The markets, held just north of Romney Gym and run by MSU students, feature a variety of vegetables, such as potatoes, peppers, salad mix, carrots, broccoli, turnips, onions, cucumbers, tomatoes, green beans and leeks. Flowers are also available.
A steady stream of MSU students, faculty and staff members purchased produce at the first market, held Tuesday afternoon, Sept. 8.
Ben Ahearn, an environmental studies student who also works at MSU, bought a handful of vegetables, including cucumbers, peppers and carrots, for a salad. Ahearn, who is originally from Boston, said he likes supporting the student farmers for several reasons.
"I like the fact that (this market) not only is done through campus, but it's local," he said. "In my book, local is better than organic."
The produce Ahearn purchased was grown on a two-and-a-half acre farm that is located about a mile west of Montana Hall on the university's horticulture farm. Known as Towne's Harvest Garden, the farm is one project of the Friends of Local Foods, a student group that formed in fall 2006 to raise awareness about healthy eating and the importance of locally grown food.
Towne's Harvest Garden is run as a community-supported agriculture program, or CSA. This year, students sold 72 CSA shares, including 64 small shares and 8 large shares. Small shares, which feed a family of two for one week, cost $275. Large shares, meant for a family of four, are $425. Shareholders receive produce for 13 weeks.
The garden is run jointly by faculty and staff in the College of Agriculture and the College of Education, Health and Human Development.
Since its inception three years ago, Towne's Harvest Garden has also partnered with the Gallatin Valley Food Bank to provide thousands of pounds of fresh vegetables for the food bank's clients. This year, the student farmers' goal was to provide the food bank with 5,000 pounds of food, and they recently met that goal. In addition, the group has sold produce at weekly farmers' markets in Bozeman.
Matt Stern, who has been an intern at Towne's Harvest Garden since May, said it is satisfying to be able to supply people in the community with fresh food. He thinks the whole process of farming is extraordinary, too.
"It's a great feeling when you start with something so small and see it grow into this," he said, gesturing at the colorful array of vegetables displayed on the table.
Stern, a 20-year-old environmental studies major from San Francisco, said farming is a valuable, practical skill.
"I think everyone should learn how to grow their own food," he said. "This is a skill I will be able to use all of my life."
Another student who bought produce after coming across the market said he was simply excited to have fresh food to eat.
"Fresh food just tastes better," said Ryan Corbey, a 25-year-old sociology senior from Rockville, Md. "Fresh is good."
Pending university approval, produce from Towne's Harvest Garden will be available at additional farmer's markets on campus at dates to be determined throughout September. Community members are welcome. All profits from the vegetable sales benefit Towne's Harvest Garden and will go toward the purchase of seeds for next year's garden.
Alison Harmon, (406) 994-6338 or firstname.lastname@example.org