The Farmers@Firehouse Market was founded in 2002 by a few impassioned members of Penn’s Corner Farm Alliance. These area growers, organic in philosophy, wanted Pittsburgh to have its first organic market. They set up tables that year in the Strip District in space at the historic Firehouse property provided by owners Ray and Susan Werner, for whom organic food was important. Since 2004 the Market has operated under by-laws and a board made up of vendors and community representatives. Since 2005, the market been professionally managed. This year the Market will solicit the input of a community advisory body.
Market thrives and grows:
With quality organic produce and carefully produced protein, small-batch artisan prepared foods, weekly emails to almost 1,000 alerting market-goers to “what’s fresh” and lively chef demos throughout the season, the customer base is ever growing. Word gets around to come early for best pickins’, as many vendors sell out. Typical growers in our group operate intense organic farming operations on less than 20 acres. Robust sales at the market have been a major contributor to renewed vitality of this valuable kind of farming.
Farmers@Firehouse is a producers-only market. That means the person selling it, with a few exceptions, grew it. Vendors may occasionally bring in seasonal specialties grown by others, such as fruit or cheese which they do not produce themselves. Growers must be Certified Organic or Certified Nationally Grown. CNG is an equally demanding alternate certification program created for small-scale organic growers. If any of the products are not certified organic or transitioning to organic they must be labeled “conventionally produced.” Our processed food vendors are asked to meet as nearly as possible the standards governing farm products. This means regional, seasonal and traditional foods produced in small-scale artisan ways that respect the environment. Local sourcing when feasible is prioritized.