Farmers markets are one solution to food deserts- communities that do not have a local grocery store or source where fresh produce is available. However, for farmers markets to be sustainable there has to be just the right mix of factors such as enough foot traffic and a suitable space in both visibility and size. So for communities without the right mix of factors who face the food desert challenge, what other options are there? This past summer AYA Community Markets piloted one such solution- their mobile farm stand. Think of it as a food truck, but instead of tuna tacos, fresh produce is for sale.
One of the biggest assets of the mobile farm stand, a refrigerated truck, is it’s mobility:
“What we are looking to do is use the truck to get to more isolated places. I think there is great potential in terms of public housing and other communities that have the challenges due to isolation such as lack of public transit and less healthy options immediately around them,” said Chris Bradshaw, AYA Community Markets, Executive Director.
In its first summer, the mobile farm stand often set up shop one block from Walker Jones Education Campus to help support another program called the Food and Veggie Prescription Program. Participants in the program take health classes and are given prescriptions for healthy food and vegetables. The AYA Community Markets mobile farm stand was on-site to to fill the prescriptions.
While a larger, more targeted pilot in the works, the issues of infrastructure must first be met. Notes Chris, “…without cold storage [scaling the mobile market] becomes a challenge.” While the refrigerated truck is good for transporting something from one place to another, what is needed is a walk-in cooler that will give AYA Community Markets more flexibility with regards to when and how much they can purchase from vendors, as well as ensures any leftovers won’t spoil.
Help the mobile farm stand and their other projects scale! To support AYA Community Markets, a project of Dreaming Out Loud Inc., you can volunteer at the garden, volunteer at the market, and/or donate. For more information visit http://www.ayamarkets.org or send an email to email@example.com.