The Farm Mobile truck — whose wares range from organic produce to premium beef — recently became a late Thursday afternoon mainstay there after a very successful initial test run.
“It’s been really great; the faculty’s been very supportive,” said Donna Toepfer, Farm Mobile’s Decatur-based shopkeeper. “People from the Brookhaven community are coming on campus to shop … it’s been a really nice partnership.”
Existing and prospective patrons will find the farmers market set up for business in the keyhole loop, just inside Oglethorpe’s main entrance on Thursdays from 3 to 5:30 p.m.
The market is operated by northeast Georgia-based Riverview Farms. The primary wares featured on the truck — equipped with a freezer and refrigerator — are Riverview’s specialties, including grass-fed beef, Berkshire pork and organic vegetables. Hand-cut steaks, roasts, ribs, pork chops, deli meats and sausages highlight those offerings.
Farmers markets in general are increasingly becoming a viable option for consumers. Moreover, direct marketing of farm products through farmers markets continues to be an important sales outlet for agricultural producers nationwide. As of mid-2011, there were 7,175 such markets operating throughout the country — a 17 percent increase from 2010, according to a USDA online report. Farm Mobile also collaborates with several businesses to give the latter a leg up as part of the venture.
“They’re either a sustainable business or using other local Georgia goods for their products,” Toepfer said.
On average, between seven and 10 other merchants’ items can be perused on the Farm Mobile truck on a given day. Their offerings include pasta, dumplings, bread, jams, cheese, chicken and lamb.
For all its early success, the Farm Mobile project has experienced some difficulty in attracting a favorable number of Oglethorpe University students, insiders said.
“I think the reasonable explanation is that students don’t cook as much,” Toepfer said with a laugh. “Sure, they’ll come buy bread … but things like beef roast are typically not their bag.”