| Amy Porter
HUNTINGTON – The Hilltown Mobile Market brought its fresh, local and affordable produce to Huntington on July 24 for the first time this season. In its second year, the Hilltown Mobile Market is an innovative collaboration to increase the availability of fresh produce to Hilltown residents.
On Thursdays through October 9, the Hilltown Mobile Market will be in Worthington from 2 to 3:30 p.m. at the Maples on Old North Road, and in Cummington from 4:30 to 6 p.m. at the Kingman Tavern on Main St. On Fridays, the van will be in Blandford from 2 to 3:30 p.m. at the Post office on Main Street, and in Huntington from 4:30 to 6 p.m. at the Town Green on Russell Road.
Anyone may come and shop a la carte for the produce from area hilltown farms, which include Crabapple Farm and Berniche Blueberry Farm in Chesterfield; Good Bunch Farm in Charlemont, Hart Farm in Conway, Intervale Farm in Westhampton and Four Corners and Sawyer in Worthington.
The Hilltown Mobile Market also offered 12-week farm shares, which guarantee a share of each week’s harvest and are offered at a sliding scale for $5 to $20 per week that is also eligible for HIP (Healthy Incentives Program) reimbursements. However, the farm shares sold out early this year, so a la carte is the only available option. Customers may pay with cash, credit, debit, SNAP, WIC, or Senior FMNP Coupons.
The success of the pilot season last year resulted in increased grant funding to purchase the market vehicle and add two more communities. The first year (2019), there were two locations and 40 farm shares available. This year, the Mobile Market is in four communities and sold out 80 shares.
Kate Bavelock, director of Community Programs for the Hilltown Community Development Corporation, one of the partners, said a lot of things came together to double its reach this year. She said the program has two goals, to help low-income people have access to healthy food, and to help local farmers with strong direct sales.
Partners include Healthy Hampshire, the Hilltown Food Council and Hilltown Community Development. The Hilltown Mobile Market is possible with grants from Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office, Blue Cross Blue Shield, and Cooley Dickinson Hospital. Collaborators include Hilltown Community Health Centers, the Hlltown Food Pantry, and the Councils on Aging of Huntington, Blandford, Chester and the Northern Hilltown COA Consortium.
Huntington Council on Aging Director Kathleen Peterson, who also serves on the Hilltown Food Council, said she first started working with Healthy Hampshire on bringing fresh food to the hilltowns over four years ago. She said it brings safety, security and food access to the community along with fresh vegetables, and helps many seniors who have to rely on others for transportation to stores. “There’s nothing like fresh vegetables,” Peterson said.