Produce market draws big crowd
By RODD CAYTON The Daily News Jun 26, 2016
FORT MOHAVE — The harvest came Saturday.
The pickers were area residents with a hankering for fresh produce.
More than 400 of them, some before dawn, took part in the WOW Produce Market, which was taking place in Fort Mohave for the first time.
The market arose from the combined efforts of the Mojave Desert Nutrition Initiative, Caring Hearts Food Ministry and Borderlands Food Bank, said chief site director Betty Rae.
The market offered customers an assortment of fruits and vegetables for a $15 donation.
Among items that each could take were:
w One pumpkin.
w Four melons
w Nine summer squash
w Six bell peppers.
w Five pounds of grape tomatoes and 18 vine-ripened tomatoes.
The produce, Rae said, was rejected by major grocers and food distributors; not because it was rotten, but because items had imperfections such as blemishes, rain stains, or irregular size or shape.
Rae said “what’s wrong with this?” was a regular utterance by market shoppers, indicating that they thought the produce was of desired quality.
The effort to bring the statewide program to Mohave County was the idea of Rae’s husband, Dan Miller, she said. The couple had identified a substantial level of food insecurity in the area, Rae said.
Shoppers were lined up at the Amazing Grace Fellowship Church 30 minutes before the market’s 6 a.m. opening, Rae said, and some of the roughly 35 volunteers were at the site at 3 a.m.
The produce was grown near Nogales. Borderlands typically distributes it closer to Phoenix and Tucson, Rae said, and the Fort Mohave launch is the first time the market has been in an outlying area.
Any proceeds left over after expenses will stay with local nonprofits, Rae said. Any food still there was to be distributed as part of Caring Hearts’ regular work.
Rae said the WOW market is able to help people in all parts of the Tri-state, including Kingman and Lake Havasu City. Many food-bank programs serve only residents of the communities they’re in, she said.
Rae said plans are to have a WOW market each month, likely the third or fourth Saturday of the month. The next WOW market is scheduled for July 23.
People who registered will be put on a mailing list for a monthly newsletter, which will have up-to-date schedule information and a list of what produce will be available.
The initial market was a “resounding success,” she said, adding that it may expand to Lake Havasu and Kingman locations if enough demand is found.
Carol Russell of Fort Mohave said she has found it hard to find fresh produce. She said she’ll share her box of produce with a friend and that she expects it to last a couple of weeks.
Russell said she found the volunteers friendly and informative and will be back next month.