Bi-weekly farmers’ market brings fresh fruit and sustainability to campus

J’Mari HughesCopy Editor

Raspberries, zucchini, broccoli, kale, sage and leeks these are some of the fruits and vegetables grown right on Southern’s campus in the community garden behind Davis Hall.

Students, in collaboration with the Office of Sustainability, gathered on Oct. 7 in front of Buley Library to give away food to students in need.

“The main mission is just to, kind of, provide students with access to, kind of, like, locally grown, locally produced products that they couldn’t probably otherwise get living on a residential campus,” said English major Zella Collier, a senior.

From spring onions to tomatoes sustainability major Ian Bergemann, a junior said whatever they can grow, they do grow.

Originally, the food was given straight to St. Ann’s Church on Dixwell Avenue, but this year, Bergemann said, ‘Why not give it back to the students?’ Previously, the office worked with Hamden Transition Academy, and donated the proceeds to Direct Relief, a non-profit organization that donates to areas, he said, like the Bahamas or Chile after hurricanes or floods.

On this day, however, students were giving the proceeds to the campus food insecurity fund, Bergemann said, in hopes of starting a food pantry.

The campus food insecurity fund began recently in an effort to address the amount of food-insecure students on campus.

According to Bergemann, about 20 to 30 percent of students on campus identify as food-insecure, which affects those especially when dining halls close at 10 p.m. and students are not able to eat every night, he said.

“We’re providing an option for students to take good, healthy food like vegetables and cook that and eat that,” he said. “[It is] also an option to give to that fund which will hopefully create a pantry so students will have more access to different kinds of food, especially the students who just can’t afford it.”

According to Collier, students put much work and care into the garden, yielding lots of fruits and vegetables.

It is a way, she said, to bring attention to the departments that do not get as much recognition.

“The Office of Sustainability has a lot of really great programs going on that I think a lot of people just don’t know that,” said Collier. “The community garden is a community space for everyone on campus that people just don’t know about.”

Geography major Idongesit Udo-okon, a senior, said working in the garden is like life: hard yet easy, and fun.

According to Udo-okon she gets to learn more about plants and growing vegetables, as well as plant competition and weeding.

She said what they gave away was just a small fraction of what comes out of the garden, as last year around 900 pounds of food was donated.

According to Bergemann, he does not think students have a lot of information about food systems, despite the technique being a critical part of any community.

Some students, he said, have never worked in the garden and have never seen vegetables like the ones they grow, so he said they want to spread an awareness to students for local food system support initiatives and to help fight food insecurity.

“Being that Southern embraces the idea of such a holistic community, we want to have that food system part to be integral so students are not only observing the food system with how food grows,” he said.

Bergemann said they are set to return for their final farmer’s market in the next few weeks and students will continue to be allowed to donate to the market or take what they needed, as some might not have the money.

“We’re not gonna stop [students] from taking [the food] because otherwise, it all gets donated to St. Ann’s,” he said. “Either a student has it now or somebody who’s in need has it at the church.”

Photo credit: Izzy Manzo

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