Honeybee Mobile Market—a Farmers' Market on Wheels

Farmers’ markets, co-ops, CSAs—they’re all good avenues for Minnesotans to get their hands on local food. But a Minnesota couple wants to add another option to the mix—a mobile farmers’ market.

Tony Pavelko and Gina DiMaggio are looking to buy and retrofit a trailer, fill it with local food, and drive it directly to consumers via scheduled stops at locations like churches, businesses, neighborhoods, and events. They’ll call it Honeybee Mobile Market.

“Our idea with the mobile concept is that whoever wants the food and whoever wants the convenience is where we’ll bring it,” explained Pavelko. “If they’re already going to be there, then we’ll be there—what could be better than bringing the food directly to the people?

Pavelko and DiMaggio aren’t newcomers to the local food scene. Inspired by the local food communities in Italy and Costa Rica, they came to Minnesota and started a business in 2009 called Food for Thought—where they partnered with local farms and delivered local food CSA shares to homes and businesses. Their new model, Honeybee Mobile Market, draws on that concept, but instead of delivering pre-ordered food, they’ll be filling their trailer with local food, driving to scheduled stops, and opening their market doors to consumers passing by.

“As we did the Food for Thought deliveries, we started to realize the CSA model didn’t work for a lot of people who didn’t have the time, or perhaps the creativity, to prepare a full box of produce,” said Pavelko. “So, using that experience, and talking to customers, we thought about how we could provide this good, local food to consumers, but offer them more convenience and flexibility. We thought, ‘Why not bring the market to the people?’”

Honeybee plans to work directly with farmers and producers within 200 miles of the Twin Cities, such as Harmony Valley, Featherstone, Natura, Ridge Roll, Cedar Summit, and producers of bread, coffee, jam, syrup, honey, granola, flowers, meat, cheese, and eggs. Customers will enter through the back of the trailer, select their market items, and pay before exiting. But, in order to get started, they need to buy a trailer, and they’re using a Kickstarter fundraiser to help them do that.

We’re doing a Kickstarter to raise money to purchase and retrofit the trailer,” said Pavelko. “We need to create a charming and inviting space for people to shop. We’re trying to raise $20,000, and we’re trying to offer practical incentives for supporting our fundraiser. For example, for a $50 contribution, we’ll deliver a box of produce to your house.”

Pavelko says that he just met with the City of Minneapolis last week, and he’s optimistic that they’ll be able to start selling as early as May 2013.

“The City of Minneapolis has been very supportive of scaling up local foods and our idea,” said Pavelko. “We’re fortunate that we live in such a great food community. We’re excited to get this thing going.” 

Want to learn more? Check out their video, where Pavelko and DiMaggio talk about the concept and the Kickstarter project: