Markets bring local produce to campus

Photo provided by David Burley -- Cecelia Palermo, Southeastern Louisiana University's Farmer's Market manager, holds a sign Oct. 22 to encourage students to support Real Food on campus. Real food is a food system 'that fundamentally respects human dignity and health, animal welfare, social justice and environmental stainability.'
Photo provided by David Burley -- Cecelia Palermo, Southeastern Louisiana University's Farmer's Market manager, holds a sign Oct. 22 to encourage students to support Real Food on campus. Real food is a food system 'that fundamentally respects human dignity and health, animal welfare, social justice and environmental stainability.'

Donna Walden picked through a plethora of home-grown vegetables at Southeastern Louisiana University’s farmers market Oct. 22, and walked away with a bag full of fresh tomatoes, cucumbers, radishes and bell peppers.

“It’s convenient, and I like buying local,” said Walden, a staff member at SLU.

Walden, who picked her produce from two co-ops at the market, said she planned to freeze some of the vegetables.

Members of the SLU group Reconnect are continuing their mission to bring locally grown food to campus.

One of the ways they’re accomplishing their goal is to host farmers markets twice a semester so students can have access to locally grown fruits and vegetables.

On Nov. 15, two co-ops brought their wares — sweet potatoes, onions, green peppers, carrots, tomatoes, cucumbers and other fresh produce — to students.

The farmers market was held outside of the Student Union and drew a crowd of students hoping to find something healthful to eat on campus.

“It’s one of the most important things in my life,” said graduate student Jessica Ciufi, of eating healthful and choosing home-grown vegetables.

Like Ciufi, farmers market manager Cecelia Palermo said she believes the market helps get communication from the students to the growers started.

“They find out where their food comes from and it puts a face to their food,” Palermo said.

“It helps students understand that they have a choice in what they eat and where it comes from,” Palermo said.

The farmers market also helps farmers become aware of who is buying their food, she said.

“It’s not just an older generation but a younger one too,” Palermo said.

About 10 farmers from two co-ops — Pointe Coupee and Indian Springs — attended the November market, she said.

Melvin Jones, of Indian Springs Farmers Cooperative Association, of Petal, Miss., said he is “just trying to bring fresh local produce” to the campus.

It’s about trying to get people to eat fresh produce, he said. So far, Jones said, he has been very successful selling his produce at the market.