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Farmer’s Markets Promote Sustainability, Support Local Economy

The Office of Sustainability was established in July 2008 after Chancellor Emeritus Robert Khayat signed the American College and University President’s Climate Commitment. (Photo by Christopher Neal)

The Office of Sustainability at Ole Miss hosted its second Market Day, Thursday, September 8 and will host its next Market Day October 6.

Ole Miss Market Days is a series of three campus farmers markets. By hosting Market Days, people who may not be familiar with farmers markets can experience the variety of products that are available at the two Oxford farmers markets and will hopefully attend these markets in town, according to Lindsey Abernathy, Project Manager.

Generally, there are about 10 to 12 vendors at the markets. They sell a variety of items, from baked goods and honey to produce and eggs. The products sold at the Market Days reflect a good example of what’s available at the Oxford markets.

The Office of Sustainability
The mission of the Office of Sustainability is to be a catalyst for environmentally positive change by educating, connecting, and empowering the members of our community for the well-being of people and our ecological systems. (Photo by Christopher Neal)

There are three such market’s this fall. The October 6 market was also part of the Office of Sustainability’s annual Food Day Festival. In addition to the market, there will be cooking demonstrations, educational displays and possibly a mobile farm bus.

The project is funded by the UM Green Fund and was proposed by civil engineering major Sarah O’Brien, who wanted to bring more local food to campus. Organizers say the project is an example of how a student can have an impact on sustainability on campus by proposing a project to the Green Fund.

Lindsey Abernathy is a big proponent of buying local. According to Abernathy, not only is it good for your health but a great way to put money back into the local economy.

“Local food tends to be healthier and more flavorful because it was picked at the peak of ripeness and does not have to be shipped long distances to get to your table,” Abernathy said. “ Smaller farmers also tend to use more sustainable growing practices, which can mean less chemical fertilizers and pesticides that leach into the environment and your body.”

Farmers markets are an important part of Oxford’s economic, social and environmental vitality. (Photo by Christopher Neal)

It’s estimated that, on average, food travels 1500 miles from where it is grown to the consumer’s table. So buying local also helps reduce the greenhouse gas emissions that result from long shipping distances.

Additionally, buying local keeps funds that consumers spend on food in the local economy.

Anne McCauley, assistant director of the Office of Sustainability, has been buying local since she moved to Oxford in 2008.

“My favorite thing about buying local is it makes me feel good about the money that I’m spending and the food that I’m eating,” McCauley said. “It makes me happy to support the livelihood of the people I live near.”

Vendors interested in participating in the October 6 Market Day can visit green.olemiss.edu/marketdays to register, or they can call 662-915-2720.

By Christopher Neal. He may be reached at cdneal1@go.olemiss.edu.

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