An apparent victim of its own success, Fair Food Farmstand — which for 15 years rallied Reading Terminal Market shoppers around the call to “buy fresh, buy local” — will close as its inventory is depleted.
“Our mission hasn’t changed,” said interim executive director John Rhoads in an email. “We are still dedicated to bringing locally grown food to the marketplace and to promoting a humane, sustainable agriculture system for the greater Philadelphia region.”
It’s a matter of finances. The farmstand’s closing is “our way of adapting to the changes in the marketplace as well as the changes we are making internally to better serve our mission,” he said.
Restaurateur Judy Wicks, founder of White Dog Cafe, and Ann Karlen started Fair Food in 2001 as an independent nonprofit offshoot of the White Dog’s local-sustainable-ethical-food initiative.
The mission: promoting local food to consumers and restaurateurs. The stand, which began in 2003 with a folding table on Fridays and Saturdays, expanded in 2009 to take over the former Rick’s Steaks stall along the 12th Street windows.
Karlen resigned last year.
“Local food is much more broadly available now in the retail marketplace than when the farmstand began, which has proved a double-edged sword,” Rhoads told Billy Penn in an email. “From Fair Food’s nonprofit perspective, growing competition is proof our overall mission has been successful, but it does not guarantee continued profitable operation of the farmstand.”
Fair Food’s gala fundraiser, the Philly Farm and Food Fest, will still be held Oct. 28 at the Navy Yard.
A representative of the market said a replacement tenant has not been identified.