UCSB’s first Gaucho Certified Farmers Market will kick off today from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. in Parking Lot 23, where local farmers will gather to sell fresh produce to students and community members alike.
The Gaucho Certified Farmers Market aims to promote local eating and provide a more community-oriented atmosphere on campus. Products such as fresh bread, honey, jams and popcorn will be offered by local farms including Ellwood Canyon Farms, Pepper Creek Family Farms, Underwood Family Farms, Tamai Family Farm and Rodriguez Brothers.
According to co-chair of the Gaucho Certified Farmers Market, Hazel Ando, today’s market is part of a one-year pilot program as there should be many more markets to come. Ando said the market will feature goods from a wide variety of farms, with each farm local to the Tri-County area, which includes Santa Barbara, Ventura and San Luis Obispo counties.
“We reached out to 100-plus farmers and artisans,” Ando said. “We only wanted local farmers … which differs from other farmer’s markets that have people from all over, like Fresno.”
The goal of the farmers market, Ando said, is to foster a feeling of unity within surrounding neighborhoods and bring together everyone on campus, from faculty members to staff and students.
The market holds a couple of noteworthy perks for students, such as convenient shopping between classes, according to Ando, who said students can also learn about sustainable food production and healthy eating tips through campus groups.
“The other thing different is we’re doing an educational component, trying to get various organizations to do a weekly tabling to educate people,” Ando said. “We are also working with a couple student organizations to table recycling, waste management and overall sustainability.”
According to Krista Harris, publisher and editor of the magazine Edible Santa Barbara and UCSB alum, the Gaucho Certified Farmers Market is partnering with the Community Environmental Council and Edible Santa Barbara to promote the idea of eating locally.
“Having a farmers market right on campus is a visible and tangible way to connect students with local food,” Harris said. “I think it ties in beautifully with our October Eat Local Challenge, which encourages people to eat entirely local foods for the month and beyond.”
The goal of the October Eat Local Challenge is to encourage people to support local farmers and think about the source of their produce. Although the challenge lasts only a month, Harris said she hopes to see participants develop healthy, green habits that will last much longer.
“We’ve found that the challenge encourages people to think about where their food comes from, and it changes the way people shop and the food they buy, not just during the challenge but even after the challenge is over,” Harris said. “A month-long challenge is the perfect amount of time to keep people motivated and to build new habits.”
As a vegan, second-year computer science major Enrique Gutierrez said he has a particular appreciation for knowing where his food comes from and what it contains. Gutierrez said the dining commons do not provide adequate access to organic and animal product-free foods.
“All the dining commons do a good job of having vegetarian variety, but they don’t have that much vegan variety,” Gutierrez said. “Sometimes there are not enough things to eat, and I can’t get in all the nutrition value I want to get from one meal.”
The farmers market will likely be helpful for other vegans or people looking for organic, locally grown goodies, Gutierrez said.
“You’re helping out the local people and you’re helping to spread the organic food,” Gutierrez said. “Since I’m all about being healthy, I prefer obviously having something organic over not organic, and if it’s local, it’s even better.”
A version of this article appeared on page 1 of the Wednesday, October 23, 2013 print edition of the Daily Nexus.