Mobile produce market starts Friday in Hamilton

Hamilton Urban Gardens Systems will be selling produce grown out of their Commerce Park and Trenton gardens, as well as from SMURFS (Sustainable Methods Utilizing Resourceful Farming Systems) Organics beginning Friday at the Fitton Family YMCA, and beginning Aug. 15 at the Booker T. Washington Community Center and at Partners in Prime.

Ashley Fore, an Integrated Studies major at Miami University Hamilton who sits on HUGS’ Board of Directors, said that the mobile market aimed to bring organic produce to neglected areas of the city.

“People will make better food choices if there is better availability,” she said.

According to HUGS Executive Director Alfred Hall, the plan is to have the mobile market running Monday, Wednesday, and Friday through October, but this season, Hall anticipates only running on Fridays until they get more than one driver. Indian Springs Baptist Church, 250 Hancock Ave., donated a bus for the market to use, but for the present Hall and co-director Patty Burbacher will be running the market out of a van while they put finishing touches on the bus.

Hall, who started nonprofit HUGS with Burbacher in 2011, said that they chose the three locations to bring produce to the largest amount of people who didn’t have easy access to fruits and vegetables.

He said the Fitton YMCA made sense to cater to members who might not have time to get to the Hamilton Historic Farmer’s Market, at 101 High St., on Saturday mornings.

“The fact that they belong to the Y means that they’re health-conscious, so it was a natural fit,” Hall said.

Fitton Family YMCA Executive Director Amy Durbin said that the partnership came from a request from members.

“We’re supporting our community and giving them an outlet where it’s convenient to buy healthy food,” she said.

Booker T. Washington is important to Hall because the area surrounding it is “a food desert.” When it begins serving from the center on August 15, the mobile market will work with the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) to enable all residents in the community to be able to purchase their fresh vegetables, baked goods, and house wares.

The center’s executive director Butch Hubble said that having the market parked at the center will be “a tremendous benefit.”

“There are families that will welcome him out in the snow,” he added.

Bringing the market to the senior center at Partners in Prime would give older Hamilton residents the chance to buy fresh produce, even if their gardening days are behind them, Hall said.

Christy Quincy, president for Partners in Prime, said that the partnership helped to provide vibrant physical, social, and spiritual opportunities for their members.

“The fresh produce not only provides physical nourishment, but brings the community together for a wonderful social experience,” she said.

SMURFS co-owner Sarah Smith said that she and her husband Ryan partnered with HUGS to help Hamilton expand its community efforts.

“The mobile market is another step toward having a foundation to distribute organic vegetables and local goods (in Hamilton),” she said.

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