A weekly on-campus food market offering fresh fruit and vegetables at affordable prices is returning to the University Centre.
Starting Thursday, Sept. 22 at noon, the Campus Market will be back to give University of Guelph community members a chance to shop for fresh, and some organic, produce at flexible prices.
The market launched last spring and quickly was a hit, with customers lining up early and carrying reusable bags to shop for fresh produce.
Every item at the market is priced on a sliding scale, ranging from near-average grocery store prices to a discount of 30-50 percent.
Market visitors select their items, take them to the checkout and are asked to choose a total price they are comfortable paying — no questions asked. Organisers hope those who can afford to pay a little more will offset those who can’t pay full price.
This fall the Guelph Centre for Urban Organic Farming (GCUOF), will be making their organic food grown on the U of G campus available to visitors for the first four weeks of the market.
Other fruits and vegetables will come through The SEED, a not-for-profit community food project at the Guelph Community Health Centre that buys produce at wholesale prices for its own community markets throughout the city.
A comfortable and stigma-free environment
Increasing access to fresh produce in ways that uphold students’ dignity has always been the main goal of the market, says market coordinator Maya Nickle, a fourth-year applied nutrition student who has been the student lead in the initiative.
“We want the market to be a comfortable and stigma-free environment for everyone,” she says.
Other market collaborators on the market are the Feeding 9 Billion peer helper group within the Arrell Food Institute, the Office of Sustainability and the GuelphLab, an initiative of U of G’s Community Engaged Scholarship Institute.
This year, organizers are planning a new checkout model borrowed from The SEED that allows customers to select their own discount via a Square pay terminal, rather than telling the cashier what they can afford.
“We hope this will help customers feel more comfortable paying what they can with no pressure, as we found having to name a price out loud was a barrier for our visitors” she says.
Nickle says while the spring campus market was a great pilot run, she and other market organizers expect many more people to visit this year.
“Not only do we expect increased foot traffic with so many more students on campus, but with food price inflation, there will likely be much more interest and need.”
Campus market about food, but also about community
The collaboration with GCUOF will help fill out the food inventory and add more variety and organic options to the market’s offerings, something Nickle expects customers will enjoy.
“You wouldn’t believe how excited students get about how big the sweet potatoes are or about not having to walk to the grocery store or even being able to buy an avocado,” she says.
While the campus market is all about food, it’s also about community.
“The purpose of the market is really to bring people together and to make food security an open conversation, while celebrating getting fresh produce,” Nickle says.
Several community collaborations are planned. Representatives from U of G’s Wellness@Work and the John F. Wood Centre for Business and Student Enterprise will attend the market on various days.
“We are really excited to be running again and encourage everyone to come out,” says Nickle. “We wouldn’t be able to run this market without the support of the U of G community or our amazing partners, so thank you to everyone who has helped bring this vision to life.”
The Food Market runs from 12 to 3 p.m. and is open to everyone in the U of G community.
Stay up to date with upcoming market dates and activities by following @uogfoodmarket on Instagram.