On Tuesday, the bed of the Veggie Truck was filled with potting soil and backed up to long wooden boxes that will become raised planting areas behind St. Luke United Methodist Church in Harrisburg.
Pensola Parsons was filling them up slowly, by the shovelful, but she wasn’t sure she would be the one who would eventually raise a garden in them.
“I really think I’m doing it for someone else, which is OK,” she said. “When you help another person, you’re actually helping yourself.”
Several dozen people showed up despite chilly, windy conditions for the first Veggie Truck Market on the grounds of the church, an effort by several groups to create a market for local farmers to sell goods and offer other services, such as cooking tips and health screenings.
It will be held every Tuesday afternoon throughout the summer and fall, organizers said.
It took different partners to make some services work; for instance, market organizers have a grant from Wholesome Wave Georgia to double the purchases of fresh produce made using state or federal food benefits.
It took another grant from the Brannan Foundation to get the equipment to use the cards, said Dr. Kimberly Vess Halbur, the associate dean for diversity affairs at Medical College of Georgia at Georgia Regents University.
“They couldn’t do the machinery,” she said, which will also allow the farmers to sell to those customers.
The $10,000 grant also allows GRU students to work in different areas at the market and learn about the impact of health disparities, Halbur said.
“We’re very excited because it puts health disparities and health issues into perspective because they’re here in our backyard,” she said.
Batricia Anghelone had her eye on some farm-fresh eggs as she and her mother, Cindy Taylor, strolled around with Taylor’s grandchildren, Vernon and Unique Boyles.
“St. Luke’s always does something to help somebody out,” said Taylor, a Harrisburg resident for 20 years, who was hunting some vegetables to serve at Easter.
“It’s a good cause,” Anghelone said.
Adderson’s Fresh Produce of Keysville, Ga., was doing a brisk business despite the cold wind buffeting their display.
“All the beets are gone,” Sam Adderson said. “Green onions are gone.”
Loretta Adderson was offering fried kale chips but had not yet enticed any children to eat them.
“I think they will,” she said optimistically.
The turnout was “really good for the first time,” said market manager Jenny Jia. Few people were using food benefit cards yet but it might take time for people to realize what is available.
“The most powerful thing is word of mouth,” she said.