This fall Gorge Grown Food Network has expanded its Mobile Farmers' Market program to three new sites thanks to an unsolicited grant from the USDA's Agricultural Marketing Services Department (USDA-AMS).
The mobile market, which celebrated its fifth anniversary this season, visited farmers' markets in Stevenson and Mosier this summer.
The USDA-AMS funds are allowing Gorge Grown to operate a pilot program featuring new Mobile Farmers' Market "whistle stops" in downtown Moro, Celilo Village, and Odell for the months of September through November.
Gorge Grown is conducting a fundraising campaign called "FEED THE TRUCK" to raise the remaining $7,000 needed to pay for the new Mobile Farmers' Market vehicle.
Money awarded by USDA-AMS partially funded the purchase of the refrigerated Sprinter van, but the grant did not cover the entire cost of the van. A box truck has supported the Mobile Market since its inception, but the new van gets markedly better gas mileage, is safer to drive, and will allow Gorge Grown to operate the Mobile Market in two places at once.
Gorge Grown is also seeking sponsors who will have their name on the side of the truck in vinyl letters. Columbia Gorge Family Medicine has agreed to be a sponsor, and Skyline Hospital has challenged Gorge Grown with a match. If Gorge Grown can sell eight tickets to their Nov. 3 fundraiser "Cultivate Klickitat," then Skyline will sponsor the Mobile Market.
The Mobile Farmers' Market programs acts as a farm-stand-on-wheels. Gorge Grown purchases fruit and vegetables direct from local farmers, then resells the produce (at minimal markup) in the communities and markets the Mobile truck visits.
This summer the Mobile sold over 5,000 pounds of fruits and vegetables. The Mobile Market has three goals: fostering supply of local food, building demand for local food, and promoting local food access to all regardless of income.
For more information about Gorge Grown Food Network's "FEED THE TRUCK" campaign or to make a donation visit www.gorgegrown.com.