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Friday, October 20, 2017

Activities & Organizations

First farmers market offers fresh, local produce


UH Dining Services hosted the first farmers market of the semester, which offered produce from local farms in the Houston area. | Sumaiyah Khan/The Cougar

UH Dining Services hosted the first on-campus farmers market at the Student Center Circle Drive on Wednesday, offering students and staff the opportunity to purchase local fresh food products.

Eight vendors offered a variety of products, from honey and extra virgin olive oil to ice pops and fresh vegetables from different areas in Texas.

“I’ve never been to a farmer’s market, so I was like, ‘OK. it sounds cool. I’ll try it out,’” said biochemical and biophysics junior Aarti Chauhan. “I mean, it’s really cool to have something to go to and eat Popsicle’s and try things you have never tried before.”

Attendees of the farmers market could engage with the vendors and get to know what’s inside of the food offered, Chauhan said.

For Seth Feldman, who was visiting from New Jersey, knowing what’s inside of the food he’s buying is worth the extra cost. 

“Oh 100%, I’d rather spend the extra money to know where it’s from, and it’s fresh, too,” Feldman said. “If I had my choice, I’d never go to a grocery store. I’d go to a farmers market.”

Feldman said the farmers market gave him a taste of the area while he was here and offered him not only food, but also drinks and juices.

“I actually would rather have stuff like this than just fruits and vegetables — stuff I can take and enjoy right away,” Feldman said. “I’m not really shopping for my home. I’m at a hotel. Most students aren’t actually doing big produce shopping either. It’s a good selection.”

Jordan Fox, one of the vendors with the local farm Loam Agronomics, said there has been an increase in farmers markets over the past couple of years.

“I would even say just like in the last eight months there has been four or five that have popped up,” Fox said. “I think people are just getting more engaged. Whenever you buy locally sourced food, you’re just helping out the locally sourced economy.”

A challenge for farmers markets is meeting people halfway, Fox said, to make it more convenient.

“I think people want good,” Fox said. “They want fresher and better, but what they don’t want to do is to change their buying habits or spending habits.”

Jan Robertson, who was selling olive oils and balsamic vinegar’s from Dripping Springs, said she hopes the recent uptick in farmers markets is more than a trend.

“I hate the word trendy, because I hope it’s a long-lasting practice, not just a trend,” Robertson said. “But you know supporting your locals, that’s exactly what it is — It’s fresh, fresh, fresh.”

The next farmers market will be Oct. 11 at Lynn Eusan Park. There will be farmers markets held every two weeks on campus at different locations, with the exception of Thanksgiving week, according to UH Auxiliary Services.

Daniella Lewis with nonprofit Plant it Forward Farms, which helps refugees open their own farming business and sell produce in the area, said there have been many new farmers markets opening up.

“There have been so many new markets — more than we can accommodate,” Lewis said. “I really hope those markets can take off and be successful.”

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