Boise Mobile Farmers’ Market
A diverse group of farmers, University of Idaho Extension educators, advocates, city officials and committed citizens in Boise are teaming up to answer questions related to food, hunger and local agriculture.
Fresh, local produce
A Mobile Farmer’s Market is now on the road, bringing fresh, local produce to Boise neighborhoods. The mobile market is an offshoot of the popular Boise Farmers’ Market, a producer-driven Saturday market held downtown. The mobile market was piloted in summer 2015, visiting six public parks and low income housing developments for 10 weeks.
“We are trying to find ways we can get fresh, local, healthy foods and awareness to low and middle income members of our community,” said UI Extension Educator Ariel Agenbroad. “We’re also interested in finding out if better access to and education about choosing local, healthy foods will increase consumption and improve community wellness.”
Last year’s efforts were put into action with very little lead time, infrastructure or marketing. Despite those hurdles, the mobile market was successful in increasing access to locally grown, healthy foods among individuals in lower-income and underserved neighborhoods. It was also clear that to become sustainable for farmers and the community, the mobile market would need to refine its concept and engage additional community partners to plan strategically for success and financial security.
UI Extension, together with the Boise Farmers’ Market, Let’s Move Boise, the City of Boise, the Partnership for Livable Communities, the Idaho Farmer’s Market Association and the Idaho Huger Relief Task Force, convened after that initial pilot of the mobile market to determine a vision, mission and business plan for the effort.
The updated mobile market emerged in June with a new wheelchair accessible van, courtesy of the Idaho Women’s Charitable Foundation, a paid manager and a UI Extension student intern. Part of the interns’ responsibilities include streamlining the financial side of the market, as well as conducting on-site research on customer attitudes and preferences. An analysis between the mobile market’s prices on common fruits and vegetables and those at the nearest alternatives for each site on the route is also being compiled.
The mobile market’s route was redesigned to include a stop at the UI Extension, Ada County office and a senior living community. Faculty and staff from UI Extension are hosting short activities and demonstrations during the one hour stop on Monday’s.
Nutrition advisors from the UI Extension Eat Smart Idaho program are also offering nutrition information and samples at the mobile market each week. Providing samples of recipes with the market produce encourages limited resource Idahoans to eat healthy and be physically active. The advisors are also promoting the Long Live Idaho campaign, a statewide initiative aimed at parents and caregivers. The partnership with the mobile market aligns with the Eat Smart Idaho mission, to increase access and ability of limited resource Idahoan’s to make healthy choices.
The market accepts cash, cards, EBT (food stamps) and Sprouts Kids Tokens (available weekly to children at the Saturday market). There is up to a $20 match every visit when customers use their EBT cards to purchase fruits and vegetables, which makes the food very affordable.
“We are closely studying the Boise mobile farmers’ market with hopes that what we learn about their challenges and successes will benefit others in the state and beyond. We believe that the mobile market model has great potential to help us reach our long term goals,” Agenbroad said. “These goals include strengthening and stabilizing community food systems to sustain the production and consumption of more local, healthy food.”
What Good Farmers Markets Do
Find out from Eat Smart Idaho