South Wedge Farmers’ Market manager Chris Hartman announced his intent to expand the market to a new location in Brooks Landing, as part of the Brooks Landing Project.
The expansion is still in the planning stages, but Hartman says there is a strong likelihood that the SWFM, a locally-grown organic market, will be developed in the neighborhood that is soon to be populated with over 600 UR students and employees.
“It is pretty much definite at this point,” he said.
“We were interested in connecting the community with local, sustainable foods but also wanted to create a social, community center for hanging out and having fun,” Hartman said.
Part of the Market’s mission statement is “to provide city residents with access to fresh, locally-produced foods and to connect local, sustainable farms to an active urban market.”
The SWFM places a strong emphasis on promoting healthy choices that are also environmentally beneficial. The SWFM aims to enhance the South Wedge by making it more sustainable and economically viable, hoping to stimulate local purchasing by enhancing activity and excitement associated with the neighborhood.The SWFM also hopes to “build community by bringing people together in an on-going, open and engaging atmosphere.”
UR has made an effort to offer healthier options on campus as well as to make use of more locally-grown foods, and UR students have been actively involved in the SWFM.
Senior Lecturer of Anthropology Maryann McCabe taught a course last semester in which students spent months studying the SWFM. Much of what the students discovered was incorporated into the expansion of the SWFM. The students studied many traits of the SWFM, from its customers to its economic impact on the South Wedge neighborhood. The market was found to be extremely successful in creating a positive, community feel with customers and farmers.
“Because customers and vendors really enjoy this market, one idea that came up was expansion or replication,” McCabe said.
The students presented their findings to Hartman, who incorporated the information into his plans for expansion.
“They did an extensive survey evaluation process. They surveyed vendors and businesses to look at future possibilities,” Hartman said. “Their survey helped us. It made for a really wonderful evaluation.” The students’ feedback was a big part of the plan for expansion.
The SWFM has oversight by the South Wedge Planning Committee, which is neighborhood-based. The SWFM is run by market managers who collaborate with an advisory committee.
Several people have expressed their interest in serving on the Advisory Committee.
On the business end, the Committee will establish requirements for vendor and seller participation and establish vendor and seller fees and other fees for the market. The Committee will also determine the times and dates for the SWFM’s operation.
The SWFM’s next step involves forming a group of key store holders with students and administrators at UR and working on development.
The candidates for representation on the Committee include UR staff, such as Director of Campus Dining Services and Auxiliary Operations Cam Schauf, key stakeholders and individuals able and willing to work to begin and maintain the SWFM.
“We are slugging along in logistical planning. We are especially looking at what kind of feel and stuff we want to have,” Hartman said.
Schneier is a member of the class of 2011.