Source: Central Florida Future, Produce on the Patio farmer’s market opens at UCF, by Rachel Williams, contributing writer. Published: Sunday, January 6, 2013; Updated: Wednesday, January 16, 2013 12:01
Images courtesy of UCF SGA’s Division of Communications.
Update: According to UCF News & Information, Produce on the Patio has been postponed until Jan. 17.
Eating healthy may be difficult for some, but students and faculty at UCF can now benefit from a convenient weekly farmer’s market in front of the Student Union starting Thursday.
The farmer’s market, sponsored by the Student Union, is called Produce on the Patio and will be every Thursday in front of the Student Union from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
For now, Produce on the Patio will only be this spring semester and may continue depending on its success, said Student Union assistant directorLili Metcalf. Regardless, spring is harvest season, so students and faculty will have the opportunity to try fresh products without leaving campus.
“Students can go to classes and pick up some nourishment at the same place,” said SGA environment and sustainability specialist Mercedes Beaudoin in a press release.
Senior biomedical sciences major Courtney Mascoe is excited for Produce on the Patio.
“I think it’s something that will encourage people to avoid eating Burger King all the time and grab a healthy snack instead,” Mascoe said.
The products will all be locally grown from farmers in the surrounding area. Farmers in Christmas, Geneva and Oviedo will be selling their goods, with one of the closest farmers located two miles from campus. Farmers from Melbourne and Oak Hill may also participate, but that will be the farthest commute of all the products. The UCFArboretum may also make an appearance from time to time, Metcalf said.
Another company called Homegrown Co-op will be selling and advertising their order-in-advance option. Customers will be able to choose the products they want online and pick them up at the weekly market on campus, Metcalf said. Homegrown Co-op’s store is in downtown Orlando, and their online ordering can be found at www.homegrowncoop.org.
Items that can be expected weekly at Produce on the Patio include lettuce, tomatoes, strawberries, mushrooms, a collection of herbs, honey, salad dressings and even assorted vanilla products.
Metcalf said the motivation behind creating a farmer’s market on campus came merely from word of mouth.
“There has been talk about wanting more fresh options,” she said.
A thought was to have new vendors in the Student Union who offered fresher, healthier foods, but after listening to a student presentation about starting a farmer’s market at UCF, the plan became clearer.
“We aren’t trying to make any money off of this. We just need to get this off the ground,” Metcalf said.
Metcalf also added foot traffic from students and faculty will be the greatest source of business for the market, which will be convenient for the UCF community as a whole.
Produce on the Patio will take off if students and faculty are consistently interested, but previous attempts at a farmer’s market on campus have not lasted because location was a big issue.
There are many incentives for students and faculty to check out Produce on the Patio. First is the price. Products at farmer’s markets are typically less expensive because traveling expenses are minor, Metcalf said.
“Since the produce is grown locally, there are hardly any traveling expenses, which in return also makes this a sustainability effort,” she said.
Mascoe, who visits the Colonial Farmer’s Market every other week, said buying products from a farmer’s market is typically better than buying food at grocery stores in terms of quality and price.
Buying locally grown fruits and vegetables will not only provide health benefits, but will support small-business farmers in the area as well, Metcalf said. The first 100 customers at Produce on the Patio will also receive a free reusable bag for all their future purchases.
“If we have strong student body support and purchase participation, we can expand and have this initiative continue forever on the UCF campus,” Beaudoin said in a press release.