Posted July 7, 2017
  • CSA Shares at Parkside Fresh Food Fest

  • Neighbors Gather and Socialize at Parkside Fresh Food Fest

  • Cooking Demo at Parkside Fresh Food Fest

  • Creole Maque Choux, Recipe made at Parkside Fresh Food Fest

Parkside Fresh Food Fest

The Parkside Fresh Food Fest is a 6 (six) event series that seeks to build community, utilize common public space, and provide fresh food access in the East Parkside neighborhood of Philadelphia. Each event is free and open to the public and will include a chef-led cooking demonstration with free samples as well as a variety of entertainment, education, and civic engagement opportunities located on Viola Alley beginning at 6:00pm every other Thursday beginning July 6, 2017.

Each food share includes fresh fruit, vegetables, locally-sourced eggs and/or dairy products, and a selection of other grocery items from two well-known partners at The Reading Terminal Market: Iovine Bros Produce and Fair Food Farmstand. Information on each item will be included along with a recipe card. Participation in the Food Share program requires purchase of a subscription, which may include either a 6-event or 4-event subscription, or a single share. At each event, there will be a limited quantity of individual shares available for purchase for $10.00 each by check only.*  

The seed of this food share program emerged from the Centennial Parkside Community Development Corporation (CDC) and the Viola Street Residents Association (VSRA) involvement in the local Reimagining the Civic Commons Initiative. This national initiative, piloted in Philadelphia, seeks to counter economic and social fragmentation in our cities by revitalizing and connecting public places such as parks, plazas, trails and libraries to bring people from different backgrounds together. The Centennial Parkside CDC and VSRA are involved because of their proximity to Centennial Commons, one of the five sites included in the Civic Commons, currently undergoing improvements along the Parkside edge of West Fairmount Park to build enhanced community amenities.

Over the past year, Civic Commons partners have been working together to develop community-driven projects that would activate the five sites prior to the completion of their capital projects, and encourage neighborhood residents, and the organizations responsible for site management, to think critically about the role of civic assets in their community and citywide. Last summer, East Parkside was host to the Viola Alley Connector event, held on September 24, 2016, as part of this program dubbed the Innovation Fund.

The Viola Alley Connector, first imagined by VSRA, was refined, planned and executed with the help of other Civic Commons partners including the Free Library of Philadelphia, Bartram’s Garden, Pennsylvania Horticultural Society (PHS), PennPraxis, and the Fairmount Park Conservancy, the local convener of the initiative. The event realized a vision to make physical and community connection between Viola Street and West Fairmount Park by locating several activities and entertainment elements within the narrow alley. The project tested the idea of programming an alley and an alley-adjacent empty lot as a venue to tell the story of the historic neighborhood, its residents and architectural history, and provide space for music, food and community festivities. 

The Viola Alley Connector was a great success, with residents wishing for more events to bring people together, and continue to activate the alley and other communal spaces. Using food as the foundation for community sharing, the idea of the “food share” emerged, which together with active programming, could provide a regularly-occurring event in the alley that would bring residents together to enjoy new foods and recipes, mingle with one another, and strengthen connections to their neighborhood, each other, and other partners. Some of the original Viola Alley Connector partners are returning, like the Free Library and new organizations, like Indego Bike Share, are facilitating new programs to keep things varied. Bringing Reading Terminal Market purveyors to the alley demonstrates the investment of partners from across Philadelphia to a shared commitment to improving our civic assets and community connections and furthers the Reading Terminal Market’s goal of using food as an avenue to connect diverse communities and connect every Philadelphia neighborhood to fresh, healthy food.

The Parkside Fresh Food Fest is made possible through funding from the Knight Foundation, developed in partnership with The Centennial Parkside CDC, PennPraxis, the Fairmount Park Conservancy, and All About Events