Season Wraps Up for Loyola Farmer's Market
Loyola Neighborhood News: Lake Shore Campus - V3, I3
This past Monday, October 17 wrapped up the 2011 season for the Loyola’s first annual student-run farmers’ market at Sheridan Road and Loyola Avenue. This first foray into launching and operating a market on campus began in 2008.
Passionate and dedicated students worked with university staff advisor Gina Lettiere of the Center for Urban Environmental Research and Policy and Summur Roberts in the Department of Community Relations to help guide required research and create a process that would turn the idea into a reality. Lettiere feels that “mentoring students in developing the market vision and putting logistics into place has been a wonderful experience.”
Through outreach and input from local farmers’ market groups like the Glenwood Sunday Market, Edgewater Farmers Market and Andersonville Farmers Market, the students set forth to create a successful business model that fulfilled a need within the Loyola community without hurting local markets in the area.
At the end of its inaugural season, we can call the Loyola Famers’ Market a huge success. Neighbors, faculty, staff and students enjoyed an array of fresh, seasonal and local produce, , and prepared foods from nearby growers and businesses.
“I am so proud of the way the local neighborhood pulled together in support of the market,” says Kelsey Horton, student and Market co-Manager. “As a brand new farmers’ market that launched in June, when most students were away, I was nervous that our customer base would be very small, but loyal community members continued to show up every week, support their local farmers, and spread the word to their friends,” she adds.
The importance of eating local, sustainable produce created an educational opportunity as well. “Helping those new to shopping at a farmers market has been fulfilling and helped change the way new visitors understand food sourcing what it means to have healthier diets,” according to Lettiere.
The farmers were especially appreciative of having another venue to sell their goods. Horton is incredibly grateful to all of the vendors that sold goods at the market this season. “Each one brought a unique energy that contributed to the positive energy of the market, and their words of support kept me inspired throughout the entire season. “
This past week offered apples, grapes, pears, and plums and plenty of veggies like kale, salad greens, cabbage, leeks, onions, cilantro, beets, and carrots. Pumpkins and many types of squash were also a feature.
Some prepared foods that were found at the market were specialty cheeses, baked goods, organic preserves, salsa, sauces, bloody mary mix, stone ground mustard, and ketchup.
Even pets found something to enjoy at Izopi’s stall who offered healthy treats for our animal friends.
Integrating talented student musicians added a special flare. The Market was pleased to highlight The Sandy Pilgrims along with other aspiring student duos fine-tuning their talents and visitors enjoyed acoustic performances.
The feedback from the shoppers has been overwhelmingly positive and encouraging as well. According to Horton, “several community shoppers expressed how grateful they were for the LUC Farmers Market and how amazing it was, which really inspired [her] to continue to improve the market.
With success comes room for growth and organizers have much planned for how they will enhance the market experience for 2012. The absolute first priority for next year is to set up an Illinois Link card system so that Link cardholders can use their benefits to purchase fresh local produce at the LUC Farmers’ Market. This is a crucial step towards increasing food access in the Rogers Park and Edgewater neighborhoods. Adding the ability to accept credit cards and Rambler Bucks will also provide added convenience to shoppers.
Additionally, Lettiere and Horton plan to attract more vendors, host more unique activities on-site such as composting demonstrations while providing more activities for children and student groups.
The incredible amount of work and volunteer hours to make the market a reality cannot go unnoticed. Cary Allen-Blevins, Samantha Kronk, Mary Buttitta, Alyssa Hirsh, and Kate Faehling were phenomenal. Lettiere adds, “Participating in the market, I observed first-hand the enthusiasm and commitment everyone brought to make the market a success.”
Credits: Midnight Sun Photo courtesy of Mark Beane. Photo of Kelsey Horton courtesy of Gina Lettiere.