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The Common Market: Sustainable Sourcing to Support Local Communities

Locally Sourced

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SAGE is proud to work with hundreds of small, local suppliers across North America.  We’re a strong proponent of local sourcing, and The Common Market is an excellent example of how partnering with local suppliers helps support the communities in which we work.

The Common Market is a non-profit food hub that connects small local farmers and food artisans with people and organizations that seek their wares.  The idea first came about when co-founders Haile Johnston and Tatiana Garcia Granados started a community organization to educate families about health, nutrition, sustainability, and urban agriculture. Despite its success, they found themselves unable to make a significant impact on the food system and public health because no one was bringing affordable, healthy food into their Philadelphia neighborhood.

Today, Common Market uses its economies of scale to bring good food, recipes, and nutrition information to low-income communities while paying farmers nearly 60 cents more on the dollar than the traditional retail supply chain.  Common Market also advises farmers on food safety and pays for third-party certification, allowing farmers to compete in an increasingly regulated marketplace.  “We want to leverage our resources and network to support small-scale sustainable farmers, and then make their food available at reasonable and fair prices for schools and institutions, for individual families, for hospitals, for restaurants, and for workplaces,” explains Samantha Shain, their Local Food Operations Fellow.

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Common Market started its operations in the Mid-Atlantic and expanded to Georgia in 2016.   Today, SAGE schools in Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Georgia eagerly purchase food from Common Market.  Our favorites?  Local apples (58 bushels and 8 varieties this past year), tomatoes (1,060 pounds from Jersey Fresh in New Jersey), yogurt (245 pounds from Pequea Valley Farm in Ronks, PA, with black cherry and maple as favorite flavors), organic energy bars (564 bars from Pure Bliss Organics in Georgia, with chocolate peanut butter as the favorite), and lettuces (192 pounds from Atlanta Harvest in Georgia).  Tina Rodriguez, Common Market Board Chair (also SAGE Co-Founder, CFO, and General Counsel), believes Common Market is distinct because “They started from the standpoint of traceability, with the idea that we all want to know where our food comes from.” She continues: “At Common Market, it’s not just a tomato. It’s a tomato from this farm, picked on this day. Every single pallet and box is labelled by farm. So when you get a delivery, know where every single product comes from.”

We at SAGE are proud to know that our purchasing dollars support our students, local farmers, and local communities with less privilege and less food access.  As Tina explains, “You know that by supporting Common Market, you’re supporting a really great social engine that’s strengthening the bond between the communities that consume the food and the communities that grow it.”

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