Two weeks left for U farmers market

The market is part of the University's Wellness Program
September 26, 2011

Coming from his family-owned farm in Farmington, Jack Vang brought bellflowers, cosmos and lilies to the Church Street Farmers Market on Wednesday.

Like many other vendors, Vang said selling products on campus was fun.

In its seventh year, the University of Minnesota’s Farmers Market provides campus with fresh fruits and vegetables every Wednesday through Oct. 5 on Church Street.

As part of the Department of Recreational Sports’  Wellness Program, the Farmers Market offers in-season vegetables and fruits, such as pumpkins, sweet corn, apples and strawberries.

Anh Pham said she loves to come to the market because it is close to her office in Morrill Hall. Besides, she said, the produce is cheaper and fresher than at other places.

This event is garnering people’s attention, since getting groceries is not as easy as in past years due to road construction and the limited number of grocery stores nearby. The closest grocery store to campus — Harvard Market — closed its doors last spring.

While the location of the market puts it at an advantage, there is no sufficient evidence to prove that the number of consumers coming to the market has increased due to the construction or demolition of the Harvard Market.

 Jill Thielen, a Wellness Program administrator, said that the Farmers Market has not been in direct competition with on-campus grocery stores because, “people primarily come to the Farmers Market for locally-grown produce,” she said.

On Wednesday, with a bag in hand full of tomatoes, potatoes and lettuce, Victoria Scher, a graduate student in the Master’s of Fine Arts program, said this was her third time to visit. She learned about the market from the banner over Church Street.

 “Even though the price is little bit higher than the market price, I would come because I can eat more healthily,” she said.

Students who shop at the market are not only getting fresh produce, but supporting local farmers.

Jeffrey Nistler, a vendor and 1981 University graduate who studied agriculture and economics, brought his crops to the market for the sixth time. He brought 15 bags of sweet corn and dozens of cans of honey, all from his family-owned farm, Nistler Farms. But like many farmers, he is feeling the effects of an early September frost.

He said, however, that the early frost did not hit the yield of corn too heavily.

“But for the yield of tomatoes, strawberries and greens such as peppers, there might be some negative effects,” he said.

Even though some other vendors that were selling potatoes, tomatoes and greens agreed that the early frost did lead to some small-scale decrease in their crops, they said they weren’t worried because they are still selling the “good stuff.”

“Most of my goods will be sold out because people really like them,” Teresc Silva said while showing off her Honeycrisp apples, strawberries, blackberries and raspberries to buyers.

Thielen said one of the most important messages the Wellness Program wanted to promote is that eating healthy, locally grown food is important and can be convenient by shopping at the Farmers Market.

“Besides, it represents a collaborative effort from multiple departments at the University, which is an example that working together to accomplish a goal can create something great,” she said.

There are two more market days left this season:Sept. 28 and Oct. 5, after which the market will resume in the spring.

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