On most Wednesdays throughout the year, the vendors involved with the Wesleyan Farmers Market (WFM) can be seen stocking their tables with all sorts of goodies. Offerings include baked goods, fresh produce, spices, smoothies, and coffee. Even Bon Appétit has a table, serving up local produce alongside both vegan and meat meal options.
The WFM student group has been active since the fall of 2008 and the group is constantly looking for ways to incorporate more Wesleyan organizations and vendors into the initiative.
“Aside from bringing in student musicians to play at the markets, we have been working closely with the student group in charge of the bike generator to get them to power the smoothie blenders,” said WFM manager Emma Pattiz ’13. “We have also talked about having WesFRESH and other related groups attend markets to talk about what they are doing and possibly have an activity for customers to do.”
The WFM is hoping to create a unique presence not only on campus, but also in the greater Middletown community.
“Our goal is to have students, faculty, staff, and community members rely on the market for their weekly grocery needs,” Pattiz said. “As a result, vendors will profit and the market will be a vibrant part of campus life.”
So far, the WFM’s attempts to involve other groups have been successful. There is a selection of vendors who regularly attend the market. These include Sweet Sage Bakery, RawYouniverse Smoothies, Zen Coffee Roasters, Horse Listeners Orchard, Meriano’s Bake Shoppe, Auntie Arwen Spices—which offers a wide variety of spices, homemade fudge, and dried fruit—and last but not least, Wesleyan’s own Long Lane Farm. This is supplemented by other vendors who come on a less regular basis, such as Urban Oaks, a fresh produce supplier.
WFM reflects the increasingly popular commitment to the locavore environmental movement.
“Farmers markets are so essential because they support small, independently run business, which is great for the economy,” explained Nicole Stanton ’15, who regularly attends the market. “Additionally they encourage the purchase of locally grown products, which are better for the environment. Also, I don’t mind knowing where my food actually comes from.”
In addition to being locally sourced, many of the products at the Market get good reviews from taste-testers.
“There is a woman from an Italian bakery who sells and fills Italian cannoli, and they’re literally amazing,” said WFM regular Emily Garvin ’15.
The vendors greatly appreciate this kind of enthusiasm.
“We like serving the Wesleyan Farmers Market for that youthful, university community,” said representatives from Urban Oaks Organic Farm. “It’s helping to change the paradigm of the post-industrial supermarket.”
Jane Sibley from Auntie Arwen Spices agreed that the WFM is something truly special. She particularly appreciates performances by student musicians that often take place during the Market.
“I definitely plan on coming back next semester,” Sibley said. “I really, really hope that we have the market next semester, from late January or early February until just before final exams. Maybe we won’t have much in the way of green veggies, but winter squash, cheeses, breads, apples, honey, [and] my spices are still farmers’ market fare.”
Kathleen Duffy of Sweet Sage Bakery enjoys the reciprocal relationship offered by the Market, which benefits both students and vendors. She also appreciates the increasing popularity of the sustainable food movement.
“The shift to a more sustainable model of food production, including locally producing many diverse products—as opposed to the conventional mono-cropping and bringing in goods thousands of miles away—is clearly being embraced by younger folks who see that the system we have in place right now cannot be sustained over time,” Duffy said.
In addition to the local vendors who come to the market, Bon Appétit also occupies a table and sells locally sourced lunches, which may be paid for with meals or points.
WFM is one of the few ways Wesleyan students can easily support local vendors and get fresh, delicious food without leaving campus. Over time, the WFM has come to play an important role in Wesleyan’s culinary community, and it is continuing to expand, attracting more vendors, student groups, and types of products.