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Members of Cornercopia, a student-run organic farming initiative on the U's Twin Cities campus in St. Paul.

Members of Cornercopia, a University of Minnesota student-run organic farming initiative, show off their produce at the U's highly successful on-campus farmers market.

Fresh hit on Church Street

Weekly farmers market on TC campus a crowd favorite

By Pauline Oo

Published on July 27, 2005

As the clock struck noon, little produce remained for the last two hours of the U's very first farmers market on the Twin Cities campus. Some vendors were already closing shop or loading empty crates and boxes into their trucks.

"We really didn't expect this--the crowd and the selling out pretty much everything we brought," says Say Vang, one of six vendors at the July 13 opening. Vang and her mother saw their homegrown produce from Wisconsin fly off the tables in 30 minutes. "We're definitely going to be back, and we'll be bringing more with us next time."

Wednesday, July 27, marked the third week of the farmers market. The market continues each Wednesday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. through August 24.

In addition to vendors like Vang from the Minneapolis Farmers Market cooperative, Cornercopia, a student-farming group, had tables full of the only organic produce at the market. The two-year-old organization, which manages an acre of farmland on the corner of Cleveland and Larpenteur avenues in St. Paul, sells flowers, herbs, vegetables, and a wild salad mix.

"All our products are the result of organic practices on our farm," says Jared Ashling, Cornercopia farm manager and University student. "We have 13 interns who do research on the farm, and we're also responsible for producing and selling [what we sow]." The students work and consult with University professors on a host of organic and sustainable gardening techniques, including composting, soil management, companion planting, and pest management.

Carol Carrier, vice president of human resources, has been dreaming of an on-campus farmers market for years. "We're thrilled to launch our farmers market," says Carrier. "This has been on my list of something that I thought would be wonderful for the U community [and residents in nearby neighborhoods], but I had no idea what it was going to take to make it happen."

Where is the East Bank market?

For a map of the exact location of the new farmers market, see the UPlan Wellness Web site.

Carrier's staff latched on to the idea and started the ball rolling early this year to secure a site, recruit farmers, and obtain permits and licenses.

"The farmers market goes hand in hand with the overall UPlan Wellness program's philosophy of eating right and knowing what's healthy," says Deb Stull-Erickson from the Office of Human Resources that is coordinating the project. The U's Office of Human Resources introduced the UPlan Wellness program in 2004 to encourage University employees to lead healthy lifestyles.

The University also has a farmers market on the Duluth campus. Vendors from the Sustainable Farming Association will be on Kirby Plaza at UMD every Wednesday, through September 28, from 2 to 4:30 p.m. Items available for sale include plants, herbal hand creams, lip balms, and fruits. Both the Morris and Crookston campuses offer fresh local foods through two campus-community partnerships: Pride of the Prairie and Local Foods Partnership, respectively.