Headhouse Farmers Market, Philadelphia, Penn.

Sunday, Oct. 17, 2010

Headhouse farmers market

The Headhouse Farmers Market is one of more than 20 markets in Philadelphia run by the Food Trust, a nonprofit organization that aims to increase access to fresh, healthy food in the city by working with schools and neighborhood groups on initiatives including school nutrition programs and farmers markets.

Headhouse farmers market

Judging from reviews posted by Philadelphians on Yelp, this is one of the best farmers markets in the city, though it is also the most hoity-toity. You will find a great array of excellent gourmet produce, cheeses and other food goods here — as long as you’re willing to put up with the crush of well-heeled shoppers from the surrounding, ritzy Society Hill neighborhood, and pay prices that some find excessive.

It is housed in a picturesque market arcade under a vaulted ceiling supported by brick columns. At the north end sits the Headhouse, a high-peaked, brick building with a cupola on the roof, which was built as a firehouse in 1804 and is now a National Historic Landmark.

I’m a bargain shopper, and as always, even at the pricier farmers markets, found plenty of good deals on my visit. But the market was indeed crowded. For that reason, some of the Yelpers said they favored the less hectic, more blue-collar atmosphere of the Saturday farmers market in Clark Park, which I visited winter before last.

– Mark Thompson

Lombard and 2nd Street
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania / map
Sundays, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
(215) 575-0444

slide show

What I Bought

raddichio and purple cabbage
(clockwise from top left) tatsoi, Treviso radicchio, tiny purple cabbage
Price: $2 for head of tatsoi
$2.50 for radicchio
$1.50/lb. for cabbage

turnips, radish and kholrabi
Hakurei turnips, watermelon radish, purple kohlrabi
Price: $3/bunch for turnips
$1/lb. for watermelon radish
$1/each for kohlrabi

The turnips, and some of the other items I purchased, are from Weaver’s Way, a large, ambitious Philadelphia cooperative, which started in a church basement in 1972 and now has 4,200 member households. The co-op, with more than 100 employees and $12 million in annual sales, not only runs three stores, it also operates a four-acre farm in North Philadelphia. The Weaver’s Way Farm offers educational programs in conjunction with local schools and also produces lots of produce for the co-op’s stores and for sale in farmer’s markets.

quinces and apples
quinces (top) and golden russet apples
Price: $2.50/lb. for quince
$2/lb. for apples

The golden russet apple is one of those farmers market finds that you’re not likely to encounter in a supermarket. To begin with, they’re too ugly, and could never hold their own next to the shiny, waxed specimens that fill supermarket shelves. The tough-skinned fruit are also not well suited for eating out of hand. But they’re great for cider and juice. And these ancestors of the golden delicious have an interesting history.

tomatoes and eggplant
(left to right, above) Flamme tomatoes, Japanese eggplant, Arkansas traveler tomatoes; (right) four hot peppers
Price: $2.50/lb. for tomatoes
$2/lb for eggplant
$.25/each for peppers

Weaver's Way farm stand
Weaver’s Way farm stand