Matt Schickling, the Wire
Workers at Bryn Athyn Bounty Farm Market use the term “farm-to-table” literally.
Much of the produce at the weekly market is harvested just steps away from where it is sold. The gardens are maintained almost entirely by a crew of five Bryn Athyn College students.
“We’re working toward sustainability,” Micah Alden, student coordinator for the college, said. “We’re looking to have the program be financially and socially stable, meaning reaching the community, benefitting the community as well as being able to cover our costs.”
Alden, along with volunteer Danielle Odhner, oversee both of the gardens on the campus, which double as outdoor classrooms for students at the college and high schoolers at The Academy of the New Church School.
Over the past year, the gardens have grown both in size and purpose and have become central to the community outside of the schools.
Each Saturday, the market is held from 9 a.m. to noon. Attendance has nearly doubled from last year, when crowds would average out to 275 people. This year, it’s not uncommon for 500 people to attend, taking in the family-friendly atmosphere, live music and informal workshops, all while shopping for locally produced food. There’s also a smaller market each Tuesday from 1 to 4 p.m. where locals can pick up produce grown in the Bryn Athyn garden.
“It’s what’s locally available. We don’t have peaches or apples. It’s what people can grow onsite,” Odhner said. “Attendance is well above what we expected.”
Perhaps this is due to extra funding secured from the Cole Foundation, a local business ethics foundation that provides grants to deserving students. It’s part of the reason Bryn Athyn College was able to hire two farm market managers.
Leanna Smith and Laura Clymer, both first-year students at the college, took on the marketing and business side of the project and facilitated growth by expanding community awareness of the market.
Clymer handles the day-to-day duties, working behind the scenes, organizing vendors and music and keeping track of the growth. Smith works on-site on Saturdays, managing the market and helping with anything needed.
“My job is just to be there and make sure everything is going smoothly,” Smith said. “I don’t study business, so managing and marketing is new to me, but we’re figuring it out together.”
The goal is to make the garden program self-sustaining by using proceeds from the farm market to fund the program so the college won’t have to support it. This cycle has yet to complete, and the market hasn’t broken even yet, but each week it continues to grow.
This is thanks to the variety of vendors, impromptu cooking, gardening and general educational demonstrations and the people, who come each week, not just to shop, but for the opportunity to play an active role in their community.
“We have a vibrant quality to the market that a lot of others don’t have,” Alden said. “With the live music and the community aspect of people sitting around and talking to each other, it’s just a very friendly, open atmosphere.”
List of vendors:
Be Well Bakery and Cafe (Prepared food)
Woodford Heirloom Farm (Produce)
Beth Lawing (Quiches, scones)
Danielle Odhner (Plants, flowers, honey)
Sticky Lady (Baked goods)
Amberland Farm (Produce, vegetable plant starts)
Jennifer Cole (Homemade brown bread)
The Cupcake Lady (Cupcakes)
Hannah’s Pierogies (Homemade pierogies)
Branch and Diane McQueen (Soups, herbs, oils, hummus, honey)
Cairncrest Farm (Produce)
Brooklyn Bagels and Heroes (Bagels and sandwiches)
Ethereal Soap Co. (Skin care products)
Tanya’s Bakery (International baked goods)
Truly Pure and Natural (Raw creamed honey)
Cindy’s Homemade and Healthy (Kombucha, cultured vegetables, broths)
Aaron Fehon (Foraged foods)
Royal Goat Milk Soaps (Goat milk soap)
Jackie Boyle (Aroma wraps, soaps)
Olive Lucy (Olive oils, balsamics)
Fred Moore (Photographic prints)
Jiesi Liang (Fashion)
Sarah and Greg Jackson (Skin care, fresh eggs)
The Bryn Athyn Bounty Farm Market is open each Saturday from 9 a.m. to noon at Bryn Athyn College, 3002 Cairnwood Drive. The season runs until Oct. 10. For information, visit www.facebook.com/brynathynbounty.