On the afternoon of Sept. 15, the Farm to Campus Market returned to the lawn of the Zell B. Miller Learning Center at the University of Georgia. The market featured fresh produce and tabling from the Swap Shop, Sunrise Movement Athens and the Office of Sustainability. Live music was also performed by CannonandtheBoxes.
Farmers Market Friends is an organization established last year by co-presidents Abraham Lebos, a senior double majoring in biochemistry and psychology, and Reese MacMillan, a senior biochemistry major. The co-presidents started hosting the Farm to Campus Market in March of 2021 in partnership with the Athens Farmers Market with the goal of providing fresh produce and healthy options to UGA students.
“I think [last year was] more successful than we expected us to be in so many different ways,” Lebos said. “Our produce sold really well [and] the interest was here.”
Lebos and MacMillan received interest from UGA students which allowed them to continue their operations this year.
“We learned that if you make [markets] accessible, it really engages students who have so much passion … especially when it’s something as important as local food systems and the nutrition that local produce can bring,” MacMillan said. “It was very refreshing to see how UGA students mobilized so effectively.”
Farmers Market Friends collaborates with local growers from the Athens Farmers Market to provide fresh produce that will change with the seasons.
“It's great that I can get fresh food right on campus, it’s super convenient,” said Sydney Benson, a sophomore international affairs major. “I also think it’s great to support local producers.”
With the return to in person classes, Farmers Market Friends are hoping for bigger turnouts this semester.
The market raises money for the Athens Farmers Market Food as Real Medicine Rx (FARM Rx) Program. This program “prescribes fruits and vegetables to patients with chronic, diet-related illnesses to promote healthy eating and reduce the burden of chronic disease,” according to the Athens Farmers Market website.
“We're getting a lot more people on campus … so we're hoping that the sales can stay up and we can continue to donate to FARM Rx,” MacMillian said.
The Farm to Campus Market is not just about promoting fresh and healthy food — it also gives campus organizations and student artists a place to spread awareness about their organizations and sell their art.
Farmers Market Friends has many partner requests, according to a video about them published on the UGA YouTube page. The events host sustainability organizations, live musicians and students from the Lamar Dodd School of Art selling their work.
At the market on Wednesday, the organizations present were all sustainability based, including the Office of Sustainability, the Swap Shop and the Sunrise Movement Athens. The Swap Shop is a UGA organization where students can trade gently used items, especially clothes, for something in the shop at no cost. The Sunrise Movement Athens is a student organization that advocates for fighting climate change.
The Farm to Campus Market continues to operate outdoors in efforts to minimize the risk of spreading COVID-19. Upcoming markets will be held from 11 a.m. until 3 p.m. on Wednesdays through Nov. 17.