Cape Elizabeth farmer takes to the road; seniors, businesses benefit from mobile farm stand
CAPE ELIZABETH — Barbara Page was a school bus driver for 27 years in Cape Elizabeth and Scarborough.
But now, instead of driving a bus filled with school children, she carts one full of vegetables to senior citizens and large businesses.
"These passengers don't talk back as much," she said of the cucumbers, tomatoes and onions she transports every week.
Joy Montgomery and other employees of Jordan's Farm Stand on Wells Road fill the former school bus with produce twice a day. Penny Jordan, owner of Jordan's Farm, said the bus has been on the road for two years and is a huge success.
It was purchased from the Cape Elizabeth School Department, gutted, painted and is now a mobile farmer's market.
Every weekday Jordan and her employees fill the bus with fresh produce, local yogurt and fruit and travel to senior citizen housing and businesses in Scarborough and South Portland. They visit Ridgeland Terrace, Betsey Ross House, 1700 Broadway, Landry Village and Piper Shores; business site include NorDx, Maine Medical Center, Anthem and InterMed.
"This project was initially geared to target seniors," Jordan said. "Now, with the help of Anthem, we are able to provide a service for businesses, too."
Jordan said the idea of a mobile farm stand came from friends of the family who worked on a traveling farm stand in the 1940s. The bus makes it possible for people who cannot drive to a local farmer's market to experience fresh vegetables.
In addition, Jordan's mobile bus allows seniors to participate in the state's Senior Farmshare program without having to go anywhere. Through the farmshare program, eligible seniors are given a certain amount of money a season to spend on fresh produce.
Beth Dazet, a Jordan's employee, said the people who buy their produce from the traveling bus are happy the service is provided each week.
"The people living in the senior housing are so grateful we come to them," Dazet said. "They are really sweet, and come week after week."
Although the bus travels to senior housing units and businesses, Page said anyone can visit the stand to buy produce.
"I believe if we didn't provide this service, some people wouldn't be able to enjoy this food," she said.
Sara Beck, an employee of NorDx in South Portland, said she visits the bus each week because she doesn't have time to visit other markets on the weekends or during the week. She said she was delighted to learn the visits from Jordan's mobile farm stand were part of a wellness initiative at her workplace.
"I can never find the time to make it to Portland, so this is perfect," she said.
Laura Gervais and Rachel Roy, co-chairwomen of the Works on Wellness Committee at NorDx, helped make the farm stand a reality for employees of the company.
"This program has been great. There's been a great response and people find it convenient," Gervais said. "We hope to make these visits a yearly occurrence."
She said the weekly visits are a benefit to busy business people, and to the local farmers.
"Supporting local farmers is important to most people, and we are happy in this partnership," Gervais said.
Just like the schoolchildren she transported years ago, Page greets each person who enters the bus to buy fresh produce.
"I see the same faces week after week," she said. "It's so nice to be a part of this."
Amy Anderson can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 110 or firstname.lastname@example.org