The City of Locavore Love

April 11, 2011

Hello and Happy Monday! We’re excited to bring you another installment of our guest blog series with the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission and their partners helping to strengthen our regional food system. Today’s post by Meryl Levitz, President and CEO of the Greater Philadelphia Tourism Marketing Corporation, shows many more reasons why “foodwise, among the most progressive cities in the country right now is Philadelphia,” according to the New York Times’ Mark Bittman.

HeadhouseFarmersMkt photo by R.Kennedy

By Meryl Levitz, President & CEO
Greater Philadelphia Tourism Marketing Corporation

Residents and visitors alike agree that the food produced in Greater Philadelphia is authentic, delicious and part of our cultural heritage. It has been an important, ongoing theme of Greater Philadelphia Tourism Marketing Corporation’s marketing and a reason people visit the metropolitan area. We have always promoted Philadelphia as a “food lovers” kind of town, and local food has been a piece of the food story that we have long wanted to tell. And now we get to, thanks to grants from the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission (DVRPC) and the William Penn Foundation.

Launched in June 2010, Philly Homegrown™ is a tourism and education campaign created to position the Philadelphia region’s local food offerings as a key feature of our destination. Accompanied by the tagline Real Local Flavor, Philly Homegrown™ is all about promoting the people, places and flavors of Philadelphia’s 100-mile foodshed—from Amish Country to the Atlantic Ocean. More specifically, the campaign’s goals are:

• to inspire consumers to shop from within the 100-mile foodshed;

• to enhance Philadelphia’s image as a premier food destination among media and consumers;

• to broaden the market for local food and support the local economy; and

• to amplify the work of the existing and growing local food movement of Greater Philadelphia.

Philly Homegrown™ includes numerous tactics and strategies to reach both visitors to Greater Philadelphia as well as residents of our region, including:


We had to build a comprehensive, online resource for locavores so we created, a new and constantly growing microsite that enables users to plan their local food experience from start to finish, find their nearest farmers market and restaurants that source locally, learn what’s in season, Meet the Makers of local products and get the latest news on Philly’s local food scene on the Homegrown Blog.

Italian Market photo by R. Kennedy


Our in-house PR team is building a library of content (press releases, photos and videos) to help showcase the Philly Homegrown™ story to local, regional and national media. The team conducts extensive media outreach to mainstream and multicultural media outlets and food shows that can feature Philadelphia chefs and foods and/or shoot episodes in the region. In addition, GPTMC hosts journalists on familiarization trips so they can experience first-hand what we are hoping they will write about.


GPTMC initiated partnerships with local print, broadcast and radio stations, including CBS and Telemundo, to reach primarily local audiences with the Philly Homegrown™ message. Fronted by network personalities, anchors and local food stars, the stations produced customized vignettes and interviews with key food players airing across different media and on different topics related to local food.

Clark Park Farmers Market in Philadelphia


Philly Homegrown™ relies heavily on members of the local food community—particularly when stakeholders lent their expertise to help mold the campaign during meetings designed to define what local food is in Greater Philadelphia and develop key messages for the project. Their faith in the project remains of the utmost importance. In order to grow the support base of the project and build awareness of the movement, GPTMC continues to partner with local organizations and events, including Fair Food’s The Brewer’s Plate; East Passyunk Avenue Business Improvement District’s Flavors of the Avenue; Reading Terminal Market’s Valentine to the Market, the Mayor’s Office of Arts, Culture and the Creative Economy’s Soil Kitchen project; the Food Trust’s Night Markets; Center City District’s Restaurant Week; University City Dining Days; and FEASTIVAL, benefiting the Philadelphia Live Arts Festival and Philly Fringe, to get the local food community invested in the program and act as unofficial ambassadors.

YardsBrewery photo by R.Kennedy

Greenline Cafe photo by R.Kennedy


Philly Homegrown™ commissioned a study in April 2010 of 1,200 residents of the Philadelphia area. Administered by TNS Travel & Transport, the study served to define current consumer behavior and awareness of local food and help develop messaging for appropriate audiences. The key findings? There was a definite market for local food in the Philadelphia region, and most consumers recognize the benefits of eating locally and would like to do it more.

Philly Homegrown™ will conduct a follow-up survey at the conclusion of the campaign in order to measure the impact of the marketing efforts on consumer behavior, awareness and perception of local food.

One year into the project, Philly Homegrown™ has had a big impact in getting stakeholders talking and working together. Unexpected partnerships have sprung up, like one between local businesses Betty’s Speakeasy (who makes fudge) and Victory Brewing Company (guess what they make). The two got together to make a video where they made fudge from a Victory brew. The video was released online and spread virally, boosting business for both companies. We can only hope for more out of the box collaborations in the coming months, as they will only strengthen the community and extend the impact of the program.

This series continues next Monday.  In case you missed them:

Part 1: Working Together for a Stronger Food System
(Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission)

Part 2: Collaborating for Healthy Families
(Greater Philadelphia Coalition Against Hunger)

Part 3: A Food Co-op Does Much More Than Sell Food
(Weavers Way Co-op)

Images by R. Kennedy for Greater Philadelphia Tourism Marketing Corporation