Food on wheels is no new phenomenon, since food trucks, especially at festivals and breweries, are now almost more common than craft beer. Pop up produce markets, however, are just rolling into Charlotte, making local fruits and veggies closer to you than you think.
1) Every Thursday at the Transit Center from 3:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. you can grab fresh, local produce straight from Friendship Gardens’ mobile market – true farm-to-your-table style.
Friendship Gardens grows all produce and sells at the Transit Center to give those using public transportation access to healthy fruits and veggies. So before you hop on the bus, trolley or train right upstairs, grab some cucumbers and tomatoes for a fresh summer salad. It sure beats parking and waiting in line at the Teeter after a long day, plus, it supports Friendship Gardens’ 90 local gardens located at schools to food desert communities and faith based centers and even neighborhoods, all within the city limits.
2) If you’re not in close proximity to the Transit Center, the Simmons YMCA also hosts a Friendship Gardens mobile market every Tuesday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. from June 14 until October 18. This may not be ideal for everyone, but if you ever are in the neighborhood, it’s worth stopping by the produce tent.
Some of the YMCA summer camp kids save their money to buy vegetables, and then the convo about vegetables is like some type of PBS’ paid advertisement; they want to know how to cook it or what something tastes like; they talk about texture and they make the faces that only kids can pull off when wanting to convey the ultimate disgust. This is a public health professional’s dream. Other Y members, especially Seniors, also pick up produce.
Simmons, one of the most diverse YMCAs in the USA, chose to use their Community Transformation Grant, which ended last year in 2015, to help change the area they serve. Jessi McEntire, Healthy Living Director, explained to me that east Charlotte is technically a food desert, and the grant team’s goal was, “to get access to as many people as we could for fresh foods and vegetables.” They’ve done just that.
3) Another group improving access and making sure you don’t have to leave your doorstep is Produce Box, which you’re probably familiar with the concept with the Blue Apron. This group delivers a box of produce to you every week, and if you want to forego one week, you can with no contract or you can choose to donate your box to a family who may not be able to splurge for fresh, local fare.
Whichever way you slice it, there are options for fresh local summer fruits and veggies – it’s a matter of deciding whether you’d rather try and squeeze into one of the David-the-Gnome size parking spaces in the Midtown Trader Joe’s parking lot, open your door to find a box full of goodness or support a garden or two on your way home from work.
If you’re interested in helping out with Mobile Markets, there are several ways to get involved through Hands on Charlotte:
- Package produce in the Friendship Trays Kitchen (2401 Distribution St.) Thursdays at 1 p.m.
- Sell produce Thursdays 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. Shifts are available.
- Work behind the scenes on signage and marketing.
- Help spread the word through social media, email, and word of mouth.
Cover image via Facebook