The lure of ice cold watermelon, crisp apples and ripe tomatoes attracted a steady stream of customers to the campus farmers market on Wednesday.
On fall opening day, students in search of the comforts of home could pick up a homemade cookie or find soap scented with lavender or patchouli, the original hippie fragrance. The more philosophically inclined could purchase a box or false book safe featuring the verses of Shakespeare, Byron or Keats from Donata Guerra, poet and proprietor of Old Broom Street.
Alumni, students and employees were snapping up pepper jelly with a Wolfpack label from Peggy Rose’s, based in Wake Forest.
The vendors, who hail from North Carolina and have strong ties to NC State, seemed to relish the chance to spend time visiting with their customers on the Brickyard near D.H. Hill Library.
“We’ve fed a lot of students today,” said Paige Key, owner of Yah’s Best Salsa, based in Huntersville. The 1996 zoology graduate and her mother sell salsas made mostly with ingredients grown on 7 acres of land that’s been in the family since 1895. “It’s a friendly setting. People seem happy to see us out here again.”
A Growing Concern
The two students who’ve made the farmers market a reality kept an approving eye on things as produce boxes emptied in late afternoon.
“It’s good to see the market growing this way,” said founder Eric Ballard, a graduate who opened the market for Earth Day in 2008. He credits current manager Ariel Fugate for her dedication and organizational skills.
Fugate, a junior, is already planning ways to keep the market going after she graduates. Plans include offering academic credit in agroecology and pursuing a grant that would fund a part-time position. Right now, the market runs on vendor fees and about $300 in student organization funding.
The campus market supports the 10 percent campaign, an effort to get North Carolinians to spend a 10th of their food dollars locally. So far, more than 1,000 people have signed up for the campaign with the Center for Environmental Farming Systems, based at NC State.
Fugate capped off the day with a little shopping of her own. She filled a reusable bag with some fresh produce on her way home.
The weekly market runs from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Wednesdays this fall. Visit the Farmers Market Web site for details on special events involving pumpkins, caramel apples and cooking demonstrations.