It finally happened! Friday, September 26, after months of proposing, pitching, and planning, the University of Calgary finally hosted their first Farmers' Market on campus.
It didn't happen without some bumps along the way, but the reception from the campus community was amazing. Despite the rainy afternoon. people came out in droves to pick up fresh produce and fruits from The Apple Lady, Leaf & Lyre, Country Thyme Farms, and Shirley's Greenhouses while talking about food with the U of C Aquaponics Club, the Communal Table program, Canadian Food Grains Bank and more! I kept hearing people asking "when's the next market?" amidst exclamations of "this is so, so cool!" or "this is great!" I was floored by the responses, but not surprised: campus wants healthy, local food! Yes!
I'm really excited to see where this pilot market takes the University of Calgary... it's evident by the turn-out and the response from vendors that this is something the campus is excited about and a precedent has been set. It's important that the Office starts to talk to other departments and stakeholders on campus and discusses the potential for more markets (or - fingers crossed - permanent markets). It's been especially hard to make all of this happen while not working at the office as I'm pathetically entangled in a world of shared network drives and Outlook calendars that I can't seem to to function without, but I think that if they did start thinking seriously about the future things can go much smoother using what we've learnt here. The patience of the vendors and campus groups working with me for this pilot did not go unappreciated.The logistics and support came from so many groups and I feel truly grateful to have had so many people on my side removing potential obstacles and barriers to help propel this movement. If this is to continue, we can't always count on getting lucky (or the generosity of other departments) and running with a budget of $0 - although sometimes all it takes is just someone getting permission for something to happen.
While I'm going to miss working on this project and working with the university, I'm excited to see what happens next for food on campus and will hopefully be in town to buy fruits and veggies when someone else takes on the next University of Calgary Farmers' Market (whenever that will be)!
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