You may have seen the mean, green veggie (and fruit!) machine cruising down the streets of Savannah. It’s hard to miss with a colorful Veggie Tales like crew adorned on the sides, but do you know what’s aboard that truck?, Farm Truck 912 (FT912) is a mobile farmers’ market brought to you by the same women who founded the Forsyth Farmers’ Market (FFM) in 2009. The truck was mobilized in October 2015. So if you’re feeling out of the loop, don’t worry because it’s fairly new. I sat down with Executive Director/Co-Founder, Teri Schell, to get the healthy scoop on the truck.
On the importance of locally sourced food for communities…
“Our mission is to support farmers and food access, so we look at it through a couple of different lenses. We are really concerned about the loss of the family and small farms in our region and across the country. So the importance of supporting farmers is that it keeps them farming and growing food for our communities. It’s also good for the environment for small farms to be around, because they tend to be clean farmers which means they don’t use as many chemicals as the large scale farmers do, generally speaking. We think it’s important to the community, because we want the farmers to continue to thrive and succeed. We also think that they’re important to our community, because food grown closer to your home tends to be more nutrient dense. They haven’t traveled across the US or from another country. If you pick them up at a farmers’ market or other place that sources locally grown food, then you’re generally getting food that was grown recently so those nutrients are still intact. And that’s better for everybody’s health.”
Being pioneers for farmers’ markets accepting SNAP/EBT…
“Well, Forsyth’s Farmers Market already does that. We started Forsyth’s Farmers Market in 2009 with the capability to accept SNAP/EBT. We knew that our farm truck would have those same opportunities for people. We think that it’s important for everybody to be able to participate in the good food movement and one of those ways is for us to accept SNAP/EBT. There are a large number of members in our community that are using SNAP, so we hope that those community members can participate. We also realized that there were other gaps for people, not everybody that need assistance is on SNAP. We’re hopeful we can find ways to work on that as well. We’ve spoken at a lot of conferences over the years to help answer questions. We worked out a lot of kinks, figured out best practices and found ways that work for us and our community. That’s been helpful for others to learn from. More people doing it sort of encourages others to do it. When we first started 7 or 8 years ago, markets really didn’t cater to other communities. There was a perception that it [farmers’ markets] was exclusive and it kind of was. If you couldn’t come in with cash, then you didn’t participate. Markets moving in this direction have really leveled the playing field, and that’s a good thing! The good food movement can’t exist with just a few people, everybody has to participate.”
The ‘Bring it Home’ initiative….
“‘Bring it home’ is what we call anything educational. We’ve had on-sight and off-sight events, we’ve had ‘Bring it Home’ education with the truck every time it stops. It ranges from anything from physical activities like tennis camp at our tennis courts [in Forysth Park], to cooking demonstrations, or a family fun day where we’ve had famers’ market scavenger hunts. We’ve had chef tours where chefs actually walk customers through the market and talk about selecting food and how to use it. At the Farm Truck, we mostly do ingredient specific recipes that involve creating dishes with just one ingredient. It shows you how to pick out the ingredient, how to cut it, and the easiest thing to do with it. We find that really important for Farm Truck 912, because sometimes people really don’t know what we have on our truck like spaghetti squash. They don’t recognize the product so they won’t buy it. However if we show them the easiest way to use it, they are buying it. They’ll do the education, have a taste, and buy something they’ve never seen before. The community’s response has always been positive. With the Farm Truck we literally see how it increases sales. We’re having a Market Fest on March 26 that will be both educational and fun but also the kick-off for our spring fundraiser drive, Farm Picnic.”
About Monique: From Customer to Manager
Monique by chance saw a flier at her child’s daycare advertising FT912 and eagerly began shopping for her vegetables “straight from the farm”. She was at the truck every Monday and Thursday making herself a familiar face with the company. The truck manager at the time invited her to a customer feedback meeting and Monique began to accede slowly into the company. Again by fate Monique found herself in a position integrate the company into her life even more when the then manager asked her to take over the position. In December she excitedly began her new role as truck manager, taking on the challenges of running Juicy (the truck) like learning to drive stick, but she knows she’s a part of something special and providing for her community makes it “the best job” she’s ever had.
There’s a lot of delicious things in store for the FFM and FT912. To be a part of it just be on the lookout for the FT912 at their locations (listed below) each week and FFM every Saturday at the south end of Forysth Park from 9-1 p.m., rain or shine! To volunteer to help set up at the market, more information can be found on their website. It’s not the most glamorous job, but it’s incredibly important. Want to be a part of the good food movement as a vendor? You can do that as well, but these ladies aren’t just accepting any vendors. All vendors must “grow or make the product they offer for sale. Whole food vendors (produce, nuts, meat, honey, dairy,seafood) must grow/harvest 75% of what they sell but are allowed to carry some products from other small growers in our region. Prepared food and plant vendors must produce 100% of what they sell. The FFM does not allow the reselling of any products by non-producers”.
Catch Monique and Juicy at the following location every week:
- Mondays 10-1 p.m. @ The Department of Children and Family Services Center
- Tuesdays, 12:30-2:20 p.m. @ Moses Jackson Community Center
- Thursdays, 11-1 p.m. @ WW Law Community Center
- Fridays, TBD @ Memorial Hospital