Fresh Perspectives Honoree, Ann Karlen

Ag is ever changing. From the technology used to help you grow your crops to the marketing strategies you use to sell them, things just aren’t the same as they used to be. One saying still rings true: when one door closes, another is sure to open – and now that means even if you have to build the door, mount it, and open it yourself!

And that is exactly what Ann Karlen, Executive Director of Fair Food Philly, set out to do.

The Delaware Valley has seen a decline in the number of family farms operating in the area and in 2000, Ann Karlan set out to slow the loss of productive farmland. She created a farm-buyer network to help create new market opportunities needed to help the local ag economy stability. For over 15 years, Ann has been expanding the network, connecting Delaware Valley farms with Philadelphia chefs and other institutional buyers.

“Our work will continue to strengthen the farmers’ business viability to keep them on their land for the next generation,” says Ann.

The network is coming to light on a national level and Ann’s work has been recognized by the USDA in their publication, Food Value Chains: Creating Shared Value to Enhance Marketing Success. Through her efforts, she has played a major role in developing the term Value Chain Coordination (VCC). VCC is a high-impact, low-input model that drives the local food economy while supporting the creation of a strong and resilient local food system. Ann even co-developed the University of Vermont’s new Food Hub Management Certificate program – talk about opening your own doors!

Ann has also worked to help strengthen local public access to fair food through working with the City of Philadelphia’s Food Policy Advisory Council in creating procurement policies to benefit local farmers, businesses, and the health of the dependents of the city’s feeding programs.

Please help us congratulate Ann for being recognized as a Fresh Perspectives Top 100 Honoree in the Rural and Urban Connection category by commenting below and “Liking” Fair Food Philly on Facebook!