In and around our fine city, CSAs are so commonplace (a wonderful thing!) that we almost considered skipping an explanation of what those initials even stand for. But for those new to the concept, and even just as a reminder for those of us who dutifully pick up our cardboard boxes every week, here goes: CSA stands for community supported agriculture. It’s a seasonal—sometimes yearlong—subscription to a farm or producer, which ensures them a steady cash flow throughout the highs and lows of the growing season and hooks the customer up with weekly deliveries or pickups of seasonal fruits, veggies and other tasty things to eat. It’s a way that, as a society, we can help independent farmers not just stay afloat, but actually thrive in the face of Big Ag. Amid a growing economy of subscription-based businesses, “CSA” has become a bit of a buzzword, and we urge you not to lose the true meaning of what it is: a symbiotic partnership between member and farmer.Read More
Ice Cream Dreams
by Emily Kovach
A scoop of ice cream perched atop a cone: Is there a better symbol of summer? Though ice cream trucks incessantly circle the block hawking pre-wrapped pops, we suggest holding out for the good stuff. High quality dairy, seasonal fruits and inventive combos from local shops elevate ice cream from humble to sublime.
Dishes with Sweet Summer Fruit
Summer Berry Crisp Ice Cream
Zsa’s Ice Cream
Local berries and grass-pastured dairy mingle in this locally churned delight from Zsa’s Ice Cream that emulates the classic warm weather dessert. Bonus points for the gorgeous magenta hue from the rich berry purée.
Cantaloupe Rose, Sweet & Salty Summer Corn and Watermelon Lemonade Popsicles
Lil’ Pop Shop
Ice pops, the perfect single serving treat-on-a-stick, get the seasonal treatment from the flavor mavens at Lil’ Pop Shop. Zero artificial anything here, and the produce is sourced through Lancaster Farm Fresh.
Ripe for the picking: Lil’ Pop Shop, 265 S. 44th St. and 4608 Woodland Ave.
Paw Paw Ice Cream
This old-school soda fountain has a long list of flavors, including paw paw, a local fruit that’s briefly in season at summer’s end. The flavor is reminiscent of mango and floral banana, and is begging to be nestled into a maple- or vanilla-laced waffle cone.
Ripe for the picking: Franklin Fountain, 116 Market St.
Inventive Ice Cream Sandwiches
Sugar Philly Truck
French macaroons are reimagined in a genius way at the Sugar Philly Truck—as the cookies for ice cream sandwiches! A rotating menu of flavors like ginger rum pistachio, hibiscus melon and passionfruit blueberry burrata makes every visit to the truck an adventure.
All yours: Sugar Philly Truck, 38th Street between Walnut and Sansom streets
Verbena Raspberry on Sugar Cookies
Tish’s Warm Chocolate Brownie with Little Baby’s Cinnamon Ice Cream
This happening Kensington spot may be known for cheese, charcuterie, hoagies and funky sour beers, but they know how to rock a mean dessert, too. Brownies and ice cream are a timeless pair, and the chefs at Martha know well enough to withhold unnecessary distractions.
Sit and enjoy: Martha, 2113 E. York St.
Malt & Barley Sundae
The superb result of a creative deconstruction of beer’s ingredients, teased apart and reassembled on a dessert plate. Think: malt ice cream, candied puffed barley and whipped cream atop a cocoa nib blondie, drizzled with a ribbon of ale caramel.
Sit and enjoy: Southwark, 701 S. 4th St.
This iconic Italian dessert, a scoop of ice cream or gelato “drowned” in espresso, seems to be popping up all over the place, but we recommend leaving it to the resident gelato experts: the folks behind Capogiro, and now Capofitto, a charming pizza restaurant in Old City.
Sit and enjoy: Capofitto, 233 Chestnut St.
Sophisticated Soft Serve
Bing Bing Dim Sum
Ice cream base is infused with smoky tea and then spun with sticky sweet overripe bananas.
Savor your swirls: Bing Bing Dim Sum, 1648 E. Passyunk Ave.
Tons of Toppings
Kermit’s Bake Shoppe
Ice cream flavors keep it classic in chocolate and vanilla, but the selection of housemade toppings is out of control: cake crumbles in all the flavors, berry jam and lemon curd, sauces (salted caramel goo!) and crunchies, including sugary kids’ cereals.
Savor your swirls: Kermit’s Bake Shoppe, 2204 Washington Ave.
Peaches & Cream
Try this luscious seasonal flavor alone or twisted with creamy, milky fior di latte.
Savor your swirls: Alla Spina, 1410 Mount Vernon St.
Milkshakes to Make Your Mouth Water
Magpie Artisan Pies
This isn’t just pie-flavored milkshakes; it’s pie actually blended up with ice cream into a dizzying fusion of desserts. Expect chef-forward flavors like peanut butter and jam and blackberry custard pie from these baker artisans.
Sip it up: Magpie Artisan Pies, 1622 South St.
Wild Flavor Milkshakes
Little Baby’s Ice Cream
Sure, you’ve probably tasted your way through the rainbow of madcap flavors at Little Baby’s Ice Cream shops. But did you ever notice that they also serve milkshakes? Anything on their menu can be whizzed up with whole, soy, almond or coconut milk for a sippable experience.
Sip it up: Little Baby’s Ice Cream, 2311 Frankford Ave. and 4903 Catharine St.
Big Gay Ice Cream
The Philly outpost of this NYC shop features all kinds of decadent treats, including weird and wonderful soft-serve sundaes. But their milkshake game is equally strong, including this cool flavor based on the cinnamonic almond beverage.
Sip it up: Big Gay Ice Cream, 1351 South St.
Beyond the Brown Box
by Emily Kovach
If you’re a seasoned CSA buyer, you probably already have a favorite farm that does heirloom tomatoes just right, or you know a farmer who will surprise you with a crazy new item you’ve never seen. This season, try a new kind of CSA. Here are some options that caught our eye.
By partnering with other farms and 4-H clubs, this mostly produce-growing farm in Wilmington, Delaware, is able to offer meat CSA pickups on the second Saturday of every month. There are two versions: chicken-only (one whole and two cut-up chickens), and trio (10 to 12 pounds of three kinds of meat of mixed cuts of the farmer’s choice, such as beef, chicken and lamb). Both types of shares include frozen and fresh meat.
$38 per month for chicken, $85 per month for the trio
Goat Cheese CSA
Yellow Springs Farm
Never be without delicious cheese: Members of this CSA receive shares twice each month, from May through November. A regular share is 12 ounces of cheese split among varieties; a plus share is four cheeses totaling a pound. Both options combine fresh and aged goat cheese. All of the cheeses are handmade at Yellow Springs Farms in Chester Springs, Pennsylvania. Pickup locations include Weavers Way Co-op in Mount Airy and Forest & Main Brewing Company in Ambler.
$325 to $405
Spring Plants CSA
Love 'n Fresh Flowers
This micro-farm in Roxborough offers a one-time pickup in April of more than 30 flowering plants (all organically grown from seed), which will continue to grow in an at-home cutting garden. This mix of perennials and biennials (25 percent) and annuals (75 percent) will provide enough flowers to make bouquets all spring, if properly cared for, of course. Each diverse mix of plants is good for sun/part-sun gardens with average soil.
Community Supported Medicine Shares
Lancaster Farm Fresh Cooperative
Once per month for six months, three to five locally made natural health products arrive to members at the LFFC pickup location of their choosing. They have many sites in and around Philadelphia. CSM shares may include items such as digestive tonics, skin salves, bath salts, tea blends and dried herbs. Each shipment includes an informative newsletter, explaining the herbal products and their uses. The CSM shares run from May to October.
There are 30,000 cooperatives in the United States with over 120 million members, nearly one in three Americans, yet most of us don’t understand the basics of this business model, even if we’re buying from them. Anyone who has ever picked up a jar of Ocean Spray juice or went camping with gear bought by REI has supported a co-op, with little or no thought about the fact the the model has direct ties to Benjamin Franklin and Philadelphia, and that it’s rooted in 18th and 19th century economic and social justice movements.
Jeff Frank, Executive Director of the Philadelphia Area Cooperative Alliance (PACA) offers a succinct, myth-dispelling definition for the co-op model: “It’s not socialism,” he says. “It’s just businesses being run fairly, by and for people.”Read More
Philly Farm & Food Fest is almost here! A partnership of PASA and Fair Food, the event brings together regional farmers, unique food producers, and sustainable businesses and organizations. We're counting down the days to Sunday, April 14 with videos of exhibitors you can expect to find at this year's PF3. To learn more about the event, check out our exclusive event guide. And don't forget to buy your tickets. See you there!
If fresh, seasonal vegetables, fruits, dairy and other delicious edibles aren’t enough to draw you into this year’s PF3, just remember vendors like the Lancaster Farm Fresh Cooperative. LFFC works with small-scale organic farms throughout the region to provide wholesale goods to restaurants all along the East Coast. Local customers can also sign up for one of their CSA shares. By visiting their booth you’re supporting more than 75 local family farms. Swing by PF3 and enjoy the knowledge that your attendance is supporting the local farm economy.
Ever roll out of bed, shuffle to your kitchen ready to prepare a mouth-watering breakfast of freshly laid eggs, straight-from-the-farm herbs, and produce that still has the morning's dew on it only to recall that you live miles away from rolling pastures? It’s a crushing wake-up call. But Lancaster Farm Fresh Co-op (LFFC) is working to lessen the blow. The cooperative network of more than 75 Lancaster County family farms has partnered with Doorstep Dairy and Lancaster Farm Fresh Organics Trucking to deliver goods straight to the residents of Philly, Lancaster, Morgantown, Reading and the Mainline.
Expanding delivery from just wholesale markets, LFFC is now offering an at-home delivery option for its Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program. In exchange for a single fee, customers will receive weekly vegetable, fruit, flower and/or community-supported medicine shares right to their doorstep. There are spring and summer share options, each offering great seasonal organic produce for May through October.
Not ready to commit to a share? Order products like almond butter, eggs or grass-fed beef from the online store and get a little bit closer to local farms without ever leaving home.
To see the LFFC delivery range, check out their interactive map.
Want to help local farmers connect with Philadelphia customers? The Lancaster Farm Fresh Cooperative (LFFC) is recruiting enthusiastic volunteers to host weekly deliveries of fresh organic produce to neighborhoods in Philadelphia.
The LFFC is holding its “Site Host Information Session” Feb. 15 at Ultimo Coffee (1900 S. 15th St.) from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. for those interested in volunteering. Volunteers would host a weekly pick-up site at their home or business as part of LFFC’s Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program.
The LFFC is a nonprofit organic farmers’ cooperative of more than 75 farmers in Lancaster County, Pa. The CSA program allows area residents to purchase a subscription before the season begins, to help the farm operation when start-up costs are high and farm operation is at its lowest. In return, members receive a weekly box of fresh and nutritious produce.
The event will consist of informative presentations and a question and answer session. Both prospective and current volunteers are encouraged to attend.
For further information contact Evan Miller at 717-656-3533 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Also, registration is open for winter, spring and summer CSA shares.
Farmers use community to stay viable
Buying locally often takes a bit more effort than walking into the nearest supermarket. But there are creative people out there making it easier for small farmers to compete for your dollars.
by Will Dean
Lancaster County is full of rolling hills, plowed fields and the occasional tall, silver silo; to the average observer, it can all seem the same. With a closer look, though, one plot of turned soil can be radically different from another 50 feet away.