Farm-fresh vegetables are one of the delicious high points of summer. As fall rolls around, Michigan Dining and Central Student Government will help extend their availability through on-campus M Farmers Markets.
The events began last week and will continue on Central and North campuses through October. Locations are:
• Sept. 28, 10-2 p.m., The Grove, North Campus.
• Oct. 12, 10-2 p.m., South Ingalls Mall.
• Oct. 26, 10-2 p.m., The Grove, North Campus.
Fresh fruits, veggies and other locally sourced food items will be available for purchase from three local farms and U-M’s student-run Campus Farm.
“The significant part about M Farmers Markets — in addition to celebrating healthy eating and sustainable living — is that farmers markets are an important part of the community for economic, social and environmental vitality,” says Keith Soster, director of Student Engagement in MDining.
“Farmers markets serve not only as a way for people to purchase locally grown produce but also as a chance for them to connect with others within their communities.”
Vicki Zilke of Zilke Farms, which will sell produce at the market, says she enjoys the partnership.
“We’ve been working with U-M for a while now on the farms, and we enjoy being able to offer people on campus fresh, wholesome food,” she says.
Zilke also says she has witnessed a decided increase in people choosing this healthy option.
“People want to be sustainable, they want to know what’s going in their bodies, and they seem to enjoy interacting with the people who grow their food in this way. It’s a fun experience,” she says.
Buying from farmers markets helps reduce our environmental footprint. Across the country, more than 85 percent of farmers market vendors travel fewer than 50 miles to sell at the markets, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. In comparison, most supermarkets see seven to 14 days go by between the time produce is picked and when it becomes available to shoppers. In that time, fruits and vegetables travel, on average, more than 1,200 miles before reaching grocery store shelves.
The upcoming M Farmers Markets are part of the university’s goal to have 20 percent of the food served on campus provided by farmers within a 250-mile radius. More than 30 Michigan farmers and suppliers currently provide the university with meat, milk, eggs, fruits, vegetables and more.
Participating in the fall on-campus markets are:
• Zilke Vegetable Farm of Milan.
• Lesser Farms of Dexter.
• Todosciuk Farms & Greenhouses of Howell.
• U-M Campus Farm