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How Philly Foodworks is Creating a Better Food System for Our Region
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How Philly Foodworks is Creating a Better Food System for Our Region

Most people know Philly Foodworks as an online market and farm share program offering the largest selection of local food in the Greater Philadelphia area. What most people do not know, however, is that, behind the scenes, this market is on a very important mission—to create a strong, sustainable community food system for all of us.

And that mission isn’t new for Philly Foodworks’ co-founder and CEO, Dylan Baird. It’s the whole reason he started his business.

The origins of Philly Foodworks can be traced back to a phone call Dylan had with Reuben Rehil in 2012. Dylan, an urban farmer in West Philadelphia at the time, struggled to yield enough crops to meet demand. Reuben, an Amish farmer in Chester County, produced plenty of fruits and vegetables but could not find enough customers to buy them.

Soon after his conversation with Reuben, Dylan and his business partners founded Philly Foodworks in an effort to help farmers in similar situations get their sustainably grown produce in the Philly-area consumer market. Since then, Philly Foodworks has become a leader in our local food system, focused not only on selling the delicious fruits, veggies, meats, cheeses, and other food products our region has to offer, but also on building partnerships with growers and producers to help them thrive for years to come.

Here are a few ways Philly Foodworks is actively improving the Philly-area food economy:

  • They strategize with farmers to reduce crop overlap and waste. To keep area farms from growing too much of the same crops (which can lead to unnecessary competition and significant waste in the fields), they work with their network of local farmers to coordinate and stagger plantings in a way that is more efficient for both the farmers and the PFW produce buyer.
  • They offer fair prices. They discuss pricing with farmers at the beginning of the year and do not change those prices unless both sides agree it is in everyone’s best interest.
  • They create easier (and more eco-friendly) ways for farmers to transport goods to Philly. They established a network of aggregation hubs where multiple farmers in certain areas can deliver products to be transported in consolidated deliveries to their warehouse in Philadelphia. And they cover the cost of trucking! This not only reduces the carbon footprint and allows smaller farmers to access the city market, but it also allows farmers to keep more of their profits to invest back in their business.
  • They help farmers to invest in essential tools and equipment. Philly Foodworks and its members have provided financing to farmers for education, vehicles, seeds, coolers, washing equipment, and greenhouses. In fact, just this summer, together with PFW members and partners, they financed a heated greenhouse for one of their farmers, John Glick of Sunny Harvest Farms (seventeen PFW members made $1,000 investments to cover the cost of the greenhouse, and PFW supplied the rest.) The new heated greenhouse, which is being built and planted as we speak, will enable John to expand his offerings and grow produce in the ground throughout winter—including some crops exclusively for PFW! Unlike traditional bank loans, community financing, like that which Philly Foodworks offers to farmers like John Glick, creates partnerships within our food system that ensure the success of all parties involved.

By tying their business together financially with farmers’ businesses, Philly Foodworks deepens those mutually beneficial relationships. And the stronger those relationships are, the stronger our local food system can become.

philly foodworks

Special offer for Green Philly subscribers to SAVE:

For a limited time only, register for one of Philly Foodworks’ recurring subscription produce boxes and get $50 your first order!

Use coupon code INVESTLOCAL to get $50 off your order when you sign up for a subscription box.

Unlike most Customer Supported Agriculture (CSA) programs and farmers’ markets, which typically run only during prime growing seasons, Philly Foodworks’ produce subscription boxes deliver fresh fruits and vegetables to consumers year-round, providing small-scale farmers and producers with financial support, even in the dead of winter. Truly a win-win for eaters and producers alike.

*Coupon code expires on 10/19/19. Promotion applies only to the Harvest Box, Large Customizable Box, and Small Customizable Box.

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Julie Hancher is Editor-in-Chief of Green Philly, sharing her expertise of all things sustainable in the city of brotherly love. She enjoys long walks in the park with local beer and greening her travels, cooking & cat, Sir Floofus Drake. View all posts by Julie Hancher
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