Students seeking a fresh, healthy snack between classes now have the opportunity to visit a new food stand with an array of produce nestled between Hill Auditorium and the Michigan League.
The Ann Arbor Student Food Co-op held its first weekly fresh produce stand on Central Campus from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. last Friday, with a colorful table bursting with apples, carrots, kale, lettuce and avocados at prices starting as low as 50 cents. The food stand, called Brassica, derives its name from the genus term for broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower and other similar vegetables, according to LSA sophomore Mira Fishman, the stand’s sourcing director.
“Brassica is one of the most used and diverse families that we eat from,” Fishman said. “It’s a very easily manipulated family so you can get lots of products from it, which resonates with our mission.”
The group, founded last semester, is a campus non-profit student organization that aims to provide affordable, healthy, sustainable produce on campus, Fishman said.
“We are an established non-profit, not just a student organization,” Fishman said. “We’re actually insured to be able to sell on campus which is a great opportunity to get healthy and affordable alternatives available on a student budget.”
Frog Holler, an organic farm in Brooklyn, Mich., sources food to the co-op and their stand, according to LSA junior Stacey Matlen, the co-op’s finance coordinator. Eventually they hope to supply local, farm-grown produce to students.
“We would’ve originally liked to have started out sourcing from local farmers, but there are complications with health codes and certification necessary for the University so we buy in bulk from Frog Holler,” Matlen said.
Last spring, Matlen applied for a grant from the Planet Blue Student Innovation Fund — a University organization that provides funding for student-run sustainability programs — and was awarded $35,000. After a successful pilot day last spring in the Chemistry Building, the food stand moved to its new home on the sidewalk of North University Avenue.
“Our pilot day sold produce on a smaller scale and it was fairly successful,” Matlen said. “We’re now at a much better location and being outside while the weather is still nice gives us more exposure.”
LSA freshman Humphrey Akujobi said the location was particularly appealing to him, since he has his own kitchen and is able to use the produce to cook meals.
“I think it’s really cool that they have fresh produce and it’s really convenient because I live on North Campus,” Akujobi said. “I have an apartment with a kitchen so I would have to walk far to get to the grocery store and this is just so much more convenient.”
LSA freshman Angela Huang said she was most excited about the accessibility to fresh produce because it invoked feelings of being back home.
“It’s awesome that you can get fresh produce here on campus because I love just eating raw peppers or a huge head of lettuce right out of the bag sometimes,” Huang said.
Though it’s only a weekly food stand, the organization has goals to have a permanent food cart and eventually a storefront.
“Also, one of our goals is to have people realize the impact of what they eat in terms of their own bodies and their communities,” Fishman said.
Matlen said that though the group is looking to expand and increase its efforts, the Ann Arbor Student Food Co-op is content with its progress.
“Honestly, right now, I am happy we can get our produce out here,” Matlen said. “To be able to provide fresh, affordable, produce on campus is a large step since its origin just a year ago.”
Correction appended: A previous version of this article incorrectly spelled LSA junior Stacey Matlen’s name in the second to last paragraph.