The chance for CSUN students to purchase fresh, organic produce on campus is coming. But for now, they will have to wait a little bit longer.
A Farmers Market for the CSUN community has been in the works since last semester according to Erica Wohldmann, an assistant professor in the psychology department who is a part of CSUN’s Greening Project and is one of the masterminds behind a plan to improve CSUN’s carbon footprint.
The Market — which was approved by President Jolene Koester and provost and vice-president for academic affairs Harry Hellenbrand — was set to start mid semester on Wednesdays. But according to Wohldmann, the administration raised concerns over the Farmers Market’s location and appearance.
“I’m optimistic that by spring CSUN will have a Farmers Market,” Wohldmann said.
The idea for a Farmers Market developed from a conversation between Wohldmann and some of her students who were not satisfied with CSUN’s food options, she said.
One of those students was senior Stephany Stamatis, an urban planning major who became involved with the project when she began a research paper on whether CSUN students were satisfied with the food options on campus. Stamatis, who frequents Farmers Markets in both Santa Monica and Silver Lake, said that having one on campus would be convenient for students and faculty.
“The Farmers Market would really give (people) another option, especially for people in the dorms and faculty,” Stamatis said.
A survey, which can still be accessed on the CSUN Institute for Sustainability’s Web site, was developed to determine the demand for a Farmers Market on the CSUN campus. The results, which Wohldmann describes as “positive,” were later presented to the administration.
Out of the 588 surveyed, 95 percent of the respondents said “they would love to see a Farmers Market on campus,” Wohldmann said. She added that 67 percent thought there were “too few or way too few healthy items on campus,” and that 92 percent said they would not mind paying more for healthier options. Many more have been surveyed since then, she added.
Stamatis said that CSUN’s food options could be improved because “there’s mostly junk food.
“There really aren’t any freshly prepared, healthy options,” Stamatis added. “There is not a lot of whole grain, vegetarian or organic food available.”
Freshman Carlos Barrera, a business finance major who was enjoying lunch near the Matador Bookstore, said he would buy from the Farmers Market if he had the option.
“CSUN has some healthy options,” he added. “It’s just up to you to choose what you want to eat. I just ate four greasy tacos.”
Freshman Elizabeth Martinez, a biology major who was sitting with Barrera, added that she too “would love to get a Farmers Market.” Unlike Barrera, Martinez had never been to the Farmers Market at the Northridge Mall, and she was concerned that the prices of the produce would be too high for her to actually be able to buy anything.
But Wohldmann said that the prices of Farmers Markets were “comparable to grocery stores and that sometimes they (are) even cheaper. In an ideal world the university would buy wholesale from the farmers and maybe this could subsidize the cost for students.”
Hellenbrand agreed that this sounded like a good idea and said, “It would be great, but it’s just a matter of time and sitting down to discuss it.”
As of now, Wohldmann said that two farmers from Northridge’s nighttime market have been approached and are interested in coming to CSUN during the day on Wednesdays. This would allow them to hit two markets in one trip to Northridge, which Wohldmann said would have a double benefit.
“It would be more worthwhile for them because they would be boosting their revenue for the day and reducing their carbon footprint,” she said.
Although Hellenbrand acknowledged that there are issues that still need to be worked out, he pointed out that this is not the only reason the project has been stalled.
“There are too many items on the table,” said Hellenbrand. “There’s the budget and other issues that need to be dealt with first.”