On Campus

Farmers markets hit university campuses

From Halifax to Vancouver fresh food and vegetables are being brought to students

Fresh locally grown fruits and vegetables and other artisanal products are turning up on Canadian campuses as students embrace the trend of shopping at farmers markets. McMaster University in Hamilton has just launched a market, the result of student Mary Koziol’s passion for local food. It runs every Thursday in the centre of the campus.

“It’s a completely not-for-profit venture,” says the 22-year-old president of the university’s student union. “But it’s a start in terms of offering healthy and local options to those who study (at), work (at) and visit the McMaster campus.”

At Brock University in St. Catharines, Ont., about a dozen local vendors bearing fruits, vegetables, cured meats, fresh lamb, cheeses, freshly baked bread and maple syrup descend on the campus every Friday. “We do it outdoors and have a barbecue going as well as live entertainment,” says university spokesman Iain Glass, adding, “It is the social event of the week, a wonderful break for students and others as well.”

Although the McMaster market is run by students, Koziol says the farmers who supply the produce “are invited to come and share their invaluable knowledge with us.” So far they have managed to source three area growers of fresh produce as a beginning, she says.

Robert Chorney, executive director of Famers’ Markets Ontario and chairman of Farmers’ Markets Canada, says the campus markets are so far relatively unknown by his organization. “We have had inquiries from a few universities, but I know very little about what is going on with them,” he says. “We would be glad to help them in any way we can because it is so positive to see the students keen on local, fresh, nutritional food.”

Dalhousie University in Halifax doesn’t have a farmers market, but it has put in community gardens so students can grow fruits and vegetables for their own consumption, says university spokesman Charles Crosby.

One of the most ambitious projects of all is the farm at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver. Its market has become so successful that it runs twice a week, Wednesday and Saturday. “This is a pretty unique connection,” says Mark Bomford, director for Sustainable Food Systems at the farm. “Most farmers markets rely on produce grown somewhere else, but the food for our market is grown right in our fields.”

The farm and its market have been operating for 10 years, he says, and has always been student-run from the cultivation of fruits and vegetables to the managing of the market. “Revenue from the market is the main source for all the different teaching and research programs that are happening on the farm,”says Bomford.

The University of Waterloo’s market is located in the Student Life Centre and is operated by student volunteers, says media spokesman John Morris. Students teamed up with the university’s Food Services division and produce is sourced from the Mennonite-run Elmira Produce Auction Co-operative.

The Canadian Press

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