York Fresh Food Farms to use former Rabbit Transit shuttle to deliver organic produce

Jana Benscoter
York Dispatch
  • "We're improving people's quality of life," Rabbit Transit Executive Director Richard Farr said. "What's the true meaning of mobility: it's going beyond the bus ride."
  • The cost to the nonprofit was $19,000, but that doesn't include upgrades like refrigeration or exterior branding, farm manager Bruce Manns said.

Keys to a used Rabbit Transit shuttle bus will soon be turned over to seasonal farm helper Erick Negron, who will be driving it through the streets of York City with York Fresh Food Farms locally grown produce in it. 

Rabbit Transit Executive Director Richard Farr is working toward bringing easier food access to York City residents. Submitted/photo

Rabbit Transit is required to sell all used vehicles to transportation programs, Executive Director Richard Farr said. The mission between his organization and York Fresh Food Farms fits Rabbit Transit's business model, he explained. 

York Fresh Food Farms operates two micro farms in York City. They reap organic crops and educate residents on healthy-eating benefits.

"We're improving people's quality of life," Farr said. "What's the true meaning of mobility: it's going beyond the bus ride."

Relationships: Bruce Manns, York Fresh Food Farms manager, said he's grateful for relationships like the one he has with the regional public transportation provider. Manns said he would've spent $70,000 on the shuttle bus had he purchased it in the general market. 

More:Rabbit Transit: Seasonal farmers market in the works

The cost to the nonprofit was $19,000, but that doesn't include upgrades such as refrigeration or exterior branding, Manns said. 

"We're going to be using this to reach the neighborhoods of York City, the underserved neighborhoods," Manns explained. 

Bruce Manns, York Fresh Food Farms manager, stands next to his new shuttle bus. Jana Benscoter/photo

Bus standards: Farr said the shuttle bus is "well broken-in." It meets the resale requirements of having more than 200,000 miles on it, and it's five-years old or older, he said. 

"We maintain our vehicles very well," Farr said. "We know the maintenance of it is outstanding. It's a useful asset."

York Fresh Food Farms bought the bus in September. Manns said he anticipates the former shuttle bus to be in service in May. 

Negron explained they are still trying to "figure out" their target market.

"Eventually we're going to find a popular spot for the east, the west, the north and the south," Negron said. "Each spot will have their own market (shoppers) can come to."

Pop-up market locations: Manns said his team is looking for "home runs" in terms of community turnout at each "pop-up market" location. One pop-up market will be located at York City's Rabbit Transit hub, Farr confirmed.  

Erick Negron, seasonal farm helper, picks organically-grown beets from York Fresh Food Farms micro farm. Jana Benscoter/photo

Pop-up markets are helping York Fresh Food Farms find market partners, identify locations and times for market stops next year and learn what vegetables and information about vegetables customers want, according to the nonprofit. The organization will create route schedules and stops based on residents' feedback.

Negron will be driving the bus along with a nutritionist, teaching York City residents about the benefits of eating healthy foods, Manns said. It's the next best thing to a healthy food truck, and it can reach those who have vehicle limitations, he explained. 

The organization's original micro farm, at 150 Willis Road, has two new greenhouses and a new cold room — a walk-in refrigerator that preserves quality, freshness, nutrition and taste of harvested vegetables.