Farmer's Market offers fresh crop of volunteerism
Published: Monday, September 16, 2013
Updated: Tuesday, September 17, 2013 11:09
The local ASU Regional Farmer’s Market, a nonprofit entity that connects the community with small farmers, ranchers, bakers, and craftsman is in full swing and three A-State students are volunteering their time to help out.
The local ASU Regional Farmer’s Market, a nonprofit organization that connects the community with small farmers, bakers and craftsman, as well as ASU students interested in volunteering.
Chihiro Sato, a sophomore criminology and sociology major of Japan,, and Junxin Chen, a freshman civil engineering major of China,, spend their Saturday mornings supporting local farmers and craftsmen by participating in cooking demonstrations and children’s activities.
Sato, who has been volunteering at the market since July, has helped prepare ice cream, stuffed steak, vegetable stew and pumpkin soup as a part of the cooking demonstration.
“I really like volunteering. Since I was very young I have been involved in volunteer work, and Ms. Kimberly James offered a volunteer opportunity at the ASU Farmer’s Market and so I got involved here,” Sato said. “Doing volunteer work is very important to me because I can learn American culture and Arkansas culture.”
Chen said she got involved with the market after seeing information about volunteering in the ASU Daily Digest over the summer. She said her favorite part of volunteering is working with the children’s program.
“The farmer’s market is really a nice place for buying local fresh products,” Chen said. “The people there are all really nice and friendly to everyone.”
“The ladies who volunteer here are willing to do anything, whether it’s work with our children’s program or cooking demonstration,” Kimberly James, project coordinator for the market, said. “They help with our festivals, and we had an ice cream social and (Sato) came and served ice cream all afternoon. They’re wonderful, I really appreciate them.”
On an average Saturday, around 38 vendors will attend the market, bringing all their locally grown or handmade items.
“What you’re going to find at the market is seasonal, local produce, hormone and antibiotic free beef and pork, fresh eggs, jams and jellies, homemade fruit syrups, all kinds of baked goods and handmade crafts, from aprons to hats to iron works to stepping stones,” James said.
Those who shop at the Farmer’s Market help the community while receiving several benefits themselves.
The market features cooking demonstrations and recipe sharing once a month, a “NIFTY KIDS” program once a month where kids learn about nutrition and physical activity, and allows many other nonprofit organizations such as the Humane Society to come and share information.
Different vendors also participate in the government’s WIC program, which gives families in need the chance to buy the produce and groceries they need.
“You want to shop local because, number one, all the products that you buy are coming right from here, you can actually talk to the farmer who grew it, compared to a grocery store where your produce is traveling an average of 15 hundred miles,” James said. “Whereas here, the produce has been picked the day before or the morning that you buy it.”
James added that when customers buy local, the money is recycled back into the community when the vendors spend it in the area.
The vendors also enjoy coming to the market, not only because it allows them an avenue to sell their products, but because it gives them a sense of community.
“You develop a family between all the vendors and regular customers,” said Angela Lancaster, owner of the 3 Birds Bakery booth at the market.
“Everyone is so friendly. The vendors all help each other, and you get to know the people who come regularly. We’ve seen babies grow up and we just look forward to it every week,” Sharon White, Lancaster’s mother, said.
The market will present the Farm to Table Banquet Fundraiser on Oct. 5. Tickets are $75, and purchase a five course meal prepared by local chefs made with market ingredients. The evening will also include music by local band Sky City and a silent art auction.
On Oct. 9 the market will host a Harvest Festival from 8 a.m. to noon, including a 5K fun run, hay rides, petting zoos and a pie eating contest.
The ASU Regional Farmer’s Market is open 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. every Saturday until Oct. 26 and is located at the intersection of Stadium and Aggie. For more information on upcoming events or volunteering at the market, contact Kimberly James at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.asuregionalfarmersmarket.org.