Local Food in Retail: Two Models, One Goal
Fair Food, a non-profit and Weavers Way, a co-op, both in Philadelphia, have a similar commitment to selling local food at retail, but have different and complementary approaches.
In order to build a thriving local food system it takes actors from different sectors, each working to their strengths. Philadelphia is, in many ways, a national leader for innovative approaches to retail.
Fair Food is a non-profit with a long history of championing local food in Philadelphia. Their many market-based programs and services are a model and stepping stone for local food retail from very small to very large. Weaver's Way Co-op is a thriving retail cooperative with three locations in Philadelphia, including one in an underserved community. Their commitment to selling local food has supported many small farmers, and secured a loyal membership.
Learn how these two organizations with similar commitment to an idea, but very different approaches, are building Philadelphia’s local food economy.
Ann Karlen is the founding Director of Fair Food, launched in 2001 to promote humane sustainable agriculture in Philadelphia region using a market-based approach. In 2003, she launched the Fair Food Farmstand in the Reading Terminal Market, a social enterprise business selling all-local products from over 90 family farmers and producers. She was a member of the Management Team that launched Common Market Philadelphia in 2008, a values-driven business that aggregates and distributes local food to area institutions. Ms. Karlen consults with farmers and wholesale buyers such as chefs and grocers to help build lasting business relationships, and serves on several advisory boards including the Philadelphia Food Policy Advisory Council appointed by the Mayor.
A lifelong food enthusiast with a degree in public health, Glenn Bergman worked for eight years as an executive chef and general manager at Philadelphia’s famed Commissary Restaurant before joining the corporate world as a regional director for operations at the Wood Company and Compass Group. Since Bergman joined Weavers Way as General Manager in 2004, the Co-op has overhauled financial controls and computer systems; increased sales from $5.4 million to $8 million; achieved sustained profitability; and created a nonprofit arm to administer Weavers Way’s expanded educational programs. Beginning with the Weavers Way Farm at Awbury Arboretum, Bergman has overseen the establishment of a network of working urban farms. Bergman has also refocused Weavers Way’s efforts toward expansion, opening a satellite store in nearby West Oak Lane in 2008 and a third location in Chestnut Hill that will open in 2010.