For some people, the problem with farmers markets is getting there.
With working parents with kids, its hard to get to the market. It becomes a special event, said Guenevere Abernathy, a former real estate development executive in Durham. We wondered, How can we put local food right in front of people?
So Abernathy created LoMo Market, the Triangles first mobile farmers market. It launched May 3 and now has nine weekly stops, including early evenings in several Durham neighborhoods and midday at a Chapel Hill wellness center and a Raleigh office park.
A white pickup pulls a trailer with insides that resemble the produce aisles at Whole Foods: bags of peaches and baskets overflowing with kale, leeks and cucumbers, each festooned with a small sign naming the farm and town where it was grown.
Beyond fresh produce, theres a freezer case filled with bacon, chicken breasts and Italian sausage, all from North Carolina farms. In the refrigerator case are local eggs from Lattas Egg Ranch, cheese from Elodie Farms and prepared food from the Triangle Raw Foodists. Theres even a rack holding baked goods from Scratch bakery in Durham and bags of North Carolina wheat flour and cornmeal.
Prices are comparable to what you pay at the smaller farmers markets, such as in Carrboro and Durham.
Abernathy, a founder of Greenfire Development and a business start-up consultant, became enamored with the local food scene and decided to start her own business to help farmers get their food to market in a way that is more convenient for consumers.
When they started in May, they had five stops. Then Abernathy ran an online campaign in which the public nominated and voted for future stops. People could even vote with their dollars, pledging money to be redeemed for purchases at the mobile market if their favored stop became reality.
Abernathy says they will launch a third campaign seeking nominations and votes for additional stops soon.
Farmers and local food purveyors drop off their goods at Abernathys small warehouse and office in downtown Durham. She and a couple of employees load the truck each day before it heads out.
Last week, Abernathy and her employee, John Spencer, the former registrar at Dukes law school, set up for the first time in the back parking lot at Seaboard Station, a retail development near downtown Raleigh. Before they opened at 6 p.m., two women pulled up, ready to shop.
Are you guys open yet? Kara Curtis asked.
Not yet, Spencer replied, while setting up a computer to accept credit-card payments.
While waiting, Curtis explained that she had recently mused to a friend about wanting a more convenient way to buy local food. She recalled saying: Wouldnt it be great if they could come around the neighborhood like an ice-cream truck?
While thats not exactly LoMo Markets model, Curtis was excited when she saw a note about LoMo Market on her Mordecai neighborhood listserv the next day. She immediately pledged to spend $25 at the market if the Seaboard Station location was selected. For Curtis, the stop is on the way home from work at her Capital Boulevard office.
Other shoppers also were lured by the convenient time and location. Sandy Scherer, who lives in the Oakwood neighborhood, also stopped to shop: : Its just very convenient, and I like to be able to support local farmers and know that our food didnt come from halfway around the world.