On Friday afternoons, a line is seen wrapping around Corcoran Commons, sometimes even touching the entrance of Robsham Theater. It’s not the lunch rush or an insanely large cluster of people waiting for their coffee GET orders—it’s the first wave of customers waiting for BC’s very own farmers market. As COVID-19 restrictions limit dining hall options, more and more people are turning to cooking in their kitchens, whether it’s on or off campus. Some underclassmen have even taken the plunge to get hot plates (don’t tell Res Life) as a way to supplement their cooking. The question many are asking themselves is, “What do I cook?” but the real question is, “What and where should I be buying things to cook?” They don’t have to look much further than Lower Campus.
The BC Farmers Market has now blossomed into a vital part of the food landscape of Boston College and local farming communities. What started in 2009 as selling a couple of apples has flourished into “more than just a fruit stand; to selling cheeses from Vermont Creamery to fresh loaves of bread from Pain D’Avignon, and baked pies and fruit loaves from BC Bakery. We are much more than fruit and produce,” according to Natalie Sill, CSOM ’23, BC Dining’s Sustainability Intern. Along with selling fresh produce and baked goods, the market promotes food education and the importance of having a seasonal diet for the local economy and farms.
While Boston and the surrounding towns have amazing farmer’s markets, BC’s has the luxury of being right on campus and bringing local food close to the students who don’t want to leave Chestnut Hill. “The Farmers Market on campus is for educational experiences such as placing the veggies together by the farm, like Ward’s Farm in Sharon. You know it’s coming from right down the road. As BC students also working there, we foster an open conversation on diversifying diets and food culture. The point of it is to educate students and get them to try different things,” says Sill.
There are no berries in the later fall and winter months because berries aren’t local to the New England climate, which is why there are so many different types of squashes and gourds on the stands and winter root vegetables. Not only does eating seasonally incorporate different items into a diet, it also helps reduce the carbon footprint associated with food transportation. By supporting local farms such as Czajkowski Farm and Ward’s Berry Farm, the market is supporting local farmers and charging more than the average corporate supermarket price. “A lot of the farms that we work with are multi-generational farms. They are worker-owned farms and have equal equity and use regenerative farming. Aurora Mills uses a stone mill that preserves nutrients. The entire supply chain is ethical. From workers to packaging, everything is fair,” says Sill.
By supporting local farming instead of buying out of season commercialized farming, it also cuts down on the amount of food waste that is generated per year. Local farms have been hurting more and more trying to compete with commercial farms for a fair share of the food market. As American consumption climbs, the conversation needs to be shifted to buying smart instead of buying it all. Farmers markets are the perfect place to do this while trying out new things and not wasting any produce. Most markets are the farmers selling straight to the consumer, but the BC Farmer’s Market replicates this by placing all of the products from one farm together so that the consumer knows where their food is coming from.
As the weather begins to turn and Governor Baker’s new COVID-19 rules for the Commonwealth went into effect last Friday, the world is getting ready to hibernate again for winter. Cooking brought back comfort and a sense of security during the first wave, and it will again when the second wave hits. It is going to be too cold for outdoor markets soon, so the BC Farmer’s Market is planning on doing another CSA (community supported agriculture) farm share box in February and March to continue supporting local farmers.
The market, which has been extended to be open until Thanksgiving break, is open on Friday afternoons from 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Shopping smart and eating local has never mattered more than at this moment.
Cover photo courtesy of Small Moves Vancouver