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LGA Architectural Partners (LGA) has created Canada’s first Mobile Good Food Market. Commissioned by FoodShare Toronto in partnership with the City of Toronto and United Way Toronto. LGA collaborated with expert truck retrofitters Crew Chief Conversion to convert a donated TTC Wheel-Trans bus into an accessible, traveling market. The bus will deliver fresh, affordable, healthy and culturally appropriate food to Toronto’s “food deserts,” geographically isolated neighbourhoods located prohibitively distant from food retailers.
Once parked, a lightweight, aluminum panel lifts off the side of the bus to create an awning and exterior aluminum shelves on hinges, fold out of the bus to sit underneath the awning. The community leaders who staff the market can easily and efficiently set up and put away the shelving and move the market to its numerous locations throughout the day. Produce filled bins line the shelves inside and out, drawing attention to the diverse selection of lush fruits and vegetables, rather than the bus itself. Aluminum was selected for its easy to clean, non-corrosive, rust-resistant qualities, and the plastic bins can be easily removed for cleaning and restocking. The interior, which houses additional shelving and the checkout counter is large enough to accommodate a group of shoppers, ensuring the market can operate year-round, despite Canada’s extreme weather. The original Wheel-Trans ramp provides access to people of all abilities.
The Mobile Good Food Market is designed to strategically expand accessibly to fresh produce in isolated and underserved communities while also increasing food literacy. It will sell both local and imported produce in response to both the growing demand for locally grown produce and also the specialty produce desired by Toronto’s culturally diverse immigrant communities. The market route targets underprivileged neighbourhoods where people might not have easy access to a grocery store. The Mobile Good Food Market aligns with Toronto’s food strategy by bringing together issues of food security and health into a solution that provides Toronto residents with broader access to fresh food.
FoodShare invited LGA to design the Mobile Market based on of the firm’s previous involvement in groundbreaking initiatives that link the repurposing and reusing of industrial materials with social engagement. For example, their Market 707 at Scadding Court Community Centre transformed shipping containers into an outdoor urban market and their Welcome Hut at Evergreen Brickworks converted a shipping container into a summertime visitors’ centre that doubles as a wintertime skaters’ warming hut.