Meeting Mattapan

The Mattapan Food & Fitness Coalition’s Vigorous Youth group help us sketch ideas for a mobile farm stand

This past Saturday was a really exciting day for us BR-A-CE folk – we got to meet with the staff of Mattapan Food & Fitness Coalition and, more importantly, their youth group, Vigorous Youth, to discuss further logistics and design ideas for the Mattapan Mobile Farm Stand project.  We met in Mattapan at the public library, a beautiful building in a totally vibrant neighborhood.  Vivien Morris from MFFC organized the meeting, and I think I speak for all of BR-A-CE when I say how lucky I feel that her strong and wise guiding hand is on the project.  MFFC is already participating in a number of food & nutrition activities in the Mattapan area, which I had known but was impressed by all over again.  I definitely think there are smart ways the Mobile Farm Stand can slot in organically into their existing work.

Some of the biggest questions on the table for the meeting were further operational logistics – namely, who will actually be running the stand, how often, and how will we pay them?  But it was fairly obvious immediately that the Vigorous Youth would be the perfect staffing: the assembled group – Glorie, Shavel’le, Holden, Jonathan, Stanley, and Kingsley – were all such a joy to meet.   We’ll all be fundraising for this summer, not just for the construction of the stand but also for the funds to cover the youth’s staff time for at least this first season.

We also discussed quite a bit about potential routes and sites for the stand to travel to throughout a typical summer weekday.  Blue Hill Avenue, the main street in Mattapan, is on a considerable slope, a definite factor when considering pedaling some sort of cargo-tricycle laden with produce!  The conversation proved to me all over again the importance of partnering with existing community groups – the MFFC and Vigorous Youth know their neighborhood inside and out.  Local knowledge is such an undersung and vital resource.

Perhaps most fun of all was the little design charrette we held at the meeting, presenting our design considerations and passing around blank paper for the Youth and MFFC staff to start brainstorming some fun ideas about the stand’s appearance and operations.    The responses ranged from a cart shaped like a banana to a motorcycle-tank hybrid pulling a fruit sled to a series of small “satellite” carts deployed from a mothership – so fun and creative.

Looking ahead, our next big push is to advertise our FUNDRAISER!  May 5th, next Saturday, we’ll be hosting a Bike & Stroller Clinic at Harvard’s Democracy Center from 10:00 – 4:00, fixing bikes and strollers up for the season in exchange for a small donation.  We’re spending some time this week flyering and getting the word out, so if you’ve got a bike (or two!) in need of maintenance, or just want to stop by and cheer us on and donate to a great cause, please come out!  We’d love to get at least thirty folks committed to coming out.  The money will all go towards the construction and staffing of the mobile farm stand.  See you there-!


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