Farm to table is a social movement that promotes the importance of the idea that food should come fresh and locally. While this is a nationwide movement, Philadelphia is making waves in the farm to table concept.
Joshua Bullock, owner of Farmer’s Keep located in Center City Philadelphia wanted to bring fast and healthy food to customers.
Bullock says, “I was working corporate America and it stemmed that I could never find a quick and healthy lunch that didn’t cost me a fortune or wasn’t a salad.” In 2015, Bullock opened Farmer’s Keeps’ doors and partnered with local farms and businesses.
One thing unique about Farmer’s Keep is that they stay away from some of the biggest food allergens including; nuts, dairy, gluten, shellfish, and eggs. They try to cater to a vast audience. Bullock says one of the biggest factors in the farm to table method is that people know exactly where their food is coming from.
“I think the biggest thing I can say is traceability. You know where your food is coming from… I know the people that are growing our produce, I know who’s growing the produce. I’ve been in the fields myself to see the practices they’re using, so I feel comfortable using and serving that product.”
Bullock stresses the importance of community and supporting each other as local businesses. He also discusses how he likes to give back to the community and teach the younger generations about how to eat well.
He says, “We’ve done some really cool stuff where we’ve taken some kids that are in elementary school from that under poverished area and we take them to the farm and show them around the farm and they pick their own produce and bring it back to the restaurant…”
Local farms are also trying to get more kids and people involved in more local produce.
The Mill Creek Farm is just one of the handful of local farms in Philadelphia. Located at 49th and Brown Street in West Philadelphia, they strive to improve local access to fresh produce and getting the community involved. The farm is not just a place to get food. It also includes hosting farm-based learning programs, as well as demonstrations.
From about June to November, one can start purchasing produce they have available at the farm. Some of the produce one can get includes broccoli, butternut squash, garlic, apples, basil, mint, raspberries, and so much more.
According to the Mill Creek Farm website, one thing the farm believes is that healthy soil produces healthy food. They do not use any synthetic chemical pesticides, herbicides, or GMO products.
The Farm only has one employee. Everyone else is volunteer based. Alkebu-Lan Marcus, is the operation of Mill Creek farm. His duties span from being the farm director and being the only employee. He takes care of the trees, and the crops, even while going out into the community to get more people involved.
Benefiting the community is a goal Mill Creek has. There are no supermarkets in that community so when the farm is up and running, people come to get fresh produce instead of driving out of the way for something they could get in their backyards.
“People want fresh options, it gives a new alternative, it gives the kids the power and lets them reconfigure their environment by planting orchards like the plum trees here,” said Marcus.
He continued to say that kids can “make products from the things that you grow and bring them home. It teaches you to be inventive, think a little bit, come up with solutions to problems. Especially out here because nature is unpredictable.”
The Mill Creek Farm is open Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10am-2pm and Saturdays from 8am-5pm. Their produce can also be found at the Haddington Farmer’s Market at 52nd and & Haverford Ave.
The Farm to Table method not only helps the business of the restaurants but farms and the community around them. All it takes is volunteers and inventive minds. It is helping the community be healthy and active that is the real benefit.
Text, images, and video by Kaitlyn Yohey and Elizabeth Siegel