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Farmers market keeps menu fresh

Published: Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Updated: Wednesday, July 25, 2012 20:07

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The Farm Patch brings produce to the front of Sbisa Dining Hall and offers fresh food alternatives for students.

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Fresh produce is available in front of Sbisa Dining Hall Thursday morning.

Locally grown and sustainable produce is growing in popularity as more people learn about the benefits of eating fresh foods. Texas A&M has made fresh produce accessible to students on campus by inviting a farmers market to set up shop in front of Sbisa Dining Center weekly, starting Thursday.

Students will be able to purchase produce, much of which is locally grown by small farmers.

Stacey Rugh, marketing coordinator for University Dining, said the farmers market is a visible product of the University’s sustainability initiative.

“It’s done as a resource for students and faculty,” Rugh said. “It’s to help people eat locally and promote a healthy diet.”

The farmers market includes produce from Howdy Farm, a student-operated farm on campus, and from the Farm Patch in Bryan. Brady Grimes, manager of Howdy Farm and senior horticulture and renewable natural resources major, said the food available at the farmers market is better than food you can buy in a large chain, such as Walmart or HEB.

“It’s a big difference. Local food has several benefits that HEB couldn’t give you,” Grimes said. “One of those is variety. A lot of times big stores have the standard things, like Roma tomatoes and yellow squash. And the quality, nothing compares to fresh produce picked the morning of. It loses a lot of flavor and nutrients in transport.”

Grimes also said purchasing locally grown produce is good for the local economy.

“By supporting small farmers in this area, they get most of the money, instead of supporting advertisers and big chains,” Grimes said. “A lot of that money stays around for us regular folks to use.”

This early in the growing season, Grimes said Howdy Farms doesn’t have enough produce to sell at Thursday’s farmers market. However, he plans to sell products at future farmers markets, on campus every Thursday until April 26.  

Mike Marino, assistant manager at the Bryan-based produce market Farm Patch, said they have been selling food at the on-campus market for many years.

“[The University] wants to promote healthy habits, so we come out there for them,” Marino said.

Marino said the Farm Patch tries to get locally grown food whenever possible, but certain foods are only available at certain times of the year. Many of the foods that will be at the farmers market won’t be available from local farms until around May, so some of the produce will not be locally grown.

“Whatever we can find locally we try to get in here,” Marino said.

The farmers market will be open in front of Sbisa beginning Thursday morning and continuing through 2 p.m.

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