The way it typically works at a farmer’s market (and with just about every retailer, in fact): You pay money and in exchange, you go home with a bunch of fresh produce.
But at the go-go fresco farmer’s market in Charlotte, North Carolina, if you don’t have enough money to pay for your greens, you don’t have to worry.
If you’re telling yourself that there must be a catch, there’s not. The farmer’s market frequently operates on the pay-what-you-can principle that’s already the basis for many cafés across the country.
Even better: You might not have to drive across town to visit go-go fresco, since it visits 10 different locations each week, with the goal of bringing fresh produce to people who might not be able to access it otherwise.
Two of the locations are designed to reach low-income families and that’s where patrons can pay what they care to — either the suggested price, a bit more to help another shopper out, or less if that’s all they’ve got. Go-go fresco also accepts food stamps and often donates produce (which it buys from local farmers) to the non-profits that host their mobile market: The YWCA and the Children and Family Services Center.
“We have good weeks and some bad weeks, but it balances out,” Nick Knock (who founded go-go fresco with Leconte Lee) told Mark Price of the Charlotte Observer. “It’s inspiring to see the hearts and generosity of people who don’t think twice about paying more so someone in need can get fresh food.”
Knock told Price that there have been a few times when he wondered if patrons were taking advantage of the pay-what-you-want option, “But then I saw that they only had $3.19 left on their (food stamp) account, and I got choked up. They were spending what little money they had left at our market. It was mind-blowing when you think they were able to get food because of us.”