Buy at U’s new farmers market, support local economy

By By Anne Roper

By Anne Roper

Anyone whose path to class includes a walk past the Pioneer Memorial Theatre on Thursdays has probably noticed an unusual amount of hustle and bustle.

The U has opted to host a farmers market every Thursday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. through Oct. 2 in front of the PTC. Farmers markets are good for every community to have and make a good addition to the campus. Students and faculty should support this program that the U has provided for their benefit.

Brooke Gardner, manager of the WellU program, said the farmers market was created to give employees access to fresh fruit and vegetables and the opportunity to buy local art during their workday. Because students and employees are spending so much of their time on campus every day, it is a great idea to bring a market to them.

It’s important to buy locally whenever possible, and farmers markets are the best place to do so. Buying food locally cuts down on fuel costs and pollution associated with shipping food in from another state or country. It is another small way to reduce the carbon footprint.

The U’s choice to host a farmers market helps students and faculty make healthier food choices that are easy on the wallet. Because vendors are able to choose their own prices, shoppers are able to save. Some vendors will even adjust their price to fit the needs of the buyer. Farmers markets allow seller and buyer to develop a relationship and discuss the quality of the food, providing a rare opportunity for a win-win situation between seller and consumer. The U also plans to buy food from the market to use in meals made in campus cafeterias.

The University of Arizona and Harvard University have held campus farmers markets for years, Gardner said. The universities’ goal was to strengthen campus and community partnership. This is something the U should strive for as well. The market has the potential to bring members of the community on campus and for them to become more involved with campus culture. This is good news for the U because more members of the community that sympathize with our needs means more people championing our causes, whatever they might be.

Purchasing food at farmers markets also supports the local economy and farmers. The local economy is boosted through the money spent at farmers markets because it stays within the community. Farmers markets provide an important opportunity for local farmers, especially those with small acreage. In a 2005 survey done by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Marketing Service, the farmers markets are the only source of farm-based income for 25 percent of market vendors. According to the same survey, the average annual sales per vendor were $7,108.

As a native of the Midwest, I’ve seen how much work it takes to run a farm, and the number of farmers in the United States is dropping every year. A quarter of market vendors are only making a little more than $7,000 for their farm labor, but the U community can show its support by shopping primarily at the farmers market.

[email protected]

Anne Roper