OCTOBER 10, 2012
Green Unity VCU held its first Farmer’s Market this week. The Farmer’s Market offered students freshly grown produce and other organically grown food to inspire healthy eating at the Community Garden located on the MCV campus.
Green Unity VCU is a student-run organization focused on green education and service to the community. They host regular gardening events around Richmond to help beautify the area and provide fresh produce to the city. Green Unity has also planted several other garden plots between the MCV and Monroe Park campuses.
The Farmer’s Market is an idea stemming from the Rams Community Bazaar last Earth Day, where VCU students sold organic produce and repurposed crafts.
Melissa Lesh, a senior painting and printmaking student involved in Green Unity, said the event is focused on local growers in an attempt to see more healthy, local produce on the MCV campus. She said that they are trying to spread nutrition and make it economically feasible for the community.
“We’ve started small,” Lesh said, “but with more time and planning, it could grow. With more farmers and help from students, growing in the market and giving them a space to get their produce out there can start to bring in an income.”
The market featured many seasonal goods for sale. Students could buy fresh apples, raspberries, jams and even some specialty goods like free-range eggs, apple cider and egg noodles.
“What’s very important about a local market is that you are growing and selling in season,” Lesh said. “You are producing what is meant to be produced at the current time.”
The fair also partners with various local farmers and organic food groups in the area to sell fresh produce to students. Tricycle Gardens, a Richmond-based nonprofit group, had a table at the market. The local organization, which helps start community gardens and grows healthy food in urban environments, sold produce such as eggplants, arugula and peppers.
Fresh produce wasn’t the only thing sold at the market. Green Unity member Melanie Savia, a senior psychology student, also did henna tattoos and sold incense and organic soap.
“(The soaps) don’t have any chemicals in them,” Savia said. “This is an extension of supporting local and smaller businesses.”
The market is planned for the third Tuesday of every month except for December, with different seasonal produce sold each month. Savia hopes to see the market expand with more crafts, music, and as many different types of small outlets as possible. She also expressed the idea of doing a holiday fair to help donate to local shelters around Christmas.
“I would love to bring VCU and the community of Richmond together in a project of service, community engagement, and educating on many different levels,” Savia said.
The Farmer’s Market is to be the first of many similar events sponsored by Green Unity. They are considering starting a seed bank, where students can exchange and preserve seeds to grow and harvest. Lesh said there will be a Harvest Festival on Nov. 15, with more vendors and local produce than the first market.