Frederic Laforge Co-Founder & CEO @ The Farmers' Truck

Choosing a Vehicle Part 3: The Farmers’ Market Trailer

5 min read

healthy harvest mobile market; farmers' market trailer

This is the last article in a 3-part series about choosing the best type of vehicle for your mobile farmers’ market. Check out our articles about trucks and buses to learn more.

In this article, we’ll cover the pros and cons of operating a trailer and what kind of organization would benefit from having one.

Have you ever wondered if there was an easier way to get more people to consume fresh produce? How about bringing locally-grown fruits and vegetables right where people live, instead of having them come to you?

If you want to increase community food access then a farmers’ market trailer might be just what you need.

Urban farms, community gardens, and food banks are such a great way of introducing healthy foods to low-income communities.1 But sometimes it’s still hard for people to find the time or means of transportation to get there.

The more barriers you can remove, the easier it gets for people to form healthier habits.

That’s where a mobile farmers’ market comes in. A truck, bus, or trailer can be a great way to bring your food to the people that need it the most. 

Why Trailers Are Perfect for Small & Startup Organizations

person holding trowel and watering can planting an urban garden

Of the three types of vehicles, the farmers’ market trailer is the most affordable, and some would argue, the most convenient. This makes it a great option for smaller or newer organizations.2

With no engine of its own, a trailer itself is low maintenance. You’re unlikely to see expensive or time-consuming repairs.

They provide flexibility in that they can be easily switched from one vehicle to another if needed.

As with a farmers’ market truck, there’s no special driving permit needed to drive a vehicle with a trailer attached. Just make sure to keep in mind your state’s weight and length requirements for trailers.

The two most popular types of mobile produce trailers are:

-The walk-in trailer; and

-The pop-up market

Now, let’s take a closer look at each to help you decide which might be best for you.

The Walk-in Farmers’ Market Trailer

walk-in farmers' market trailer; hub city mobile market produce trailer
Image credit: Hub city mobile market

The most common type of trailer for mobile markets is a walk-in farmers’ market trailer. Hub City Farmers Market in South Carolina has been using one since 2010.3

It’s sort of a mix between a truck and a bus. So if you want the option of inside shopping without the hassle of a large, cumbersome bus, this one’s for you. 

It’s great when you can give your customers a warm, dry place to shop. It’s even better when you don’t have to worry about the maintenance costs of a bus, or finding a driver with a special license to drive such a big vehicle.

What you’ll also love about the walk-in trailer is the minimal amount of time it takes to set up and tear down. This means you have more time to serve your awesome customers. They’re also larger than pop-up markets, so you can bring more supplies and stock with you.

While shopping inside in bad weather may seem enticing, some people might not like the idea of having to go into a smaller space for their groceries.

Being in a dark, cramped space might make some people feel uncomfortable. Plus, only one or two people can shop inside at a time. This slows things down and isn’t very covid-19 friendly in terms of social distancing.

If the welcoming atmosphere of an outdoor market seems more appealing, then a pop-up market is where it’s at.

The Pop-up Market

Kurt Sweitzer of Sweitzer Produce. Image credit: Byron Hetzler, The Southern Illinoisan;
Kurt Sweitzer of Sweitzer Produce. Image credit: Byron Hetzler, The Southern Illinoisan

A pop-up market is probably what comes to mind when you think of a farmers’ stand. The Heartland Regional Medical Center’s farmers’ market in Marion, Ohio offers a perfect example.4 

Pop-up markets are a simple entry-level option, ideal for smaller operations and organizations. They allow you to proudly display all your fresh, local produce for everyone to enjoy. They’re generally the smallest and cheapest option when it comes to farmers’ market trailers.

The trailer itself is used for storage and transportation. Once you get to each location you’ll need to unpack the trailer and set up your display.

But because they’re smaller, you can take your market pretty much anywhere. Size and weight won’t be as much of a worry as with other types of vehicles.

The downside of a pop-up market is that they’re more time-consuming to operate. With a pop-up market, you need to make sure you set aside time for setting up and tearing down.

Each market is different but a good average to plan for is 30 minutes each for set up & tear down with two people. An extra hour at each market means fewer stops each week. Oh, and don’t forget the tables, chairs, and shade tents.

The Pros and Cons of Operating a Mobile Produce Trailer

winding road sign; curves ahead road sign

Besides the set up involved with a pop-up market and the shopping space of a walk-in trailer, there are other things to consider before you decide if a farmers’ market trailer is right for you.

Think about how much produce and stock you might need each day. A bigger walk-in trailer might be better if you want to serve a lot of people. You might even want to think about a farmers’ market truck or a bus if you serve a large population.

The great thing about trailers is that they’re detachable. That comes in handy if you do need to get more supplies. One person can run your market, while another can get more produce.

Having a trailer lets you multitask easily. Plus, you can switch vehicles if one is out of commission.

A mobile produce trailer is only as good as the vehicle pulling it.  After all, it’s what’ll get you to each stop. It’ll need to have the towing capacity for your size of trailer and be reliable enough to get you around your area. Don’t forget to budget for a vehicle and its maintenance too.

You don’t need a special permit or license to tow a farmers’ market trailer. This means anyone can drive, as long as they’re comfortable with it. And not everyone will be comfortable with it or have the experience needed.

Because of their length, trailers can be tricky to maneuver in cramped neighborhoods and around busy streets.

Have you ever tried parking or backing up with a trailer? That definitely takes some mad skill. For these reasons, having a farmers’ market trailer is best in situations where you have more room to drive and park.

Finding the Right Fit for Your Needs – That’s Why We’re Here

Mobile produce trailers are an affordable and convenient way to improve food access in food desert communities. They’re a great choice for small and startup organizations, such as urban farms.

A trailer lets you have the reach and impact to really make a difference. It easily provides people with fresh, local produce at fair prices, and encourages healthy habits.5

At The Farmers’ Truck, we’re close to finishing our very own design that will be available soon! 

It combines the very best features of our farmers’ market truck design with the benefits and size of a trailer. Our designs are tried, tested, and designed specifically with mobile farmers’ markets in mind.

As with our truck, there’s minimal setup time and we’ve made the most out of the storage capacity so you can pack a lot into a small space. It includes a state-of-the-art, no emission, cooling system, and welcoming design to reduce the stigma around food access.

Did we mention it’s the most affordable mobile farmers’ market vehicle ever?

Here’s a sneak peek of our NEW Mobile Market Trailer!

the farmers' truck new mobile market trailer; farmers market trailer; new mobile produce trailer design from the farmers truck
The Farmers’ Truck NEW Mobile Market Trailer

We’ve learned a lot from our own experience operating mobile farmers’ markets. So, whether you’re starting a small seasonal market or tackling the large year-round demands of a city, we’re here to help.

Do you think a mobile farmers’ trailer is the right fit for your organization?

We offer all sorts of resources for running your very own mobile produce market. Use our contact page here to get started, and let us help you decide what sort of mobile market is perfect for you.


Frederic Laforge Co-Founder & CEO @ The Farmers' Truck

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