STERLING – “I’ve been farming since I was a kid,” said Erik Jewett.
But his own farm is a more recent venture, started after he started commercial beekeeping.
Now Jewett – aka Fat Daddy – is mobile, handing out his fresh produce, honey and other items from a truck, where he brings a mobile farm stand to those who may not be able to get off. And many who simply take advantage of the convenience.
“It’s intended for people who don’t have a car or can’t get around,” Jewett said. “We can bring it to them; it is accessible.”
Jewett showed off his truck, Fat Daddy’s Mobile Farmer Market, and said, “Who needs it more than someone who can’t get there?”
Jewett said he started experimenting with hydroponics in 2010, which also allows him to make it a year-round farming effort.
“On the farm we grow lettuce, mustard, arugula, Swiss chard, bok choy, Asian leafy greens, dandelion leaves, beet tops, basil, sage, rosemary, parsley, cilantro, cilantro, and vine crops like tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, and green beans,” he said, ticking off the selection of items from his Sterling farm.
“We have these things all year round. So you can come to the store in January and get fresh vegetables,” he said.
“I like the ability to provide my community with fresh, locally sourced vegetables year-round. It’s local, it’s fresh and I’m helping my neighbors eat healthily at a reasonable cost.
“Actually, I started commercial beekeeping before I got into commercial farming. I bought the land in Sterling to overwinter my hives. But I found I could farm and sell here because of the farming law and farming zone of the property. The greenhouse just evolved over time,” he said.
“The mobile truck arose out of necessity. I see people who don’t have access to quality food, so I figured quality food could get to people. The bus makes it possible.
“The whole point was to make it accessible to everyone,” Jewett said. “The only reason we did this is for accessibility. There are many, mostly seniors, who cannot reach the farmer’s market or grocery store. If I can bring the market to them, not only have I given them access to good food, but I’m giving them social interaction and making them feel like part of society. That’s huge.
“Fresh food in your diet not only makes you healthier, but the food tastes better too. I believe that good food not only improves well-being, but also improves life. I also believe that good food is for sharing, so I intend to share mine with the community.”
“People love the idea of it”
Jewett takes the truck to places like senior living, and accessibility includes stairs and railings, as well as the wheelchair lift, so everyone can board and shop for themselves.
“The reaction was great; People love the idea of it,” he said.
Visitors can find Fat Daddy’s Mobile Market at the Farmers Market in Fitchburg on the Upper Common Thursdays from 3pm to 6pm and at the Farmers Market in Sterling in the Town Hall on Fridays from 3pm to 6:30pm
Jewett said they will also be at Sterling Senior Center one day a week starting soon, but haven’t finalized dates yet. And Fat Daddy’s will also be at the Clinton Senior Center every other Thursday starting in October.
“The last thing I want to share is to invite any of the low-income senior communities to give us a call if you’re interested in offering the market bus to your residents,” Jewett said. “We don’t charge for the service and it brings great value to your residents. We are currently seeking state approval to accept SNAP and EBT.”
And he said he could go to other churches or businesses. He can be reached by phone at (508) 769-5891.
“They need interaction,” Jewett said of many who used the truck’s services. “They can still get out and interact” and with the truck “they can still get quality food at reasonable prices.”
He pointed out the products. “It’s fresh this morning,” he said of herbs he picked earlier in the morning and cucumbers he picked at 4:30 a.m. before heading out in Fat Daddy’s Mobile Farmers Market truck.