Farmers’ market ‘reconnects’ with campus

The Lion’s Roar / Megan Ferrando
Graduate student of sociology Stephanie Travis (above) sells homemade goods of plum, apple flavor and more. Travis, among many present at the farmers’ market, tries to make their product out of local produce. Locally Preserved (top) sold butters, fruit syrups and more. The business buys excess produce and produce unfit for sale off of local farmers and then turns it into preservable goods. 

Local produce, preserves, homemade goods and more were sold on campus as an initiative to promote local and healthy options. Reconnect, a student organization which promotes sustainability, sponsored the on-campus farmers market, which took place Wednesday, October 28 in the Student Union.

“We do it to promote real food on campus, which is an initiative we’ve been a part of for a few years now,” said Reconnect president and international management and marketing senior Valerie Melara. “We try to promote local farming. All of our vendors, all of our students vendors as well, they’re all using sustainable, local produce.”

The farmers market featured sales from local farmers, pies from Blue Ribbon Pies, preserves from Locally Preserved, various homemade options from student vendors, ceramics from the Ceramics Club and more.

Everything sold was made out of produce from local farmers. Two student vendors, Emma Larmann and Jarett Aucoin, sold fresh scones topped with satsuma marmalade and white sweet potato soup topped with spicy pumpkin seeds and chives. The ingredients in the products, including the potatoes and satsumas, were bought locally.

“We’re trying to connect people back to the land and food. Cooking; that’s a great way to do it,” said Larmann.

Locally Preserved, another vendor from New Orleans, also uses local produce from farmers in their products. The business buys produce that may be in oversupply or cannot be sold by the farmers themselves, and then turns it into preserves. Some products they sell include jelly, syrups, jams and more. All of their products have five natural ingredients or less.

“We try and really change the way food is manufactured by putting a focus on local foods and local farming economy,” said brand ambassador of Locally Preserved Kelle Ory. “Farmers who have produce that is unused or unfit for market, we’re happy to buy it off of them and give them another revenue stream and really keep the local farm going. They may have more satsumas than they planned because of the climate and the weather. We can help preserve that stuff instead of having it go to waste.”

One positive aspect Ory found in eating from local farmers is having the knowledge of where your food is from and how it was made. According to Ory, when customers buy from supermarkets, their food could come from across the world.

“It’s important because it’s really sustaining the local farming economy whereas we’re so used to picking up a jar of something at the supermarket, we don’t know where it’s grown,” said Ory. “We don’t know where the produce comes from. It could come from a different country even. And in this way, we’re really investing in our own community, sharing things that are local, eating flavors that are grown in our own backyard. It’s also helping out farmers who are otherwise sometimes hurt by people who would rather buy a slightly cheaper variety.”

Many vendors found having a farmers market on campus was beneficial towards the students. It offered students a way to buy local food. Ory explained that Locally Preserved products could easily be incorporated into easy meals for college students. One option is adding their apple pie butter to a bowl of oatmeal for flavor.

“I think it’s great to have products like these that you can take home to a college dorm,” said Ory. “You can incorporate them in your cooking and it makes it easier to create chef inspired meals with a simpler process.”

Melara currently lives in the on-campus apartments, Southeastern Oaks. She expressed the challenge many college students can have in eating healthy and local, but makes it possible just by buying much of her food at the downtown farmers market or Berry Town Produce.

“I try to eat local as much as I can,” said Melara. “I find when you’re a resident, especially in the halls, it’s really hard because you have a meal plan, but at the Oaks, you cook your own food so you have more flexibility to eat whatever you want.”

Once Melara began eating local, she found herself feeling healthier.

“It’s peculiar because you actually do feel healthier, like if you’re eating local honey, your immune system is improved,” said Melara. When you’re eating local things, your body gets adjusted to the local environment. There’s a relation there. You definitely feel healthier, and you know what you’re eating, what you’re putting into your body.”

A couple of steps Melara advises in beginning to eat local and healthier is becoming educated on food, and attending the local farmers market.

“Sometimes we eat all these processed foods and we don’t know all the chemicals that they have in them,” said Melara. “It’s more of lack of information, but when you start learning about it, just what goes into your food, [you realize] it’s a really broad aspect because you have organic, local, chemical free, pesticide free. I think this is a good way, by attending these farmer’s markets, you know what you’re putting into your body. You build community; you build trust with your farmers.”