A new farmers' market has opened at Broad and South streets bringing the total of urban oases here to two.
Strolling back home from a piano lesson at the Philadelphia Senior Center, 509 S. Broad St., Don Howell stopped to smell the strawberries.
Alongside the succulent, bright red berries in green paper cartons lie asparagus and other greens. A little further down the same long table behind which stands vendor Amos Stoltzfus are mouthwatering pies, cookies, breads and other Amish baked goods. A wooden cabinet set up in front of the table holds homemade jams and jellies. There's even a cooler for folks to buy beef and cheese from Lancaster County.
It's a little bit of country right on Broad between Lombard and South, where a farmers' market opened May 27 along the northeast sidewalk. The market is open 2 to 7 p.m. Wednesdays through Thanksgiving.
"I think it's a great idea. It looks like great food. It makes me want to go home and work in my garden," the resident of 15th and Carpenter streets said with a smile, adding his tomatoes, eggplant, bell peppers, spinach and herbs like basil and chive aren't ready to be harvested quite yet.
One of about 30 markets operated in the region by The Food Trust, a Center City-based nonprofit founded in 1992 that strives to make healthy food available to the masses. The South and Broad market was previously located for four years on the 2400 block of South Street in front of the Jamaican Jerk Hut. A narrow sidewalk, difficult parking and growth of the market prompted the move one block east, Nicky Uy who manages The Food Trust farmers' markets said. Broad and South is the second farmers' market (not counting the Ninth Street Market) in the area; the other being the Fountain Farmers' Market at 11th and Tasker Street/Passyunk Avenue open Thursdays from 3 to 7 p.m. Farm to City, a Philadelphia-based organization that works with local farms -- mainly Amish and Mennonite from Lancaster -- operates that location.
Uy noted last week's opening drew about 250 people, which she said is an improvement from the previous location, where the average weekly attendance was between 150 and 200.
The Broad and South market's debut featured Stoltzfus and his goods, along with Haddonfield, N.J.-based Pretty Sweet Bakery, the latter selling stromboli, scones, muffins, cookies and baguettes. In the coming weeks, more vendors will be added including Triple Tree Farms, a flower merchant from Lancaster.
Stoltzfus and Pretty Sweet manager Willow Lynch both served a steady stream of customers shortly after their 2 p.m. opening.
"We are trying to promote local businesses and encourage the local communities to come out and get to know us," Lynch said.
The South Jersey bakery uses natural ingredients with everything made on premises and has several Philadelphia accounts, including Di Bruno Bros. in the Ninth Street Market and Taste Buds Market, 24th and Lombard streets, who both buy desserts and bread.
Stoltzfus said it's too early to tell if the new location will attract more customers than the old but so far so good.
"What we're seeing so far, it looks like a good location," he said, adding his strawberries, in season now, and baked goods were generating brisk sales.
Dora Porchia from 17th Street and Moyamensing Avenue took a break from her job at Ciro Electrical Supplies, 622 S. Broad, to peruse the vendors at their new locale. When the market was in front of the Jamaican Jerk Hut, Porchia numbered among the regulars.