Farm Credit Affiliation
Farm Credit East
Ann Karlen launched Fair Food Philly in 2000 with one goal in mind: to create market opportunities for the rapidly shrinking number of family farms in the Delaware Valley.
Determined to slow the loss of productive farmland, Ann created a strategy to support the local agricultural industry’s economic stability by developing a farmer-buyer network. Over the past 15 years, Ann has deepened and expanded this network, connecting Delaware Valley farms with Philadelphia chefs and institutional buyers.
“Our work will continue to strengthen the farmers' business viability to keep them on their land for the next generation,” says Ann.
Today, Ann is leading the charge to help strengthen this farmer-buyer network on a national level. She was recently acknowledged for her work in USDA's publication Food Value Chains: Creating Shared Value to Enhance Marketing Success. Through this and other efforts, she has played a major role in developing the term Value Chain Coordination (VCC), which is being increasingly adopted in the national arena. VCC is high-impact, low-input, and drives the local food economy while supporting the broader goal of creating a strong and resilient local food system. Ann’s work serves as a model for the food system nationwide, demonstrating that specializing in local produce is a profitable endeavor.
Ann also works to strengthen local public access to fair food through her work with the City of Philadelphia’s Food Policy Advisory Council. The Council’s goal is to work with the city to create procurement policies to benefit local farmers, local businesses and the health of the individuals dependent on city feeding programs.
In 2014, Ann became the founding faculty director for the University of Vermont’s new Food Hub Management Certificate program, which she co-developed. This program is the first of its kind and will lead to the professionalization of the burgeoning food hub sector.
Ann says, “If non-profits, local and national governments, and individual and wholesale consumers continue to prioritize a diverse and regional food system, we believe we can fortify and reinvigorate the small and medium producers throughout the U.S.”
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