Local vendors hope at-school farmers’ market encourages healthy choices
Kaitlin Vitt, NEWS EDITOR
Local producers and consumers showed two-way support at Red River College’s first farmers market.
Angele Gauthier, a third-year nursing student at RRC, stopped at the market inside Notre Dame Campus between classes Sept. 9. She said she wanted to buy healthy food, bringing home a bag of quinoa grown in Portage la Prairie.
“I wanted to support Manitoba,” Gauthier said. “You want to support the local guys here and buy as local as possible.”
There were six vendors at the market, selling items including hair and face products, baking and produce.
Britt Embry, from the small-scale farm Hearts & Roots near Elie, Man., sold produce at the market.
“We want to try and get fresh vegetables to students instead of (them) feeling like they need to support us,” Embry said.
Percy Phillips, from Prairie Quinoa, grows quinoa in Portage la Prairie. Last year he had his first commercial crop, after five years of working to find a variety of the grain that grows in Manitoba.
Manitobans can grow a range of crops, including cauliflower, broccoli, chalets, beets and now quinoa, he explained.
“Manitoba is more innovative in agriculture than people understand,” Phillips said, pointing to Embry’s produce stand. “Buying local is a choice people have to support innovative, hardworking people, like her.
“If you just want to buy something wrapped in cellophane or whatnot and leave, and you just want the lowest price no matter what, that’s your business,” he said. “Everybody has a choice.”
The bees on the rooftop of the Paterson GlobalFoods Institute building this summer inspired the farmers market, said Sara MacArthur, the organizer of the market and RRC’s manager of sustainability.
“At the end of the summer, we were left with 75 kilograms of honey that our bees produced, so we thought about what we could do with all this honey,” MacArthur said. “We thought that (a farmers market) would be a great way to showcase honey and to connect students and staff with sustainable issues on campus.”
People who visit a market can meet the producers, better understanding where food comes from, she added.
“We feel at the college like we have a responsibility to educate and inform our students about sustainability practices and to take a leadership role in that.”
MacArthur said she hopes to have another market at the college, though it likely won’t be until next summer.