2023 Local Hero Awardee: Go Fresh Mobile Market
Each year, CISA presents Local Hero Awards to farms, businesses, or individuals who exemplify our mission of strengthening farms and engaging the community to build the local food economy. We applaud their hard work, social responsibility, and many contributions to sustaining local agriculture.
The Go Fresh Mobile Market, which is operated by Wellspring Cooperative, brings fresh, local produce to over 20 sites around Springfield and serves as an essential HIP and SNAP access point for the communities they serve.
The Go Fresh Mobile Market is now in its 13th year. It started out as a project of the Public Health Institute of Western Massachusetts, and then was run by the Springfield YMCA, which is when Market Manager Riley Gilroy and Assistant Market Manager Monica Hernandez both came on, and it finally landed with Wellspring two years ago. This history speaks to the fact that this market exists because of the input, labor, and support of many people and institutions over many years. And that continues to be the case: while a mobile market is such a straightforward solution to many of the specific challenges that many people face in accessing fresh produce (whether that is mobility challenges, being able to access sites that process HIP, or being able to find and afford culturally relevant products), that doesn’t mean it’s easy. It requires a lot of organizational support, funding for the equipment, and daily sweat equity to source the food and set up for each market.
Riley and Fred Rose, who is a co-director at Wellspring, both talk about how important the input of customers is to the way the market is run, especially when it comes to sourcing foods that people want to eat. They prioritize relationships with their shoppers and with the farmers they source from, and they rely heavily on those relationships to find new farmers to buy from, which includes a particular focus on sourcing from BIPOC farmers.
Last year, the market ran year-round for the first time. Now, they are expanding to a second van so they can serve more communities, and are especially focused on expanding their reach to younger populations and families. It’s exciting to hear about this growth and to think about what this can mean for people in Springfield and beyond. So for all of this success so far, and the growth to come, CISA is proud to present a 2023 Local Hero Award to the Go Fresh Mobile Market.