On a rainy Saturday afternoon at 43th and Baltimore, around a dozen vendors huddle under their tents, selling their various wares next to Clark Park. There are a myriad of shoppers despite the weather, eager for their weekly visit. This is the Clark Park Farmers Market, which operates evey Saturday from 10am to 2pm year round. Neighbors gather with their children and dogs to enjoy locally made and grown goods, including produce, meats, jams and jellies and baked goods. While in the summer there are more vendors, there are plenty of options for those who brave the cold during the winter months.
One of the first tents is a produce stand selling mostly apples, but further down the block there are other stands selling mostly root vegetables. Because it is towards the end of winter, root vegetables are the main produce that is in season. These stands sell whatever produce is the best at the time, thus during various times of the year there will be different vegetables. There is also a tent devoted to various types of mushrooms, ranging from the typical portobello to the more bizarre mixes that look like something out of a science fiction movie.
There are stands that sell a wide variety of baked goods. There were whoopie pies, and breads, as well as other sweet treats. One such stand is Slow Rise Bakery. “They have this 4 seed cookie that is vegan, nut free, allergen free, but it’s so good,” says Jennifer Higa (C’20), a occasional customer of the market. In general, these baked–good stands have a much wider variety of goods than the bakery stand in the Wednesday farmers market at 36th and Walnut.
The stands range in more than just their baked goods selection. One tent boasts eight separate coolers full of different meats for customers to dig through. One tent is devoted to microgreens. Another tent sells exclusively frozen soups: $6 for vegetable and $7 for meat varieties. These soups provide an easy meal, especially for those with little access to a kitchen (looking at you freshmen), because they can easily be microwaved. The beloved Don Memo food truck takes advantage of the market as well, and is often set up selling tacos and Mexican sodas.
All of the products offered at the market are not only local and fresh, but also still very affordable. One of the greatest parts about the Clark Park Farmers Market is that the vendors accept Philly Bucks, SNAP cards and other food assistance programs, making healthy, fresh food available to all. This is not the only benefit that the Farmers Market offers to the community. It also hosts a wellness program—a health booth set up by the Lankenau Medical Center that provides free health screenings.
The Clark Park Farmers’ Market provides an opportunity for Penn students to mix with the neighborhood in a relaxed atmosphere, while supporting local farmers and businesses. Jennifer was first introduced to the farmers market through her freshman college house when they took a trip and each resident was given about $10 to spend there. When asked to sum up the farmers market in one word, she said, “community.”
An earlier version of this article stated that the market opens at 11am instead of 10am. Street regrets this error.