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Performer Mayyadda singing at the University of Minnesota Juneteenth Celebration “We Are The Noise: The Echoes of Our Ancestors” captured on Saturday, June 15.
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Published June 23, 2024

Twin Cities Campus Farmers Market returns to campus

After a three-year hiatus, the University’s Twin Cities Campus Farmers Market is back, looking to provide students and neighbors with fresh food.

Live music rang out as students strolled from tent to tent in the plaza outside McNamara Alumni Center at the University of Minnesota on July 26, browsing the various fruits and vegetables offered at the newly revived Twin Cities Campus Farmers Market.

The market went on a hiatus for three years during the COVID-19 pandemic and returned July 12. The market is back and looking to see more foot traffic as it runs into late September and the beginning of the fall semester.

Robin Schow, a professor and education program director at the University, was in charge of getting the market back up and running post-COVID. Schow said there was some uncertainty about whether the farmers market would return.

The University’s Office of Human Resources assisted with the development of the market and financially supports it as part of the Wellbeing Program.

“We know that there’s food insecurity on campus, so some of this was like, ‘People are always talking about the University being a food desert, let’s get this market back up and running so that at least three months out of the year, there’s some access,’” Schow said.

This year, the market partnered with the University Lutheran Church of Hope in Dinkytown, allowing EBT food stamp payments for the first time.

“They do all the financial stuff, but we provide it to our customers, which just opens a lot of doors for our students and neighbors who are food insecure,” Schow said.

Schow thanked Market Bucks, a program that triples EBT spending by matching the amount spent up to $10. 

“This student was completely stunned,” Schow said. “He was willing to pay $21 with his EBT, but he only had to pay $7 and he got $14. He was super stoked about it because farmers markets aren’t inexpensive.”

With the program, farmers can help out those who need to stretch their money while still being fairly compensated, according to Schow.

One farmer, Peter Marshall of Peter’s Pumpkins and Carmen’s Corn in Shakopee, said he has been selling at the Twin Cities Campus Farmers Market since around 2005. 

Marshall sells his produce at about 10 markets around the Twin Cities but enjoys selling on the University campus because of the alumni, faculty and students he has met.

“There’s a connection with the food and the people who buy it and the people who grow it, which is nice,” Marshall said. “It’s not like going to the grocery store where you don’t talk to anyone, you just go and get your stuff. When we come here, I’m hoping I can educate people on how I grow things and what I do to the produce to get it here, so they can feel secure eating good food.”

St. Paul students bring organic food to market

Among the vendors set up on the plaza outside McNamara was the Student Organic Farm (SOF) from the University’s St. Paul campus. The student-driven farm has been running since 2005, only taking a two-year break during the pandemic before returning in 2022.

In addition to selling outside McNamara, SOF also runs a market stand at the Meat and Dairy salesroom in the Andrew Boss Laboratory of Meat Science, recently launching an online store for those who want to order ahead and pick up from the farm.

The option to order online was introduced two weeks ago, according to Molly Seligman, a University student working full-time on the farm.

Seligman said especially in the summer, SOF does not usually see students coming to their market stand on the St. Paul Campus or ordering online. However, the farm does sell to a few restaurants, faculty from the University and residents of St. Anthony Park and other neighborhoods near the campus.

While weeding and fighting pests is an ongoing battle since the farm does not use pesticides, organic farming is worth it, Seligman said. 

“Obviously, organic does end up being a little bit more expensive usually, which is a reality that’s kind of a bummer,” Seligman said. “It does make sense because there is so much more work that goes into it. I think people are focused sometimes on getting so much done at once, that they’re less focused on the quality of their food.”

SOF manager Tori Dahl has managed the farm for two years, becoming the second manager in the farm’s history after it reopened. 

Dahl said funding is currently an issue and the farm is looking for grants to fund improvements for the farm and potential future plans.

According to Dahl, some ideas include a “pay-what-you-can” stand and community-supported agriculture, which Dahl compared to having a magazine subscription, but to a farm.

“We’re hoping to get more students the produce instead of just to a few restaurants,” Dahl said.

This article has been updated.

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