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22 June 2011

Locally grown foods now available on campus

Students looking for a place to buy healthier, locally grown vegetables and fruits will not have to search any longer.

The wait is over. A farmer’s market now comes to campus each Wednesday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on the university green between the post office and Starbucks.

Christina Farmer, former Student Government president, first mentioned this initiative during her campaign. She said that ever since sophomore year she has been wanting a farmer’s market on campus.

“People like a lot of fruit, especially living on a health-conscious campus, but they don’t always know where they can find it locally,” Farmer said.

There are usually around 15 local vendors providing fresh produce, honey and kettle corns.

“It can be difficult to get a large variety of fruits and vegetables,” Farmer said. “However, we are ensuring that if it’s not locally grown, it’s at least organic.”

Sheri Virok, the benefits manager for UM’s human resources and benefits office, said she has been excited to be a part of the planning process on bring the new farmer’s market to campus.

“I’ve been working on this project for over a year, and it kind of got stalled up, but once Student Government started making things happen, they contacted me because I had already gone through some of the administration logistics of getting it approved,” Virok said.

She believes this a great way to increase awareness for a healthier lifestyle. Virok also explained the farmer’s market is a part of Well Canes, a program that grew through the H.R. and benefits office to promote health and wellness in the faculty and staff of UM.

Well Canes offers health incentive programs for faculty and staff that include health insurance benefits and rebates on a Wellness Center membership and use.

The market will not only include fresh produce, but also plant life, orchids and even soap.

“It’s really aimed for both faculty and students,” Farmer said. “That’s why even though we [students] might not need the soaps or things like that, they will be available. We want to include everyone on campus.”

Some students are excited about the new market coming to campus.

“I think it’s a really good idea to bring healthy things to the students on campus versus the farmer’s market in the grove which some students can’t get to because of transportation,” junior Alexandra Goldklang said. “I mean, it beats Whole Foods.”