By: Eve Suzuki, Mobile Market Planning Assistant Corpsmember
If you are familiar with Real Food Farm, then you are probably familiar with our Mobile Farmers Market truck. You know, the bright green, beast-of-a-machine that drives around East Baltimore selling produce. If you’re not, let me catch you up to speed.
In 2011, Real Food Farm converted an old Washington Post newspaper delivery truck into the produce-selling machine that it is today. Not only does this added mobility give us a chance to engage more with our surrounding community, it also helps to bring fresh, nutritious, and local produce right into the neighborhoods that so badly need more access to these types of food. In the age of food trucks, we fit right in on the streets of Baltimore.
When it comes to food justice issues, farmers markets have commonly been critiqued for their inaccessibility and high prices. Generally, farmers markets are not located in low-income neighborhoods and produce sold at these weekly markets are more expensive than a bag of prewashed, precut broccoli found at Giant or ShopRite. That is why, in addition to cutting down on transportation costs by coming straight to the consumer, we are also making fresh produce affordable for local residents. One of the greatest advantages of buying produce from our mobile market is our ability to accept nutrition assistance benefits such as SNAP EBT, WIC FVC, and (S)FMNP. Through our participation with the Farm Alliance of Baltimore City we also offer the Double Dollars Program, where we match up to $10 when customers use their nutrition assistance at one of our stops.
At Real Food Farm, we are always looking for ways to improve and better meet the needs of Baltimore residents. That is why, this year, we are expanding our mobile market program to include neighborhoods in West Baltimore. We are very excited to be stepping out of our comfort zone around Clifton Park and to make healthy food accessible to more Baltimoreans. At the B’more Healthy Expo in March, we spoke with many residents of West Baltimore about our plans to expand and received so much positive feedback. We’ve also been reaching out to other community organizations to help us connect with communities and their residents. Where would you like to see our new truck go?
Now there are many challenges to bringing a new program to an area, especially when the program relies heavily on community engagement and local outreach. While some of the residents we’ve talk to have heard of the mobile market or our farm, many have no idea who we are or even where Clifton Park is. It’s been eye-opening to learn even though we are located in Baltimore, we are not known by all of Baltimore. Other challenges include our search for a second truck. Not only do we need to purchase a second truck but we also need to outfit it for set-up into an instant farmers market at our stops. However, we are optimistic in surmounting these issues and are planning to have the new mobile market up and running in July.
Wanna stop by for produce or just to say “hi”? Click here to see a map and schedule of our current stops. If you have suggestions on where our new truck should stop in West Baltimore let us know!