M Farmers Market brings fresh produce to Ingalls Mall

Thursday, September 15, 2016 - 5:39pm

The fall’s first M Farmers Market took place Thursday between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. on Ingalls Mall.

The market — a collaboration among Michigan Dining, Central Student Government, MHealthy, Planet Blue and the Student Sustainability Initiative — brings local farms to campus to sell fresh produce.

Previously located in the Michigan Union courtyard, the market was moved to Ingalls Mall for the first time. Keith Soster, the director of student engagement at Michigan Dining, said the move occurred because off-the-Diag space is a more central location, making it ideal to appeal to the higher foot traffic during the day.

Overall he said the mission of the market is to encourage healthier lifestyle choices among community members.

"It’s really about healthy eating, healthy living and healthy food,” he said.

Some market vendors, such as Tom and Vicki Zilke from Zilke Vegetable Farm, also sell their produce to Michigan Dining.

Soster said the market is a valuable opportunity for students to interact with the farmers who produce the University of Michigan’s food and to directly access healthy food options.

“Being able to meet the farmer that grows our food I think is pretty awesome,” he said. “We understand that students aren’t going to buy corn and take it back to their residence hall. So being able to just know that there is healthy food and access to healthy food on our campus is important.”

The Campus Farm, part of the University of Michigan Sustainable Food Program, is an occasional supplier to the market. Engineering sophomore Carly Sharp, who works on the Campus Farm and is a Planet Blue Student Leader, said students involved in the farm’s programs learn vital information about healthy eating and sustainable foods.

“The goal there is that students learn where their food is coming from and about all the energy that goes into producing food,” she said. “The farmers market is just a way for students on campus to buy food and healthy snacks.”

The event also included hands-on, interactive opportunities  the Planet Blue booth, where Sharp was working, offered an activity in which participants were given empty bottles of water, juices and soda and had to decide which drink was nutritionally and environmentally healthiest.

The M Farmers Market will return to Central Campus Oct. 13, and will be on North Campus Sept. 29 and Oct. 27.