Previously operating two stands, SOUP chose to operate just the Perrin Woods location this year, dropping its School of Innovation location due to safety measure concerns. With the one-two punch of the loss of the Kroger on the south end and the coronavirus pandemic, SOUP coordinator Sherry Chen and her colleagues saw this year as even more critical.
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“Our focus is to put fresh food in the neighborhood. We don’t advertise, but have had a steady increase of returning customers, which is exciting,” she said.
Visitors will find a range of produce including tomatoes, yellow squash, zucchini, cabbage, green peppers, onions and green beans. Other items will be available at various times throughout the season including okra, cantaloupe, peaches, watermelon, sweet corn, and at the end of the season, apples.
One of the most popular items to look for at some point is green tomatoes.
“Our audience loves those and always asking for them,” Chen said.
Much of the produce comes from a local farmer, some is grown by the SOUP members and some purchased regionally. Chen said the prices are set to compete with local grocers.
The pandemic raised concerns if they could even open the stand. Already operating on a shoestring budget and having the truck they use for hauling the produce break down only added to the dilemma.
But with people asking when the stand was coming back, SOUP responded, stressing a safe environment on both sides of the stand was a must.
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SOUP took the infrastructure of the former School of Innovation location and will combine with that of the Perrin Woods location. Customer traffic will be one way with social distancing, and masks will be required. A few masks may be available for temporary use for those arriving without one.
Those working the stand will be the only ones allowed to handle the produce and one person to handle money. Hand sanitizer will also be available.
The farm stand can take cash only; credit and debit cards cannot be used. EBT and other similar programs will also not be accepted at this time.
Even the food that isn’t sold each week goes to good use to volunteers or a local free store. It’s knowing that people are benefiting that motivates the SOUP members.
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“We’re happy to continue to help food security for south Springfield,” Chen said.
For more information on SOUP, go to www.facebook.com/SpringfieldOhioUrbanPlantfolk/.