Delivering Local Food for the Common Good: The Common Market

by Deirdre Appel
Common Market

Name: The Common Market

What They Do: The Common Market is a nonprofit regional food distributor with a mission to connect communities with good food from sustainable family farms. They strive to improve food security, farm viability, and community and ecological health. Since 2008, The Common Market has distributed over $28 million worth of local foods from more than 200 sustainable family farms and producers.

They believe that improved food access and economic opportunities will have a positive impact on the health and wealth of vulnerable families and communities in regions across the United States. Specifically, they serve customers in the Mid-Atlantic (including communities in New York since July 2017), the Southeast and most recently, Texas.

The Common Market is dedicated to strengthening regional food systems, developing fair wholesale markets, improving public health and food access and promoting the viability of small and mid-scale farms. In addition to connecting consumers to farmers, they also work to educate their audiences. They produce and publish a range of reports, hoping to leverage the impact of their work by sharing their experiences with others. All reports can be downloaded here.

How They Do It: The Common Market provides market opportunities for sustainable, family farms by purchasing and delivering their food wholesale to institutions, like hospitals and universities, as well as community organizations, private and public schools, retailers, restaurants and beyond.

In addition to their wholesale distribution, The Common Market runs a farm-to-workplace program. Similar to a CSA, the The Common Market Farm Share makes it easy for consumers to support family farms and eat well throughout the year.

By joining their farm share program, consumers take their pick at bi-weekly deliveries of local produce, artisanal cheese, yogurt, fresh bread, poultry and/or meat, which is delivered conveniently to their participating workplace, school or place of worship.

In both cases, any order placed through The Common Market will include specific grower information, printed on every invoice and every case of food, so consumers know exactly how the food is grown and where it is coming from.

All of The Common Market’s vendors are held to a high standard and must meet the following criteria: practice responsible land stewardship; ensure safe and fair conditions for farm workers; provide safe growing, harvesting and processing practices; reduce or eliminate pesticides; eliminate hormones and sub-therapeutic antibiotics in livestock; provide healthy and humane care for livestock, and, for Mid-Atlantic chapter, be located within 250 miles of their Philadelphia warehouse.

Mission: Connect communities with good food from sustainable family farms

Latest project/campaign: The Common Market was recently awarded a contract with Newark Public Schools, the largest public school district in the state of New Jersey, to supply local produce for summer meals and salad bars. They are excited to continue building their capacity to respond to these bids, as they make farm to school a reality for our growers and our school districts.

Major Funding: Grant funding in support of infrastructure, rural family farms and urban community food access. Sales from wholesale distribution and The Common Market Farm Share. Philanthropic affinities: Health, Environment, Regional Economies

Profit/nonprofit: Nonprofit

Annual Revenue: Mid-Atlantic: 2019 forecast $6.5 million

Interesting fact about how they are working to positively affect the food system: Food safety is a fundamental cornerstone of The Common Market’s work. The Common Market’s HACCP (Hazard analysis and critical control points) Plan and Food Safety Practices are audited annually by a third party auditor, NSF International. In 2016, the Common Market Mid-Atlantic became the first Food Hub to be awarded SQF Level 2 (Safety Quality Food), a globally bench-marked standard that is part of the Global Food Safety Initiative. This is the highest level of food safety in the field. The Common Market Mid-Atlantic reached another milestone in August of 2016 when all of its produce farms earned GAP certifications for Good Agricultural Practices.

FACT SHEET

Location: Headquarters: 428 East Erie Avenue, Philadelphia, PA 19134
Core Programs: Sustainable food distribution, food access, farm viability/sustainability
Number of staff: 39 across the core and regional teams
Number of volunteers: N/A
Areas served: Mid-Atlantic — from New York City to Northern Virginia; Southeast — metro Atlanta, Macon, Birmingham, AL; Greater Houston and Central Texas
Year Started: 2008
Co-founders: Tatiana Garcia Granados and Haile Johnston
Contact Information: [email protected]
Website: https://www.thecommonmarket.org/

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