From farm to table

GVL / Kevin Sielaff
Austin VanDyke and Skyla Snarski work the fields on Sept. 15. Grand Valleys Sustainable Agriculture Project aims to promote local awareness concerning the environment and sustainability efforts.

Kevin Sielaff

GVL / Kevin Sielaff Austin VanDyke and Skyla Snarski work the fields on Sept. 15. Grand Valley’s Sustainable Agriculture Project aims to promote local awareness concerning the environment and sustainability efforts.

Hannah Lentz

This year, president Thomas Haas celebrated 10 years at Grand Valley State University. Tours were planned, parties were thrown and students and staff looked forward to what the next ten years could hold, but Haas wasn’t the only one celebrating 10 years. This season also marks a decade of service for the GVSU Farmers Market.

Offering products from fresh produce to dry mixes and baked goods, the Farmers Market at GVSU works to bring together more than 18 local vendors and the GVSU community, all in the name of healthy food.

Kay Hart has been in charge of the Farmers Market for the past seven years, after having the position handed down to her from Sue Sloop of University Operations. During this time, the Farmers Market has seen a spike in vendors as well as increased involvement from the GVSU community.

Currently, the market has campus representatives from athletics, campus recreation and the sustainability office who come to be a part of the event.

“The market is a fantastic way to bring everyone together and to simply have fun,” Hart said. “Sometimes we can get stuck in our own bubble and this is a great way for everyone (to) come together to obtain healthy foods and most importantly, have fun.”

ach Wednesday from June to October, the Farmers Market focuses on engaging not only students, but the surrounding community.

“We see a lot of families after their kids attend summer camps at GVSU,” Hart said. “We also see a lot of local people and students coming out for something to do. It’s a great thing to see on our campus.”

In addition to vendors, the Farmers Market provides live music by local bands and student performers. There is also a weekly, healthy lunch provided by campus dining from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

“Though the Farmers Market does provide a shopping experience with prices competitive or cheaper than big, chain grocery stores, it also provides and atmosphere and experience that, from our experience, people want to be a part of,” Hart said.

One of these people who decided to become involved was Youssef Darwich.

Darwich first got involved with the Farmers Market at GVSU four years ago when he started volunteering at the Sustainable Agriculture Project as a sophomore. Since his days as a volunteer, he has held an internship with the market and now works as the farm manager through the Office of Sustainability Practices.

“All that the same my involvement has morphed over time,” Darwich said. “It’s been great to watch the growth of the campus community and see familiar faces over the years. The Farmers Market is absolutely wonderful because it gives a reason for people to come together.”

The SAP is an experiential learning lab run by student volunteers. Producing a wide variety fruits, veggies, flowers, trees and even bees, the project has volunteer and learning opportunities all year long in order to produce a space for everyone to learn about agriculture and our food system, Darwich said. Many students also volunteer at the farm’s stand during the market.

Often, the SAP’s table has as many as a dozen students helping to share home-grown produce with the community.

“The Farmers Market is a great, accessible way for people to get involved and make an impact,” Darwich said. “Now that is the 10th year of the Farmers Market and I think it’s safe to say it has been a great success.”

Based on the success the Farmers Market has seen in past years, the market has been extended through October for the second year in a row.

“People from all walks of life come to the Farmers Market to get fresh food from local vendors, listen to lovely music, and share each other’s company,” Darwich said. “It’s a great place that builds a sense of pride and community here at Grand Valley.”

In the future, it is hoped that the Farmers Market will be able to remain centrally located with the possibility of moving locations to a more center location such as outside the library or by the Cook Carillon Tower, Hart said. Currently, the Farmers Market is held in Parking Lot G from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

“The Farmers Market already has a bunch of great things going for it and I would like to continue to make the wonderful experience accessible for everybody on campus,” Darwich said.

The SAP is always looking for volunteers who have ideas or want to become involved with the farming process or the Farmers Market.

“There are virtually a limitless number of opportunities for people to get involved and we are only limited by our initiative to apply our skills together,” Darwich said.

For any questions or recommendations, email [email protected] or visit the Farmers Market page at