The Farm to Family Mobile Market partnership between Sappington Farmers' Market (8400 Watson Road, Marlbourough; 314-838-7848) and Metro St. Louis Transit has undergone some changes over the past week.
Beginning in March, the Farm to Family Mobile Market made four stops per week at four local transit hubs, seeking to bring fresh produce to neighborhoods deemed "food deserts" by local fresh-food advocates.
Of those four hubs, the Riverview stop was the only one without MetroLink service, and the sales there were insufficient to sustain the program in that location.
The other three stops -- North Hanley, Delmar and Emerson Park in the Metro East -- have done well, especially North Hanley and Delmar.
"The response has been great to spotty," Andy Bazigian, the Mobile Market manager for Sappington Market, tells Gut Check. "We're dealing with shoppers' needs on a week-to-week basis, so it can fluctuate. Our biggest challenge right now is getting the word out there."
The program's primary means for getting the word out have been the websites of Metro St. Louis and Sappington Farmers' Market, but it also uses on-site a-frame signage, a tent and a large truck, which Bazigian calls "kind of our calling card."
When asked about the most popular items so far, Bazigian responds, "It does vary from week to week. We ask people to look at our tables and tell us if there's anything they want to see. I think local product -- right now tomatoes, strawberries and spinach are big -- is what they're looking for."
As for what Bazigian would like prospective customers to know about the market, he says, "They're going to get variety when they come to see us; they're going to have a chance to give input when they come to see us. We have the flexibility to work with them."
Bazigian is optimistic about the future of the program, though he acknowledges that the challenges involved with reaching out to cultures and communities where fresh produce has not always been readily available.
For a list of weekly specials and a schedule of Mobile Market hours, go to farmtofamily.com.