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South Bronx Mobile Market Starts Food Buying Club Despite Bus Problem

By Madina Toure | January 29, 2014 12:13pm
 Turnips were sold at the South Bronx Mobile Market at $2 per pound.
Turnips were sold at the South Bronx Mobile Market at $2 per pound.
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DNAinfo/Madina Toure

HUNTS POINT — Despite a slight bump in the road, the South Bronx Mobile Market went ahead as scheduled for its first day of business Tuesday, selling produce at a community development corporation’s building in Hunts Point.

The market bus was scheduled to make stops in Mott Haven, Southern Boulevard between 163rd Street and Westchester Avenue and The Point, a community development corporation in Hunts Point on 940 Garrison Ave. between 12:30 and 7 p.m.

But the bus driver was unable to get the vehicle started, possibly due to it being in a lot for three weeks in cold weather.

The market moved to The Point, where Tanya Fields, the market’s founder, sold a variety of produce, including turnips, onions, cabbage, potatoes, beets, eggs, apples and apple cider. The produce is primarily from Harlem's Corbin Hill, a group of rural farms and urban communities in New York, which aggregates from local New York State producers.

 The South Bronx Mobile Market's food buying club offers shoppers quality produce in bulk for only $30.
South Bronx Mobile Market
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Individuals who joined the food buying club, which allows people to buy food in bulk to save money, came to pick up their first delivery. The apples were free, and the price range for the produce was roughly $2 to $3 per pound.

Fields — a resident of Longwood for 11 years — said she was inspired by other mobile markets, such as Fresh Moves in Chicago and Veggie Mobile Sprout in Albany.

“It wasn’t some original idea that I had. People have already been doing this,” Fields said. “And it’s replicable and it’s working for those communities. And those communities have similar challenges to the South Bronx and so I thought, ‘Yeah, I’d like to do this.’”

The market will run every Tuesday, primarily in Mott Haven, Longwood and Hunts Point. The market will conduct outreach to promote itself as another option for healthy food in the community from 12:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. and run its food buying club from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. at The Point. For now, the market will run until December and restart in February, Fields explained.

Fields, 33, founder and executive director of the BLK ProjeK, a startup that strives to address economic development using the local food movement, created the South Bronx Mobile Market in 2009. The market, a former school bus that runs on used vegetable oil, sells local, primarily organic produce to residents of the South Bronx. The market accepts cash, debit or credit, as well as SNAP benefits and food stamps.

The BLK ProjeK was created to utilize the local good food movement as an economic driver for a community led by women and families that has been historically disconnected from quality food for the last 20 years, Fields said.

“We wanted to make sure that, as we were thinking about being part of recreating this good local food movement, that people were able to use this movement as an economic driver for their community,” she said.

The market has four main sources of income. Its Indiegogo campaign, which ended in May, raised roughly $15,000. It also received a $10,000 discretionary fund grant from the Jessie Smith Noyes Foundation and a $10,000 grant from the Claneil Foundation. Its biggest source was a $20,000 seed grant from the Simón Bolívar Foundation.

The BLK ProjeK partnered with organizations such as Corbin Hill, Sky Vegetables and Wholeshare to create the food buying club. The buying club costs $30 a week and allows individuals to receive four to six produce items. The buying club will also alternate between eggs, milk or cheese. The club will start offering rice and beans next week and plans to offer added value items such as sauce, crackers, flour and oil in the future.

Lisa Wright, 58, of Claremont Village, picked up her first delivery: turnips, potatoes, cabbage, garlic, apples, apple cider and eggs.

She said the market is an effective way to serve the South Bronx, an area that it often not considered when it comes to quality food.

“I think the South Bronx is one of the last to be thought about it in terms of that,” Wright said. “We have terribly high percentages of people with really preventable illnesses in the South Bronx.”

Martine Fougeron, 57, of Port Morris, learned about the market at The Point, and bought two pounds of potatoes, a big cabbage and apples for $6. She said she plans to buy produce from the market in the future.

“It’s going to be very near Port Morris, where my studio is, so I’ll be able to go and find out more about this pesticide-free market,” Fougeron said.