Freshness by the bushel

University Community Farmers Market brings together students and community members


Students and community members scanned the spreads of fresh vegetables, tasty fruits and deep-colored jams while the rain trickled down on an early Saturday morning on UB’s South Campus.

The University Community farmer’s market opened with the support of the University Heights Collaborative in 2007. Gail Willsky, the University Heights Collaborative market manager and associate biochemistry professor at UB, and seven committee members organized the farmers market. Rasheed Wyatt, the University District council member, supplied the fundamental running costs that eliminate vendor fees for the farmers market. The farmer’s market will be open through Oct. 12 every Saturday from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.

“Having a venue where students and residents amicably interact promotes pride in the neighborhood,” Willsky said in an email. “One of the goals of University Heights Collaborative is to promote the quality of life in the Heights.”

But not all the farmers are happy.

Nancy and Frederic Bryant, who have been dedicated vendors at the farmers market since 2007, said they faced difficulties when the farmers market on North Campus was shut down.

“The North Campus market was financially better than this one, but the two of them worked together for us quite well,” Byrant said. “We could support ourselves [but] without that we have lost about half of our income.”

The North Campus farmers market opened in 2008 and closed in the fall of 2013.

The location was closed because there was not enough support, according to Janice Cochran, the nutrition and physical activity promotion coordinator for Wellness Education Services and previous manager of the North Campus farmer’s market.

Although the University Community farmers market helps farmers earn a living by selling their produce to UB students and members of the community, Cochran feels it is important to reopen the farmers market on North Campus to increase student and faculty access to fresh fruits and vegetables.

Willsky believes some of the vendors on South Campus miss the positive interactions they had with students and faculty on North Campus.

Aysegul Ozgen, a sociology graduate student, said she used to go to the North Campus farmers market every week but has difficulty visiting the one on South Campus as often as she would like.

Willsky sees the farmer’s market as a source of stability in University Heights.

The farmer’s market aims to provide “fresh produce, recipes and a meeting place on Saturday mornings for neighborhood residents,” according to Willsky.

Vendors and customers appreciate the freshness of the produce sold at the market. Kevin Buczack, a vendor at the South Campus farmers market and a construction worker, said he has picked his produce the night before he sells them at the market for five years.

Kristen Abbott, a science teacher at a Niagara County high school, and Wassinger like helping local businesses and purchasing fresh products at the market.

“It’s nice to talk to people and the prices seem to be reasonable,” Wassinger said. “I like the idea of helping local farmers the best.”

Customers also appreciate how certain products at the market are less expensive than they are in grocery stores.

“I try to help people out, if they only want one or two, I let them take a couple,” said Tiffany LaJoie, who works in catering and has been a vendor at the market for the past two years.

Some customers like Ozgen don’t like that they have to pay in cash and that there is less variety at the market than in a grocery store.

Students and community members can find fresh, local produce as well as a sense of community at the University Community Farmers Market on UB’s South Campus.