As you probably know, I’ve been participating in the Lowcountry Local First “Eat Local Challenge” for the month of April. Since participating in this challenge, I’ve had my eyes opened to all the incredible opportunities afforded to me in the Lowcountry. I used to think that if I wanted to shop for local produce, my only option was to stop at the Veggie Bin, try to make it to the Farmers Market downtown on Saturdays, or start growing veggies in my backyard. But there are actually tons of shops, markets, and farms, and farmers markets around Charleston if you know where to look for them and don’t mind driving a bit out of your way to get there.
Recently, I discovered a really awesome Kickstarter campaign called Lowcountry Street Grocery, that wants to take an old school bus and convert it into a farmers market on wheels. Transforming the traditional farmers market model into a mobile venture would allow them to serve areas in and around Charleston that wouldn’t normally have access to fresh, healthy, and (most importantly) affordable food.
I think at its core, the idea of putting a farmers market onto a bus sounds like a really cool idea. But that’s just the beginning. I spoke to associate director Kate Dewitt who said that they have big plans for LSG. They want to make the process of ordering fresh produce as convenient and seamless as possible, so they’re going to incorporate online ordering, and easy pick-up so that eating healthy can be just as easy as going through a drive-thru.
They’re also putting a huge amount of focus on serving those who wouldn’t ordinarily be able to afford the premium that’s often associated with healthier food, like people on the SNAP program. They also want to incorporate an educational element that instructs people on different elements, such as nutrition, tutorials, garden starter kits, mobile gardens, meal kits, cooking demos, information on food storage and preparation… the possibilities are seemingly endless.
“We already operate a school garden at Memminger for grades 3-6 which was designed to incorporate agriculture into their science and math curriculums. They learn about growing food that’s good for you, your bodies, the environment, and the community, as well. Really creating a healthier community means more than just having a point of sale. You have to know how to incorporate it into your life in a meaningful way.”
LSG has already leased a farm in Ravenel, SC where they’re growing crops such as microgreens that might soon find their way onto the bus. They’re also planning on partnering with local, up and coming farms like Spade & Clover in order to create mutually beneficial relationships to support local farmers. The idea of uplifting the community truly comes full circle for Lowcountry Street Grocery.
LSG’s Kickstarter officially launched April 3, and they have until May 5th to raise the $40,000 they need to purchase and retrofit an old school bus into 2-aisle grocery store on wheels. At the time of writing, they had raised about 38% of their goal with 19 days left. Their Kickstarter is full of awesome rewards for contributing to their campaign, including a Benefit Dinner at Edmund’s Oast; a “backyard garden blitz,” where members of the LSG team will come and build a raised-bed garden in your home; and a 1-year online pre-order + $150 opening credit that also gives a 1-year pre-order to 2 SNAP recipients so that everyone can benefit from this great service. However, Kickstarter is an all or nothing deal. If they don’t raise at least $40,000 by May 5th, they won’t get a single dollar that was pledged through Kickstarter. Don’t delay; join me in supporting this awesome cause today!