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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Rudder Plaza eyed as prime location for farmer’s market

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Sydney Farris — The Battalion

Locally grown produce and goods may soon be sold at Rudder Plaza, if an organization’s plans to bring a farmer’s market to the heart of Texas A&M’s campus come to fruition.
The idea was brought up nine months ago at an Environmental Issues Committee meeting. While the idea has since gained traction among the committee members, some farmers and administrators point to logistical challenges and similar efforts that have failed in the past as reasons to hold back.
The idea of a farmer’s market on campus came up during a discussion about how inconveniently the current markets are located for students, said Cara Brewer, bioenvironmental sciences sophomore and EIC programming director.
“We were in a meeting one day and [the EIC president] was talking about how she goes to the farmers market, and how it was early and far away,” Brewer said. “No student is going to want to wake up at 7:30 a.m. on a Saturday to go, so I said, ‘Why don’t we just have a farmers market on campus?’”
Brewer said a busy schedule and campus bureaucracy has prevented a quick amount of progress.
“We have to get forms filled out by all the farmers saying [EIC] can sell their food,” Brewer said. “They cannot come on campus to sell, and all the money has to go through our bank account and be distributed back to them. There are a lot of minute details that need to work.”
Emily Wornson, environmental studies senior and EIC president, said she thinks this will promote a greener lifestyle to students living on and off campus. Even though buying local usually means organic and fresher produce, Wornson said she is also aware of some setbacks.
“I don’t see a demand for the market, because I don’t think people know we have a farmers market in Bryan-College Station,” Wornson said. “There isn’t really a demand because people don’t really know it exists.”
As a vendor at the Brazos Valley Farmer’s Market, Beth Hadden, Class of 1981 and baker-owner of “Twisted Bakery,” said she thinks the collaboration could work. But her husband Ed Hadden said some concerns would need to be addressed before sellers bring their goods to Rudder Plaza.
“Another problem would potentially be the set up,” Ed said. “[Most of the farmers] work and sell out of their truck bed. Would the university allow that or would we have to drop our goods off?”
Amy Decker, owner and curator of “Jammin’ Granny,” said should the market come to campus and become popular with the students, one of her greatest concerns would be planning for student demand.
“If we did it, there should be a trial instead of going in blind and on the fly,” Decker said.
Regardless of whether there is an orientation or not, Brazos Valley Farmers’ Market manager, Roger Burton, said he thinks the profit and benefit for the farmers is not there.
“They used to do a farmers’ market on campus at Sbisa,” Burton said. “It was basically farm patch, which is across from Chicken Oil Company on South College Avenue. They have produce and a market. We had a few [farmers from our market] that went in with them and found they didn’t sell much.”
Hadden said he is discouraged because the previous markets on Northgate and various other campus locations had low participation.
“[An on campus farmers’ market] has never worked before,” Burton said. “If they quit, it is because the demand wasn’t there.”
Even though an on-campus farmer’s market is in its earlier stages, Brewer said she and the EIC want food education to be a focal point of the process.
“[Eating local] means eating sustainably and knowing where your food comes from,” Brewer said. “It also means giving money to someone you can literally shake hands with and help sustain small and organic farms as best as we can. It means budding a relationship with the people that grow your food.”

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