By Jane Prendergast | Cincinnati.com
Cincinnati could soon see parking spots in 10 neighborhoods around the city where gardeners can sell produce from the back of a pickup.
The pilot program, to be formally proposed next week, suggests 20 Mobile Produce Truck parking spots in Evanston, the West End, the East End, English Woods, Winton Hills, Avondale, Over-the-Rhine, North and South Fairmount and Camp Washington. The plan is similar to the Mobile Food Truck vending locations downtown in that people will pay the city a fee to be able to park and sell in one of the first-come, first served spots.
The proposal already enjoys support from the majority of City Council members, Councilwoman Laure Quinlivan said. It grew out of a request this year from growers at an East End garden who wanted to sell their produce at their garden. Doing that would’ve required a zoning change, she said, a precedent the city didn’t want to set.
“This will be great to address the issue of food deserts,” she said, referring to neighborhoods where residents don’t have easy access to quality food. “It’s a creative solution to the problem.”
Dan Korman, owner of the Park + Vine eco-friendly general store in Over-the-Rhine, hopes for a spot right in front of his place on Vine Street. Customers often ask if the store would start selling produce.
“It would be a great complement to our business,” Korman said, “whether we decide to start selling it or someone else does. It just seems like a great next step for our city.”
Cincinnati wouldn’t be the first city to have produce-on-the-go. Similar trucks run in New York City, Chicago, Detroit and other major cities. In Greeneville, Tenn., a food truck takes orders and delivers food grown by local farmers. Some trucks are operated by non-profits pushing healthy, locally grown food, others by local businesses. Indiana University Health started its Garden on the Go last year as part of its fight against obesity. It makes 16 stops a week in low-income areas around Indianapolis.
Councilman P.G. Sittenfeld called the Cincinnati plan “a triple win: good for the neighborhoods, good for gardeners, good for commerce.”
The details are still being worked out. Proponents suggested the permit fee be $100 to $200 a year, Quinlivan said.
“This opens up a bunch of entrepreneurial options for people,” she said. “You don’t really have to have anything except the produce.”