UConn’s inaugural Farm Fresh Farmer’s Market opened to long lines and happy consumers July 12. Nestled between the new classroom building and the back patio of the Student Union, the Market will be open for business from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. every Thursday from now until the start of the fall semester, when it will move to Fridays until the end of the growing season.
Director of Dining Services Dennis Pierce said the idea for a farmer’s market is a natural progression in the University’s efforts to provide healthful, locally grown foods in dining halls and cafés on campus.
“When we were going through the bidding process for our produce vendor, one of the items we considered was adding another point of sale through a farmer’s market. From the number of requests for fresh, healthy food choices that Dining Services receives from faculty and staff, as well as the students, I had an idea that this is something that would go over well,” he said.
The first choice for food sold at the Market is that which is locally produced, such as honey from UConn’s own hives and fresh fruit and vegetables from the student-run Spring Valley Farm. The University’s produce vendor, Fresh Point, will then also bring fruits and vegetables from other Connecticut farmers, and if necessary, will reach out to other states in the northeast to fill UConn’s order.
All items are marked with their point of origin. At Thursday’s Market, there was honey from UConn, hot sauce from Woodstock, Conn., and summer squash from Northford, Conn. There was also a selection of green beans, peppers, and blueberries from New Jersey, as well as apples from New York State.
There were a couple of items that had been ordered that were not available locally or within the region, and so consumers had to do without.
“We had hoped to have strawberries and grapes for our customers,” said Ethan Haggerty, Dining Services’ area assistant manager, “but Fresh Point couldn’t provide them from local sources this week and we wouldn’t go outside the region to get them. That’s what sometimes happens when you want locally produced food. We’ll do our best to respond to our customer’s wishes, but sometimes we’re just at the mercy of Mother Nature.”
Haggerty said there were over 100 sales at the first Market, and there were plenty of curious passersby who said they would be back next week. Sales are cash only, and although plastic bags are available, consumers are encouraged to bring recyclable bags to carry their purchases home.