The weekly farmers’ market in front of the Science Center is a habit that K J Warren ’11 and Lindsey M. Kowal ’12 developed over the past semester.
“It’s a tradition to look forward to in the middle of the week,” Warren says.
Both the Farmers’ Market at Harvard and its sister market in Allston began as projects of the Harvard University Hospitality and Dining Services’ Food Literacy Project, and are dedicated to selling locally grown or made products such as baked goods, cheese, or maple syrup, with the goal of making healthier and fresher products more accessible to the Harvard community while supporting local vendors.
While the Farmers’ Market at Harvard has largely been successful in satisfying such a mission, its younger sibling—the Allston Farmers’ Market—is still struggling.
GOING GREEN, GOING SMALL?
The Farmers’ Market at Harvard—opened in 2005—and the Allston Farmers’ Market—opened in 2008—both have operated under the mission of supporting local farms. While normally about 17 cents of every dollar spent goes to the farmer, all of the money spent at a farmer’s market goes directly to the farmer, according to HUHDS.
Food Literacy Project coordinator Dara B. Olmsted ’00, manager of the farmer’s markets in front of the Science Center and in Allston, says that the main contribution of the farmer’s market was its emphasis on going local.
“[The farmer’s market] brings people together—supporting local farms and local community is important to a lot of people,” she says.
And the concept of a farmer’s market is not only to make healthy food more accessible to a local community, but also to bolster local business in an environmentally friendly way, according to Walter C. Willett, chair of the department of nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health.
“[Farmer’s markets] can support local agriculture with shorter supply chains, and lessen environmental impact as well,” he says.
Nearly all of the 24 vendors at the Harvard market are local. The Harvard market’s counterpart in Allston, located in a parking lot across the street from a Whole Foods, has only nine.
But according to Olmsted, the Allston market—which opened in 2008—still has the option of expanding, while the Harvard market is restricted by its space.
MORE THAN JUST FOOD
The Harvard market sells 16 different types of products, which according to a few of the vendors, makes it a relatively small market. The Allston market represents an even smaller range of products.
“This market does not have as broad a range in terms of variety as other markets I’ve been to,” Sue Ventura, a vendor at the Allston Market says. “Nobody sells eggs, cheese, or meat, for instance.”