Lady and Mr. Marmalade
by Emily Kovach
Every two or three weeks, Jennifer and Steve Horton play hooky from their 9-to-5 jobs in marketing and economic development, respectively, and spend the whole day transforming local produce and sugar into hundreds of jars of jam and preserves in the Greensgrow Community Kitchen. The couple, who have co-run Fifth of a Farm Creations since 2011, met in college in Indiana, fell in love, and moved to Philadelphia together when Steve got a job at a settlement house in Kensington. Jennifer finished her degree at Temple University, the pair moved to Germantown and settled into their professional lives.
In 2010, Jennifer’s job became tenuous and she and Steve began to evaluate the prospect of starting their own business. Both were avid gardeners who loved to cook, and both came from families who practiced canning and preserving, so a food-related company made the most sense. Also, at that time, Steve was employed by the Enterprise Center, which was opening their shared kitchen space. “He worked with a lot of the food entrepreneurs, and that created the impetus for us to say, ‘If this person can do it, we can do it,’” Jennifer says.
Like many small food businesses, they started by testing their jams and marmalades on their friends. Then, they began vending at farmers markets around the city. Their products are named after Philadelphia neighborhoods, like Point Breeze Tomato Jam and Spruce Hill Blackberry Lavender Jam, which charmed local shoppers. Three years ago, they scored a major wholesale client, MOM’s Organic Market in Bryn Mawr, and are now also carried by Baker Street Bread Co. in Chestnut Hill, and Milk & Honey Market and Picnic in University City. “Every year we’ve been growing incrementally, but we’re still not at the level where we can have this as our full-time jobs,” Jennifer says. “That is our goal.”