This old transit bus brings fresh produce to Edmonton-area seniors homes
'Everyone had their hands up when they announced they were coming again,' says senior
The farmer's market on wheels weaves its way through 10 stops at seniors homes in the Edmonton area.
The CD Fresh Express provides seniors with fresh produce right at their front doors. Though the service only started seven weeks ago, Andrew Lineker's phone has been ringing off the hook with people who want the portable farmer's market.
"[We get] about 250 to about 300 people every two hours," Lineker told CBC's Radio Active.
Lineker worked in farmer's markets for two years. "People tended to tell me, 'You've got great stuff, but there's nothing we need,' " he said. "I just had to look for a different way to reinvent the wheel."
After seeing a video of a portable market in the U.S., he thought something similar would work here. He bought an old Red Deer transit bus with a accessibility ramp and took a risk.
"All of a sudden, it just took off," he said.
Cheap and fresh
Dorothy Reimer lives at Pleasantview Place, where the CD Fresh Express has been coming for a few weeks now.
"We really enjoy it," Reimer said. "Everyone had their hands up when they announced they were coming again."
She said the portable market not only saves her a trip to the grocery store but is also cheaper than Safeway or Walmart.
Sandra Patrie, who also lives at Pleasantview, agreed with Reimer.
"If I go to the grocery store, with what I got I'd be paying a lot more," Patrie said. "Maybe double."
Lineker said he's able to keep prices low because he has direct relationships with farmers. He stocks his bus with produce and baked goods that are as locally sourced as possible. Anything not in season or grown in Alberta is bought from B.C. or from California.
He said his products are fresher than those found in grocery stores. "We don't really warehouse anything," he said. "It comes in and goes out."
With the demand he has received, Lineker is looking to expand his market fleet to two or three buses. He said he has heard of a big demand in south Edmonton and is making note of places he calls "food deserts."
"A food desert is a place where there is a grocery store that is either inaccessible or not within a region that is easily accessible, and it's a little more difficult to obtain fresher food at a good price," he said.
If and when Lineker expands, he hopes to go to those food deserts to give residents another option for fresh produce.
With files from Rod Kurtz