Considering the current ecological problems facing society, farmers’ markets have never been more important when it comes to matters of food production. Monocultures, pesticides, and GMO’s taint our food and leave us with unsustainable lifestyles that harm our personal and public health, as well as our environment. Today’s competitive and commercial agriculture industry makes it very hard for local farmers to stay on the food industry radar. Thankfully, there is the presence of farmers’ markets that remind society of the importance of ethical and healthy local produce and York University is one of many establishments that supports that presence.
The YUM! Farmers’ Market was established in 2013 through the grassroots organization, Regenesis@York and York Food Services, and is now in its second year of running on campus. The market has a great variety of vendors present every week, from the Black Creek Community Farm, Highmark Farms and Albion Hills Community Farm. Each vendor provides an array of fresh and local produce from kale, tomatoes, cucumbers and onions, to eggs and fruits, such as bananas, oranges and strawberries. If you are on- the- go, many vendors also sell delicious pastries, and a variety of savoury breads for a morning or lunchtime snack. There are other ethical products, such as handmade jewelry, pottery and hand creams available as well. You can even have an interactive experience by creating your very own organic toothpaste. This particular stand also features an app called Skin Deep, which allows you to search for your current hygienic products and find the listing of the different ingredients contained within them. Every once in a while YUM! will hold themed market days, which can feature certain activities, ranging from crafts stations, cooking demonstrations and special items for sale. Most recently, they had their special Holiday market where addition to the regular vendors, student vendors participated by selling their own arts and crafts. Each visit is an exciting one that offers a variety of ethical options and promotes healthy and sustainable living for York faculty and students.
A farmers’ market at York University is a great step forward in ongoing efforts to establish a more sustainable campus. It provides students the opportunity to engage and participate in local food matters and understand their options when it comes to ethical purchases, such as food. Many of the individuals closely involved with YUM! are positive about the market being a way for faculty and students to begin a dialogue about local food. Christopher Bentley, Chair of the President’s Sustainability Council Student Sub- Committee at York University, used to run the YUM! Farmers’ Market last year and believes that:
"The market has become a space for transformative dialogue on food production, nutrition, and preparation in which students and other York community members are active participants. Nowhere else at York is this kind of space available."
Indeed, YUM! Farmers’ Market is a unique feature on campus. In the midst of fast food options and cafeteria food, the market provides a change of scenery and an amazing alternative option. It is a space that expresses community, passion and dedication to sustainability and place for great conversation on food matters. Of course, York Food Services has been providing faculty and students with healthier alternative options for some time now, and along with Regenesis, they took it one step further with a farmer’s market. Marcy McMillan, who is the Marketing and Events Coordinator with York Food Services says:
“Food Services strives to help create local awareness for the York community involving students with a focus on sustainability.”
As the state of the environment becomes a priority on a daily basis, a focus on sustainability couldn’t be more important. A vital aspect of sustainability is food production, which has a direct impact on how we think about and interact with the environment around us. After all, we are what we eat. However, even more importantly, we what we produce, choose and act upon.
I encourage everyone who is part of the York community to visit the market, which is held every Thursday from 11:00am to 4:00pm in the TEL Building during the fall/winter term. Currently, the market is closed for the holidays and will resume operation on January 8th 2015.
York Food Services:
Twitter and Instagram: @yorkufood
Facebook: Regenesis|York University