Sometimes when studies of produce consumption in urban areas are undertaken, researchers find “food deserts” – places where consumers just don’t have access to fresh fruits and vegetables. Recently Coast Produce helped to dry up one of these “deserts” by supplying fresh produce to So Fresh Market, a new open air market located at a local church parking lot. Interestingly, the owner of Coast Produce, John Dunn, started a new entity, Fresh Hope, LLC, to pursue this and other similar opportunities to create access and promote consumption of fruits and vegetables. Fresh Hope is the parent company of So Fresh Market.
Previously, Coast Produce Company donated fruits and vegetables to the church’s summer youth enrichment program and, from there, the organizations established a relationship. I spoke with Coast President Jin Ju Wilder about So Fresh and she noted that, in addition to providing peak-of-the-season produce, the market taps into local talent – from the fresh foods being prepared to the helpful and friendly staff working under the tents to live music or dance performances by local artists. Also, shoppers can talk with produce experts to get information and answers to questions.
According to Jin Ju, the in-market produce experts are very knowledgeable about all aspects of fresh produce – growing, harvesting, nutrition and, most importantly, taste. She added that the experts “rove throughout the market’s produce tents, providing advice and samples to patrons. By giving customers a taste of and information about new produce items, we hope we will encourage repeat visits and spark ‘word of mouth’ about something we are very passionate about – fresh, great tasting fruits and vegetables!”
PMA believes sustainability is represented by the three “Ps”: planet (that is, environmental issues); people (social/labor issues); and prosperity (economic success). Efforts like Coast’s highlight how to work with local organizations to improve the health of the community it lives and works in. Kudos to Jin Ju and her team for their work on this admirable effort. If you have a sustainability story to share, please let us know.