Mobile Farmers Market

Our Mobile Farmers Market, otherwise known as the “Veggie Mobile” is our answer to bringing a variety of produce and fresh foods to individuals with mobility challenges throughout our community.

starkfresh veggie mobiles

We’d love to claim brilliance in coming up with the idea to do the mobile market but really the idea was birthed in 2014 when we noticed that we weren’t seeing many seniors attend our stationary farmer’s market. After asking a senior (duh) why they weren’t attending, we realized that a better, more equitable solution to fighting food insecurity would be to bring the food directly to them

starkfresh veggie mobile

The Veggie Mobile travels throughout the county and delivers food access to senior housing complexes, public housing authority properties, public services centers, permanent supportive housing as well as to areas with low fresh food access, such as in a food desert.  

We not only bring the food, we also accept all payment types, cash, credit, debit, WIC, Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Vouchers as well as SNAP/EBT (formally known as food stamps).

starkfresh veggie mobile
starkfresh veggie mobile

We also add a $10 match for anyone who uses their SNAP card and spends $10, effectively doubling their money and allowing them to purchase more food.

Schedule

This year, we are traveling to nearly 15 locations per week, accessing nearly 400 people per week with the Veggie Mobile. Here is our schedule for 2017.

Grower’s Cooperative

We realized that running a mobile farmers market was very different than a stationary farmers market in that we not only would be driving around and had to keep things refrigerated, but how would we source the food that we were selling?

A typical farmers market is made up of outside vendors who sell their own products. We saw the need to engage local farmers to form a grower’s cooperative to tackle this problem.

The grower’s cooperative is made up of a mix of local farmers, community and home gardeners. This allows the producers to earn extra money and keeps the money being earned right back in the same community where it is being spent.

The StarkFresh urban farming locations also provide a good amount of produce to the grower’s cooperative.

Market CSA

In 2016 we added a CSA component to our Veggie Mobile operation. Our CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) works a bit different than other CSAs. A traditional CSA works like this. a farmer offers a certain number of “shares” to the public. Typically the share consists of a box of vegetables. Interested consumers purchase a share (aka a “subscription”) and in return receive a box of seasonal produce each week throughout the farming season.

This arrangement creates several rewards for both the farmer and the consumer. The farmer is able to receive payment early in the season, which helps with the farm’s cash flow and the consumer can eat ultra-fresh food, with all the flavor and vitamin benefits at a slightly discounted retail price. 

 Implied in this model is the only downside to a CSA, the notion of shared risk. In most CSAs, members pay up front for the whole season and the farmers do their best to provide an abundant box of produce each week. If things are slim, members are not typically reimbursed. The result is a feeling of “we’re in this together”. If crops aren’t growing, you may end up with kale for 5 weeks in your box.

The largest complaint we heard from traditional CSA members was that they received items in their box that they did not care for.

We thought that if we could remove that risk and provide options for people, that we could improve upon the traditional CSA model. From this, our Market CSA model emerged. 

With our Market CSA, you still pay up-front for a share, but for that share you are given a set amount of “store credits” that you can use to purchase produce from any of our Veggie Mobile stops. There are no limits to what produce you can purchase with your credits, creating a better CSA experience.

On-Demand CSA

In 2017 we added another offering to the public, the On-Demand CSA. The On-Demand CSA is similar to how the Market CSA operates in that consumers can choose the produce that they want. How it differs is that consumers receive a weekly “menu” of produce offerings available that week and they shop from that menu, paying online in advance of their scheduled delivery date. This has proven to be a nice accompaniment to existing workplace wellness policies at several business locations. The On-Demand CSA model is currently being offered through business workplace partners only.