What do you do when one of America’s most popular music festivals necessitates a relocation of your farmer’s market for two critical weekends in the springtime? Some markets may despair and look at the disruption as a loss. But Elizabeth Garrett and the staff at HOPE Farmer’s Market decided to turn the annual SXSW displacement into a major opportunity.
They came up with the idea of neighborhood pop-up markets – mobile markets that would show up in neighborhoods in East Austin known for being food deserts. And they wouldn’t limit themselves to SXSW, either. These markets would pop up weekly in the same location for anywhere from one to three months, and then after establishing CSA relationships with residents, move on to other neighborhoods in need of fresh food.
I met up with Elizabeth, HOPE’s Market Manager, at the first such pop-up market in the Cherrywood neighborhood of East Austin. Mid-day on a Wednesday, the small market was bustling with customers. The pop-up market is truly made in a collaborative spirit, with area businesses providing the lot space necessary for the markets to take place, and with neighborhood vendors providing goods that are suited to the demographic they serve.
Because HOPE’s pop-up markets are still in the prototype phase, there are many possibilities for new ways to serve the community. One of the most exciting goals is a collaborative effort between Elizabeth, Ramon Martinez of HOPE Likes Bikes, and design students at the University of Texas. They’re working to build bicycle-towed farm stands that are fully mobile and can bring fresh produce deep into the food deserts of East Austin. What a pop-up concept!