Flint, MI—Guests of Flint Farmers’ Market may notice a change to the building’s outdoor pavilion on Tuesdays and Thursdays this summer: in place of the normal row of local farmers, there is now a shiny, white truck with a bright orange logo and shelves of rhubarb, green onion, and more that line its side.
The truck is known as the Flint Fresh Mobile Market, and it brings multiple Michigan farmers’ produce to the downtown Flint market under a single seller.
The concept began as a pilot program in summer 2021, wherein local farmers sold a portion of their weekly produce to Flint Fresh for resale at during the market’s weekday hours.
“Covid changed best practices,” said Karianne Martus, Flint Farmers’ Market Manager, of why the single point-of-sale model makes sense.
Martus explained that she’d seen the dynamics of the farmers’ market begin to change even before the pandemic.
“Anchor” farmers for the market had started to retire, and if they were replaced, Martus said, they were replaced with younger farmers who did not have the same availability or desire to staff a market table through the week.
She said it therefore felt right to continue the 2021 partnership with Flint Fresh, as Mobile Market staff provide the time and labor for market hours and the market’s farmers can continue cultivating their crops and businesses from their respective locations without the need to spend two days a week at the market.
“Plus, this is a great option for smaller farms that don’t have a large yield,” Martus said.
Flint Fresh’s Mobile Market Manager, Bobby Blake, agreed that the company was helping to support smaller yield farmers and those who need to spend their days tending to their produce instead of staffing a table.
But, he added, Flint Fresh is also helping to make local produce more accessible to the community beyond the market as well.
“We have a veggie box program. We deliver to seniors, we work with schools,” Blake said, standing outside the mobile market on a sweltering summer afternoon. “We’re going to also be stopping and parking in low-income areas where it’s hard to get access to produce.”
Blake shared the list of produce available at the Mobile Market on June 21. It included seven different Michigan farms and a variety of offerings from apples and strawberries to garlic, mint, and kale.
“I’m just getting to know these farmers,” Blake said, noting that the Mobile Market’s offerings and number of farmers will hopefully continue to grow through the summer.
The Flint Fresh Mobile Market will be under the pavilion at the Flint Farmers’ Market, 300 E. First St. every Tuesday and Thursday from 9am to 4pm.