Donna Pearson McClish, right, and Sam Walker set up a farmer's market outside the Sedgwick County Health Department in Wichita.

Wichita Mobile Farmers Market Brings Produce To Seniors

A Wichita woman takes her farmers market on the road to people who don’t have easy access to fruits and vegetables.

Donna Pearson McClish runs the Common Ground Producers and Growers mobile farmers market. The market will wrap up its fifth season in a few weeks.

She set up shop outside the Sedgwick County Health Department on Wednesday. Two tables were stocked with bins of tomatoes, cucumbers and scallions. Jalapeno peppers were in small containers. She also had okra this day, but it sold out at an earlier stop.

“Before the day is over, we will be sold out completely,” McClish says.

The mobile market buys produce from farmers in Sedgwick and Harvey counties and then sells it at 33 locations each month. Her goal is to serve so-called “food deserts” in the community—those areas where residents don’t have a grocery store. McClish works with the Sedgwick County Department on Aging to identify locations with the most need.

Most of the stops are at senior living facilities. The mobile market offers fresh produce for seniors who have limited transportation or mobility issues.

“You get to know the stops, and normally they are waiting for us,” McClish says.
Credit Deborah Shaar / KMUW / KMUW Alicia Martinez stocks up on fresh produce at the mobile farmer's market on Wednesday.
Alicia Martinez saw the produce stand as she was leaving the health department with her toddler son. She was a first-time customer.

“I bought some tomatoes, cucumbers, jalapenos,” Martinez says. “My kids just love vegetables.”

McClish started the mobile farmers market four years ago. The number of stops she makes has tripled since then. She likes that she’s cultivating a community, and a faithful customer base.

“They don’t want us to stop, but we have to say, ‘When the produce is gone, you know, we don’t do delivery until it starts up next season,’ ” she says.

The mobile market runs June to mid-October.

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