Tables of leafy green herbs, fresh baked breads and multi-colored apples draw students in on their way back from class.
The Farmers Market at the University of Maryland offers products “which [the vendors] themselves have grown or produced,” according to the market’s webpage.
The vendors – ten total – set up their tables every Wednesday outside of Cole Fieldhouse from 11 a.m. until 3 p.m.
“I try to come here every week,” Caroline Kettl, a senior hearing and speech major, said. “I don’t have a car on campus, so it’s really difficult to get around to stores. But I also really like supporting the different companies and farms from the area.”
All of the food sold each week is local, and travels less than 250 miles to campus, the Farmers Market’s website said.
“Everything is from our farm here, from Virginia,” Juan Izaguirre, a salesman for Valencia’s Produce, said. “From the grocery store they bring [produce] from different states, like California, Florida and all that.”
Valencia’s Produce, of Westmoreland County, Virginia, sells herbs, fruits, vegetables, and even potted flowers at the Farmers Market.
Kettl named McCleaf’s Orchard as her favorite stand at the market, and she wasn’t alone in her opinion.
Freshman Caitlin Burke buys her “usual apples” from the crates at the McCleaf’s Orchard table. Like Kettl, she too tries to make it to the market every week.
The set-up of white top tents, big trucks and rows of tables doesn’t just keep regular customers coming back, it also draws in new faces.
“Today, when I was going to class, I saw that they were setting up … and I made sure to come out,” Angela Townsend, a sophomore criminology major, said, as she shopped at the Farmers Market for the first time.
“It’s really good and healthy food,” Burke said. “It’s different from the diner.”
Not only is the food healthier than the diner, the vendors offer options that can’t be found at the diner.
Colleen Riley is a barista and baker for Sweet Teensy, a bakery in Bethesda, Maryland.
“We have sweet breads, cupcakes, cookies, brownies, granola we started making and lots of other things like scones occasionally,” she said.
While the diner occasionally sells some of these same items, they don’t carry others – like sweet breads – and the items they do have just aren’t of the same caliber that’s found at the Farmers Market.
“We put a lot of love and attention into the product that we make, so the ingredient quality and standards that we have are much higher,” Riley said.
The Farmers Market also sells items that the diner simply could not.
“I sell wine from Cove Point Winery,” Victoria Patterson, a market manager for the winery, said. “We make a variety of reds and whites. We mainly have sweet wines with us here.”
Patterson said the winery decided to become a vendor last year at the Farmers Market at the university because the company thought it would be a good investment due to the population in this area.
Her favorite aspect of the market is the friendly atmosphere of community, as is Riley’s, who said she also liked, “that the students get fresh food, homemade food, so they feel like they’re at home.”
Eating healthier, local produce and homemade foods definitely makes a difference to the students who shop at the Farmers Market.
“I definitely try to make all of my meals from scratch and knowing what goes into your food makes you feel a lot better about what you’re eating,” Kettl said.