By Josh Paine for UGA CAES News
Mobile farmers markets are rolling again in metro Atlanta to continue serving fresh produce and delivering nutrition education to communities through curbside pickups and digital content.
University of Georgia Cooperative Extension agents and staff have modified the markets to reduce contact, loading mixed bags of produce like corn, onions, squash, potatoes, tomatoes and various fruit right into vehicles for citizens in Fulton and DeKalb counties to reach areas where fresh food can be hard to find or cost-prohibitive for some families.
The Fulton Fresh mobile market runs from now until July 9 and again from July 14 to August 13. The new van, furnished by the county government, will make six stops a week on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays throughout the county.
The Fresh On DeK mobile farmers market will be held from now until September 18 and will make eight stops per week on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays.
Both markets are open to the public, but preregistration online is preferred to assist with contactless pickup. Onsite registration is available for Fulton Fresh for citizens who are unable to register online.
In addition to produce, the markets provide recipe cards and information about online Extension resources to educate consumers about healthy preparation methods and lifestyles.
“The organizations we partner with are always excited to see us,” said Laurie Murrah-Hanson, a 4-H agent in Fulton County. “In the past, people really enjoyed the food demonstrations, and we still wanted to offer similar resources.”
Fulton Fresh, which began in 2012, started a dedicated, grant-funded Kids Market program this year to disseminate smaller bags of produce with recipes and at-home science experiments for youth. Videos of farm tours will be released on social media weekly in conjunction with the mobile market.
UGA Extension staff have also partnered with the Fulton County Library System to provide digital resource lists for students in kindergarten through 12th grade.
“I think stronger partnerships like this are going be a benefit that comes out of the current situation,” said Murrah-Hanson, who is coordinating the Kids Market.
Fresh on DeK, now in its sixth year of operation, has made updates to the market in sourcing and delivery by switching to a free pickup system rather than a walk-up, fee-based model.
“This year, we’re also partnering with a nonprofit called Global Growers to source culturally relevant food for our Clarkston community, which is one of the most diverse parts of the county,” Jamille Hawkins, a Family and Consumer Sciences agent and coordinator of the market.
The mobile markets are an office-wide endeavor across Extension program areas, and support for the programs comes from county governments. Fresh on DeK was made possible with additional funding from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the DeKalb County Board of Health.
For more information about Fulton Fresh and to preregister, visit extension.uga.edu/county-offices/fulton/fulton-fresh and follow on Facebook at facebook.com/UGAExtensionFultonCounty.
Connect with Fresh on Dek by visiting extension.uga.edu/county-offices/dekalb/fresh-on-dek, following on Facebook at facebook.com/FreshonDeK or calling 404-298-4080.