A weekly on-campus food market featuring fresh fruits and vegetables at affordable prices returns to the campus center.
Beginning Thursday 22nd September at 12.00pm the Campus Market will reopen to allow members of the University of Guelph community to shop for fresh and some organic produce at flexible prices.
Launched last spring, the market was an instant hit as customers queued up early and carried reusable bags to shop for fresh produce.
Each item on the market is tiered in price, ranging from near average grocery store prices to a 30-50 percent discount.
Market visitors select their items, take them to the checkout and are asked to choose a total price they are happy to pay – no questions asked. Organizers hope that those who can afford to pay a little more will make up for those who can’t pay full price.
This fall, the Guelph Center for Urban Organic Farming (GCUOF) will be making its organic food grown on the U of G campus available to visitors for the first four weeks of the market.
Other fruits and vegetables are supplied by The SEED, a non-profit community food project at the Guelph Community Health Center, which buys produce at wholesale prices for its own community markets across the city.
A comfortable and stigma-free environment
Increasing access to fresh produce in a way that respects the dignity of students has always been the primary goal of the market, says market coordinator Maya Nickle, a fourth-year student of Applied Nutrition who has been the student-led leader of the initiative since its inception .
“We want the market to be a comfortable and stigma-free environment for everyone,” she says.
Other market contributors at the market include the Feeding 9 Billion Peer Helper Group within the Arrell Food Institute, the Office of Sustainability, and the GuelphLab, an initiative of the U of G’s Community Engaged Scholarship Institute.
This year, organizers are planning a new checkout model, borrowed from The SEED, that will allow customers to select their own discount through a Square payment terminal, rather than telling the cashier what they can afford.
“We hope this will help customers feel more comfortable and pay what they can without pressure, as we’ve found that naming a price out loud has been a barrier for our visitors,” she says.
Nickle says while the spring campus market was a great pilot run, she and other market organizers are expecting many more visitors this year.
“Not only do we anticipate increased foot traffic with so many more students on campus, but with food price inflation, there’s likely to be a lot more interest and need.”
Campus market about food, but also about community
Working with GCUOF will help fill grocery inventory and expand the market’s offerings with more variety and organic options, something Nickle expects customers will enjoy.
“You can’t believe how excited the students are about how big the sweet potatoes are or not having to walk to the grocery store or even being able to buy an avocado,” she says.
While the campus market is all about food, it’s also about community.
“The purpose of the market is really to bring people together and make food security an open conversation while celebrating how to get fresh produce,” says Nickle.
Several community collaborations are planned. Representatives from the Indigenous Student Center, the U of G’s [email protected] and the John F. Wood Center for Business and Student Enterprise will participate in the market on separate days.
“We’re really excited to be running again and encouraging everyone to come out,” Nickle says. “We couldn’t run this market without the support of the U of G community or our amazing partners. So thank you to everyone who helped bring this vision to life.”
The food market runs from 12pm to 3pm and is open to everyone in the U of G community.
Stay up to date on upcoming market dates and activities by following @uogfoodmarket on Instagram.