More Farmers Markets on Campus

Monday, February 20, 2012

Last semester, Sustainable SFUO made the decision to start hosting a Farmer’s Market inside UCU. There are a couple of reasons why this goes down as a solid bit of decision-making: supporting local vendors and farmers, promoting local and homegrown foods, and putting some fresh and healthy food into the hands of students.

As Caroline Wall, a student at the University of Ottawa, states, “The quality at a farmer’s market is obviously going to be better, and you get to actually meet the person who made or cultivated [the food]”.

However, the most important reason is probably this: it made Farmer’s Markets accessible to students.

Of course, the Byward Market isn’t that far away, and it stands to reason most students could just amble over a couple of blocks and, through most months of the year, have access to all that fresh and local food that tastes so damn yummy.

“If it’s accessible by bicycle or bus, I’m willing to go,” says Wall, and the market she most routinely visits is Landsdowne, which is also quite close to campus.

Some, like Wall, are willing to travel in order to enjoy the benefits of shopping at a market, even driving 30-45 minutes to get there.

Others only shop at markets occasionally, typically if they happen to be in the right place at the right time. One student, who used to live in a rural area, would often go to the markets near her house, but since moving to the city has found that she’s stopped.

Stephanie Gagnon from Fledermaus Farm, a local organic micro-bakery, noticed a lot of variability with how far people were willing to travel to shop at Farmer’s Markets.

“Sometimes people find that a market down on Bank Street is too far, others will willingly jump in a car and drive to Van Kleek Hill [the market she primarily sells at] because they have other people to see or they want to go to Beau’s brewery, so it’s really variable.”

She did note that even those inclined to make an effort to shop routinely at Farmer’s Markets are often defeated by that insurmountable obstacle of winter.

“People are not willing to brave […] winter roads to go to a farmer’s market out of the city, but certainly to tell them that there are vendors that we support that are at Byward…they are going to be there to support Joseph on Saturday, my friend who makes cheese.”

The market on campus provides yet another downtown market for students to shop at, adding the convenience of being at the heart of campus. For some, this means increased odds that they will start shopping at markets, since there isn’t any commute involved.

“Certainly the response is positive from students, professors, and support staff,” says Gagnon.

 ~eleni - associate editor, Ottawa Arts Review
photo credit - jonathan rausseo

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