The Berkshire Eagle 
May 23, 2024 

Last fall, a new concept in Berkshire County farmers markets rolled out one day a week to three locations to sell locally grown produce and locally sourced staples.

Launched using a three-year U.S. Department of Agriculture grant worth $890,293, the Berkshire Mobile Farmers Market visited so-called food deserts — like in Becket where the nearest grocery stores are miles away — and places where food insecurity, exacerbated by lack of transportation to a market, like in Pittsfield and North Adams. The mobile farmers market gets produce to people who need it.

2024 Berkshires Mobile Farmers Market locations, schedule

The Berkshire Mobile Farmers Market delivers fresh, locally farmed and sourced produce and other foods to areas of the county where markets are few and far between and/or where there’s food insecurity. The market is open to all and it offers a FairShare Payment System that works for shoppers on a budget. For more information:

Going into its second season, the 2024 Mobile Farmers Market opens June 25 and runs through Oct. 18, having expanded its locations and the length of its season. The schedule is as follows.

  • North Adams: Armory, 206 Ashland St.; Thursdays, noon to 2 p.m.
  • Adams: CHP Parking Lot, 19 Depot St.; Fridays, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
  • Pittsfield: 18 Degrees, 480 West St.; Thursdays, 3 to 5 p.m.
  • Pittsfield: Second Street Second Chances, 264 Second St.; Wednesdays, 3 to 5 p.m.
  • Becket: Park Pavilion at Town Hall, 557 Main St.; Fridays, 3:30 to 6 p.m.
  • Monterey: Community Center, 468 Main Road; Tuesdays, 12:30 to 3 p.m.

Over the course of the inaugural 10-week run, 1,300 people shopped the mobile farmers market and the majority, 69 percent, went home with free or lower-cost groceries through a fair-share payment system. Meanwhile, the Berkshire Mobile Farmers Market supported 27 regional farms through wholesale buys totaling $31,532.

The Berkshire Mobile Farmers Market will visit six sites this season, adding Monterey, Adams and a second location in Pittsfield.

Operated locally by Berkshire Bounty, Berkshire Grown and other partners, a mobile farmers market retail manager drives the van full of produce to a site, sets up a tent and opens for business.

The need for food across Berkshire County has risen in recent months, according to Morgan Ovitsky, executive director of Berkshire Bounty.

Berkshire Bounty serves 29 food pantries and reports a 32 percent increase in the number of people seeking free food at the end of 2023 compared to the beginning.

Feeding America is a nationwide network of food banks, food pantries and local meal programs. The organization tracks food insecurity rates — which the U.S. government defines as “limited or uncertain access to adequate food” — in the United States. Its 2021 estimate put Berkshire County’s rate of food insecurity at 8.9 percent, which translates into 11,500 people living here.

“Several things lead us to believe this number is much higher now,” Ovitsky said.

She points to the end of federal stimulus money that funded the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program emergency allotment, along with an influx in immigrants, inflation and the high cost of food.