Cape Elizabeth farmers put rubber to the road with farm stand on a bus
CAPE ELIZABETH — Penny Jordan, co-owner of Jordan's Farm, likes to joke that her farm is going "back to the future" – on a renovated school bus.
In an office behind her farm store on Wells Road, she has a decades-old photo of a mobile farm stand from which another Cape farm sold vegetables before the days of supermarkets.
Jordan and her brother, Bill Jordan, have decided to take a step back in order to move forward with their farm – "taking us back to how we used to access food," she said – by bringing food to the people who want it. While plenty of people are willing and able to travel to farmer's markets and farms to buy fresh produce, Jordan said not everyone has the time or luxury.
So Jordan's Mobile Farmstand, as soon as it's painted and ready to roll, will travel to senior housing developments like Ridgeland, Landry Village and Mill Cove, as well as some businesses, including Anthem.
The sibling farmers had the idea after seeing similar things in Ohio and New Hampshire. When the School Department put an old bus up for sale, "the stars were lined up," Jordan said. Produce will be displayed and sold entirely inside the bus, which is accessible to handicapped patrons.
One of the reasons Jordan is most excited about the mobile stand is that it opens up a whole new market for senior citizens who are or want to be part of the state's Senior Farmshare program, but have trouble getting to the farm. Through the farmshare program, eligible seniors are given $50 a season to spend on fresh produce.
"A lot of seniors at those sites (we'll visit) can now participate in the program," Jordan said. "It makes food more local, more accessible. We like to grow food and feed people, it really works."
The stand will visit seniors two mornings a week and go to businesses in the afternoon, so busy workers can pick up produce on their way to their cars.
Jordan said she's hoping a few more businesses will sign on – they've run into issues with several interested companies whose health and wellness programs support the farm stand, but whose non-solicitation policies prevent it. Eventually, she said, she'd love to visit neighborhoods, if they can get permission to park and vend on public land.
"We'd like to have a fleet of buses," Jordan said, but for now they're working on getting the first one on the road.
For more information on the mobile farm stand or Jordan's Farm, visit the farm's website at jordansfarm.com.
Sarah Trent can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 108 or firstname.lastname@example.org.