Being a company dedicated to food security, our success isn’t measured by dollar signs but rather by our social impact. Last year saw no shortage of challenges for us as it did for everyone else.
But it’s because of those challenges that The Farmers’ Truck was able to see real growth, both as a company and as a changemaker.
Although the COVID-19 pandemic created supply and demand issues in more ways than one, we never lost sight of our goals.
Our Operations Manager Kate Pham points out that, “logistics, supply chain, and manufacturing are unpredictable. Obviously, success will never be achieved without any failures or challenges. Rather than being fearful, we make every effort to prepare for these obstacles.”
Our reason for being is to bring fresh, accessible food to every community. And because we saw that need grow exponentially in light of the pandemic, our passion and our drive allowed us to empower more community organizations last year than ever before.
The success that mobile farmers’ markets have had at increasing food access validates our model and our purpose.
But mobile markets are just one piece of the food security puzzle. And for The Farmers’ Truck, that means so many more opportunities and ideas on how to support organizations and empower communities across North America.
We’re so proud of what we were able to accomplish so far, and we’re so excited for the possibilities to come.
“From an idea scribbled on a piece of paper, to operating our own markets, to now empowering so many organizations to launch their programs. It is one of my greatest achievements and makes me happy we can have such an impact on society.”Fred Laforge ~ The Farmers’ Truck CEO
How We Measure Success
Just like snowflakes, no two mobile farmers’ markets are alike. The markets and their organizations operate differently according to the needs of their communities.
Each organization has its own vision and mission depending on the people they serve. And so it’s hard to pigeonhole all mobile markets into one category of operation. They each have unique schedules, offerings, and so on.
But what is common to them all is that they exist to bring healthy food to people living in food deserts.
And with that in mind, it’s helpful to look at the number of households that now have access to fresh, healthy food because of mobile farmers’ markets.
So by providing 13 more organizations with mobile market trucks last year alone, we help to empower 520,000 households across 10 states to access fresh, healthy food every year.
“The fewer people who are struggling to access fresh food, the more certain we are that we are on the right track,” remarks Kate. It’s humbling to know that with the training, resources, and support we provide to our customers, they’re able to make such a big difference in the lives of so many people.
Tanya Kelley, our Grant & Human Resources Manager puts it this way: “Hearing the impact that our clients are making daily in their communities. Knowing that we had even a small part to play in helping to facilitate their growth in order to do more. Those are the stories I bring home to my kids.”
Introducing Our Newest Mobile Farmers’ Market Vehicle – The C-Model
Mobile market trucks are our bread and butter (as if you didn’t know that already!). And just like any other good business, we’re constantly looking for ways to improve and adapt to changing needs.
Revisiting our truck design now and again is part of that process. We want to make sure that community organizations have the right tools to make their mobile market operations sustainable for years to come.
Our Program Development & Outreach Coordinator, Onyinye Ikem-Nwagwu says that the “tenacity of our clients” is the reason she gets excited about work every day.
“They [our clients] are making the most out of minimal resources sometimes, yet they never back down because they know they are fighting for the health and well-being of communities that are sometimes largely unseen.”Onyinye Ikem-Nwagwu ~ Program Development & Outreach Coordinator
We strive to make their jobs easier by giving them the best tools possible to tackle food insecurity. So when they reach out to us, we listen. And through that, our mobile market truck model gets better with each redesign.
Our newest model – the C-Model – takes mobile farmers’ markets to the next level. We came up with more options to suit a broader range of needs and organizations.
Along with a temp-controlled fridge, the entire box is insulated. And both cooling systems can operate in standby mode 24/7.
This means you can offer a greater variety of products and not have to worry about food waste or spoilage. It saves you loading/unloading time and effort which allows you more flexibility with your schedule.
The C-Model truck is also easier to maneuver and park than the previous model, which makes it appealing for use in urban settings.
And if you’re looking for the flexibility of having a detachable mobile farmers’ market, don’t worry, we’ve thought of you too. Our C-Model is also available as a trailer.
(Not sure which type of vehicle is right for you? Check out our thoughts on using trucks and trailers as mobile markets to help you decide.)
Our Program Fundraising Support Services
In reaching out to thousands of community organizations last year, we recognized the growing demand that they’re facing.
Many of them are looking for better ways to reach more people. And they see the advantages that operating a mobile market can have in helping them achieve their mission.
To help organizations secure funding for future mobile markets, we offer program fundraising support. We have a team member dedicated to helping organizations through the entire grant process.
From searching for the right grant to fit their needs to writing the application, we’ve got it covered. We want to remove as many barriers as we can and make the process of launching a mobile market as smooth as possible.
Last year, The Farmers’ Truck helped 43 organizations in the US & Canada with their fundraising efforts. That’s a tenfold increase over the year before.
The fact that mobile farmers’ markets are increasingly seen as playing an integral role in increasing food access bodes well for our future.
As our CEO Fred Laforge remarks, “Every time we help an organization launch a program, we see the direct impact it has in their community. I am excited to do a lot more of that!”
The Farmers’ Truck Team – The Heart of Our Operation
So how was The Farmers’ Truck able to grow exponentially over the last year? “Without the dedication of our team, it would never have been possible,” says Fred.
Everyone on the team shares that same passion for helping people – that is first and foremost. “It is refreshing to be part of a team focusing on impact and sustainability,” adds Onyinye.
And even though everyone is working remotely these days, we’re still a tight-knit group. It’s important that we stay connected with one another and celebrate our little wins along the way.
Because our team has done such incredible work last year expanding our reach and our impact, our team is now growing to match the demand.
The challenges that we’ve faced as far as global instability of all kinds and supply/production issues prove to us that leading with kindness and compassion is the only way to go.
Of course, our incredible customers are a huge part of our success too. Without them, our vision of healthy food access for all would be difficult to attain.
“If you want to go far, go together. I’m glad to see that we all share the same mission in mind and are working together to make the world a better place.”Kate Pham ~ Operations Manager
Providing Leadership and Support to the Mobile Market Community
The mobile farmers’ market community is an inclusive group of organizations that exist to help fight food insecurity. So working together and finding solutions to industry challenges as a whole just makes sense. After all, we’re stronger together when working toward a common goal.
Yes, we sell awesome mobile market trucks, but our company provides this community with so much more. We take the lead in organizing and sponsoring key events and providing much-needed support and guidance to the mobile market community.
The Farmers’ Truck team works hard by attending events throughout North America to highlight the benefits that mobile markets offer in supporting the broader food justice movement.
Did you attend the Mobile Market Summit in Buffalo, New York?1 Or how about the Meals On Wheels America Conference in Arlington, Virginia?2 The Farmers’ Truck was there!
As Onyinye puts it, “The possibilities are endless when you are working on a goal to tackle food insecurity in North America.” So we want to make sure we are there, providing leadership, support, and inspiration every step of the way.
Business Development and Innovation to Address Social Challenges
Because the need for fresh food access across North America is only growing we are continually innovating and adapting our business to meet the demand.
This means finding other sustainable and practical solutions that match the success our mobile markets have had.
“Today, the truck is at the center of the solution, but we have different concepts in the pipeline,” says Onyinye.
For example, our Frash Fridge. It’s kind of like a really large vending machine that lets you pick your own package-free produce and automatically debits your payment card.
It’s super convenient and super easy to use. We’re really excited to see how this could transform food desert communities in the near future.
Besides research and development ideas, The Farmers’ Truck is always on the lookout for funding and growth opportunities too. This way we can be sure that we’re always there to support our incredible customers with whatever challenges arise.
As Fred says, “I love coming up with new ideas on how to address challenging social issues with a social enterprise lense. It changes your perspective on what is possible!”.
The Road Ahead: Continuing With Compassion
Re-envisioning The Farmers’ Truck and doing that successfully amid uncertain times hasn’t been easy. But the last couple of years has shown us that our vision is needed now more than ever.
“The world has gotten a lot more complicated in recent years, and it’s hard to predict what the future holds. One thing I am sure is that we’ll go through what’s next with kindness and compassion. It’s the only way,” remarks Fred.
Who knows what sort of challenges this year will bring. But our team will remain agile so that, as Onyinye puts it, “[we’ll continue to find] consistent solutions that deliver the right results.”
“We have so many ideas to further help our clients, you have no idea [so] stay tuned!”Tanya Kelley ~ Grant & Human Resources Manager
As Kate thinks about the future of The Farmers’ Truck, she says, “We’re excited to see what it has in store for us in the upcoming years. There are several opportunities that we perceive. We have the best team members who are dedicated and share the same mission.”
Tanya adds, “Luckily, we have some of the best customers in the world who share our vision of fresh food access for all, and keeping our team focused on our goal is easily done.”
The future of The Farmers’ Truck looks bright from here!
To read more about what we were up to last year and to get a further glimpse of our impact check out our 2021-22 Annual Report today.