Produce to the People! : Growing Hope’s Mobile Farm Market

“Every mobile farm market is unique to the community it’s in,” said Erica Bloom, the program director of Growing Hope in Ypsilanti. Through their urban farm demos, in-school programs, farmers markets, and more, Growing Hope offers educational opportunities and greater access to healthy foods in the area.“We have been learning together with our partners in Detroit, Lansing, and Flint on how to best bring fresh produce into the neighborhoods.”

Over the past three years, Growing Hope’s Mobile Farm Market has tried different strategies to increase access to fresh produce, with a focus on seniors and youth. Previously, the market cart was set up in more rural areas of Washtenaw County. While there was a need for fresh produce there, it was difficult to get people to stop on the county roads. This year, the mobile market is set up in places where people will arrive more organically.

growing hope cart

“We want our farm stand to be a healthy access food point that is also a Growing Hope outreach arm for our Ypsilanti Farmers Markets,” said Bloom.

Throughout the day on Fridays, the mobile farm stand will be stationed at the Ypsilanti Senior Center, the Ford Early Learning Center, Clark East Towers, and the Courtyard of the Towner Human Services Center throughout the day. The stand will also be stationed at monthly West Willow Neighborhood meetings on Monday evenings.

growing hope kohlrabiThe cart is stocked with whatever is locally in season; right now there are strawberries, greens, garlic, radishes, and more, but soon the cart will be overflowing with tomatoes, flowers, blueberries, and corn. Much of the produce is grown right at the Growing Hope Urban farm, but some of it is purchased from partner vendors from the downtown Ypsilanti Farmers Markets.

“For some people, this local produce isn’t what they would normally buy,” Bloom said. “We often try to offer samples of the produce, sometimes with a simple recipe, so that people can see if it is something that they would like to eat.”

The Growing Hope Mobile Farm Stand strives to make fresh, local produce available and affordable for all. The market accepts SNAP/EBT, Double Up Food Bucks, Senior Project Fresh, and Prescriptions for Health, as well as cash and credit cards. Growing Hope’s mobile market is made possible through sponsorship from Toyota Motor North America and the St. Joseph Mercy Hospital Health                                                         System.

The mobile farm stand operates every Friday this summer through October 27.

Ypsilanti Senior Center, 1015 N Congress St, Ypsilanti

Fridays, 10:30am-12:00pm

Courtyard of the Towner Human Service Center, DHHS, WCPH, WIC, CSTS offices, 555 Towner Street, Ypsilanti

Fridays, 1:00pm-2:00pm

Ford Early Learning Center, 2440 E Clark Rd, Ypsilanti Township

Fridays, 3:00pm-4:00pm

Clark East Towers, 1550 E Clark Rd, Ypsilanti Township

Starting July 7th: Fridays, 5:30pm-6:30pm

West Willow Neighborhood Association Meetings, Community Resource Center, 2057 Tyler Road.

Mondays: 6:30-8:00 on July 17th, August 21st, and September 18th

Growing Hope’s mission is to help people improve their lives and communities through gardening and increasing access to healthy food. Visit them at 922 West Michigan Ave., Ypsilanti, MI 48197.

Emma Beauchamp is the local food coordinator of NW Michigan and communications manager for Taste the Local Difference. Contact her at [email protected]