Rooftop gardens aren’t the only farming initiatives looking to pass off healthy, fresh and local food to those who want and need it.
Mobile farmers markets are also beginning to pop up throughout the city.
These veggie trucks are becoming an easy and innovative way to provide fresh and healthy food in areas known as food deserts. A food desert, as defined by the USDA, is an area where residents would have to make a considerable effort to attend and shop at a fully stocked grocery store.
Food insecurity surfaces in these areas because often, food purchases are often limited to convenience stores or small shops that don’t stock or sell perishable food.
Hop on the Bus
According to The Greater Boston Food Bank, one of the most prominent food deserts in the city is located off the Red Line and encompasses most of Dorchester and Mattapan. This area is one of the weekly stops for The Fresh Truck, one of Boston’s only mobile farmers market.
“It was founded to serve areas of the city located in food deserts, so places that lack access to local, healthy, fresh foods,” said Fresh Truck co-founder Dan Clarke.
The Truck stops at seven different neighborhoods in Boston throughout the week. At each stop, customers enter the front of the Truck and shop from a variety of fruits, vegetables, grains and bread. Once they have paid for their food, the customers then exit the back of the truck.
The Truck stops at three different locations each day and serves between 100 and 150 people. The stops are determined by their location to grocery stores, as well as through partnerships with community centers and health centers.
Clarke says because of the Truck’s food partnerships and the relatively low overhead costs of the business, they are able to offer “Whole Foods or Stop and Shop” quality food for 20 to 30 percent cheaper than local grocery stores.
“We feel that food access is probably the leading contributor, the proliferance of diet related health issues particularly in lower income communities and getting healthy fresh foods out at affordable prices is probably the most needed intervention needed when it comes to combating that issue,” says Clarke.
A Passion For Food
Cullen Heater is passionate about food.
This summer, he dropped everything and moved from Canada to Boston. He had read an article about a mobile farmer’s market and knew he wanted to work on it.
“I’ve always been interested in getting people more involved in the food that they eat, whether its knowing the people you buy from or the sort of thing that comes to you,” said Heater.
Heater describes the impact he sees Fresh Truck having on the communities it serves.
Heater was a political science major in college. After graduating, he went down to Barbados where he worked on a farm and enrolled in a couple of college courses that focused on food and food systems. This is where Heater’s interest in sustainable food systems began. After returning from Barbados, his mom showed him a Boston Globe article about Fresh Truck.
The rest, they say, is history.
“I like having a personal connection to food,” said Heater.