A grocery store on wheels hits the road for the first time Tuesday, June 25.
Sprout, a food hub based in Little Falls, developed a new outlet for increasing access to fresh local foods in rural central Minnesota with its Mobile Market. The aim of the project is to bring food out of the aisles and on the road to areas that lack access to healthy, nutritious foods, while also adding a new platform for local growers to sell their products. All community members are welcome to shop at the Sprout Mobile Market, which will highlight fresh produce in addition to other basic staples like eggs, bread and meat.
The Mobile Market is launching two regularly scheduled stops in Staples and Pine River. Every other Tuesday beginning June 25, the Mobile Market will pop up in the parking lot of Sourcewell, 202 12th St. NE, Staples, 11 a.m.-1 p.m. and Happy Dancing Turtle, 2331 Dancing Wind Road SW, Pine River, 3-5 p.m. While the Mobile Market is focusing on just two pop-up locations to start, community members are invited to contact Sprout at email@example.com or 320-412-3081 to recommend a location that could benefit from access to the mobile grocery store. For updates on the Mobile Market schedule and location, visit www.sproutmn.com/mobilemarket.
Local artists will additionally enhance the shopping experience through interactive engagement as a part of Sprout's À la cARTe Initiative. A cohort of four artists built mobile art studios that will travel alongside the Mobile Market. The artists participating in the project are Lisa Jordan of Brainerd, Maria Ervasti of Staples, Heidi Jeub of Little Falls and Tressa Hills of Otsego. Each of the artists utilizes various mediums for engagement including wool felting, painting and jewelry making.
The first artist to hit the road alongside the Mobile Market will be Maria Ervasti on Tuesday, June 25. Ervasti is a traveling art teacher and her new mobile classroom, called the Creative Cart Classroom, is a revamped concession cart with a sink and shelving perfect for cleaning and storing painting supplies. Ervasti's teaching experience also includes a collaborative weaving project between Eagle Valley School students and Central Todd County Care Center residents, which exemplifies her adaptability to work with diverse populations.
"An important aspect of this mobile art project is that the artists engage with community members of a variety of experience and abilities." stated Natalie Keane of Sprout in a news release. "Accessible food and art for all people are core values at Sprout because both help to cultivate creativity and improve personal well being."
The Mobile Market and À la cARTe Initiative are funded by the McKnight Foundation, Otto Bremer Trust, Lakewood Health System and Mardag Foundation. The project is coordinated by Sprout, Region Five Development Commission and Five Wings Arts Council.