by Andre Platts, AUNI Social Media Intern
On Tuesday, February 17th, students from Sayre High School’s G-Squad crew took a cold and rainy drive to visit Common Market, a mission-driven distributor of local foods to the Mid-Atlantic region. It was a bit of a trek for the West Philadelphia-based students, but worthwhile because it took place during the first winter that G-Squad partnered with Common Market to extend the Good Food Bag Program, a CSA that provides community members with healthy, affordable, and organic fruits and vegetables year-round.
Common Market Outreach Coordinator Margaret Smith gives the G-Squad crew a tour of the warehouse.
As we entered the Common Market building from the intense cold and rain, we were welcomed with warm greetings and a smile from our tour guide and Common Market Outreach Manager Margaret Smith, who quickly led us to the main office space. After getting settled in and enjoying water and fresh apples, we introduced ourselves and met two other Common Market employees, Hannah Joe and Samantha Shain. We quickly learned about their work distributing wholesale organic fruits and vegetables to grocery stores, schools, hospitals and, workplaces, and that the company is projected to sell over $3,000,000 dollars in produce this year.
Then we put on our coats and stepped into the crisp air on the warehouse floor, where Common Market plans to building a new kitchen via a top secret partnership. We moved on to see the “old freezers,” which were as big as shipping containers and were once used to temporarily store food. Next, we quickly donned an underrated fashion accessory, hairnets, and ducked into the bitter cold of their refrigerated storage area. I think “area” might be an understatement, as it was the size of a small apartment building. Inside, they kept boxes and boxes of fresh produce and things like eggs, yogurt, jelly, and, maple syrup. Then they took us to a magical door to the freezer. It was like going to Narnia, if Narnia was an ice cold tundra.
Sierra, Miki Palchick, Dwane, Mr. Tucker, Margaret Smith, Siani, Kalleah, and Andre Platts strike a pose during G-Squad’s warehouse tour of Common Market.
Then they took us to the mushroom basement where we met two growers who told us that they were only three months into Common Market’s CSA and managed to grow almost an entire greenhouse of just mushrooms. We also learned that they forage in nearby forests to find starters for most of the mushrooms they grow.
After the tour, we went back to the office area to debrief and thank Margaret, Hannah Joe, and Samantha. That’s when we learned that Common Market is trying to open additional locations, including one in Atlanta, Georgia. We thanked them for their hospitality and the tour, and they thanked us in return for our services to them. After grabbing a few apples for the road, we set off for the ride back to West Philly. Overall it was a very exciting and interesting trip.