In the past couple of years, food trucks have become popular across the United States, in cities like Los Angeles, New York City, Portland, and San Francisco. You can find nearly every kind of food on them, from typical fare like tacos, to the more exotic like fusion Asian-Mexican cuisine, and even sweet treats like ice cream and cupcakes.
As I have written about on Care2, the local food and sustainable food movements have also been growing.
So, it isn’t surprising that some clever entrepreneurs are capitalizing on both trends by bringing farm fresh produce to those in both urban and rural areas. They are calling themselves Mobile Farm Trucks or Mobile Farmers’ Markets, and they don’t just cater to high-end shoppers, but provide low-income residents with affordable, fresh produce, grown using sustainable and/or organic methods.
For example, in New York City, the Holton Farms Mobile Farm Truck has taken to the streets. Not a mobile farm stand, but a CSA on wheels. As they say on their site, “Our Farm Truck is a progressive mobile farm stand concept, that will operate throughout New York City, to serve as the main distribution point for our CSA Select program and restaurant wholesale clients. The Farm Truck allows us access to neighborhoods throughout the Five Boroughs without having to open a store.”
The Farm Truck is run by sustainable farmers who partner with other farms and artisan producers to bring other products to its members including ice cream, cheeses, breads, coffee, grains, and soaps.
They are still working on getting the appropriate permits to sell to non-CSA members and they are also accepting Food Stamps and discounting their prices by 20 percent for low-income New Yorkers.
Last year, Maine’s Jordan Farm started a Mobile Farm Stand that travels to senior housing sites in South Portland and to Portland and Scarborough businesses. Using a renovated school bus, they offer the same fresh produce that is available at their farm stand in Cape Elizabeth.
Like Holton Farms, Jordan’s Farm uses sustainable farming practices, and also brings products from other producers in their area, including eggs, cream, butter, meat, cheese, pasta, honey, and maple syrup.
The Mobile Farm Stand participates in the state’s FarmShare program that helps both Maine farmers and provides seniors with needed fresh produce. Maine residents 60 and older who meet income guidelines can get up to 50 dollars of fresh produce free during the growing season. Participating farmers are reimbursed by the state.
In Virginia, The Farm to Family truck makes healthy local food available to people in central Virginia. Using a converted diesel school bus, they provide urban communities with fresh, locally grown produce and other homemade products. As they say on their web site “We grow and source produce within the community, concentrating on quality chemical free products and building relationships with small local growers and producers.”
They target areas that don’t have access to fresh food and teach people what it is and how to cook it. In order to do this, they also accept food stamps.
Another southern farm on wheels is in Greeneville Tennessee, the Mobile Farmers’ Market, is another converted school bus. It is operated by Rural Resources a nonprofit organization dedicated to “promoting family farms and environmentally friendly farming practices.”
The Mobile Farmers’ Market provides neighborhoods and communities around Greeneville and Greene County with fresh locally produced food via the food stamp ready Mobile Farmers’ Market.