Collaborative farmers’ market begins at UMass

By Katrina Borofski

Juliette Sandleitner/Daily Collegian

As the University of Massachusetts increases its efforts toward environmental efficiency and resource sustainability, students, professors and community members are finding ways to support this movement toward eco-friendliness. The university’s own student-run farmers’ market is a perfect example of this green mentality.

In a new effort started this year, the farmers’ market is held every Friday on the lawn of Goodell Hall. The UMass Student Farming Enterprise, the UMass Permaculture Initiative and UMass Gardenshare have collaboratively organized the weekly market. With produce and herbs grown by UMass students themselves, the farmers’ market offers some of the freshest, most sustainable sources of raw produce on campus.

Produce at the farmers’ market is varied and always fresh. Lilly Israel, a student farmer for the Student Farming Enterprise, said that 26 different crops are grown for the market, and all are grown organically on the Enterprise’s four acres of land.

Not only are fresh produce and herbs sold individually at the market, but they can also be bought at wholesale through Gardenshare.

“Gardenshare is a system in which consumers pay money before the season in order to start up and support the farmers and in return get a share of the product when ready,” Israel said.

The Gardenshare program is a 10-week program in which people can buy a share for $300. Those that invest in a share receive about 20 pounds of fresh produce per week. The Gardenshare program is still ongoing for interested parties.

In addition to produce offerings, the farmers’ market also includes the UMass Poultry Management, a program at the university where students can pre-order free range pasture chicken that are raised by students here at UMass.

“They’re super fresh, better than anything from the super market,” said Collin McGladrigan, a member of Poultry Management.

Though each group has a different purpose at the farmers’ market and caters to different tastes, they collaborate together to share an interest in sustainability.

“Overall, it is a community hub for sustainability and economic farming,” said Cate Elliot, a co-manager of the farmers’ market.

In addition to environmental benefits, many see the farmers’ market as something to improve the community.

“This is less about huge production, and more about getting a conversation started,” said Meg Little, a committee member for Permaculture. “Our initiative is about education, so people can see land being used in different ways.”

Elliot said that the foundation of the farmers’ market for her is the personal significance of sustainability.

“For me, it’s the ability to grow foods on my own, which in itself brings stability and empowerment,” she said.

“Society has been lost from its nature-based ways,” Elliott added. “It’s essential to build the beautiful reconnection to our planet.”

The farmers’ market runs from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. every Friday on the lawn in front of Goodell Hall.

Katrina Borofski can be reached at [email protected]