Food trucks aren’t just for foodies and late-night munchers anymore. In September, Farmshare Austin started rolling out mobile farm stands to reach the parts of town that don’t have a decent source of fresh produce. “We’re connecting local farmers with parts of our city and county that don’t have access to fresh food,” says Taylor Cook, Farmshare Austin’s executive director.
Launched in 2014, Farmshare Austin trains organic farmers on its acres just outside town. Traditionally, the resulting crops have been distributed through the various markets run by the Sustainable Food Center, but when Edwin Marty, food policy manager of Austin’s Office of Sustainability, published the “State of the Food System” report last year, he gave Farmshare a new impetus. The report lays out the “food deserts” of Austin—areas without so much as a grocery store to call their own. With a City of Austin grant, Farmshare set out to take its produce directly to some of those spots. Cook says they hope to reach more deserts with more potential funding next year.
After holding community meetings to figure out, as Cook puts it, the X’s on the map and what products to offer, Farmshare began to set up mobile markets at three sites each week around town. As a nonprofit, the group can sell organic produce for about the same price as regular produce—ensuring customers get the best possible nutrition at a decent price, especially those in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), which lets them spend one dollar for two dollars’ worth of product.
In addition to fruits and vegetables, Farmshare also sells canned beans, whole-wheat pasta, rice and other items to round out the dinner table. “We want to make sure we give people enough to go home with a healthy, well-rounded meal,” says Cook. —Steve Wilson
Find Farmshare mobile markets every week at these locations:
KIPP Austin Public Schools—East Campus: 8509 FM 969, Bldg. 619 • Fridays: 3:30 to 5 p.m.
Hornsby-Dunlap Elementary: 13901 FM 969 • Wednesdays: 4 to 6 p.m.
Los Cielos Park: Corner of Campana Dr. and Los Cielos Blvd., Del Valle • Tuesdays and Thursdays: 5 to 7 p.m.
For more information, visit farmshareaustin.org or call 512-337-2211.
By Steve Wilson