U Farmers Market: An Oasis in the Food Desert


Matthew Seare the executive chef of the Heritage Center grills up chicken at the farmers market.

By Kelsey Kenyon

A new school year means another farmers’ market at the U with handmade gifts, fresh grown produce and extra options for lunch.

Although the market is open to anyone in the community, it is intended to benefit students. The University of Utah’s campus is located in what is called a food desert, meaning that students on or near campus do not have close access to healthy food. The farmers’ market aims to fix this problem by giving students the option to purchase fresh fruits and vegetables.

In its effort to encourage students to purchase healthy food the farmers’ market offers the Double Your Dollar program. The program matches each dollar spent by students who purchase produce and food from the market.

“Basically how it works is students can buy grocery-like food items for half off. They spend one dollar and get two tokens that are worth two dollars,” said Alizabeth Potucek, Farmers Market Manager and Gardens Coordinator.

Some of the products that qualify for the program are fruits, vegetables, honey, salsa and baked goods. However, students cannot apply tokens to hot food items. “The goal of the Double Your Dollar Program is to increase food access on campus and promote the local economy,” said Potucek.

The U’s farmers’ market allows students to change up their usual lunch routine by hosting multiple vendors with fresh food options. Some of last year’s favorite vendors returning this year include Tamales Tita’s, Smoke A’ Billy BBQ & Grill and Tequenos Factory. A few new options to try out are LA Cubana, Korean Barbecue from Cupbop and Eastern European baked potatoes from Spudnik.

Other items for purchase include art, clothing, jewelry, accessories and bath and body supplies from local artisans.

Bike to the U Day, a collaboration between the farmers’ market and commuter services, is on September 8. Students who bike to campus that day will enjoy free breakfast in Tanner Plaza.

“Active transit users who register their bikes will not only get free breakfast, but commuter services and university police will also be giving away free U-locks to those students while supplies last,” Potucek explained.

With the amount of students who are active transit users, getting to the market early to allow plenty of time to get through the registration process is essential.

The farmers’ market is every Thursday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Tanner Plaza, which is located between the Student Services Building and the Union.