Thomas Chu & Stephen Stanley II
This is Stephen and Tom reporting from the Mobile Market’s first day! It was Tuesday July 10, and we were outside Cornell Scott Hill Health Center selling fresh fruits and vegetables from Common Ground and other local farms like we will be every Tuesday.
The Mobile Market is a farmer’s market on wheels that sets up in food deserts across New Haven, designed to improve access for senior New Haven residents. A food desert is a neighborhood that lacks easy, affordable access to fresh fruits and vegetables. This year, the Mobile Market has two weekly stops. On Tuesday afternoons from 2-5 pm, we go to Cornell Scott Hill Health Center on Columbus Ave, and on Thursday afternoons from 3-5:30 pm, we set up at Wilmot Crossing, which is an elderly housing development and a satellite of the Cornell Scott Hill Health Center. The Mobile Market will be open for business from now until September 18.
In order to make our produce accessible to as many people as possible, we accept Senior Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program and WIC checks, and we give a 50 percent discount to customers who qualify for SNAP. We don’t cover costs with sales alone – the Agency on Aging of South Central Connecticut is providing a mini-grant to Common Ground in hopes we can increase seniors’ access to fresh produce.
The market attracted a lot of attention the first day! Napa cabbage, green cabbage, collard greens, blueberries, and scallions have all been hot sellers. We even received news coverage in the New Haven Independent.
Stephen is a rising senior at Common Ground High School. This is his second year working the Mobile Market. After graduating next year, he wants to study zoology in college.
Tom is a rising senior at Yale University. He studies Political Science with a concentration in Education and aspires to be a history teacher.
The Mobile Market is staffed by a combination of youth from Common Ground’s Green Jobs Corps and Common Ground staff. In prior years, Cityseed coordinated the Mobile Market, while Common Ground strictly provided produce. However, this year, Common Ground has taken over all operations. This means Stephen, a Common Ground High School student employed through the Green Jobs Corps, is the only member of this year’s staff that has previous experience with the Mobile Market. He has already taken a lead role in this year’s sales and outreach, even though he is the only youth staff member.
In addition to working at the Mobile Market, we (Stephen and Tom) both work on Common Ground’s farm, so we help to grow and harvest the veggies we sell. It’s a great feeling to see our produce all the way through to the customers, so we hope to see a lot of you out at the Mobile Market this summer!