Campus Life

USU farmers' market puts the 'Ag' back into 'Aggies'

As the harvest season comes to a close, so does the first annual Utah State University Farmers' Market. (photo from the USU Statesman Online)

The Student Life section of Utah State Today highlights work written by the talented student journalists at Utah State University. Each week, the editor selects a story that has been published in The Utah Statesman or Utah State News Service (formerly The Hard News Café) or both for inclusion in Utah State Today.

USU farmers’ market puts the ‘Ag’ back into ‘Aggies’

By: Ashley Stilson in The Utah Statesman Sunday, October 9, 2016

As the harvest season comes to a close, so does the first annual Utah State University Farmers’ Market.

“Everybody who has been here has been thrilled with it, and how could you not be?” said Samantha Bunderson, a senior majoring in piano performance. “You see students come over and say, ‘Oh, I’ve always wanted there to be a farmers’ market here!’ or students like, ‘How long has this been going on? I love this.’ Some people get really excited.”

Bunderson leads a team of students who organize the Farmers’ Market every week.

“We’ve been planning all summer long getting ready for it. It’s done amazingly well,” said Logan Christian, Blue Goes Green outreach intern and a senior majoring in environmental studies. “It just kind of grew and grew and grew because more interns in the sustainability office jumped in with it.”

Around eight to 10 off-campus and student vendors set up booths weekly for the farmers’ market on the Taggart Student Center patio. Wares range from fresh vegetables, Navajo tacos, honeycomb, sushi, student art and more.

“The base is it’s gotta be locally sourced and it’s gotta be sustainable,” Bunderson said.

The market also features live musicians who add ambience to the on-campus market. The first day of the market was Sept. 1, and its popularity has continued to grow.

“There is a huge diversity of people coming to this market,” Christian said. “It also kind of brings people together from all sorts of disciplines for a common objective and one big food community on campus.”

The farmers’ market began as an idea to increase sustainability and access to fresh produce on campus. Bunderson and Christian submitted a grant for the Blue Goes Green Grant program. The grant asked for $6,000 to buy marketing supplies, table tents and tokens for the ‘double your dollars’ program. The grant was approved in May 2016.

“Especially being an agricultural school, and having so many fabulous farms nearby, and fabulous farmers, too, it’s been great to work with them. Students don’t really have access to that,” Bunderson said. “There is the local Gardeners’ Market on Saturdays (in Logan), but a lot of students either don’t get there or don’t know about it. This increases awareness and it increases accessibility.”

The best part of the market, Bunderson said, was that the ‘double your dollars’ program allows students to purchase produce at half price. Students can receive two $1 tokens for each dollar exchanged, up to $5.

“Of course we should have a Farmers’ Market, we’re a public agriculture university,” said James Wirth, a senior majoring in interdisciplinary studies and sustainable food production. “Sustainability is a way of approaching the world that makes sure that there’s things left for the future generations.”

Wirth works as the sustainable food intern for Blue Goes Green office. He also collaborates with students who want to take part or set up a booth for the market.

One of the booths at the market is the Student Organic Farm. Ayla Stults-Lopez, a sophomore majoring in plant science with an emphasis on horticulture, is the manager for the Student Organic Farm. She said their program has been setting up a solitary booth on the TSC patio for years.

“It’s really great that we have all these other people now because it brings attention to us. We’re not this lonely little stand selling fruit,” she said with a laugh.

The Student Organic Farm grows produce on a third of an acre at 1750 N 800 E. The farm is USDA certified organic and has produce ranging from leafy greens to strawberries to pumpkins.

“People are always very supportive of it,” said Stults-Lopez. “People get excited when they see fresh organic produce that we harvest that day.”

Another booth is run by William Clarke, a freshman majoring in mechanical engineering. He began his own embroidery business, Little Pine Tree Embroidery, and creates products for students at the market.

“I like doing it. I like seeing people wearing stuff they’ve always dreamt about having,” Clarke said. “It’s gotten my name out a lot more. Being out here, people can see the stuff I can do.”

Nathan Huntzinger, an 18-year-old high school graduate from North Logan, operates a honey products company called Bees Brothers. His booth has been at the USU Farmers’ Market since it opened.

“It’s been a lot of fun at this market,” he said.

Tanner Warne, a sophomore majoring in education, said “Before, if you wanted to have the farmers’ market experience, for the college kids you’d have to go to the county one next to the courthouse. Now it’s cool because we’re bring the community into the school.”

The market is open for the last week this season on Oct. 13 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

“There’s something here from everybody, and it’s all going to be cheap,” Bunderson said. “It benefits the whole community, I would say.”

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