Weekly Farmer's Market Offers BC Fresh, Local Food
Published: Sunday, September 16, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, January 9, 2013 18:01
On Thursday afternoon, as Boston College students are nearing the end of a long week of classes with many hours spent in the chemistry lab or holed up in O’Neill Library writing that first long paper of the year, students can take a break from the rigorous academic schedule, as well as experience a little taste of that local hometown feel that is often missing on a college campus, through the local farmer’s market outside of Corcoran Commons from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m.
The variety of items students can purchase using their residential dining bucks includes fruits that one could find in any of the normal dining halls, such as apples, peaches, and pears—with the difference that these produce items come from local New England farmers as opposed to the fruit found in any of the dining halls, which comes from large food distributors that get their produce from around the country.
The farmer’s markets also include more interesting and exotic produce items that may not usually be found in the typical college student’s dorm, such as garlic, eggplant, sun gold cherry tomatoes, whole squash, romaine lettuce, and corn on the cob. For the carb-loaders, one can find French bread and herb focaccia from local Charlestown, Mass. bakery Biga Breads, along with some BC Dining pies and breads, including blueberry and apple pie.
When the farmer’s market was introduced five years ago, it was set up with the goal of providing fresh local produce to BC students with the opportunity to use their residential dining dollars. The produce at the market comes from BC Dining’s produce vendor, Costa Fruit and Produce. Within Costa’s business there is a branch that deals specifically with local farmers and their produce, which is where BC’s farmer’s market produce comes from. Because of BC Dining’s business relationship with Costa, when it comes to choosing the items for the farmer’s market, "We reach out to Costa and their local farm produce and take what we want," said Derrick Cripps, general manager of Corcoran Commons.
"It is a true farmer’s market in the way that when a certain produce is out for the season, it’s out. We no longer have it at the market," he said.
The items found at the market, as well as the prices, rely on the harvest of the fall season. With the recent hot, dry summer, along with the unusually warm fall, certain items, like the apples in the farmer’s market, look slightly less juicy and plump than those one would find in the dining halls as a result of them being truly local produce.
Cripps also sees the farmer’s market as an opportunity to show students what local produce is available in New England. "I know students are intimidated to cook certain items found in the market, like a full eggplant or corn on the cob, especially if they don’t have a kitchen. We have it out there so students can see, hey this is what you can get." In the case of the produce that is not sold, it all ends up being used in the dishes served at Corcoran Commons.
Although the farmer’s market has been at BC for five years, the general consensus from students was that they didn’t really know about it, due to the minimal advertising about the weekly program, aside from a banner outside of Corcoran Commons.
Megan Clark, A&S ’15, upon her second visit to the farmer’s market said, "As a freshman living on Upper Campus last year I had no idea about it. But now living on Lower Campus I am going to make a weekly visit. I love that I can use my residential dining bucks on the program, since I always have money left over every semester."
Kevin Decusatis, A&S ’13, who lives in Edmond’s Hall with a full kitchen, commented on the price of items, stating, "The produce here is typically more expensive than one would find in a normal grocery store—but that is almost always the case when it comes direct from the source, like with the farmer’s market. But I have also found peppers [at the market] cheaper than at Trader Joe’s."
Many of the students at the market enjoyed the idea of helping out local farmers. Sydney West, A&S ’13, said, " I like that fact that I am supporting local initiatives by purchasing produce at the farmer’s market, as well as the fact that I can use my meal plan money."