WILLIAMSON - The Williamson Farmers Market announced this month that they will be implementing a Mobile Market Project after being awarded a grant from the West Virginia Food and Farm Coalition.
The Mobile Market Project resulted from the work of a newly formed Local Food Group that meets monthly.
“We are really excited about getting this mobile market up and running,” said market manager Helen Stanley. “We hope this will help reach individuals and families who aren’t ableto get to Williamson on Saturdays for the market.”
The Local Food Group meets the third Monday of every month at the Diabetes Coalition office at 29 E. Third Ave. At the meetings, the group discusses ways to improve existing local food projects, as well as how to get projects such as the mobile market off the ground.
The mobile market, which will be called the Mingo Mobile Market is set to begin operation this summer. At the April 21 local food meeting, the distribution plan for the mobile market will be determined.
“We hope to take the mobile market to Delbarton and Matewan, and to public housing locations in the county. Reaching new towns will require making new partnerships first. We hope that the mobile market days will be a social event in each new area of the county that we are able to work in,” Stanley said.
Susan Courtney, who has a garden plot at the Ramella Park Community Garden of Eatin’ in East Williamson, started attending local food meetings in January.
“It helps me keep up with what is going on in the community,” Courtney said. “I am a Type 2 diabetic, and I cannot afford fresh produce throughout the year. I grow fresh, healthy food to combat the diabetes.”
Susan also plans to sell some of her product at the mobile market this summer.
“Last year, I ate everything that came from my garden; this year I will have more space and will grow more to sell and make a little bit of money,” Courtney said.
The mobile market will be an extension of the Williamson Farmers Market, which will open for its third season on May 3 in celebration of Derby Day and West Virginia Lemonade Day. For the opening day, area children will be set up selling fresh lemonade, and prizes will be distributed to those wearing the best derby hat.
“Our growers are happy to have an extra market day and to assist in reaching out to other communities to contribute their surplus of fresh vegetables for this mobile market,” Stanley said. “Offering a second day of fresh produce will make it more available in our communities and will hopefully help to bring healthier eating habits to our county.”
However, since the demand for fresh produce is increasing with the mobile extension, the Farmers Market is currently looking for new farmers.
“I have sold at the Williamson Farmers Market for the last three years,” said farmer Doug Dudley of Burnwell, Ky. “It has grown every year, and I expect this year to be even bigger.”
Dudley, who used to sell his produce on the side of the road, said that the market is a great way for people who grow their own food to make a little extra money.
“We really need more people selling at the market,” Dudley said. “We need to have enough produce coming in so that we can serve the customers; because they really do depend on us. I really suggest that anyone that grows their own food should give it a try.”
For those interested in simply donating food, drop-off locations will be announced, starting in June. All fresh, local food sold at the Mobile Market can be purchased with SNAP benefits, cash or with a debit card.
Anyone interested in learning more about selling at your local farmer’s market is invited to stop by the Local Food meeting on April 21 at 5:30 p.m. Everyone will have the chance to talk to farmers who are already selling, and to learn more about the Mingo Mobile Market. Or call Maria at 304-235-3400.