The Healthy Carolina Farmers Market is opening to bring fresh, locally grown produce to all USC students throughout the spring semester.
Healthy Carolina, an organization whose goal is to promote healthy choices on campus, will be holding their 2016 farmers market from 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. on Greene Street every Tuesday from March 15 to April 19. At the market, many local vendors come to sell their produce and other goods to students at USC.
“Students can expect everything from organic produce to freshly popped kettle corn,” Dianna Colvin, the Healthy Carolina Farmers Market graduate assistant, said. “Some of our most popular products are the fresh-squeezed juices, locally roasted coffee and homemade goat cheese.”
The farmers market is run by Healthy Carolina, Student Government, Parking Services and the South Carolina Department of Agriculture and has been in operation since 2008. Colvin said that the farmers market serves as "a sustainable, regional food shed" and "emphasizes the direct connection between local food choices ... and the quality and health of our environment and daily lives."
Among the vendors at the market is a student-led organization called Sustainable Carolina. First-year marketing and finance student and farmers market coordinator Ramiro Murguia said that the organization aims to educate USC and the people of Columbia about sustainability through various methods, ranging from recycling groups to outreach programs with schools and even to an organic farm. The foods grown from Sustainable Carolina’s farm, located behind Green Quad, are sold to many locations on campus as well as around Columbia.
“We use all organic practices, no pesticides, no chemicals, all organic compost,” Murguia said.
According to Murguia, farm manager Allie Mason studied a practice called permaculture in South America. Permaculture is the development of self-sufficient agriculture. Mason has built Sustainable Carolina’s farm from what she learned in her studies.
“We have set up our farm and garden to the point where if we were to just leave it be, it would continue to grow and flourish because it is grown in the way that it would grow in nature, all of the plants complement each other in various ways,” Murguia said.
Sustainable Carolina has participated in the farmers market for several years now. This year they are offering a variety of items such as kale, spinach, parsley, basil, rosemary and even their hydroponic lettuce, or lettuce grown without using soil. Sustainable Carolina will be at the market to sell their fresh produce to students every day it is open.
In addition to having the opportunity to buy fresh and healthy food, students will also have the opportunity to watch live cooking demonstrations and participate in giveaways, games and other activities.
“Starting next week, our own on campus dietitians will be leading Farmers Market tours at 11:30 to show students how to pick the best produces and give tips on how to prepare their purchases,” Colvin said. “I am excited for the students to come and check out all that the Healthy Carolina Farmers Market has to offer! There is something there for everyone!”
For more information on Healthy Carolina and its events, students can visit their website at www.sa.sc.edu/healthycarolina, and for information on Sustainable Carolina, students can follow their Twitter, @SustainableCaro.