The Boston Public Market Is Debuting a Farm Stand on Wheels
The Boston Public Market thrives on its brick and mortar location. Wandering the aisles—chatting with vendors, smelling the fresh flowers, sampling an apple cider doughnut here and a fresh strawberry there—makes the space come alive.
But a physical home base comes with its own set of limitations. “The reality is, we’re located in the neighborhood we’re located in, and there are lots of neighborhoods of Boston that have much less access to fresh, local produce,” says Director of Programming and Community Engagement Mackenzie Sehlke. “We really felt like we needed an opportunity to take the show on the road.”
She means that literally. In July, the BPM Blueberry—a bright blue, electric “produce trike”—will hit the streets, essentially serving as a mobile farm stand.
“It was definitely a DIY design project from our staff’s perspective, to get it into vending shape,” Sehlke laughs. “It’s amazing what you can find on the Internet.”
Sehlke says the Blueberry will primarily visit community spaces and underserved neighborhoods, spreading fresh produce far beyond the BPM’s walls.
“We’re looking at it as a literal vehicle for us to take healthy food messaging to existing community spaces,” Sehlke says. “I’d like to take it to schools, we’d like to take it to community centers, I think public libraries would be fun.”
The Blueberry will debut at City Hall’s summer meals program on July 7, then pedal right on over to the Boston Children’s Museum’s Fresh Fridays celebration that evening. Thanks to an underwrite from the Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Foundation, during Fresh Fridays the trike will be stocked with local produce that kids can peruse and take home for free.
Sehlke is hoping the cost-free model expands beyond Fresh Fridays, too. “It’s one thing to take produce into neighborhoods that don’t have access, but making sure it’s affordable as well as available is really important to us,” she says, adding that the market is exploring an “opt-in, but no cost” CSA program.
Look out for the Blueberry—and the watermelon-print-helmet-clad BPM staffers driving it—starting next week, and continuing as long as Boston’s bike lanes are plowed and clear. The market is also actively seeking community partners to visit, so email Sehlke at [email protected] if you’d like the Blueberry to come to you.