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Let’s eat! Sudbury’s amazing travelling fresh food market

The Sudbury Good Food Project truck and trailer visits eight locations in and around the city each week delivering produce at wholesale prices. The not-for-profit visits places like Alban, Levack, Atikamashing and Markstay as a means of taking care of communities, especially those with no grocery store

Putting wide smiles on people’s faces — that is the kind of work Rylan Stolar wanted to fill his cup.

Stolar runs the Good Food Market for Sudbury and its surrounding areas.  

The non-profit project by Better Beginnings Better Futures started a few years ago with the intention of providing fruits and vegetables at wholesale prices to underserviced areas.  

Each week, Stolar loads up the utility trailer with boxes of fresh carrots, lettuce, zucchini, watermelon and other staples and travels to eight different locations reaching Atikamashing First Nation, Sagamok and Copper Cliff to the west and Markstay to the east.

Stolar also heads north to Levack and Onaping Falls.

Here in the city limits, he visits O’Connor Park in the Flour Mill and Minnow Lake near the dog park.

“Some of these communities like Levack and Onaping Falls have not had a grocery store in 20 years so when we arrive with fresh fruit and vegetables, they are lined up with their bags ready to go,” Stolar said.

Those particular spots in need are Markstay, Alban, Levack and Onaping Falls and the Good Food Market services them all year long. Service ends for all other areas on Oct. 1.

Stolar said the not-for-profit likes to put local first and surprisingly a lot of local produce up for grabs in the utility trailer.

Don Poulin Potatoes in Chelmsford supplies the spuds with its 400 acres of land. The local potatoes are half the price they are in regular stores.

Bauman’s Greenhouse on Lee Valley Road in Massey supplies onions, carrots and corn. This year the Mennonite farm supplied yellow and red watermelon and canteloupes at rock-bottom prices.

“Bauman’s offered watermelons and canteloupes priced between $1.50 and $3 while stores in town were pricing them at $12 a head. I grew up 10 minutes from that farm and did not know that you could grow these melons in this climate,” Stolar said.

He said after produce is exhausted in the city limits, they stretch further into other parts of Ontario and then into Quebec to fill the trailer.

Stolar also delivers for Better Beginnings Better Futures in schools with the Student Nutrition Program. He said he cannot believe how grateful the people who visit his utility trailer are on a daily basis. 

“They tell me how hard it is to find fruits and vegetables. One particular lady has no driver’s licence and walks about one kilometer to get to the trailer each week with her rolling cart. She stockpiles her banana a day each week and I am really not sure what these people would do without the service,” he said.

Stolar said one immigrant family in a neighbouring community came with a $50 bill and cried when they learned how far it could take them in healthy foods. He said they were very appreciative. 

Stolar can relate to the experience growing up in Spanish, west of the city.  

“My parents would get produce once per month, especially in the winter. They would travel to Massey or Espanola and then after the fruits and vegetables were gone, we waited for a new month to visit the grocery store,” he said.

It is evidently clear to Stolar through his upbring that no local grocery store often means the diet suffers.

That’s why he’s excited for another season next year with the utility trailer to service 500 customers and maybe some new ones in each neighbouring community.

Good Food Project is a product of Better Beginnings Better Futures. The program can be contacted at 705 671-1941 extension 258. 

The program is supported by several organizations like the United Way, Sudbury Food Bank, Parkside Centre, Meals on Wheels, Manitoulin Sudbury District Services Board, Public Health Sudbury and Districts, Centre de Sante Communitaire de Grand Sudbury.

It also has a website at GoodFoodBoxSudbury.ca.

Anastasia Rioux is a writer in Greater Sudbury. Let’s eat! is made possible by our Community Leaders Program.