Mobile Plan: With help from Greensgrow, a fresh market hits the road

 story by Liz Pacheco | photo by Neal SantosTo increase access to fresh fruits and vegetables in Philadelphia neighborhoods, a farmers market is often the ideal solution. But for parts of West Philadelphia, the model proved inefficient.

“[It] didn’t really work for us,” says Ryan Kuck, a former farmer at Greensgrow Farms and project manager for the West Philly Fresh Food Hub. “[We had] to spend a lot of our energy, a lot of promotion, for a small amount of sales, and we could only carry a small amount of products.”

So, Kuck began to think about a mobile option. Back in 2006, Kuck had helped organize Preston’s Paradise, an all-volunteer community food project in West Philadelphia. The organization manages community gardens as well as a push-cart produce market. The idea for the West Philly Fresh Food Hub built upon that push-cart model as well as a pilot mobile market program Greensgrow had launched the year before in Camden, N.J.

With support from Greensgrow and Preston’s Paradise, the Hub opened at the end of April. The renovated bread truck carries organic and conventional produce along with some packaged goods, including milk, flour and eggs. Kucks hopes the packaged goods will attract shoppers in need of cooking staples who, once there, will be encouraged to buy fresh produce as well. Unlike the pushcart and mobile market in Camden, which were frequently on the move, the Hub will operate more like a regular corner store, staying parked for long periods of time. Greensgrow will subsidize the truck’s operations for three years in the hopes that the Hub will evolve into a self-sustaining business.

West Philly Fresh Food Hub,