The UC Market is an on-campus student’s go-to destination for last-minute lunches, chocolate-covered espresso beans and the occasional celebratory post-midterm Froot Loops donut. And every Tuesday from now until Sept. 24, it also houses Farm to Market, the University’s local produce stand.
Farm to Market has been running every Tuesday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. since last May. Students, staff and faculty can purchase locally grown produce from the University Gardens and from farms across the state of Montana.
Heather Rue, a member of the UM Foundation housed in the University Center, said she enjoyed visiting every Tuesday to find the week’s fresh produce.
“I live out of town, so I’m not able to come to the Farmer’s Market in the summer,” said Rue. “And I’m excited to see that the sweet corn is here this week.”
The UM Farm to Market program has a history, according to Camp Howard, the Director of UM Dining. Howard said he wanted to bring back the fresh produce stand to encourage students and faculty to buy convenient fresh produce.
“It’s about celebrating the harvest. We’re in this fabulous part of Western Montana, it's the summertime, the produce is coming in, it’s beautiful weather,” Howard said. “We just want to bring in good produce and have people enjoy great food.”
The University’s gardens produce over 4,000 pounds of produce annually. UM Dining also grows its own microgreens at the Food Zoo all year long.
Howard said Farm to Market is all about sustainability, a large-scale initiative UM Dining is focusing on. The produce stand itself is zero-waste, using recyclable materials and no plastic. UM Dining’s sustainability initiative has also led to strawless lids at UM coffee shops and food stands.
The produce grown in the University Gardens is sent to UM Dining to use in at the Iron Griz, the University-run restaurant located near the UM softball fields. Any produce left over at the end of a UC Farm to Market is sent to the Food Zoo.
The University Gardens are multifaceted, Howard said. They grow produce for the University to use, but UM Dining also uses the gardens to give tours and educate interns. In addition, UM Dining hosts tasting sessions at the gardens, according to the UM Dining website.
“We use it really as an educational means not only to explain what we do, but also encapsulating how important agriculture is in the state of Montana,” Howard said.