Farm to campus: Camosun hosts first ever Farmer’s Market at Lansdowne
With stands offering fresh local farm produce and booths set up for cooking demonstrations and information about sustainability, Camosun’s Lansdowne campus courtyard will transform into an interactive autumn farmers market open to everyone on Wednesday, October 3.
We hope that people get excited about buying healthy local food,” says co-organizer Maria Bremner, Manager of Camosun’s Office of Sustainability. “And that they learn a little bit about local food systems through the experience. We hope people understand a bit more about where their food comes from and how everything is connected.”
“In our conversations and surveys with students, food is a top sustainability priority for students,” says co-organizer Tamara Olson. “The market is a great way to introduce people to different ideas of food, and having something accessible on campus that allows them to see, touch and experience sustainable, fresh food is a natural progression of that idea.”
Camosun’s inaugural farmer’s market is generating a positive buzz on campus and the initiative received funding from the college’s Creativity and Innovation Fund. The fund encourages collaboration and creativity and supports innovation, inquiry and scholarly activity through grants to Camosun projects.
“One of the things that makes this market unique is that the education and applied learning component runs throughout and was key to our approach from day one,” says Olson. “Our vendors will demonstrate how they are taking part in food sustainability and giving back in their day to day business activities.”
Organizers have partnered with a variety of local vendors, farmers and associations to host a showcase that will feature the food made and grown right here in Victoria. Around campus, the college community has rallied around the cause with volunteers from Ancillary Services, Culinary Arts, School of Business, Anthropology, Students’ Society, Employment Training & Preparation, Healthy Together, the student population and more contributing their time and expertise. Business students helped by creating a marketing plan and students will be on hand to help with the various booths. “It’s a true Camosun collaboration,” says Bremner. “Everybody’s been so supportive and willing to lend a hand. We hope to build on the experience and make it an annual or seasonal event that people will look forward to.”
As part of their planning process, organizers worked with the local Farmer’s Market Association to ensure that the timing would support local vendors rather than stretching them thin. “We’re so lucky on southern Vancouver Island to have a strong culture of farmers’ markets, especially during the summer months,” says Bremner. “We scheduled our market for harvest time so that it would align both with local vendors and students.
A key objective was to highlight that eating and sourcing healthy foods is easier than many people think. “By bringing farmers and producers directly to the Camosun community, we are starting that conversation,” says Olson.
“It’s going to be a lively, fun and engaging event open to all,” says Olson. “And we hope everyone will enjoy it so much that we can make it bigger and better next year.”