Friday, May 01, 2009

Whole Foods Sponsors Headhouse

Last year, it was V-8. This year Whole Foods is the lead sponsor of the Headhouse Square Farmers’ Market sponsored by The Food Trust.

It seemed curious to me that a putative competitor would underwrite the farmers’ market. Not so to Nicky Uy, who manages the farmers’ market project for The Food Trust.

“We’re competitors, but we’re also colleagues,” she explained. “We’re both part of the local food movement and strengthen each other. And we share many of the same vendors.”

That same theme was sounded by Fred Shank, spokesperson for Whole Foods.

“We’re trying to promote local agriculture in the communities we serve,” said Shank. What Whole Foods is doing in Philadelphia is similar to its efforts in Manhattan, where a flagship Whole Foods store is located across Union Square from the main Greenmarket.

“Just like at Greenmarket, there are farmers who sell there and we also buy their foods for sale in our store,” he said. “Our store-based buying program allows each store to tailor its product mix to its location. We encourage each store to be as local as possible, with 10 percent of pur products being locally sourced.”

Whole Foods sponsors farmers’ markets across the country, usually by hosting farmers in the chain’s parking lots, though it also offers financial support to some independent markets like Headhouse.

So, why does the Headhouse market need sponsors? Because it’s the only market operated by The Food Trust which pays rent, in this case to the South Street Headhouse Business District for use of the Shambles.

Although Whole Foods is the lead sponsor, other organizations and businesses which have signed on include: Center City District, City Planter, Head House Books, the Head House Conservancy, Philly Car Share, Slow Food Philadelphia, South Street Headhouse District, PA Preferred, Pumpkin, and Weaver’s Way Coop.

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