiencing the flavor of a tradition passed on from a family farm over generations. Either way, what better chance to learn about new favorite products and where one can purchase them in the upcoming year, while perhaps also then getting acquainted with the actual producer.
For the farmers, producers, and entrepreneurs the collective coming together in one showcase provides a unique window of opportunity for their businesses, and when you think about it, how many individuals in their specific genre may even have at least once said ‘if only people could taste my product- if only I could just get the word out.’ And they can do both at the Fest, along with being a part of this vibrant community.
Attending the Philly Farm and Food Fest isn’t the same as going to one’s area Whole Foods or local farmer’s market each week and stocking up. Not that they could fit them between the large and larger growing crowds of attendees, but there are no small wheelbarrows to load up on the hundreds of diverse farm and artisan products featured on this day.
One modern feature exhibited at this year’s Philly Farm and Food Fest helping to keep customers connected with farms and producers over the year, including up-to-date locations and other pertinent information, is the free mobile app called MilkCrate. MilkCrate is a convenient and easy-to-use resource for consumers referencing those green and sustainable businesses throughout the local and regional area. MilkCrate’s design also provides the ability for users to identify and pinpoint more detailed, specific, interests among these green and sustainable businesses through its accessible search focus aligned with a consumer’s personal lifestyle interests and values related to food, in addition to its twenty other plus categories including Dining Out, and Local Energy.
Beautiful weather is upon us, and we can now look upon the collective opportunity of the 2015 Philly Farm and Food Fest. The sampled taste testings, getting acquainted with some of the many local farms and producers, and just like the historic early days of Philadelphia in trade there really is still a Town Hall, that is, our local Farms, Farmer’s Markets, distributors and source markets, restaurants, places where these specialty products are sold. Pick Your Own seasonal fruits and vegetables at area farms, and entertain with a platter of local artisan cheeses.
And with these flavorful memories, you too, like me, might get a big smile, preserving your own little piece of history, keeping alive the unique ingenuity of those creators, risk takers, each working hard to make a living, to achieve success, an essential part of commerce, the spirit of the entrepreneur.