Farm Share gives Penn community access to fresh, local foods

For the past year, Sarah Wipperman, Penn Libraries’ repository services manager and analyst, has been a site host for the Common Market Farm Share. Crates baring fresh fruits and vegetables from local family farms are delivered to Mark’s Café—located below Van Pelt Library—once every two weeks, and Wipperman takes a late lunch break to be an overseer, organizing goods and greeting participants picking up their shares on their way home from work.

Aside from getting to know different faculty, staff, and students from across the University, Wipperman enjoys her job as a liaison between the farm share and the Penn community because she knows she’s helping “such a wonderful sustainability effort,” she says.

“The farm share is for people interested in the environment and supporting local farmers,” Wipperman says. “It’s also for those who like having a variety of fruits and vegetables to cook with, and those interested in diversifying their palate.”

Being tailored to individuals makes it convenient, too, Wipperman explains. Participants don’t have to worry about splitting their shares—Common Market provides just the right amount of food for one for two weeks.

A share for July, for example, may include four ears of corn, one bag of green beans, two cucumbers, one head of red cabbage, one clamshell of raspberries, one bunch of rainbow carrots, two slicing tomatoes, one clamshell of blueberries, and a dozen cage-free certified humane brown eggs. Common Market sends an email a few days before delivery to inform participants what will be in the share that week.

“They never usually give you more than you can fit into the reusable, insulated tote bag they provide with your first purchase,” Wipperman says. “I walk to where I live in Center City from campus with it and never have a problem.”

The basic share—including 12 deliveries of six to eight items, plus a dozen eggs—costs $324, which participants may pay all at once or in monthly installments of $54. The upcoming season’s deliveries will be made to campus every other week, from June through November. The deadline to sign up is Monday, May 9.

For an additional cost, those interested may opt in to receiving a poultry, artisan cheese, bread, or yogurt share, too.

This past winter, Rebecca Sokol, the Sustainability Office’s sustainability coordinator, became a site host at the Facilities and Real Estate Services building on 31st and Chestnut streets, giving the Penn community a second option for Common Market Farm Share pickup.

Sokol says one thing that really stands out about Common Market is its efforts to allow smaller farms to make a good profit—to sell products at a fair price.

“It’s a program that’s really great for everyone on the consumer side,” she says, “as well as the side of the farmers.”

Common Market, which was founded by three Penn alumni, has worked closely with Penn’s Bon Appetit for years. Penn is always trying to be more sustainable with its dining options, Sokol says.

“This farm share program allows even more access to fresh and local foods for the Penn community,” Sokol says.

For more information, such as seeing what’s in other month’s sample shares, and to register, visit the Farm Share website.

Common Market