IGI mobile market returns this season

Farmstand on wheels will make stops at several Island locations.

Island Grown Initiative’s mobile market is up and running starting July 6. — Brittany Bowker

Island Grown Initiative’s mobile market is continuing its mission of providing healthy, farm-fresh produce to the Vineyard community.

For the past three summer seasons, the mobile market (operated out of a colorful van with a bright orange awning) has posted up at different locations on-Island, and sold eggs, squash, potatoes, and all sorts of other nutritious foods.

Starting July 6, the farmstand on wheels will be making hourlong stops at places like the Oak Bluffs library, the Wampanoag Tribal Housing Administration Building in Aquinnah, St. Augustine’s Church in Vineyard Haven, and Martha’s Vineyard Hospital in Oak Bluffs. There will also be a new delivery-only program to Woodside Village, which will reach residents from all six buildings on the Woodside campus, located behind Martha’s Vineyard Community Services in Oak Bluffs, plus residents from other Island Elderly Housing locations.

With the exception of the delivery program for seniors, the only big change to the mobile market program is that people can pick out their food online. In the interest of public health during the pandemic, folks can order from IGI and pick up their food half an hour before the market opens for walkup orders. When placing an online order, it’s important to select one of the locations listed on the “Shop” page, so the order gets delivered to the correct location. Folks can also simply walk up to the market and pick out the food they want. 

For payment, the market accepts cash, check, credit cards, Pandemic EBT (P-EBT), SNAP/HIP, Farmer’s Market Nutrition Program Senior and WIC coupons, and mobile market coupons. For payment by any means other than a credit card, folks can enter the coupon code “pay-at-pickup” during checkout to enable payment in person at pickup.

Food equity and recovery director Sophie Abrams said the online ordering ahead of time is not a requirement, but an option that IGI hopes will allow foot traffic to the mobile market to be staggered, in order to avoid long lines or crowding.

“We are having the staff bag produce by order, so you will be able to pick out the food you want and have it put in a bag by gloved hands,” Abrams said.

According to Abrams, the needs of the community have been constantly changing throughout the pandemic, and food assistance programs on the Island have already seen a doubling in the number of people they serve. “In terms of our mobile market, we have no idea how busy it will be. There has been an increase in SNAP applications and other nutrition access programs, plus we have been hearing that farm stands are doing really well,” Abrams said.

According to Abrams, the market schedule is going to make a little bit of a switch in the fall. In an effort to make the mobile market a year-round service, IGI will run the market through February, and some stops will be moving to an indoor location.

“We will continue to provide the same service we have been for the past three years, but with a few twists that are meant to expand the number of people we reach,” Abram said. “We are all really excited for this year.”