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Phully Rooted is a Philly-based almanac that makes eating and buying locally easier

Phully Rooted is a Philly-based almanac that makes eating and buying locally easier

Poor Richard’s Almanac has a modern update.

South Philadelphia artist and Food Co-Op member Jessica Gath wants Philadelphians to eat more local. Besides being better for the planet (shorter distance traveled = less CO2 produced) and supporting local jobs, Gath says local produce is simply “more delicious.”

“I want the most delicious food! Local produce is the most delicious produce, always, because flavor breaks down when it travels, the longer it’s away from being picked,” says Gath.

That’s part of the reason why Gath created the Phully Rooted almanac, a colorful guide to eating with the seasons locally, for the South Philly Food Co-Op. 

True to traditional annual farmer’s almanacs, Phully Rooted provides monthly recipes, tips and tricks for eating and preserving farm-fresh food, and artwork and poetry that celebrate seasonal bounty.

What Ben Franklin may be surprised to find within the pages of Phully Rooted, however, is content that is meant to last from year to year.

“When I made Phully Rooted, I initially talked about it as a calendar. And that was really tripping people up because they were like, ‘Where are the squares with the numbers in them?’ And I was like, ‘It’s not that kind of calendar,’” says Gath.

She instead calls the almanac a “perennial calendar” that users can leave notes in and refer to year after year.

In addition to home food prep, the almanac connects readers to a map of local food purveyors: farms, CSAs, farmers markets and co-ops. Gath also includes updated information on how to sign up for CSAs, who’s accepting applications or whose sign-up period is open because she knows “it can be difficult to figure that stuff out.”

A deeply collaborative effort

Phully Rooted has been a collaborative project from the start.

In late 2020, knowing that Gath was an artist, South Philly Food Co-Op asked her to do a project about their motto, “Using food as a force for good.” Gath said it made her think: How can Phully Rooted be good for the planet, farm workers, local creators and hunger relief?

She managed to include all these aspects by asking others to join in.

Gath asked local artists Justine Kelley and Nicole Medina to illustrate the almanac. Kelley and Medina both collaborated on the front cover and then illustrated alternating pages. Rachel Betesh complemented their artwork with short poems, “each intended to evoke a particular month and its feelings, tastes, sights, colors.”

Phully Rooted artists
Phully Rooted artists. Illustrated by Jessica Gath

Betesh says she hopped on the project because she feels it’s important to stay connected to the natural word.

“We all have different pursuits and different ways of spending our days, but really we all actually live in the natural world,” says Betesh. “And we all need to eat! So, this calendar is for everyone. I hope it inspires people to make a nourishing, simple meal for themselves on any given day.”

For help with recipes and fact-checking, Gath worked with Christa Barfield from Farmer Jawn, Meg DeBrito with Pasa Sustainable Agriculture, farmers at Dirt Baby Farm and “just so many other people.”

One collaboration that highlights Gath’s passion for local food access is her partnership with Lancaster Farm Fresh Co-Op. Philly Rooted is a wholesale buyer with the Co-Op. 20% of proceeds from any purchase of the 13” x 19” perennial almanac goes to purchasing a share of their wholesale produce, which Gath then puts directly into community fridges in South Philadelphia.

Gath hopes to collaborate more with farms and CSAs through this project down the line. She envisions CSAs linking to Phully Rooted’s site to get people hungry for what the farmers are growing.

She’s even looking beyond Philly. “If there’s like a grand vision for [Phully Rooted], it would be to create it for more places. I would love to see that. Now that I have already made it, I could do it again for other foodsheds.”

Phully Rooted almanac is currently available online, at the South Philly Food Co-Op, and at CM Neff’s cooking supply store.

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Angie Bacha (she/her) is a Philadelphia-based solutions journalist and recent Erasmus Mundus Master's in Journalism, Media and Globalisation student in Aarhus, Denmark. Previously, she worked as a student journalist at Community College of Philadelphia and managed her own business as a tutor/babysitter during the Covid-19 pandemic. Some other hats she has worn: Human Rights and Theatre Studies graduate; teaching artist; carpenter; AmeriCorps volunteer; and rock climbing gym shift supervisor. View all posts by Angie Bacha
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