In 2010, the CSUN Marilyn Magaram Center (MMC) for Food Science, Nutrition, and Dietetics investigated bringing a farmers market to the CSUN campus. Logistical hurdles being what they were, a partnership was formed instead with Underwood Family Farms and the current Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) Program was born. Whereas farmers markets are designed for multiple farmers to set up booths and sell their wares directly to the public in a competitive environment, a CSA program involves a single farm or farm co-op providing a weekly box of seasonal produce to subscribers. At CSUN, Underwood Farms delivers fresh produce for pick up every Tuesday behind the Matador Bookstore between 3:30 and 5:30 p.m.
Underwood Family Farms (Underwood), started in 1968, has farms in Moorpark and Somis. Underwood participates in 17 area farmers markets, including Encino, Hollywood, and Santa Clarita, and has 14 CSA pick up locations, two in Northridge. You may also buy fresh produce at their Moorpark and Somis Farm Markets, open daily from 9 AM to 6 PM. I visited the Moorpark Farm Market last Friday to pick up two CSA boxes donated by Underwood to the Student Dietetic and Food Science Association for their annual Iron Matador cooking competition held on March 29 (the team We Can Cook, representing the kinesiology department, got away with first place).
Underwood Family Farms employee Antolin Mendoza (middle) carried the heavy CSA boxes to the reporter’s car. Photographs by Amanda Blake
I spoke with Kim Galbraith, the Underwood CSA Administrator, regarding the difference between farmers markets and CSA. “From a financial aspect, I think the markets are probably more lucrative and it’s a different point of connection between customers and the farm,” Galbraith said. “My oldest son started working the markets his senior year in high school. It’s now been three years and he still loves it and definitely bonds with his regular customers and tries to make new ones.”
On Wednesday, Tiffany Zaich was elected as the 2014-2015 Associated Student (AS) President. Zaich, a food science major and current AS Chair of Environment, ran partly on the platform that she would bring a farmers market to campus. “A farmers market is important to me because I want to be able to provide healthier food options for students,” Zaich said. “I want to cater to those with different diet preferences such as vegan, gluten free, or organic. I also want to increase local foods on campus and help local farmers.”
In addition to the attempts made by the MMC, the CSUN Institute for Sustainability reached out to the administration to establish a farmers market on campus. Their proposal was not approved.
Zaich urged students to support the initiative. “Since Associated Students represent the student body I feel we have a greater opportunity,” Zaich said. “We need strong student support.”
If Zaich has her way, a farmers market will be coming your way by Spring 2015. Get prepared to bring your recyclable bags to school so you can take home a bag busting at the seams with fresh fruits and vegetables, or sign up with the MMC and pick up your CSA box today.
Amanda Blake is a Peer Nutrition Counselor on campus. Peer nutrition counseling is a complimentary service available to students. To make a confidential appointment, contact the Klotz Student Health Center at (818) 677-3666.