Tomatoes sold out in less than two hours. Tomatoes on a college campus.
"It's good for people to get their natural sugars instead of all that artificial sugar," said Ogden fruit-grower Ron Jensen, who served a steady stream of customers at the first-ever University of Utah Farmers Market Thursday. He was sampling varieties of peaches, nectarines and plums picked just before dawn.
"These markets give me more opportunity to sell my fruit so I can enjoy the winter months hiking in the mountains," he said. Jensen was one of about a dozen local vendors participating in the farmers market, to be held every Thursday until Oct. 2.
"Research shows that farmers markets on campus are the most effective way to get students and the staff eating healthier," said U. graduate and market organizer Angela Harmeet Kaur Blanchard. The purpose, she said, is to increase awareness of local community growers as well as to stimulate the local economy, "keeping the money in your neighbor's pockets."
The Thursday time frame, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Harmeet said, will offer students an alternative to waking up early for the Downtown Farmers Market, held Saturdays at Pioneer Park, as well as the People's Market on Sundays.
"This is all food our bodies grew up with," said Alexandra Parvaz, also an organizer and a grad student studying science and technology at the U. The U.'s cafeteria vendor, Chartwells, has also contracted to purchase several thousand pounds of local produce from the market participants to serve to students throughout the week.
"We want to get people thinking about growing and eating healthy," Harmeet said. "The more local you are, the less impact you have on the environment."
U. President Michael K. Young said the idea for the open-air campus market coincide with other university efforts toward a fully sustainable campus. In addition to the push for healthy eating, the U. recently began operation of a new co-generator, has decreased water use, increased recycling and has made all buildings LEED certified.
"It's terrific," Young said, as his wife gathered produce from various vendors. "I love things that start as student-generated initiatives ... and it's a good way to live up to the responsibilities of being adults."
Another vendor selling a variety of home-grown peppers and other vegetables said she believes it's a right for all people to enjoy fresh, organic food.
"Just because it's an exclusive type of food doesn't mean it should cost more and it doesn't mean anyone should be left out," said Colyn Kilmer. "Good, healthy food is a right for all people." She operates her booth on a "take what you need, pay what you can" basis and said she most always breaks even, with a little extra to support her gardening habits.The U. market is sponsored by various departments and organizations on campus, including the Office of Sustainability, WellU and the Utah Department of Health. The market is located on the lawn east of the Simmons Pioneer Memorial Theatre near the stadium TRAX station and parking lot.
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