York Fresh Food Farms mobilizes its veggie market
A veggie market on wheels has come to fruition for York Fresh Food Farms, which officially began hitting York City streets Friday, June 15.
The mobile produce market will make regularly scheduled stops at seven locations throughout the city Monday through Saturday, according to York Fresh Food Farms. It will be open until Saturday, Nov. 3, the nonprofit confirmed.
“This is for the people who are sitting on their doorsteps,” farm manager Bruce Manns said.
Manns purchased a Rabbit Transit shuttle bus in October 2017 for $19,000. Since then, he has worked with various stakeholders on transforming it into a mobile unit to transfer fresh vegetables into neighborhoods where residents may not have access to them.
The nonprofit's overall mission is to “increase safe, healthy food choices to build a healthier community through sustainable, organic farming in the City of York,” the nonprofit said in a statement.
Community buy-in was present Friday at the Rabbit Transit downtown transfer station, 213 W. King St. Speakers at a news conference included Mayor Michael Helfrich; Craig Walt, of the City of York Bureau of Health; Joe-Anne Ward-Cottrell, of Wellspan Health and York Food Alliance; and Jenna Ready, of Rabbit Transit.
Not only did Helfrich say he supports York Fresh Food Farms' mission, but he also took one of the nonprofit's basil plants with him to the podium as a symbolic gesture.
“I’ve heard from my fellow neighbors about the difficulties in accessing affordable healthy food for themselves and their families, and this issue is further complicated for those that don’t have their own cars, like 45 percent of the folks that live over in my neighborhood in the west end,” he said.
Bringing agriculture back into the cities, where people can access it and afford it, will cause a healthy cultural ripple effect for future generations, he said. He noted he’s impressed that the nonprofit hired a Spanish-speaking employee who can relay to Manns the types of vegetables York residents want.
The goal of the mobile produce market is to be professional, predictable and affordable, Manns said.
“We’re below the market price,” he said. “This is as local as you can get.”
Mobile produce markets have been popping up all over the country in metropolitan locations such as Washington, D.C., and Baltimore, Manns explained. The best way to get produce to the consumer is to bring it to them, he continued.
The urban farms he manages — in downtown York City — grew 14 tons of vegetables last year, he said. Selected vegetables, which will be stored at 38-42 degree temperatures, will be harvested, cleaned and prepped before they’re placed in the mobile unit and residents can purchase them, Manns explained.
The mobile produce market will keep them cool as they are transported, he said.
The nonprofit will accept cash, credit and debit cards, SNAP and EBT cards, WIC and Senior Farmers Market Checks, and WellSpan Market Bucks Vouchers, according to York Fresh Food Farms.
Mondays: 4 to 6 p.m., Byrnes Health Education Center, 515 S. George St.
Tuesdays: 4 to 6 p.m., Lee’s Food Market, 564 N. Pershing Ave.
Wednesdays: 4 to 6 p.m. Springdale, intersection of Newlin Road and Merion Road
First, third, and fifth Thursdays: 10:30 a.m. to noon, White Rose Senior Center, 28 S. Broad St.
First, third and fifth Thursdays: 3 to 5:30 p.m., SpiriTrust Lutheran, 750 Kelly Drive
Second and fourth Thursdays: 4 to 6 p.m., United Way of York County, 800 E. King St.
Fridays: 3 to 5:30 p.m., Rabbit Transit Downtown Transfer Center, 213 W. King St.
Saturdays: 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., York Fresh Food Farms, North Pershing Avenue at Parkland Boulevard